During these expeditions, you’ll inevitably run into other survivors from different factions; every location that can be explored comes with an encounter chance, indicating the likelihood of combat. Whenever this happens, you’ll have a choice: either take them on in battle, or trade resources and form an alliance if they’re other survivors. If you decide to take them on, you’ll have to fight it out in a turn-based battle. Gameplay-wise, the battles feel very similar to Wasteland or XCOM. Who gets to take the first turn in battle will depend on a character’s strength and dexterity stats, and you’ll have to think carefully about where to position each character in relation to the enemy. While I felt like Sheltered 2 didn’t reinvent the wheel when it came to combat, it did keep things interesting. It also made it feel like the stakes were high for my expedition party, in order to make it home in one piece with their gear.
As you progress through the game and meet different survivors and factions, you’ll eventually be able to complete several faction goals. Unlocking these goals will reward you with more complex recipes, different craftable items, and new abilities. While some goals are straightforward, like crafting an item, others will only unlock if you form alliances with particular factions or take them out entirely.
Overall, I found that Sheltered 2 was pretty entertaining. In its resourcing, crafting, and gathering mechanics, the game presents players with engaging conundrums. I enjoyed having to think carefully about what resources to craft and when, and who should craft them. While managing life inside my shelter could be tedious at times, I found that the expedition parties spiced things up nicely. The only thing I struggled with, especially initially, was the game’s user interface. Since it hides a lot of complexity, it’s easy to lose track of where to look for statistics and it took a while to get the hang of where everything was. While the tutorial goes some way to remediate this, it still barely scratches the surface of all aspects you’ll need to keep an eye on throughout a playthrough. It was only after playing for quite a few hours that I found myself settling into things and truly enjoying the experience.
In that sense, strategy fans who shy away from a lot of statistics and micromanagement might find Sheltered 2 a little too much. However, if you’re not deterred by a bit of micromanagement and grinding to get the hang of everything in the game, Sheltered 2 will surely offer you an interesting strategy challenge to get stuck into.