Vaults are an iconic part of the Fallout franchise. Developed by the publicly well-intentioned but secretly devious and (Let’s face it) pretty evil Vault-Tec Corporation, Vaults had more to them than meets the eye.
Supposedly designed to preserve humanity if the world meets nuclear devastation, most Vaults secretly carried out many awful experiments on their Dwellers. And almost all of them went horribly wrong (Or right, depending on how you look at it. Or right, then wrong). But what would happen if you were in charge of a Vault? Fallout Shelter lets you answer that question.
Fallout Shelter is a Vault management simulation game where you take on the role of Vault overseer. It’s your job to manage your Vault and its Dwellers and lead it in its continued success and survival in the Wasteland.
Initially released for iOS devices on June 14, 2015, Fallout Shelter was later released on Android devices in August 2015, PC in July 2016, Xbox One in February 2017, Steam in March 2017, and PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in June 2018.
Being a Vault overseer is no easy task for those who aren’t using their Dwellers as test subjects, and there’s a lot you’ll need to learn and master if you want to do well.
Resources: Power, Water, Food
At the top of the screen are three metrics: Power, Water, and Food. These are the three most vital resources of Fallout Shelter. Power fuels every room in your Vault. Water and food are necessary for your Dwellers’ survival. The minimum required Power, Water, and Food levels will increase the more rooms/Dwellers you have.
You must keep these resources above their minimum requirement or suffer consequences. When beneath the minimum Power threshold, rooms will start shutting down (Rooms furthest from Power Stations shut down first). When beneath the Water threshold, Dwellers start taking radiation damage. When beneath the Food threshold, Dwellers begin losing health.
There are 23 different rooms you can build in Fallout Shelter, each with three tiers. Most rooms can be single, double, or triple. Larger rooms take longer to produce results but provide better results than smaller rooms (Generally speaking). Larger rooms also cost more to upgrade.
You can merge rooms if they are on equal tiers. Upgrading a merged room will be cheaper than upgrading independent rooms. Upgrading a merged double room cuts costs by 25%, and merging a merged tripled room cuts costs by 34%.
Most rooms have a particular SPECIAL stat that governs it. By placing Vault Dwellers with high stat values of that particular SPECIAL stat, you will improve the efficiency of that room.
Most rooms in Fallout Shelter can have Dwellers in increments of 2 per tier. Single rooms allow for 2 Dwellers, double rooms 4, and triple rooms 6.
While not a room you can build, the Vault Door is still part of your Vault that you can upgrade. Upgrading your Vault Door gives it more HP which means invaders take longer to get inside your Vault. That gives you more time to prepare for the attack.
While not a room, elevators are still an essential buildable in your Vault. Elevators are how your Vault Dwellers traverse the many levels of the Vault. They take up 1/3 of the space of a single room.
Players can use elevators as a defensive mechanism to stall attacks or prevent them. Mole rats like to attack rooms that border dirt walls, so many players place elevators on the ends of each room to limit such attacks.
The living room is where your Dwellers go to lay their heads. Building and upgrading living rooms allows you to have more Dwellers in your Vault.
Living rooms also allow you to make babies who grow up into fully-functionally Vault Dwellers.
Charisma governs living rooms. Dwellers with high Charisma take less time hitting it off with one another, which speeds up the pregnancy rate.
The power generator room is the most vital room in your Vault as they generate (Shocking) power. Without power, the other rooms in your Vault shut down and no longer function.
Strength governs power generators, and you should place Vault Dwellers with the highest Strength in these rooms.
Water treatment is the second most vital room in your Vault. Without drinkable water, your Dwellers take gradual radiation damage until their HP bar bottoms out.
Perception governs water treatment plants, so you should place Vault Dwellers with the highest Perception here.
The diner is the third most vital room in your Vault. Diners are where your Dwellers go to take a load off and chow down. Without a sufficient supply of food, your Dwellers will gradually lose health.
Agility governs diners, so place Vault Dwellers with the highest Agility here.
Storage rooms allow you to own more junk, weapons, pets, and outfits. Weapons, outfits, and pets you currently don’t have equipped onto any Dweller will take up space in storage. You need at least 12 Dwellers to unlock the ability to build storage rooms.
