Stumbling out from the vault into the blinding light; fresh air for the first time in your life.
We’re all familiar with the way a Fallout game begins. But Fallout Shelter is a different beast. For one thing, in this game you’re no longer the vault-dweller; you’re the Overseer.
It’s also a mobile game.
Mobile gaming has come a long way since the halcyon days of Candy-Crush’s sugar-coated domination and the war-cries of “Casual!” and “Hardcore!”
Fallout Shelter is in its own way a token of the way the market’s evolved in the past few years.
Its launch hints at how different mobile gaming’s fortunes are these days- for one thing, it’s produced by Bethesda, a major publisher the domain of which is usually titles for console and PC- such as the series that Shelter itself hails from.
It’s a far cry when the titles dominating the app charts were produced by companies like King and Zynga.
So is the fact that Bethesda dropped the news of its release as part of their E3 conference, one of the gaming world’s biggest events. Essentially, a mobile title was announced with similar fanfare to any other video game.
The game’s first few post-launch weeks have been similarly impressive. According to a SuperData market research report, the game raked in around $5.1 million in its first two weeks. It raced to the top of the App Store in countries across the world –knocking Candy Crush off its spot as the US App Store’s number three top-grossing app while it was at it. All that, and it’s not even out for Android yet.
The title has been near universally critically acclaimed by gaming publications of various stripes, not just those dedicated to mobile gaming, and the calls for the Android version’s speedy release have been coming from all sides.
In short, it’s been a massive success with gamers.
The fact that it’s a shining example of the progress mobile gaming’s made in the past few years are probably something to do with this.
One of the factors of the genre that have long damaged its reputation amongst gamers has been the much maligned micro-transactions. Bethesda’s approach to this aspect of freemium gaming has been downright refreshing. They’re certainly there- in the form of lunchboxes that you can purchase, to get bonuses for your game.
But they’re a subtle presence in the background. You get one for free, to welcome you to your vault (and to show off their shininess) but there’s no hard sell. They’re easily obtained as a reward for completing certain daily tasks of which there’s a decent variety and don’t cheat you- the rewards within vary but are generally very good. I opened one only to find that Star Paladin Cross was lurking within, and easily outranking anyone else within my entire vault to boot.
Otherwise, you can ignore them at your pleasure. There’s no sign of the cheapest tactic in the freemium vault- wait times aren’t onerous; don’t increase exponentially as you do stuff and there’s nary a speed-up boost to be seen.
Instead, while there is a rush function it’s a part of the game and entirely free. Well, in the monetary sense anyway. You gamble with a percentage based risk that the attempt might fail and a disaster of some nature may occur- the dwellers working in that room will have to battle either a radroach infestation or run for the fire extinguishers at the risk of death. In the pursuit of a goal involving quenching four fires, my dwellers battled enough infestations that it must have seemed that the apocalypse had come (again), heralded this time by roaches.
They did level up quite a bit, though.
The game’s also nicely produced, as befits a title produced by a major publisher. Its art direction fits in seamlessly with the rest of the series- this is undeniably a Fallout vault that you’re overseeing. The illustrations present in the game (such as those accompanying the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skills you assign) are gorgeous examples of the game’s distinct style- the Pip Boy is present throughout, just like in the main titles.
Fallout Shelter is a mobile game. And it’s got great production values and interesting gameplay. It enhances the series instead of simply being a throwaway addition intended as an afterthought. It offers a new perspective worth the time of any fan of the series, no matter which platform they favour.
It’s an example that developers are realising that mobile gaming is a platform that deserves recognition and that they’re learning how to take advantage of what it offers.
It doesn’t just give us something to look forward to until Fallout 4 hits –although it achieves that nicely-, it’s a refreshing sign of what we can expect for mobile gaming.