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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fallout Shelter is a spin-off of the Fallout video game series, which is rated M for mature and not recommended for kids due to gory violence. This simulation app is tamer, but it does contain some cartoon-like violence including some death and lots of weapons. There's also implied sex: Dwellers work specific jobs in the underground vault, and if a male and female dweller are alone in the living space for a few minutes, flirting ensues and the female gets pregnant. During the act, the dwellers are hidden behind a bedroom wall, and kids will only see several smiley faces before the couple emerges, one with a big belly. It's integral to the game because that's one of the ways to increase the population. One of the rooms that can be built when play advances is a lounge or bar, so there is some drinking, and there are references early in play to wanting a beer. The app does contain in-app purchases to buy lunch boxes filled with special cards but is totally playable without them.
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What's it about?
As the overseer of a post-nuclear war fallout shelter in FALLOUT SHALTER, teens assign their vault a number (they can manage multiple vaults at once) and add to the shelter, building rooms and keeping the dwellers happy. To thrive, the shelter needs living quarters, power generators, water treatment facilities, and diners to supply the resources the inhabitants need -- food, power, water, and so on. The overseer builds the rooms and assigns the dwellers to work in them, knowing they'll work better in jobs that fit their special abilities. Hitting certain achievements earns caps -- which serve as currency -- or lunch boxes, which contain gifts of outfits, weapons, and more caps. The overseer has to manage the dwellers and resources as well as defend against radiated pests and raiders from the wasteland, all while keeping his dwellers healthy and happy. The vault continues functioning when kids aren't playing, and they'll receive notifications about the Dwellers' status.
Is it any good?
Fallout Shelter is addictive fun. Players can get their vaults running and move on to "real-world" tasks, tending to a vault occasionally or when alerted via a pop-up notification. Teens can manage multiple vaults, too, trying out different scenarios and strategies as a faux social experiment. The premise -- humans living underground after a nuclear disaster -- is not for young kids or sensitive teens, and the violent and sexual themes may not be for everyone either. There's quite a bit of character interaction when dwellers are working together, with thought-provoking and witty conversations going on. In terms of in-app purchases, players will find it very easy to earn lunch boxes and enjoy the bounty they provide without buying them early in the game. Later in play, those boxes are scarce and their bounty missed, which may lead to requests for them via in-app purchase. Though the tutorial is very helpful and the basics are simple enough, there are some elements that aren't explained initially, such as how to gauge a character's strengths or what certain icons mean. In general, Fallout Shelter is a well-designed sim with lots of interaction and clever character development.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about personal strengths. Vault dwellers are happiest and most efficient when they're working in an area that uses their strengths. Ask kids which job they'd be best at. Why?
The dwellers also can train to get better at a job. Talk to kids about how sustained effort can develop skills and talents in the real world.
Discuss setting priorities and how to do it. How do you make decisions about what's most important?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
- Pricing structure: Free (Lunchboxes of bonus cards are $.99 for one or $19.99 for 40 but are not necessary to play.)
- Release date: June 15, 2015
- Category: Adventure Games
- Topics: Adventures
- Size: 200.00 MB
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks LLC
- Version: 1.0.2
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.