Thoughts From Fallen Earth

By Phill Cameron on October 19th, 2009 at 3:21 pm.


Post-apocalyptic MMO Fallen Earth has been live for a few weeks now, and it’s garnered some mixed opinions. We decided it was time to send one of our own sinister agents down into that canyon and see what he could find. Did Icarus Studios fly too high? Or have they earned their wings? Read onwards for splendid revelation.

Wrapping and moulding Fallen Earth to fit three words would be easy; it’s just a matter of conjuring a certain picture in your head and pointing at it and saying ‘That! That’s basically it!’. Of course, that’d be incredibly unfair to the developers, and all but dismiss their game as a fan service. So it would be entirely wrong to call Fallen Earth Fallout: the MMO. But it’s the thought on your mind when you begin to play, and the niggle that stays with you throughout you playing, slowly fading to a dull impression, until it’s gone entirely.

Fallen Earth has all the staples that would make a Fallout MMO: it’s a post apocalyptic setting where you’re an outsider who has to learn the ways of the wasteland, and establish yourself a life there. It’s hardly fair though, and is just as useful as claiming that World of Warcraft is Lord of the Rings: The MMO. Beyond a casual reference it doesn’t hold any water.

Instead of creating such a picture in your mind, I’d be more constructive for me to start by saying it’s a post apocalyptic MMO /in the same vein of Fallout/, which is entirely going to clear your mind of all those comparisons, right? The thing is, Fallen Earth has a very different end result. It starts with one of the most impressive set pieces I’ve yet seen in an MMO, placing you as a newly awoken clone in the Hoover Dam, and told that you’re basically the last hope in saving a whole bunch of people. All before you’ve got the clone ooze off your skin. Scientists and their vats, man.

What follows is a quickly escalating fight that starts you off axing some guy in the back, and ends with you driving a tiny buggy with a huge bomb on the back of it down the belly of the dam, all so it won’t explode and kill everyone inside. Except, of course, it kills you when it explodes. That was a pretty short game, right?

Shuffle forwards five years, and you’re presented with a quick cutscene telling you about how great this cloning procedure the company came up with is, interspersed with flashes of the woman who was helping you throughout the starting section telling you about what has happened since you’ve been.. dead. Seems everything has gone to hell, kind of, and all the warring factions you met during your little escapade in the Dam are on better terms, although contempt boils under the surface. The woman wants you to get somewhere so that you can reactivate the rest of your clones. And that’s it.

You pick a focus, be it pistols and swords, or big guns, or whatever, and the intro pops you out of the cloning vats in the best location for your choice. This then is Fallen Earth proper. You’re placed in a shanty-ish town, complete with a sort of amphitheater and a broken rail station, as well as a wooden roller coaster and petrified dinosaurs. It’s that sort of place.

It’s at this post-intro juncture that some of the problems with Fallen Earth become apparent. Finding quests isn’t as easy as it should be, and after the initial flurry you get from the guy conveniently waiting outside the entrance to the spawning room, you really have to search for people who need your help. They are on the mini-map as slightly worrying bright green radioactive symbols, but the vendors are also up there, as whopping great casino chips, which obscure the smaller quest givers into oblivion. It means you have to search around for someone with a sign above their head, hoping that you’re the right level for whatever task they have to offer.

Which is another issue, or at least seems to at first glance. Leveling in Fallen Earth is surprisingly slow, taking about the same time to get from level one to two as it does to get from one to ten in most other MMOs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given that there’s a steady flow of action points from gaining experience and doing quests that mean you’re not stuck as a feeble starting character for long. The real ramifications are that the first quest you’re given, (to go reactivate your clones and thus make death irrelevant) is level ten, and that suddenly seems a long way away.

So instead you just establish yourself in the town, doing odd jobs here and there, attempting to rescue a magicians box of tricks, or uncovering a plot to kill the head of the town – the usual MMO fare. That most of these involve going somewhere to kill x number of y is a little disappointing, but there was enough variation in the type of quest to make it avoid the deathly feeling of griny quest attrition. Instead, you get the frustration of combat in Fallen Earth.