Endurance governs storage rooms but has no tangible effect. Placing Dwellers with high Endurance in storage rooms will not increase storage space, but putting them there will improve their happiness.
The medbay allows you to produce stimpaks and increase your maximum storage capacity of stimpaks. Stimpaks are necessary for healing your Dwellers who take damage in the Vault, out in the Wasteland, or during quests. You need at least 14 Dwellers to unlock the medbay.
Intelligence governs medbays, so put your smartest Vault Dwellers here to make stimpaks as quickly as possible.
Science labs allow for the production of radaway and increase radaway storage capacity. Radiation damage significantly lowers your Dwellers’ HP, which causes you to spend more stimpaks to keep them healthy. You need at least 16 Dwellers to unlock the science lab.
Like medbays, Intelligence governs science labs, so stick your eggheads here.
The Overseer’s office enables you to send your Vault Dwellers on quests. Unlike every other room, you can only have one Overseer’s office. It is also limited to being a double room, and you cannot assign Dwellers here. You need 18 Dwellers to unlock the Overseer’s office.
You can send Dwellers out on 1, 2, or 3 quests at a time, depending on your Overseer’s office’s tier. Level 2 and 3 Overseer’s offices require 30 and 55 Dwellers, respectively.
The Overseer’s office is the last room you can easily build. The game stops sending you Vault Dwellers once you hit 18, meaning you’ll need to acquire more Dwellers through lunchboxes, breeding, quests, or radio studios to meet further Dweller requirements.
Radio studios send out broadcasts into the Wasteland in hopes of attracting new Dwellers. You need 20 Dwellers to unlock radio studios.
You typically only attract Common Vault Dwellers with broadcasts but also have a small chance of attracting Rare Vault Dwellers. Radio studios don’t come without risk, as they can also attract the attention of raiders or deathclaws.
Radio studios have a secondary function of improving Vault Dwellers’ happiness. The happiness of Vault Dwellers you assign to radio studios will improve, as will the general happiness of your entire Vault.
Charisma governs radio studios, so assigning Dwellers with high Charisma will improve your chances of attracting new Vault Dwellers.
The weapon workshop allows you to create various weapons using junk, provided you’ve found their crafting recipes. You need at least 22 Dwellers to unlock the weapon workshop. Weapon workshops only come as triple rooms.
Weapons come in three rarities: Common, Rare, and Legendary. You can only craft Common weapons with a tier 1 weapon workshop and must unlock the next two tiers to craft Rare and Legendary weapons. You need 45 and 75 Dwellers to unlock tiers 2 and 3 weapon workshops.
Weapon workshops have no governing attribute, but every weapon does. Placing Dwellers with the appropriate SPECIAL stat at a high level in the weapon workshop significantly reduces crafting time.
The weight room is the first training room you can unlock. It allows you to increase the Strength stat of your Dwellers. You need at least 24 Dwellers to unlock the weight room.
Like with all training rooms, upgrading your weight room’s tier also decreases training time, as does having maximum occupants at any given time.
The athletics room is the second training room you can unlock. It allows you to increase the Agility stat of your Dwellers. You need at least 26 Dwellers to unlock the athletics room.
The armory is the third training room you can unlock. It allows you to train the Perception stat of your Dwellers. You need at least 28 Dwellers to unlock the armory.
The classroom is the fourth training room you can unlock. It allows you to train the Intelligence stat of your Dwellers. You need at least 30 Dwellers to unlock the classroom.
The outfit workshop lets you craft outfits with junk, provided you’ve found their outfit recipes. You need 32 Dwellers to unlock the outfit workshop. Like the weapons workshop, it’s automatically a triple room.
Outfits, like weapons, come in Common, Rare, and Legendary varieties. To craft Rare and Legendary weapons, you need to upgrade your outfit workshop at 55 and 90 Dwellers.
Outfits all have their own preferred SPECIAL stat, and placing Dwellers in the outfit workshop with the appropriate stat at high levels will reduce crafting time.
The fitness room is the fifth training room you can unlock and the most important. It allows you to train the Endurance stat of your Dwellers. You need at least 35 Dwellers to unlock the fitness room.
