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New Fallout game out today – on iOS

Fallout Shelter iOS game screenshot

Vault management game Fallout Shelter released during Bethesda's E3 press conference

Now this is a surprise – we knew Bethesda was going to be talking a lot about Fallout 4 at its first ever E3 press conference, but we had no idea we would be getting an entirely different Fallout game, for free, today. Fallout Shelter is a free-to-play game for iOS (with an Android version apparently on the way soon) that lets you manage your own Vault.

On opening the game for the first time, a random generator decides what your Vault number will be. You’re then put in charge, with an Xcom-style map overview letting you add extra rooms to your vault. We gave it a brief try and already had power generators, diners and a water treatment plant, but there looks to be a lot more possibilities once you start playing properly. You can send suvivors out into the wasteland to search for more resources, but they have a chance of not coming back, and while you can speed up the time it takes to earn caps from workers, there’s a good chance the rush will fail – leaving your vault dwellers to fight fires and deal with disasters you’ve created.

Fallout Shelter screenshot

Each room has a SPECIAL attribute, which affects your vault dwellers differently depending on their own statistics, meaning you have to pick the right people for the right jobs. Vault-Tec gives you a daily raiting based on your performance as Vault overseer, and your Vault dwellers earn caps for you to spend on more expansion. Your dwellers can level up as you assign them tasks, making them better at their respective jobs.

According to Bethesda’s Todd Howard, Fallout Vault is the game his team would want to play when away from a PC or console – meaning it doesn’t have any paywalls or waiting to make moves. There are in-app purchases, which unlock lunchboxes filled with random loot drops, but these can always be obtained through regular play without having to open your wallet. You also don’t need an internet connection to play.

The graphic style, a mix of rendered backgrounds and Pip-Boy stylised characters is unmistakeably fallout, and the Vault-tec notifications have the series’ signature humour too. Fallout Shelter looks like a fun distraction while we count down the days until the release of Fallout 4 – and that’s coming from someone who typically can’t stand mobile games at all.

Fallout Shelter is available now on the iTunes store.