Sheltered 2 is a fantastic survival management game with good crafting and resource expeditions. Combat was of lesser quality but still interesting enough, though it wasn’t my focus if I could avoid it.
Sheltered 2 is a survival management simulator developed by Unicube Studios and published by Team 17, The game releases on September 21, 2021, on Steam and features revamped combat systems and 3D visuals compared to the original game released in 2016. I never played the original but was intrigued by the prospect of playing a modern and 3D version of a game like Fallout Shelter mixed with slight elements of Xcom. It has a bit of a learning curve, and the tutorial just stops giving help after your first expedition. The main aim of the game is to take out or ally with all six factions you’ll encounter in each play through. Whether you go in guns blazing, or try to appease all six faction leaders, is entirely up to you and your play style. I mostly went the passive route, though I did want to see what combat involved. This is a great game for those that like survival management games and sending out expedition parties to scrounge for supplies to build new devices and upgrades in your shelter.
You start by customising your faction’s name, flag colours and emblems, as factions are given a focus on Sheltered 2. Next, you’ll customise the look of your character and there are a fair number of customisations available here, only you can’t zoom in to see the effects up close. You’ll want to pay attention to the stats and traits that you choose. There are a few presets you can choose from if you just want to get stuck into the gameplay, otherwise you can get down into the detail of spreading points over six stats and then read through the list of traits that you can spend five points on.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the game, not having played the first Sheltered, so I just took the talented trait which means this leader character will gain double skill points when levelling up. The leader character is important, not only for being the leader of your ragtag faction, but if he or she dies, the game is over. So, whilst they may be your better character stat/trait wise in the group, you need to be mindful and protective of them when putting them to work and especially when sending them on potentially dangerous expeditions.
Once you’re happy with your leader, you are then given two randomly generated characters to join your party. You can fully customise these characters too, both with their looks and their stats/traits. Again, I wasn’t sure what to expect so I just went with what was rolled by default. Having now played the game for several hours, I have a better understanding of what I can expect to come across in the game so would make some more informed choices, but I made do with the party I was given. Over time, you’ll have other survivors come knocking at your shelter door asking to join the group, so if you do find you’re deficient in some areas, you may luck out with future settlers.
The tutorial for Sheltered 2 did a reasonable job at teaching me the basics of the game. From gathering resources in junk piles in the sand above the shelter, to breaking down items to obtain crafting components, and observing the characters’ stats in your party, knowing when they need to eat, sleep, take a shower, go to the toilet, etc. Each character can be automated to eat, drink, sleep, shower etc, however you do have limited oxygen and water coming into the shelter. I was lucky in that I had regular rain showers, and no irradiated ran (yet), so water wasn’t an issue until I started recruiting more survivors into the team. You also need to get the sink and soap up and running early because once your people start getting dirty and then eat food, they risk getting food poisoning and vomiting in the shelter. This was a good prompt to build a bucket and mop!
I did have to start a new game after about an hour of playing as I had forgotten what I really should be doing in the game, but it was also very late at night, and I shouldn’t have loaded up that one more game before bed. It certainly was easier to follow and understand the tutorial prompts the second time around. If you’re ever stuck for what to do, there’s an in-game glossary that explains how to do most tasks. Then there’s your faction flag which you can right-click and select goals. It has set achievements for you to complete, and the first one helped me get my settlement established to meet the basic needs of my party of survivors.
Building 101 tells you to make an extra room and a build a bed, toilet, shower, and stove. In doing so, you’ll need to break down items into resources, use those resources to make crafting components, and then craft those into items. Don’t worry too much about layout of items within the shelter. In other similar games, once you place something, it’s there forever, but in Sheltered 2, you can go to the drafting table and rearrange the shelter which is a great feature for the perfectionist survivalists.
I did have to send some party members out on expeditions to scout for additional supplies looking for fuel, metal sheets and cloth. Some items are labelled as junk, so you know for sure you can break those down. Other items like sheets of metal, are crafting components of themselves, but also can be broken down into metal shavings to make nails, valves, and other parts. I ended up breaking down all my metal sheets to make items to tick off that task list, but then the next items I wanted to make required metal sheets – doh!
One thing to pay attention to is each character’s mood and desires. Their mood will tell you things like, they’re cold, or it’s dark. In these examples, you could build a keg burner which will warm up a small room, and one thing I neglected for hours was lighting. They kept saying it was dark and I’m like, I know! When it’s night-time, there are floodlights up outside the shelter, and the first level has lights, but the second level, which I called the living quarters, didn’t have any lighting at all. I don’t know why I didn’t notice lack of lighting until hours later. I crafted some lights and then they reminded me they were cold, so I had to send out more expeditions in the hopes of finding wood. There’s no indication that a particular location will net you specific resources, so it was all up to chance in my playthroughs.