I say frustration, but it’s perhaps more like bafflement. I experienced this when attempting to deliver violence to the various mutated wildlife and bandits that I was sent to kill. You’ve got two basic ways of hurting people; shooting them or whacking them. To shoot it’s a simple matter of having ammo in your guns and then point and shoot, hoping the invisible dice rolls end up in your favour. Really, this would be the favoured method if ammo wasn’t a pain in the arse to make or find. Sometimes the fickle nature of the dice frustrate, but for the most part it’s efficient and, more importantly, safe, as you’re out of range of whatever pointy sticks they’ve got to poke you with.

So you run low on ammo, and end up reverting to melee, which involves using whatever improvised weapon you’ve bought or scavenged to beat them into submission. The confusion comes up when you try to figure out how exactly it decides the hits and misses. It doesn’t matter if you see yourself swinging at the guy; you’ve got to have your crosshairs on him when you trigger the attack for it to do any damage. This can be pretty hard when the bastard is bouncing around like a goon, but oh-so-satisfying when you wallop him and the game’s ragdoll physics kick in, sending him flying.

Once you’ve figured out how this combat system works, it’s actually a little more rewarding than most, despite the fact there’s no blocking or dodging. It’s essentially a slugging match between you and them, and as long as you’ve got the bigger stick, or lawn mower blade, or lead pipe, or sharpened spoon, you’ll be fine.

The problem with it is that it’s almost too like a third/first person shooter for its own good. You have to have your crosshairs over them, which is at odds with the fact that there are still those invisible dice figuring out whether you’ve got a glancing blow or a full on hit. You can lock on, but all this does in centre the camera, which just serves to mislead you further. It creates a sort of confusing hybrid that makes you think one way before entirely uprooting that way of thinking and making you do something else. It’s jarring until you get used to it, and as such it’s a significant issue.

Throughout the time I played the chat channel was filled with people talking about the tradeskills, something I’m never hugely bothered with. I find the tedium of harvesting ingredients and cultivating them into usable items beyond boring, especially when it takes up a good chunk of the time that could be used for leveling up and being heroic. Fallen Earth, however, takes a good amount of the bother out of it, presenting a system almost like EVE’s skill learning; you queue up a bunch of stuff to be made, and the timer begins to tick, allowing you to go wallop huge scorpions with your stick, or something.

Tradeskills are also the main source of ammo – in that you make it yourself. It also requires you to make a saddle before you can ride on a horse (the main method of travel in the game, as fuel is scarce, obviously) along with countless other things. It’s hard not to instantly ask the question of how your character is making bandages while beating up mutants, but at the same time, it’s all in the name of fun, right? It’s not like we all grow stronger in huge, sudden leaps in real life either, is it?

Considering whether to recommend Fallen Earth is a challenge. It’s a quagmire of good and bad ideas – simultaneously enticing and daunting. Glancing at the icon on my desktop, I was constantly tempted to fire it up, but the thought of struggling to find my way through the minimap to actually pick up a quest stayed my hand more often than not. I did keep coming back and the sense of progression that came with just having a weapon that wasn’t salvaged gardening equipment was interesting. As was finally being able to climb up onto a horse.

Fallen Earth has created something interesting in a world covered by a wasteland. The mutant animals that roam the arid fields are grotesque and intriguing, both novel and logical. To see the words ‘mutant chicken’ above a 4 foot ball of tumor and feathers is both terrifying and hilarious. It’s this gallows humour that runs throughout the game that makes it an interesting place to explore and play with. That you aren’t handheld through the game is both a blessing and a curse, but it certainly makes you feel a bit more like you’re a part of this world, rather than just one of many running around doing the same quests over and over.

The investment in time it requires might be a stopping point for some, and the slow progression of your character could certainly frustrate, but if you can get over those ugly hurdles then there’s definitely something there. And, despite it all, if you’re actually looking for a Fallout MMO, you’ll probably find something close to what you’re looking for. Just saying.

