Fallout Shelter is the best game of E3 2015. There. I said it. Ever since Bethesda announced the standalone game for iPhone and iPad on Monday I've been playing it almost non-stop. Despite the fact that it's great, it could use a few things to make it perfect.
For those who can't play Fallout Shelter (sorry Android folks), it's a simulation game set in the Fallout universe. You are in charge of a so-called Vault where people escape the nuclear winter outside to live out their lives underground. You're the Overseer in charge of the Vault, and are charged with the safety, productivity, development and reproduction of your dwellers. It's like Sim Tower at the end of the world.
Fallout Shelter allows you to gear up one of your dwellers and send them out into the nuclear wasteland in search of new weapons, outfits and in-game cash. The longer they stay out there, the better the rewards are. That's a great little game mechanic, but it's just that simple. They go out, they find stuff, they come back.
To make it truly great, dwellers exploring the Wasteland should be able to make contact with other NPC vaults, as well as the vaults of your friends via Apple Game Center.
That way, you could set up trade routes between different vaults (a la Sim City or Civilisation), or even send out a raiding party to trash your friends and better your own score.
In the larger Fallout universe, different vaults had different specialisations. Vault-Tec wasn't the world's most benevolent organisation, and had dwellers perform weird and dangerous experiments in some of their vaults.
Wouldn't it be cool if you could be a bastard of an Overseer and gear up your vault to perform all sorts of weird shit? It could be a trade vault, a science vault, a militant vault or go full-on weird and become a cannibal vault and eat the dwellers who don't work out.
The population screen is a great way of figuring out who is assigned where in your Vault, but when your kids grow into adult dwellers and just start wandering around the vault, it can be tough to figure out where they've gone and whether they're actually assigned to the rooms they're moseying through.
Putting an idle notification on unassigned dwellers would go a long way to helping you quickly identify who isn't picking up the slack in your vault.
It could be implemented very easily, too: in the same way that you're notified a dweller is ready to level up, you could put a little musical note above their heads as they wander around aimlessly, whistling to keep themselves entertained. Job done.
Ever dweller has unique S.P.E.C.I.A.L traits that make them ideal candidates for Wasteland exploration, vault defence and work in power, food or water generation. Picking up a dweller and dragging them to a room gives you an idea of how their particular S.P.E.C.I.A.L traits would affect that room's productivity, but it you have to drag a new dweller across your whole vault sometimes to figure out where they can be of the most benefit.
When picking up a dweller, it would be great if a room or two flashed as a recommendation as to what they might be good or most productive at. It would make assigning new dwellers and grown-up dwellers a lot faster and easier.
Instead of just sending your toughest dwellers out with massive guns and lots of Stimpacks out into the Wasteland to explore, wouldn't it be cool if you could assign them various missions?
Missions would have higher degrees of difficulty, meaning you'd have to choose specialist dwellers to send out. Perhaps a nearby vault door needs fixing and someone with high Strength is required? Maybe there's a band of Raiders camped nearby that you could attack and a big gun is needed? Or you could be the kind vault that delivers a steady supply of Rad-Away to a nearby town?
The possibilities are endless.
This actually surprised me when I started playing Fallout Shelter: you can resurrect your dwellers and your Wasteland explorers when they die. It costs you a certain number of Caps (in-game currency) to bring your dweller back from the icy grip of the Reaper, but as long as you've got the cash it can be done.
Wouldn't it be great if you could switch on a perma-death mode for Fallout Shelter? Your dweller dies, and that's it.
Perma-death mode would be great to have for rooms as well as people. When you fail a "Rush" in Fallout Shelter, a room either catches fire or has to fend off a Radroach invasion. Yet strangely once the danger is dealt with, your team goes back to staffing that room like nothing ever happened. By making the rooms take damage when you screw up means that you'd have serious consequences when a Rush went wrong. And when a room was eventually destroyed either through an incident or poor upkeep, you wouldn't be able to build over it. It would just sit there as a reminder of the time you failed.
Speaking of death, it amazes me that this morning I had a vault-wide approval rating of 8 out of 100 and everyone still chugged along with the jobs I'd assigned them with barely a gripe. All you really notice when your dwellers become unhappy is a frown on their faces in place of a smile. That's it really.
It'd be a fun twist if you as the mythical Overseer had a persistent health bar throughout the game, and could assign outfits and weapons to yourself as an in-game character. That way when your dwellers became furious they could revolt against you. Hell, you can shoot the Overseer in the face in Fallout 3, why not in Fallout Shelter?