So with Bethesda up in arms about Warner’s new Westworld game, there has been a lot of noise in and around the interwebs about this issue. Bethesda, owner of the Fallout franchise, is claiming that Warner – together with Behaviour Interactive, who developed Fallout Shelter – ripped off their hit game by copying code and gameplay elements to Westworld. Warner has since denied these claims, and lo, a lawsuit is now in place.
So what could give us a better perspective of this issue? Well, we definitely think that getting some game time on both apps should be a good way to compare and to prove that it really does show Warner’s Westworld app “blatantly ripping off” Fallout Shelter. We’ve played Fallout Shelter before, and it’s a casual game that is surprisingly deep for its genre. It looked like Bethesda (and Behaviour Interactive, ha!) really hit it out of the park with the game’s design.
We took some time to get some gaming hours under our belts with Westworld, and we’ve written down some notes on this game as well. At the end, you’ll find out what we think about the gameplay and how they compare with each other.
Westworld – a theme park simulator with potential
Westworld is a theme park management simulator – because that’s what Westworld is coming from the TV series canon. Most of you will be familiar with the hit TV series, and will be expecting some connections from the game to the series here and there. Up front, we found that the connections to the TV series were all conceptual and pretty flimsy at best. That doesn’t take away from the gameplay, though.
The elements of a management game are front and center in Westworld. The game will be somewhat like those “tycoon” management games you find all over the Play Store, with a dash of RPG elements. Players will be asked to get in to the character of a trainee at Delos Corporation, the familiar company behind the Westworld theme park in the TV series. The game’s goal is for players to have a good army of hosts – the robotic androids powered by AI that cater to the needs of the park’s guests. Manage the park, keep everybody happy. Pretty simple right?
The game has two distinct areas that players toggle between – the Worstworld theme park above, and the Delos labs that exist underground. The over-ground elements are different locations in the park, where players can use their hosts to interact with park guests and gain in-game currency for successful interactions.
The underground labs is where Westworld seems to be most like Fallout Shelter. There are different bays that represent park divisions from the TV series. You have a host manufacturing lab, you also get Ford’s office, a reparation bay, and an interrogation unit. Players will toggle between the labs because the game will need to give you a balanced gameplay of creating and repairing hosts (in the underground), and using the hosts to interact with guests (in the over-ground).
Our experience with the game was not overly exciting by any means, but nor was it boring. There was a lot in there that was interesting, especially the interrogation part where writers from the TV show helped in the content – giving you totally Westworld-type conversations that can be philosophical and funny. We were quite disappointed with the lack of strong connections to the TV show – aside from the very few cameos of characters from the TV series. All in all, there is potential in the game for those who like management and simulation games.
Conclusions: Does it feel like a Fallout Shelter ripoff?
We have to say that from the number of hours we played around with Westworld – and from the countless hours we spent on Fallout Shelter – the games are nothing alike. The vibe and gameplay elements in both games are totally different, such that you don’t feel like you’re playing a similar game.
Granted, there are similar elements from both games, but you can count with your fingers which games in the Play Store are absolutely original in their gameplay. Most games copy from a well-worn book of gaming formulae, and that’s a fact. Leveling up structures in a simulation game, different areas for different functions (labs or rooms in a vault), and sending out people or hosts to do your bidding is as much as Bethesda can claim that Warner copied. In all honesty, that’s really not saying much.
Now if code and intellectual property were copied, that’s a totally different story – and we hope Bethesda can back those claims up.