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45 Comments »

  1. whortleblurp says:

    Would it be fair to describe Lord of the Rings Online as “Lord of the Rings: the MMO”, then?

  2. CMaster says:

    Disclaimer: All I know about the game was from playing a good few months of beta. They tweaked and adjusted things all the time, however I imagine the game hasn’t drastically changed at its core.

    You don’t necessarily start in that town, incidentally – that depends on what you choose to be interested in. It’s also the biohazard symbol above quest givers heads rather than radiation. These things don’t change the substance of the article mind – although it’s worth noting that there are both better (South Burb, Zanesville) and worse (Terrance) towns to start it than Depot 66. (Unless they rebalanced them all – that was how it was back towards the end of beta).

    The combat also gets less straight up FPSish the more you play. You have “actions” you can add to your hotbar. Some of the ones you get at the start are very useful (pistol whip, smash, anything that stuns basically). As you go on through the game, you get more of these and they get ever more important. Once you hit level 15, you get mutations too which vastly expand your number of actions, make you vastly more powerful (if you can afford them all) and also mean that with a couple of friends you can near enough stun-lock enemies.

    I’d go with saying that there is very little in common with Fallout beyond the post-apocness. Combat is different to any of the FO’s, there’s none of the slightly mocking 1950′s aesthetic at all. In fact, more of an 80s feeling pervades FE. It’s also less forgiving than FE ever was.

    Overall, I also find the game hard to recommend. I had fun in my few months in the beta, but at the same time was frustrated by it’s pseudo-FPSesness, the lack of balance and the bizzare insistence of the dev’s that there “was no endgame, just continual content” (eventual level cap planned to be 150 – thats gonna be a couple of years levelling for a non-obsessive player). Overall the biggest negative of the game though was the insitence on making it so much like work. Seriously long travel times. Needing to set you character off overnight making 20 stacks of ammo for the following day’s play. Spending 25% of your playtime scavenging for scraps to build a new gun or mush into a syringe and shoot up with. Etc.

    If there’s a free trial, give it a go – for some people, the in-depth tradeskilling and unforgiving atmosphere are just what they need. Most will find it just a bit too much like hard work I think though.

    • CMaster says:

      That should read “Less forgiving than FO ever was”
      On reflection I’m not sure thats so true, mind. Let’s just say that despite the pretty ubiquitous humour (some hit, some miss), FE is a lot more serious in tone than FO.

    • Rai says:

      I played the beta for a week or so and you’re dead on with most of these assertions. Although less forgiving than Fallout? Fallout combat was pretty unforgiving for much of the game if you ignore the fact that you can save and load.

      I never ran into anything in the world that was truly interesting or funny. It’s all serious business but without the satisfaction of a job well done. There are very few landmark occasions or mountains to surmount. It’s a flat plane of progression. Honestly the tutorial was the best part of the game by far and completely misled me as to the actual tone and content of the rest. I thought it was a sci-fi 3rd person shooter with slight Madmax overtones until I ended up in the desert killing 10 second respawn bandits with a 2×4 in a house at the edge of a shanty town to get to level 2.

      I played the rest of the time hoping to run into more set pieces like the introduction and ended up sorely disappointed.

      The quests are bog standard MMO fare.

      The tradeskills are uninspired and annoying.

      The feel of the world is very unintentionally surreal and incomplete. None of the towns feel like towns. The wilderness doesn’t feel like wilderness.

      The combat system is frustrating. First you have to aim successfully at a jankily ambulating enemy, then you have to succeed the dice roll/skill test, then you have to do it a dozen or more times to get through the enemy’s hp. It’s the worst of all worlds. The whole point of skill tests is to abstract the idea of manual dexterity. The only decent reason to make it difficult to actually hit a character is so that you don’t have to give it massive hp to keep the battle going. Yet for some reason they used all three, the end result is that a victory doesn’t feel like something you accomplished as a player or like something your character accomplished by virtue of the choices you’ve made.

      It could have been decent if they eliminated the dice rolls and implemented a deus ex style progression system. It could have been good if the game wasn’t built around the same old mmo premise of “grind level 1, level up to 2, grind level 2, level up to 3″, there’s no room for cleverness, experimentation, or discovery.

