On Sunday night, Bethesda Softworks announced a ton of details about "Fallout 4," the latest chapter of its extremely popular post-apocalyptic game franchise. It could be one of the best games of 2015.
Though that game won't release until November, the company also announced another game — a mobile game for iOS — called "Fallout Shelter," which is now available to download from the App Store.
"Fallout Shelter" marks the first time Bethesda Softworks has tried its hand at an iPhone game. It's inspired by games like "The Sims," but it retains the unique retro-futuristic flair that makes the "Fallout" series so popular in the first place.
In "Fallout Shelter," you're charged with creating and maintaining your own vault, a network of complex bomb shelters that will be inhabited by cartoony-looking vault dwellers.
You can design your vault however you like, but you'll need to build certain rooms to survive the post-apocalyptic wasteland: living quarters to increase the number of people living in your vault, diners so vault-dwellers can produce food, water treatment facilities so dwellers can produce water, and power generators to provide enough electricity for all of these various rooms.
As you can see, your vault starts off pretty small. But as you build various rooms, it will start to feel more like home as dwellers enter your vault to work and live. It feels like something out of a Wes Anderson movie, but with that classic retro feel only "Fallout" can produce.
Once you've built rooms to produce power, food, and water, vault dwellers will appear at your door. You can tap and zoom in on each one, highlighting a unique personality and set of skills. These skills will be important in maximizing efficiency from each room within your vault.
One of the coolest aspects of this game is the ability to zoom in on each room and each character. The game has a surprisingly good stereoscopic 3D effect, which is both visually pleasing and provides a sense of scale. It's cool to look around corners and watch vault dwellers roam around, work, and talk to each other.
Like many popular mobile games, you can speed up the progress to make food, water, and power faster. And thankfully, Bethesda Softworks isn't forcing you to spend hard-earned cash — real-life cash, mind you, not the virtual stuff — just to progress more quickly. Instead, it's created a system where "rushing" the progress of any job has a small chance, about 33%, to "fail," which will result in negative events like small fires and roach infestations.
When your vault dwellers finish their tasks, they also produce bottle caps, or simply "CAPS," which is the currency in all the "Fallout" games, this one included.
To get more people living in your vault, you can either build more living quarters — which requires more food, power and water — or you can put a male and female vault dweller in the same living quarter and see what happens!
After just several minutes of interacting, the pair will go find an empty bedroom to make "happy faces"; when they emerge, the female's belly is noticably bigger.
And, after just a few hours of waiting, your vault couples will give birth! As Overseer of the vault, you can name every child — as you can see below, I named the first child of my two dwellers "Doctor," in honor of one of my favorite shows.
What's cool is these kids actually take on the attributes of their parents and they'll actually grow up, so pay attention to the attributes of their parents if you need more workers to either make food, or water, or power. It's all up to you.
So far, "Fallout Shelter" has been an entertaining experience with great replay value. Though it's not necessarily groundbreaking, it is visually enticing and has a ton of humor that the "Fallout" series is famous for. And best of all, the game is free and it all works offline so you won't need an internet connection once you download it.