You’ll also need to watch the weather report scrolling across the top of the screen and you have a weather vane that you need to keep repaired. You can upgrade it to give you an earlier weather forecast by two days, which is handy, or increase its durability. The oxygen meter can be upgraded to support more people with enough oxygen inside the shelter, as well as increase its durability and resistance to dust storms. There’s also a garden bed that you can plant seeds for broccoli, tomatoes, and then keep them watered. Remember though, you need water to survive and so must balance water for crops, showers, the toilet and for drinking. Once you’ve grown the crops, you can cook them into meals which give greater sustenance, and store them in the pantry. The level of detail in things that you can do are spot on for a survival game. There are so many facets to pay attention to in Sheltered 2 but it doesn’t get overwhelming thankfully, in fact it slows the pace of the game which I quite liked. I could think methodically about what I wanted to do next and plot how best to achieve it.
When you send an expedition out, initially you’ve only got a small map of unlocked tiles to explore and you can see your party’s power level in the bottom left corner of the screen. Your shelter is actually at the centre of a 100 square mile map which is huge. I only had one tile that had a broken-down bus that I could scavenge for resources. You can equip weapons and other items like armour, satchels, sleeping bags for more energy, and other equipment with your scouting group, but you must craft them first and they add weight which reduces the amount of loot you can carry back. As you scout to the edge of the visible area, you’ll slowly start to widen your horizons, until you come across other factions/groups of people. Here’s where things can get interesting.
I started with only a single set of knuckle dusters, so I went the path of least resistance and chose to work together. I ended up finding three factions around me and chose to be peaceful with all of them. Once back at camp and I rested my weary travelers, you have the option to try scavenging their buildings, bridges, and junkyards for loot, though at great risk to the scouting party, or you can radio them from your shelter. Radioing them gives you options to complete jobs for them, trade or request an alliance. Early on I didn’t have enough resources to complete jobs while I was still establishing items in my shelter.
If you do come across another faction when you’re standing in their turf, indicated by different coloured tiles on the map, you can choose to be hostile and attack them. If you’re confident you can handle the fight, the game switches into combat mode where it’s turn-based combat. Depending on the skills of the character and any weapons they’re using, will give you options to attack an enemy. You could do a melee attack with the knuckle dusters or throw rocks at them, or use a skill such as poison punch. Your skills use is limited by your stamina which regenerates slightly each turn. You can also target specific body parts by selecting them on the right of the screen. Be warned though, your characters can suffer ailments such as a broken leg, or worse where death is permanent. If your leader dies, it’s game over.
I spent a larger proportion of my time in Sheltered 2 working undergound trying to keep my crew happy. Once I unlocked tier 2 crafting, I needed more specific resources, so my time switched to sending out expeditions and doing spot raids of buildings in other faction’s territory. I was only sending one-person parties so I was pretty lucky not to encounter combat more often, but I did grab lots of glorious loot. Much of the loot I couldn’t carry as there was only one person’s carrying capacity, so I would send them on multiple runs. You can craft satchels to carry more and sleeping bags to give the party extra energy. If you do find yourself in a combat enounter, you do have an option to flee. There’s a chance the flee attempt could fail, and you’d have to fight them anyway, so be mindful of how far you push your party in the expeditions, and be sure to aim to craft armour and weapons once you unlock them.
Storage in the shelter can become an issue if you don’t build some additional containers. Thankfully there is a junk pile just outside the shelter door for overflow items. However beware, every now and then you’ll see a random human walking into your area and snooping into your junk pile. They will steal random things too, and there’s nothing you can do to stop them, so be wary of what you leave in there. Sometimes you’ll get traders stop by, and if you have some valuable items like gold nuggets or other such things, keep them on hand for when the trader comes as goods have steep values. Fair enough in this wasteland environment, I guess. Your shelter could even get raided by looting bandits, and in this instance you could have the foresight to set some traps leading to the bunker door. They could set fire to your shelter, so it’s best to build at least one fire extinguiser once you have the resources. There are so many things to consider and plan for things to go wrong, but it has been so fun learning and strategising that it never felt too difficult or a pain to have to deal with combat situations.
Overall, Sheltered 2 is a fantastic survival management game with good crafting and resource expeditions. Combat was of lesser quality but still interesting enough, though it wasn’t my focus if I could avoid it. I had a lot of fun just tinkering away working on crafting, searching for better resources, and unlocking more crafting tiers to outfit the shelter better for my crew. I’m still really only scratching the surface of this game and it will be part of my regular game rotation for some time.
This review utilised a key provided by the publisher and Sheltered 2 will release on September 21, 2021 on Steam.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis