Fallout Shelter guide - Everything you need to know for a happy vault

Revolutionizing fun for an uncertain future

The post-apocalyptic world of Fallout Shelter has proven to be a big hit on mobile, PC, and Xbox One. In this addictive building and management game, you take on the role of Overseer - constructing your very own vault and carefully managing the people and resources in it to create a thriving sun-free community.

However, managing an entire subterranean town isn't easy. Sure, the dwellers do all the hard work by turning the cranks, writing the notes, and shaking around the beakers of unknown substances that keep the operation going at a steady clip. But as the head honcho, you have to be careful about how you manage the vault's resources and citizens, or you're liable to end up with a population of idle, malnourished mole-folk who keep radioactive cockroaches as pets. Not a good time for anybody, really. To help you keep the citizens of your vault happy and healthy, we've put together this guide of critical information, which you'll need to make your underground town thrive. Read on, and turn that apocalyptic hell into an apocalyptic home.

Special stats

Just like the inhabitants of full-sized Fallout, the dwellers of Fallout Shelter all have a SPECIAL rating, which constitutes their stats. Each stat governs a different aspect of life in the vault, and making the best use of your dwellers’ abilities is key to their ongoing happiness.

Strength: Dwellers with high strength stats are perfect for physically intensive jobs, and are best suited for work in power plants.

Perception: Perceptive dwellers pick up on nuanced information with ease, and are best suited for work in water treatment plants.

Endurance: Dwellers with high endurance can withstand a lot of punishment, and are best suited for exploring the wasteland or for manning Nuka-Cola production plants.

Charisma: Charismatic dwellers are your most charming citizens and are best suited for work in radio stations. They are also better flirters and will sweep other dwellers off their feet faster, so they're your best bet for growing the population of your vault in a hurry.

Intelligence: Intelligent dwellers pick up on complex subjects quickly, making them perfect for work in medical bays or science laboratory.

Agility: Dwellers with high agility are nimble and quick on their feet, and are best suited to work in restaurants.

Luck: Lucky dwellers can fit just about anywhere, since rushing production is more likely to succeed with them around. They're also more likely to find rare objects in the wasteland if you send them out for a spell.

Once you’ve added enough dwellers to your vault, you can build training rooms that will increase particular stats, and you can also dress your dwellers in different stat-boosting outfits.

The right dweller for the job

As mentioned above, each dweller has stats that correspond to the different rooms of the vault, and aligning the best worker with the right room not only adds to overall happiness, it makes your production more efficient. Upgrading production rooms increases their output as well as their storage capacity, meaning you can make and hang on to more resources. You’ll also want to plan ahead so that you can expand production rooms by placing them next to each other, though they’ll only combine if they’re the same level. Expanded production rooms allow for more workers, which speeds up production.

You can check a dweller’s stats to see what room they’re best suited for, or simply drag them to the room in question to see what number they’ll add to its overall production rating. If you see a plus or minus next to the number, that means the dweller under your finger will swap out for one already in the room, thus raising or lowering the overall stat by the indicated amount.

Happiness rating

You’d think that your dwellers would simply be happy to be out of the wasteland and away from yao guais, but nope! They want a certain amount of comfort and contentment in their underground home, too, so you’ll need to attend to their happiness. The good news is that so long as nothing’s on fire, there are no corpses lying around, and the rad roach population is low, your dwellers will have a happiness rating of at least 50%.

You can raise that by putting them to work - particularly in a job they enjoy, breeding them (hey, nookie makes everyone happy), and putting in a radio room. The happier your dwellers are, the larger production bonus you get for food, power, and water. You can track your dwellers’ individual happiness either by tapping on them directly in the vault, or by tapping the cog in the upper left hand corner.

Power up

Nothing can happen in your vault without an ample supply of power, but not everything goes dark at once if your levels drop below the guideline. Rooms furthest away from your power stations go dark first, so make sure you place your most vital locations - diner and water plants - close to the juice. Going too long without the essentials can cut into your dwellers’ happiness, so if you find that you’re suffering too many brownouts, destroy unnecessary luxuries like training rooms or the radio station until you’ve got a better handle on your electricity needs.

Keep the big three resources in ample supply

While every room has its function, power plants, water treatment rooms, and restaurants/gardens are the most critical for a healthy vault, because a deficiency in their production lines can have devastating effects. A lack of power will leave rooms non-functional (starting with those farthest away from the plant), a lack of clean water causes radiation poisoning (represented by red in your dwellers' health bars that can only be healed with Radaways), and a lack of food will decrease your dwellers' health until they starve to death. To make sure none of that happens, prioritize the rooms that create those resources, ensure they're stable before you build out further, and make it a priority to set up more as you dig down deeper.

