Platforms: iPhone (optimized for 5 higher), iPad, iPod touch, Android devices
Price: Free (In-app purchases are available but not necessary to play)
Content Areas: Language Arts, Math, Science
Suggested Age: Middle School, High School
Warnings: 12+ for infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes, Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References, Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Play Length: Unlimited
Number of Players: Single Player
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Medium
At the most recent E3 expo, Bethesda Softworks announced Fallout 4, a highly anticipated game that will most likely continue Bethesda’s domination of the post-apocalyptic RPG genre. One nice surprise that Bethesda also passed on to us was the release of Fallout Shelter, a stand-alone game the puts the player in the role of a vault overseer and gives the power to the player to build, nurture and sustain a vault of dwellers who are attempting to survive a radioactive apocalypse. Unlike Fallout 4, or the other games in the franchise, Fallout Shelter is rated 12+ so players who normally can’t play mature rated games will have a chance to enjoy some of the quirky aspects of the Fallout franchise without fear of experiencing inappropriate content.
As the game progresses, Bethesda has added ways to keep the player connected to his/her vault at all times. If you are not playing the game at any point, Fallout Shelter will send you a notification that the resources in one of your rooms is ready to be collected or that a child has been born in your vault and is ready to be a productive dweller. While these notifications make it hard separate from the game, they do allow some time for the player to stay up-to-date on his/her vault while away. Additionally, lunchboxes, cards, and other items can be purchased (with real money!) as add-ons to make the experience of living in the vault a little more enjoyable.
As the player can oversee multiple vaults at the same time, I decided to neglect one of my vaults in order to see what happens when a vault is not sustained. For better or worse, Bethesda seems to prevent the complete decline of a vault through neglect, however, if all of your dwellers are attacked by roaches or are caught in a fire, there may be an end to vault. It was difficult to neglect my vault 620 but I was able to oversee another vault at the same time to satisfy my urge to enjoy the game.
Fallout Shelter is an enjoyable experience that fosters a sense of resource management and allows players to identify strengths and weaknesses in the dwellers in order to survive. As a classroom teacher, I might find usefulness in this game if I were teaching sustainability or resource management. The ability to view each dwellers vital statistics and compare to other dwellers might be a fun way to identify strengths and weakness and how to sustain an organization for a long period of time. There are certainly possibilities for statistical analysis as well as trend analysis for use in a mathematics classroom and also numerous opportunities to write the background stories of the dwellers in the vault or to, as an idea, write a newspaper that is distributed amongst the vault dwellers for a language arts classroom.
In a project based classroom, I can see great potential in this game as a supplement to the use of novels such as McCarthy’s The Road or short stories like Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” where radioactive fallout seems to be an unspoken theme. Students could be grouped together in the class to develop their own vaults (using Fallout Shelter as a guide) and oversee their own dwellers in the class using a project-based framework.
After more than a week with Fallout Shelter, a stand alone game that shares a similar title to its counterparts Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 (Rated M), I’m impressed with the depth of gameplay Fallout Shelter provides and its ability to continually draw the player in to connect with the game through notifications and a “rush” mode that speeds up time. I’m worried, however, that I might need more stimpaks to sustain my vault for the next 100 years.
Educational Rating: 6/8
Classroom Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension
Overall Rating: 7/8
Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control