The lounge is the sixth training room you can unlock. It allows you to train the Charisma stat of your Dwellers. You need at least 40 Dwellers to unlock the lounge.
The theme workshop allows you to create themes for your fully merged and upgraded living rooms and diners. Before you can craft any themes, you must complete their recipes by finding theme fragments in the Wasteland and during quests. You need 42 Dwellers to unlock the theme workshop.
Upgrading your theme workshop to tier 2 and 3 will drastically reduce crafting time. To upgrade to tier 2 and 3, you need 65 and 105 Dwellers, respectively.
Each theme has a preferred SPECIAL stat, and assigning Dwellers to the theme workshop with the appropriate stat at a high level will reduce Crafting time.
The game room is the final training room you can unlock. It allows you to increase the Luck stat of your Dwellers. You need 45 Dwellers to unlock the game room.
The barbershop allows you to customize your Dwellers’ hair and facial features. You need at least 50 Dwellers to unlock the barbershop.
Charisma governs the barbershop, and Dwellers with high Charisma will take less time to customize.
The nuclear reactor is the tier 2 version of the power generator room. It is more efficient at generating power and offers as much as four times the power storage capacity.
Unlock the nuclear reactor requires at least 60 Dwellers. Like power generators, Strength governs nuclear reactors.
The garden is the tier 2 version of the diner. It is more efficient and provides significantly more food than its tier 1 counterpart.
Unlocking the garden requires at least 70 Dwellers. Agility governs gardens as it does diners.
Water purification rooms are the tier 2 version of water treatment plants. They are more efficient than water treatment plants and provide more water.
Unlocking water purification rooms requires at least 80 Dwellers. Perception governs these rooms.
The Nuka-cola bottler is the final room you can unlock in Fallout Shelter. It is a combination tier 3 production room that produces both water and food.
The Nuka-cola bottler is very expensive to build. However, Nuka-cola bottlers generate food and water at the same rate as gardens and water purification rooms, thus being the most efficient production room in the game.
Unlocking the Nuka-cola bottler requires at least 100 Dwellers. Endurance governs this room, so put your most durable Dwellers here.
Players can rush any of the production rooms in their Vault. Successfully rushing a room will instantly give you that room’s resources, caps, and experience. Successfully rushing a room will also increase the room’s inhabitants’ happiness by 10% for 30 seconds.
Failing to rush a room will result in an incident occurring. These incidents range from fires to infestations of radroaches, mole rats, or radscorpions. Rush failure will also lower the room’s inhabitants’ happiness by 10% for 30 seconds. Rush success depends on the room’s residents’ governing attributes and Luck levels. With low stats, rush failure chance can reach as high as 86%. With max stats, you can keep rush failure chance at or below 50% permanently.
If playing on mobile, you get a guaranteed rush attempt every two hours by watching an ad.
Incidents are one of the ways Fallout Shelter keeps you on your toes. Incidents typically happen due to you rushing a room and failing. However, incidents also occur at random.
Incidents can be internal or external. Internal events include fires or infestations by hostile Wasteland creatures. If you don’t deal with an incident immediately, the incident will spread to multiple rooms in your Vault.
External incidents are when hostile creatures attack your Vault. These incidents will start out as raider attacks and progressively move up to more dangerous foes like feral ghouls, aliens, and deathclaws. These external enemies will rampage through your Vault until you kill them.
You can eliminate the chances of running into certain incident enemies by keeping your Dweller count low. Feral ghouls only show up at 40+ Dwellers. Aliens and radscorpions appear at 50+ Dwellers, and deathclaws rear their heads at 60+ Dwellers.
Common, Rare, Legendary
Dwellers come in three varieties: Common, Rare, and Legendary. Common Dwellers start with 12 SPECIAL points and no weapons or outfits. Rare Dwellers start with 28 SPECIAL points and start with rare outfits. Legendary Dwellers start with 40 SPECIAL points and often start with Legendary weapons and outfits. All Dwellers can level up to a max level of 50.
If a Dweller dies in the Vault, out in the Wasteland, or during a quest, you can revive them with caps (Unless you’re playing on Survival Mode, in which case death is permanent).