Complete objectives for caps and lunchboxes

You’ll always have three objectives, such as earning a certain number of caps or arming a set number of dwellers, and completing them will earn you rewards; the harder an objective, the more loot you receive for completing it, with the really good ones netting you a goodie-stuffed lunchbox. You can delete one objective a day if you’ve been given something that’s just beyond your ability at the moment. Don’t forget to claim your reward once you’ve finished an objective so that you can make room for a new one.

What’s in the box?

Caps are the in-game currency you’ll use to purchase and upgrade rooms in your vault, but lunchboxes are really where it’s at. Each lunchbox contains at least one rare or uncommon item, which could be anything from a fat wad of caps or even a high-level dweller. (I snagged a level 37 dweller from one of my lunchboxes!) You’ll earn lunchboxes for completing particularly difficult challenges, or you can simply buy them from the Shop tab. You don’t need to purchase anything in order to succeed at and enjoy Fallout Shelter, but the weapons, outfits, and resources you’ll find in lunchboxes will certainly give you a boost when it comes to getting your vault up and running.

Rushing

Don’t feel like waiting? You can rush for immediate resources and a slight XP bonus for your crew at the risk of setting the room on fire or bringing on the rad roaches. It’s worth a go if your chances are under 40%, but note that each time you rush, the chance for things to go wrong will go up.

Get mothers-to-be back on the job

It’s not particularly chivalrous to put super-pregnant women back to work, but hey, this is the post-apocalypse and everyone has to do their bit. As soon as a lady has finished making smiley faces with the male companion of your choice, she can head right back to whatever job suits her best. Rushing her back into the workforce isn’t just about equality, though, it’s about keeping your resources at their peak levels; pregnancy lasts for a very long time in-game, and going without her contribution can quickly put you into a shortage that you’ll have even more trouble getting out of once that deadbeat kid comes along.

Explore the wasteland

You may have the power, water, and food situation handled, but unfortunately your vault isn’t entirely self-sustainable. You’ll also need weapons and stat-boosting outfits if you’re to have any chance of surviving raiders and rad roaches, and those are out waiting to be found in the wasteland. Gear up your dweller with the best endurance and send them out to search for loot, but be sure to keep an eye on their health. They won’t take any damage or absorb any radiation on their way back to the vault, so push them to the brink and then bring them home. Just make sure you have stimpacks and Radaway ready to treat them, or else they’ll not only be vulnerable to attack from raiders or roaches, but they’ll also be pretty miserable. (Which is fair, really.)

What to do with Raiders

So, here’s the bad news: raiders are going to come and try to take your stuff. The good news is that you can fight back! The first step is the easiest: Upgrade your vault door to make it harder for them to break it. If you only have a handful of weapons, equip dwellers with your best two and station them in the vault entry as guards. If you’ve got plenty of guns, arm every dweller you have, so that even if the raiders make it past your foyer, they’ll be met with aggressive resistance. You can also drag dwellers to the necessary location so that they’ll fight, but remember that a room can only hold as many dwellers as it can when it’s not under attack, so you won’t be able to send your entire community after the invaders.

If you don't have enough guns to arm everyone, keep a few spares

You'll want to give your best weapons to any dwellers you have exploring the wasteland, but when you're first starting off, you may not have enough peashooters left to arm everyone in the vault. However, since radroach infestations can happen anywhere and the dwellers closest to the door might change between raider attacks, it's best to keep a few guns tucked away for anyone to use. That way, when a surprise disaster happens, you can arm the dwellers near the source the moment after it happens. That'll save your dwellers from trying to punch a sword-wielding bandit into submission.

Use elevators in case of an emergency

A single elevator shaft going through the heart of your vault is nice and neat and clean, but it also means longer travel times for any dwellers on the outer fringes of your society. An extra bit of a walk is fine if they’re just heading up to the barracks for a bit of hanky panky, but in the case of a raider attack or rad roach invasion, those few seconds can mean the difference between dead comrades and and a nice, quick burst of XP. Remember to plan for several different routes around levels to facilitate quick travel in event of an emergency.

Raise the stats of dwellers with middling abilities

While some dwellers may have obvious talents in one area or another, those who stagger in from the wasteland won't always be adept at any one specific thing. Thankfully, there's a solution in the form of stat-boosting rooms like the armory and classroom. Once you have 24 dwellers, you get access to the weight room, and an additional room meant to boost each of the SPECIAL stats as your population increases. After you set them up, send dwellers to train in any one of the rooms, permanently boosting the associated stat and making the dwellers better suited to a place in your vault.

Radio, radio

You may jump at the chance to build a radio station when you read that it increases your dwellers’ happiness, but don’t be so hasty. It’s true that tuning into the wireless cheers up your underground nation, but not by a dramatic amount, so weigh whether you want to spare the power and the people to man it. You can also use the radio station to attract wasteland wanderers to your vault, but it’s very hit and miss, even when you’ve upgraded your station a few times. The radio room is certainly a good addition to your vault, but make sure you’ve mastered the basics before spending the caps on it.

Next up: Dos and Don'ts for maintaining your vault