I recently started playing Fallout Shelter on my phone. It’s a fun little distraction, no too hard to manage. Since the promotional nugget for Fallout 4’s newest DLC, Vault-Tec Workshop, was “build and manage your own vault”, I thought maybe it would be something like a souped-up version of Fallout Shelter, with the better graphics and interface of Fallout 4 mixed with the concept of Fallout Shelter. I guess that’ll show me for making hopeful assumptions.
During another lovely day in the Commonwealth, the Sole Survivor (that’s me) picked up yet another radio broadcast that lead them to a Vault door under siege by raiders; Vault 88, to be precise. After mopping up the scum, I popped the door and, under the Overseer’s urgings from the intercom, dealt with the former chief of security and reactivated the Vault’s workshop, which somehow allowed me to magically clear all of the debris that was keeping her trapped.
Upon meeting the Overseer, who has come down with a bad case of Ghoulification, she asks that I help her reactivate the Vault and bring in dwellers so she can run its intended experiments. For those of you who haven’t brushed up on your Fallout lore, the Vaults weren’t just big fallout shelters, they were also designed as social experiments to test the limits of humanity. I guess a fallout shelter can’t just be a fallout shelter.
After clearing out the surprisingly spacious caverns of the Vault, assisted by my good friend Mr. Kiloton Rifle, the Overseer and I brought in some folks from the Commonwealth: an incredibly paranoid woman, a mildly sketchy man, and a very… eager young man named Clem. After screening them, Clem was chosen to essentially be the prime subject in a battery of tests. The purpose of Vault 88, apparently, was to focus test a handful of experimental Vault-Tec devices for possible use in other Vaults (obviously, this would never actually happen for obvious reasons, but that didn’t seem to deter the Overseer).
There were four gadgets to be tested: an exercise bike that generates power, a soda fountain for increasing moral, some kind of optometrist dohicky for improving sight, and a slot machine for, well, gambling. Each gadget could be modified with an attached terminal and set with one of the pre-programmed alterations for a spot of pointlessly cruel science. For example, the exercise bike could be modified to subtly inject Buffout into the user to compel them to keep using it, the soda fountain could be spiked with an appetite suppressor to increase productivity, the optometry thing could bombard dwellers with subliminal messages about how great Vault-Tec is, and the slot machine could bankrupt dwellers into indentured servitude. The Overseer was rather gung ho about her assorted scientific cruelties, and Clem, being Clem, was all too happy to help.
I, on the other hand, being everyone’s chore boy, had to run errands before actually building the devices, such as mining the deeper parts of the caverns for uranium for the optometry thing, or picking up a box of happy gas from Hallugen Inc. (a dungeon that was already included in the base game, so it doesn’t really count as part of Vault-Tec Workshop; they literally just added a steamer trunk with a Vault logo at the end) to spike the soda fountain with. Once the experiments were finished (and one of our dwellers understandably bailed on us), the Overseer basically just said “kay, that’s it”, and I went on my merry way, secure in the knowledge that Vault-Tec is run by assholes, and I’d probably forget about it in a week.
That’s about all there was to it, sadly. There are new Vault-style settlement components, like hallways, floors, and atriums, and I’m sure if one could be bothered, it would be possible to build an actual Vault, just like the real ones. But that’s the rub; you can build your own Vault settlement, but why would you want to? There’s nothing to be gained from it, aside from screwing with your residents with a drugged-up exercise bike, which is funny like, once.
Honestly, I’d say the best part of Vault-Tec Workshop is the flavor text on the device experiments. To be specific, each device has an extremely mundane alteration you can put on, like a pleasant aroma emitter on the bike or just plain ol’ caffeinated soda in the soda fountain, all created by a mysterious scientist known only as “Ted”. The R&D notes on Ted’s experiments are all written by someone who hates him, and they’re honestly a pretty amusing read.
Bottom line: unless you really, really, REALLY want to build your own Vault and be a jerk to its residents, there’s nothing to be gained from Vault-Tec Workshop that you couldn’t glean from watching someone play it on YouTube.