You can have up to 200 Dwellers in a Vault.
After the initial rush of Dwellers that the game sends you, you obtain more Dwellers via lunchboxes, quests, random encounters in the Wasteland, or childbirth.
You can breed new Vault Dwellers by placing a male and female Dweller in the same living room. After some talking, dancing, and kissing, they’ll go into the bedroom and call the stork. Pregnant Dwellers take three hours to give birth, and children take three hours to grow into adults. And here I thought Solid Snake had an accelerated lifespan.
Unlike the Vault-Tec Overseers of legend, you actually need to make and keep your Dwellers happy. Every day, a daily report grades your Vault based on the overall happiness level. The higher your happiness level, the more caps you get from your daily report check-in.
But most importantly, happiness improves efficiency. The happier your Dwellers are, the higher the efficiency bonus up to a maximum of 10% increased efficiency.
Every Dweller in Fallout Shelter can equip one weapon at a time. There are melee weapons, shotguns, energy rifles, power fists, missile launchers, and more. A weapon’s damage output is mostly all that matters except during questing, where you may want to use a weapon with AOE damage, even if it’s not the strongest weapon you have.
Every Dweller in Fallout Shelter can wear one outfit at a time. Outfits have no defensive bonuses, but they buff a Dweller’s SPECIAL stats.
Outfits have far more utility than weapons, and the best outfit at any given time will differ depending on if a Dweller is in a production room, questing, or out in the Wasteland.
What’s a post-apocalypse without pets?
Each Dweller in Fallout Shelter can have a single companion pet at a time. From cats and dogs to parrots and alien drones, pets offer a wide variety of beneficial effects. These benefits range from increasing your Dweller’s damage or HP to increasing their Wasteland return speed or improving the chances a pregnant Dweller gives birth to twins or triplets. Rooms can have one pet per room (Maximum of three pets per room).
If a pet is with you on a quest, it will fight by your side. If their owner dies on a quest or in the Wasteland, the pet will return to the Vault with all their owner’s items.
Pets are more or less unneeded early on, but in the late game, they are essential to improving the efficiency of your Vault and its Dwellers. You will obtain most pets from pet carriers, but can get a few of them from quests. And yes, they are immortal, as all pets should be.
SPECIAL is the iconic attribute system of the Fallout franchise. Seven attributes make up the SPECIAL system: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck.
Dwellers can only train their SPECIAL stat to 10, but outfit SPECIAL bonuses still apply. The highest outfit SPECIAL bonus in the game is 7, thus making 17 the highest your SPECIAL stats can go.
Depending on their SPECIAL stat spreads, Dwellers will be strong in some areas and weak in others.
Strength governs power generators and nuclear reactors and is the governing attribute for numerous weapons, outfits, and themes.
Strength is also the most important SPECIAL stat for Wasteland exploration. Based on testing (Bethesda is notorious for not explaining how things work in Fallout Shelter), Strength seems to improve how much junk you receive and the quality of said junk while in the Wasteland.
Perception governs water treatment and water purification rooms and is the governing attribute for numerous weapons and outfits.
Perception is arguably the second most useful SPECIAL stat since it plays significant roles in both questing and Wasteland exploration. During questing, high Perception increases the chances of finding encounter locations. During questing, Perception affects how fast your critical hit targeting reticle moves when aiming a crit.
Endurance governs Nuka-cola bottlers and is the governing attribute for numerous weapons, outfits, and themes. Endurance also reduces radiation damage in the Wasteland if 11 or higher.
Endurance is easily the most important SPECIAL stat in the game since it is the sole determining factor for a Dweller’s HP pool. The higher your Endurance, the more HP your Dweller gains when they level up.
A level 1 Dweller with 10 Endurance when they reach level 50 will have more than double the HP of a level 1 Dweller with 1 Endurance when they reach level 50.
Charisma governs radio studios and improves the efficiency of mating and barbershops. It also increases your likelihood of running into friendly NPCs in the Wasteland.
Intelligence governs medbays and science labs and is the governing attribute for numerous weapons, outfits, and themes. In the Wasteland, Intelligence increases the likelihood of finding stimpaks and radaways. It also improves your chances of successfully navigating encounters with certain NPCs.
Agility governs diners and gardens and is the governing attribute for numerous weapons, outfits, and themes.
Agility is the most important stat when it comes to questing (Assuming you already have 10 Endurance) as it increases the attack speed of your Dwellers.
Luck governs no rooms but still plays a vital role in Fallout Shelter. Luck improves your chances of successfully rushing a room and whether you get additional caps upon succeeding.
In the Wasteland, Luck affects your chances of finding items at Wasteland locations and increases the number of caps you get.
During quest combat, Luck affects how fast you obtain critical hits.
Questing is the meat and potatoes of Fallout Shelter. After unlocking the Overseer’s office, you can send your Dwellers on three quests at a time. Traveling to quests can take as little as 30 minutes or as long as 26 hours. On the positive side, return trips always take half as long.
You can use a maximum of three Dwellers per quest, though some quests restrict you to 1-2. Your Dwellers can use a maximum of 25 stimpaks and radaway per quest (Though if they obtain more during the quest, they can use the extras).Some quests have level, SPECIAL, outfit, or weapon requirements. Rewards range from caps, weapons, and outfits to recipes, theme fragments, and lunchboxes. Quests range from dailies, weeklies, seasonal or permanent.
Questing is the best way of improving your Dwellers’ weapons and outfits early on and can even give you a few Legendary Dwellers like Piper and Sarah Lyons.
While on quests or during Wasteland encounters, combat works differently from how it is in your Vault. In the Vault, combat is pure dice rolls, and all that matters is using weapons with the most damage.
During quests, Agility, Luck, and Perception are vital to improving how well your Dwellers do in combat. Critical hits can deal 5X as much damage as a regular hit and are great ways to take down bosses. You also gain access to the benefit of AOE weapons like missile launchers and Fat Man launchers. AOE weapons split their damage between every enemy in a room instead of a single target.
With only three quest slots available, only a maximum of nine Dwellers can go questing. To give the rest of your Dwellers something to do, you can send them out into the Wasteland.
Players can send a maximum of 25 Dwellers out into the Wasteland to explore. Wasteland exploration is by far the best way of leveling up your Dwellers to the level cap of 50. It’s also a great way of getting caps early on.
Like with questing, you can give your Wasteland explorers up to 25 stimpaks and radaway. While in the Wasteland, your Dwellers will collect weapons, outfits, junk, and caps. They have smaller chances of finding theme fragments or weapon/outfit recipes. They may even find Dwellers to recruit for your Vault. You are free to recall your Dweller at any time. But once a Dweller has collected 100 items, they will return to the Vault on their own.
Wasteland exploration is less important early on as the most useful items you get from it are junk (Which doesn’t become useful until the late midgame), but necessary later on if you want Legendary weapons and outfits.
If playing on mobile, you can advance the time of a Wasteland explorer by 30 minutes every three hours by watching an ad.
Players can have three objectives at any one time. These objectives vary greatly. Some require that you place Dwellers in their proper room (Which is the room that correlates with their highest SPECIAL stat), and others require you to survive several infestations.
Most objective rewards only reward caps, but some objectives reward lunchboxes, pet carriers, or Mister Handy units.
Crafting is essential for readying your Vault and Dwellers for the endgame. While you can obtain some Legendary outfits and weapons from quests, it will only be a few. The only way you’ll get the number of Legendary outfits and weapons from lunchboxes to equip all your essential Dwellers is if you spend a small fortune on lunchboxes.
Crafting is the only way to go. Spend plenty of time doing quests and hunting for Legendary outfits and weapon recipes. Once you’ve unlocked tier 2 workshops, you can significantly strengthen your Vault Dwellers and begin prepping them for the endgame.
Junk is precious, so don’t go overboard. Make sure you only craft what you need outfit-wise and only the best weapons.
The Mysterious Stranger will periodically appear somewhere in your Vault. He only sticks around no longer than 10 seconds before he disappears. If you find him before he does, he will give you caps. Sometimes he only gives you 50, and other times he gives you 2,500. If you’re on mobile, you can watch an ad to double your caps reward. That’s potentially 5,000 caps for finding the Mysterious Stranger once.
Caps & Nuka-cola Quantum
Caps and Nuka-cola Quantum are two vital currencies. You need caps to build and upgrade rooms, revive Dwellers and Mister Handy units when they die, and for crafting. You obtain caps from numerous methods, including rushing rooms, Wasteland exploration, completing objectives, Bottle & Cappy, and the Mysterious Stranger.
Nuka-cola Quantum is much harder to obtain. You will seldom get Nuka-cola Quantum as an objective reward or find it during quests. You can occasionally get some Quantum from Bottle & Cappy when they visit. You rarely get Quantum from lunchboxes, also.
Aside from purchasing Quantum with real-life money, the best way to obtain it, only if you’re on mobile, is by watching ads. You can watch a general ad every four hours on mobile. Watching said ad potentially gives you caps, lunchboxes, pet carriers, or Quantum. I’ve received as little as 6 Quantum or as many as 15 from a single ad.
You can use Nuka-cola Quantum to speed up training and crafting, skip objectives, immediately arrive at quests, or immediately return from quests/Wasteland exploration.
Do NOT spend Quantum frivolously.
Lunchboxes, Pet carriers, & Mister Handy boxes
Lunchboxes and pet carriers are the primary loot boxes of Fallout Shelter. Pet carriers give you Common, Rare, and Legendary pets. Lunchboxes can give you caps, stimpaks, radaway, resources, Quantum, outfits, weapons, Mister Handies, or Dwellers.
You can farm lunchboxes and pet carriers from certain objectives, find them on quests, or get them as ad rewards. You get a free lunchbox every week from your daily report card. Bethesda occasionally runs specials where they give out a few lunchboxes/pet carriers for free. But realistically speaking, the only way to amass a lot of lunchboxes/pet carriers in a short span of time is to purchase them with money.
Mister Handy boxes reward players with a Mister Handy unit. You can have one Mister Handy per floor. These handy robots will combat any incident on their floor and collect resources from production rooms. You can also send them into the Wasteland to collect caps. You can send up to five Mister Handy units into the Wasteland, and they return after collecting 5,000 caps.
Mister Handy units have HP just like Dwellers, but you cannot heal them. After they die, you can revive them at the cost of 2,000 caps.
Question: What is the Best Device/Platform for Playing Fallout Shelter?
Answer: Definitely mobile. Farming Nuka-cola Quantum on non-mobile devices is agonizingly slow. Finding the Mysterious Stranger on mobile allows you to double cap gains by watching ads (In other words, you can get over 5,000 caps sometimes). The guaranteed rushes come in handy in the early game, and the Fallout 25th Anniversary update is only available on mobile. Mobile is the only option, as far as I’m concerned.
Question: How do I get Bottle & Cappy to Come to my Vault?
Answer: You first need to complete the questline, Nabbed from Nuka-World. From that point on, Bottle & Cappy will periodically come to your Vault, improving happiness and showering you with caps and the occasional Quantum.
Question: What is Survival Mode?
Answer: Survival Mode is Fallout Shelter on sadistic steroids. Resources drain faster, deathclaws spawn sooner, death is permanent, and quests are harder. Don’t touch Survival Mode until you’ve successfully navigated running a Vault into the endgame on Normal Mode.
Fallout Shelter Game Overview: Conclusion
Fallout Shelter can be a very fun (Albeit one-and-done) experience. However, Bethesda’s management of this game has been…let’s be honest, awful. The game going four years without an update despite clearly having room for improvement speaks volumes.
The biggest overall issue with Fallout Shelter is that many gameplay elements are completely unexplained. It’s very easy for a new player to walk into Fallout Shelter blind and end up with a Vault wipe an hour into the game due to bad RNG and raider attacks.
So while many gameplay elements have Fallout Shelter leaning into the casual gamer territory, the lack of explanation on how Fallout Shelter works means a casual gamer likely won’t have a great time playing the game. That’s what we’re here for. Hopefully, this game Fallout Shelter game overview is enough to get you started off on the right foot.
All hail the Overseer!