Go for the lunchboxes
The rotating three objectives you have at any given time are a great way to supplement your income. They will never run out, so if there is a low-value objective you won’t be easily completing any time, feel free to give up on it in the hope of a better option. Goals that ask you to equip weapons or outfits are easy to achieve once you have a decent supply, since you can just strip and re-equip your dwellers to fulfill the requirements.
Objectives that reward lunchboxes are far and away the most valuable since they will often include more caps in addition to other resources, weapons, and occasionally rare dwellers with exceptionally high SPECIAL stats. By no means do you need to buy additional lunchboxes in order to play successfully, but an injection early on of supplies and special dwellers can do wonders for setting you on the right path. Given that the game is otherwise free, I didn’t have any qualms about kicking the developers a few dollars for such a delightful little game, but whether an how much to pay is obviously a matter of personal preference.
Rebuild the population
New dwellers are a rare commodity if you just wait for them to show up at your door. That means you will need to encourage the population you do have to grow from within. SPECIAL stats of the parents affect the resulting children, so you will generally want to breed your very best for a stronger next generation.
Thumbing its nose at conventional genetics wisdom, this also applies to stats that have been raised through training. The rare dwellers that show up from lunchboxes, with their naturally high stats, make for the best breeders then. Since the vast majority of unique characters are (problematically) men, the easiest way to do this is bring one to a living quarters, and fill the rest of the available slots with women for them to successively get knocked up.
Be sure to put them back to work once done, since they aren’t doing any good just wandering around the bunks once pregnant. The game thankfully doesn’t let parents make babies with their own children, so you’ll have to rotate male characters when you end up with too many direct relatives. Your dwellers are not especially picky beyond that, however, so don’t think too closely about the relationships you’re creating.
Out in the morning, in at night
Unless you plan on buying a lot of lunchboxes, you will need to send dwellers out to explore the wasteland and bring back precious weapons and outfits. They are essentially playing a conventional Fallout game for you, reduced to a passive stream of descriptive updates. No dwellers can survive forever out in the wasteland, but you will want to push them as far as they can go to get the most out of every trip.
Endurance is the most important stat for survival, but any other high SPECIAL seems to help. Higher level characters also tend to stay alive for longer. Load them up with Stimpaks and RadAways to help them stay alive as long as possible, but periodically check in to make sure they aren’t near death. Once their healing supply runs out, bring them back home to collect their findings. No one gets hurt on their way home, so you can safely use all of their healing supplies before recalling them.
No matter how efficiently they use their healing items over the course of an entire day, dwellers inevitably seemed to die if left out overnight (IRL). We found a good rhythm in sending out dwellers first thing in the morning, checking on them occasionally throughout the day, then calling them back before going to sleep at night. They do not take on additional damage or radiation while returning home, and will probably be back just in time in the morning for you to collect what they found and send them back out again for another day of hunting. As time goes on and you have some high-level dwellers and weapons, you can start to let them stay out longer, even for a few days at a time. The longer your dwellers are out, the harder the challenges and the greater the rewards.
Quest smarter, not harder
In July of 2016, Fallout Shelter added quests — Instead of simply exploring the wasteland scavenging for supplies, you can send groups of up to three dwellers to explore buildings and even other vaults. These missions, like most other tasks in the game, require some planning. The people you send won’t be able to help back at the Vault in the event of a raider attack or a food shortage. Each quest features certain level- and weapon-related requirements; generally speaking, you’re being pushed to send your best people, rather than your new, less useful people.
If you don’t want to pull extra dwellers away from their work, however, we recommend sending one or two overqualified characters on a mission, instead of three people who just barely meet the quest’s requirements. A level-50 dweller, for instance, can easily complete a level-10 quest on his or her own. The other two people who would have tagged along can stay in the vault safe and sound. If you’re sending a smaller team on a quest, you can also supplement them by pairing them with a pet, which can add additional support during close encounters.
Also, these quests also typically require several hours of travel time before and after the actual mission: If you need your wasteland-wandering heroes back quickly, you can call them back with Nuka-Cola Quantum — obtained from quests, lunchboxes, or the real-money store — you can make this process instant. We suggest you use these sparingly, but they can help in a pinch.
Once your Vault-Dwellers have completed their mission and return home, make sure you reassign them to their previous rooms or their talents can quickly go to waste.
How to get an edge in combat
Quest combat varies a little bit from raids and infestations. By clicking on an enemy character, you can select which enemy you want your Vault-Dweller to attack first, and lucky characters can land critical hits via a timing mini-game.
As such, there are three stats that you’ll want to maximize in quest-bound characters: Agility affects the speed of their attacks; while both perception and luck improve their critical hits. Raising a dweller’s perception slows down the icon you need to tap during a critical hit, making it easier to land critical hits. Lucky dwellers will get more chances to try and land a critical hit.
The Mysterious Stranger
Just like in the main series of Fallout games, you may occasionally run into a character known as the “Mysterious Stranger” in Fallout Shelter. Unlike Fallout 4, where he helps you through a tough fight, the stranger simply pops up around your vault every now and then, and will give you a wealth of bottle caps if you happen to find and tap on him.
When the stranger arrives, you’ll hear mysterious a three-note tune: The louder the tune, the closer he is to the room or dweller you’re currently examining. If the music is loud, do a quick sweep around the rooms adjacent to where you’re looking, if it’s softer, zoom out and look at room in the other areas of your vault. You only have a few seconds to find him, so make sure to keep your eyes and ears open at all times.
Sex and radio are proven mood boosters
Happy vault dwellers are productive vault dwellers (increasing their rooms’ outputs), so it’s always in your best interest to keep smiles on everyone’s faces. Having enough food and water and a well-matched job are the basic requirements for happiness. When that isn’t enough, there are a few other ways to turn those frowns upside-down. A radio station will help attract new dwellers from out in the wasteland, but it also serves the secondary function of keeping your population at home happy. Assign your most charismatic dwellers here to entertain the masses.
The second (and perhaps obvious) method of boosting your population’s happiness? Get them laid! Stick your depressed dwellers in the living quarters with someone of the opposite sex, maybe throw on some sexy nightwear, and let nature take its course. No one’s foul mood can survive a little dancing and repopulating.
You can easily avoid the microtransactions
Fallout Shelter is free-to-play, so that means you can shell out real cash for in-game items. The main type of microtransactions, the lunchbox, is essentially a loot crate, which gives you six new items. You can also buy premium in-game currency and other items. Basically, everything you encounter in Fallout Shelter can be bought with cash.
However, none of these microtransactions feel necessary to enjoy the game. In fact, it can be argued that buying them ruins some of the fun (and hurts your wallet). Part of Fallout Shelter‘s appeal is that it’s a great experience to check in on daily in short intervals. It’s rewarding to see your shelter evolve over time. Spending money on useful items can speed up the process to glory, but it’s a less satisfying path. It also helps that Fallout Shelter isn’t one of the free-to-play games that run out of juice and stops you from playing during a recharge period.