      It’s destined to be another skeleton on the ground alongside Tabula Rasa and its ilk.

  3. Hug_dealer says:

    This is actually a pretty great game. i made it to level 15 in the open beta. Couldnt buy it because none of my friends would migrate with me.

    Its definately not for the wow crowd. its a brutal harsh world where death is just a wrong turn away. They dont hold your hand in this game other than in the tutorial.

    Which is great. Icarus studios knew what they wanted to make.

    Just a little info.

    Leveling isnt slow. you earn exp for killing, crafting, and scavenging. If you do all 3 you level very quickly. People just dont realize when they first start out in the game.

    Because it is a skill, not level based game. it takes the same amount of exp to get from lvl 1 to 2 as 39 to 40.

    95% of the equipment in the game is player made, and you can learn all basic crafting skills. But you can only learn the crafting items for the side you join, and a few of thier friends.

    PvP in large scale is actually pretty damn fun between all the different styles. People dodge and use cover and try to use buildings to obscure thier approach. Melee is kind of a blitz move. you are dead if they see you at range, so you gotta flank. Rifles are dead if anyone gets close, and pistols are dead if they dont get close to rifles, or let melee get to close.

    I totally recomend the game as an alternative to all the carebear mmos that hold your hand all the way through it.

  4. bill says:

    This game doesn’t seem to have received much attention. I’ve noticed it on steam, but other than that, this is the first i’ve read about it.

    I’m not an MMO player, but just from reading about them I always thought some kind of “do crafting when offline” option would be a good idea. That way it’d be a bit like i’76 or Colin McRae, where you have to choose how to use your time between sessions wisely. (make ammo, make armor, repair items, boost skills, etc… ) . Maybe more like Darkwind. Probably a terrible idea.

    • CMaster says:

      Bill – FE crafting does run while offline. This is good, otherwise the times involved (10+ minutes for 80 rounds of ammo, 8+ hours for vehicle parts) would be unreasonable. As it is, your last action before logging off for the night is always to set 20 items in your crafting queue (even if you are a combat character, it makes sense to craft some food, drugs, ammo).

  5. Nimdok says:

    Yeah, but it’s still the pre-beta code that was so full of holes and bugs that it was nigh-on unplayable. The same code they kept stringing new features onto without fixing the old ones (dissapearing post, dissapearing trade items, random vault purges)

    Plus, when I stopped playing the beta there were a LOT of weird balance issues. First of all, I dislike balance in my RPGs; if a character is going to be a tank he should NOT be threatened by a mage unless the mage gets off a decent spell or three by the time the tank tags him. No two classes should EVER be equally matched in any way, shape, or form, and it should be up to the players to create a diverse world. I advocate randomly assigned classes, or stat-based class assignments id est Wizardry. WIth that out of the way, stuff in Fallen Earth is… odd. Zip guns do more damage than assault rifles if you’ve put enough skill points into them, which is like “A BB will kill you in one hit, but a 5.56 round, that’ll take two or three shots”, or how pistols are basically useless from the beginning because the zip guns ARE so overpowered. A lot of the crafts are good and useful but damned inconsistant, I need wood to put together a steel-framed firearm… why?

    • CMaster says:

      Zips are useful, right up until pistol 90 or so, sure. But better than guns with real bullets? Simple DPS shows that that isn’t true past skill 45 or so.

      The random vault wipes and disappearing mail were all fixed by the time I stopped playing, about a week before open beta started.

      That said, balance really is none-existent at the point I played. Mutations > all was the gist, especially as you don’t even need to aim muts. Within the weapons groups, some weapons end up much better than others, sadly (snipers, heavy pistols, shotguns all largley ineffective). Light pistols and assault rifles end up ruling the roost.

  6. Hug_dealer says:

    actually nimdok. A few of your arguements are out of whack.

    Depending on the weapons you use, you will be raising different stats. So melee classes have a higher health, and higher armor class that allows them to take more punishment so they can get close enough.

