This story is over 5 years old.

VICE vs Video games

How ‘Fallout Shelter’ Turned Me Into a Miserable Prick

The actual end of the world won't be as fucking depressing as this.

No time for feelings, this reactor needs servicing.

Freemium mobile game Fallout Shelter earned over five million dollars in its first two weeks on the market. And that's on iOS only, before its upcoming port to Android. I really don't get how this happened. Who are these people, spending so much money? All Fallout Shelter has done for me is made me realise a) just how much of a horrible prick I really am, and b) the world is a dank and depressing place. And I don't need to pay anybody anything to find either of these things out.


If you don't know what Fallout Shelter is, it's a free-to-play (plus all the usual in-app purchases) management sim thing that Bethesda whacked out to whooping applause from flabby-jawed fanboys at E3 2015. I downloaded it because I'm a fan of the Fallout series, and also of dressing people in clothes and dragging them around rooms that I've built and making them work for me. If that's the kind of thing you're into, then you might enjoy it for a little bit, just like I did. That is, of course, until it makes you realise that if there were a genuine nuclear holocaust, the last person who should be in charge of things is me – or you, for that matter.

Let's just wait here in the dark until the baby comes.

You're basically the overseer of a nuclear bunker, home to some of the last surviving humans on Earth. You put them to work running your shelter, either in the power plant, water science place, doing something on the radio or some other seemingly useless task, and you're responsible for keeping them happy by giving them food and that. You're also in charge of repopulating the world by slapping your dwellers together in the sweaty-walled confines of the living quarters and watching as some of the worst straight-white-boy-Tinder-chat erupts into your survivors slinking off for a fumble in the bogs to try to forget about when they had to push a pillow over their nan's face when the bomb hit.

I haven't had a couple not get pregnant yet. There must be something about having my frowning, chubby face watching these people rub their sexy bits together from the other side of the phone screen that acts as a better aphrodisiac than lies on GCSE results night. The hit ratio for couples getting up the duff in my shelter is off the scale.


Article continues after the video below

This is how Bethesda thinks babies get made.

Unfortunately that's probably the only thing I'm actually good at in Fallout Shelter and it's not anything to brag about because you basically haven't got to do anything for the sexy times to happen. I started to realise pretty early on that I was utterly rubbish at keeping my dwellers happy for more than 10 minutes, even when I was letting them fuck each other all day and hang out in my old-timey restaurant.

The result of this is that my shelter soon became full of depressed pregnant women and the worst thing is that they still have to work all day, rather than stick their feet up and pick out colours for the nursery (also, there is no nursery; kids are born already able to walk and just stroll around your shelter watching you labour all day, the workshy little chump-nuggets). I've had some pretty traumatising game experiences in my time, but watching a gloomy pregnant woman moan to the guy that chucked his grotty beans up her while also maintaining essential, life-maintaining power for her co-habitants is definitely up there in terms of bleakness.

You're smiling now, love. Just you wait.

At one point, my underground bunker of doom started properly getting me down, and I felt actually embarrassed when a new lady would turn up outside the vault with a big smile on her face, unaware that within the hour I'd have her pregnant and purifying the water supply for a bunch of dismal fellow shelter dwellers.


As if having to deal with a slurry of forlorn yet very fertile women wasn't bad enough, Bethesda made it a thing that even though the pregnant women are fine to work with dangerous and intense looking machinery, if there's a fire or an attack of some kind the non-foetus-filled women will help out while the baby mamas to be will lose their shit and start running around screaming, something which not only pissed me off but also other, smarter people like Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian.

On Motherboard: A Photo Tour of Nuclear Limbo

When did it get like this?

So thanks to Bethesda's annoying portrayal of such women as feckless, screaming baby-vessels, this meant if I was attacked by Radroaches (dog-sized bugs) someone was bound to die, and a lot of the time they were the fathers-to-be, meaning that the kids in my game were born into already tragic families.

Sheena never stood a chance.

Then it hit me: I just didn't give a shit about any of the people I was meant to be looking after. And that's not my fault, it's Bethesda's, because there just doesn't seem to be any point to any of it. Maybe there's a big end game that I'm yet to reach – though a quick Google would suggest not – but the game has pretty much stayed the same from when I had just a couple of rooms to now, where I have several floors of sickly looking, utterly despondent dwellers. I don't need this amount of guilt in my life, so I'm jacking it all in. I'm sure the actual end of the world won't be as fucking miserable as the couple of weeks I spent with Fallout Shelter. But spend your money, if you must: you're merely adding to the already substantial cost of human suffering.



More from VICE Gaming:

Photographing the People of Los Santos: A 'Grand Theft Auto' Photo Gallery

Six Suggestions for Ensuring 'Dark Souls III' Is a Series Best

Hey Internet Trolls, Nobody Cares About Your Frame Rate Woes