Fallout Shelter – Gaming Survival Mode

This guide outlines the things you need to know going into survival mode. Maybe you like it hardcore, are a control freak, like inflicting misery on little computer people, or maybe just wanted the achievements. Or, if like me, all of these! 🙂

This is a Two-minute Warning

Events happen more frequently in Survival mode. It can be pretty relentless if you get multiple Deathclaw attacks back to back.

One of my early survival mode vaults was wiped out that way, as I wasn’t up to scratch with weapons or stimpack production.

Here’s an example of 20 minutes play at 45 dwellers:

  • 02:20 – Raider attack
  • 03:35 – Bottle and Cappy visit
  • 04:09 – Radroaches
  • 07:09 – Raider attack
  • 10:41 – Raider attack
  • 12:57 – Feral ghoul attack
  • 14:42 – Molerats
  • 16:35 – Raider attack
  • 17:23 – Room fire
  • 19:45 – Deathclaw attack

There are longer breaks in events, that’s just an example of it being hectic.

Here’s the hazards and triggers you need to know to get started.

  • Starter Hazards: Fires and Radroaches

    Radroaches aren’t much of a threat. Fires in survival mode are particularly fatal when a room is upgraded and understaffed, or has low level dwellers.

  • 12 Dwellers: Raiders

    Raiders are the stock attackers of the game. Initially not well armed or damaging, they can still put a dent in your resources and stimpack stockpile. Number and strength scales based on caps, junk, population, etc.

  • 21 Dwellers: Molerats

    Not the biggest pest, but they do eat power quickly in high numbers.

  • 36 Dwellers: Deathclaws

    Yep. After you get 36 walking snacks…er…dwellers, Deathclaws start attacking on a regular basis. Strength scales based on population.

  • 41 Dwellers: Feral Ghouls

    Weak compared to Deathclaws, but the radiation damage adds up on back to back attacks.

  • 51 dwellers: Radscorpions

    …and there we have it. The most annoying of any of the hazard events pops in after 50. Inflicts radiation damage, moves between random rooms, and can be particularly tough. Pinning helps because they move so randomly, and unless they helpfully move to a full production room, the key is to dump as many well-armed dwellers in the same room as quickly as possible.

General Increases

Starting at 100k caps and/or lots of rare junk? Bigger and badder raider parties. Higher level rooms – more damaging hazards, tougher enemies. Bigger rooms: Longer lasting fires, and increase in mob numbers.

Survival & General Tips

You probably know this, but from the top:

  • Never upgrade the vault door. You want the hazard event done; Everything just breaks in anyway.
  • Develop a frontline killbox to deal with the incoming mobs quickly.
  • Early on especially – Keep all rooms at level 1 to keep hazard events low strength. Aim to keep level 1 rooms all over for this reason.
  • Fully staffed rooms are needed to effectively deal with events. Don’t build a 3 block room until you can staff a 3 block room.
  • Use firebreaks – hazards don’t spread diagonally or across gaps.
  • Ensure your first couple of rooms are staffed with the highest dwellers and best guns for deathclaws. You are going to want rare weapons across the board, at least.
  • Until radscorpions, it is safe to build unstaffed storage and sleeping quarters gapped/diagonally away from production rooms, and just ignore those events.
  • When you hit high dweller numbers and can afford to staff all rooms, organise empty rooms so travel time is minimised if you have to drag and drop.
  • Pin it: Having a single dweller in the [store|living|overseer] room to pin the event is super useful, allowing you to drop in support without the risk of spread.
  • Bottle and Cappy are your best starting support asset. For starting caps and nuka cola, its worth doing as soon as you can. Note that I lost a level 24 full HP (but low END) dweller on the boss’s special attack at the final mission, but won in the end.
  • Dweller HPs: Starting and radio-recruited dwellers start at level 5, but low starting END stats mean lots of missing HPs. IMO, it is worth re-generating the dweller pool from level 1’s, trained to max. It means better survival and using less healing resources. If you want to be really l33tist, you can repeat this process when you get legendary “Heavy Wasteland Gear” that bears the +7 END stat.
  • Killbox for invading forces. Mine goes like this:


    L1 vault door, the entrance empty – 2 defenders are not worth much. Power rooms are fully staffed with max END/STR level 35+ dwellers wielding legendary/rare weapons, and any spare pets. Only the occasional Deathclaw pushes to the first room on level #2. Stimpacks are only needed to heal the 6 on the first floor.
  • Starting out and unpacking your lunch, rare/legendary weapons are more useful than dwellers. Except those that come with decent weapons, obvs.

That’s all folks. Good luck unboxing those lunches.

Helena Stamatina
About Helena Stamatina 2715 Articles
My first game was Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot (PlayStation) back in 1996. And since then gaming has been my main hobby. I turned my passion for gaming into a job by starting my first geek blog in 2009. When I’m not working on the site, I play mostly on my PlayStation. But I also love outdoor activities and especially skiing.

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