    Zip guns do more damage, but have a extremely long reload time. so you will not be firing for 8-12 seconds. But also keep in mind there are light, medium, heavy pistols. heavy pistols mostly have small clips, but extreme damage.

    Also if you are using pistols you can also use SMGs, and Sawn off shotguns. So balance between weapons is there. If you can make all your shots connect zip guns can be powerful, but you better hope you dont have to reload.

    Rifles have all sorts of rifles,shotguns,crossbows,sniper rifles. You also suffer from a – to defense while using rifles, so anyone that gets into melee tears you a new one. So it is a good idea to have some melee skill so you can defend yourself and not take extra damage.

    Also, everyone gets mutatations, which are basically spells. so you can be throwing buffs, dots, heals, all kinds of stuff in addition to your normal attacks and skills.

  7. The Pink Ninja says:

    Another generic MMORPG.

    Where is my MMOFPS, Post Apocalypse survival game where you have to scavenge desperately for food or die, where you have to be careful with your rad levels or you die, where you have to find somewhere safe to sleep from radioactive dust storms and packs of feral radioactive hounds? Where bullets are like diamonds, technology like a mystical artefact and painful death is only a misstep away?

    Whereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?

    • Heliocentric says:

      Sounds like a stalker mmo.

    • Tei says:

      A game like what you describe is imposible for big populations +2000 people. But is possible for a small/mmo with about 500 users, in a indie enviroment. Much like “LOVE” game. IMHO.

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      One of the many problems with MMOs is they try to imitate the WoW money making model: Masses of people, all paying subscriptions. May as well be a license to mint your own coins.

      Gaming in general and the MMO in particular need to advantage of the brilliance of the persistent multi-player world and do something different.

      My idea could work. It’d need to be a big world which means it’d be much blander in place (Quantity lessens quality afterall). But done right it could still attract thousands of players.

      Eve is the shining example in this and I say that as someone who know how great it is, yet can’t get into it at all.

    • papabear says:

      A game like you said should also have full-loot imho. I miss those times in UO private servers. When I die, I lose 5 million worth of equipment. And afterwards I log off, get in the shower.

      And cry.

  8. Heliocentric says:

    Hmm… The writing seems fine,so thats a little harsh. But yes, who is that masked man?

  9. Lobotomist says:

    I was also in closed beta.

    The game is definitely very “old school”. Probably closest to SWG pre CU. Even bit Anarchy Online.

    Also its probably more MMORPG than all new MMOs put together (that are more of co-op online rpgs)

    On other hand its very clunky. Has questionable gameplay design for combat. And suffers from performance issues.

    Still I would love to see the game thrives. And perhaps the above issues get fixed in future. Than it would be trully a game worth playing.

  10. Marty Dodge says:

    If you played Fallout 3, then I would not recommend this game. For one thing F3 is actually great fun, well done and is rewarding to play. FE is exactly the opposite. Combat is just a distraction from crafting and its laughable. It seems the combat was designed as an afterthought, its some of the worst I have ever experienced in any game.

    I played the beta and found myself unwilling to go back to playing because of its sheer awfulness. FE is a collection of ideas that are poorly executed. I admire those than continue to defend it, but I really find it amusing. A good MMO should make leveling a drudgery.

    I am going to try the free trial to see if anything has improved since beta.

    There is yet to be a good post-apocalyptic MMO.

  11. Cvnk says:

    Is this really all people expect from MMOs? Running around doing missions all day long?

    In my opinion the only good MMOs are the ones whose mechanics completely revolve around the fact that they are MULTIPLAYER. So many MMOs (like this one) are single-player games with multiplayer window dressings (chat, guilds, cooperative missions, limited PVP zones, wash, rinse, repeat). Bland.

  12. Tei says:

    No the right world, but maybe still useable:

    <Han Solo> Shots greedo, doing 4 points of laser damage
    <Greedo> Agro on Han Solo
    <Greedo> Shots Han solo, doing 10 points of blaster damage
    <Han Solo> Shots greedo, doing 8 points of laser damage
    <Greedo> Shots Han solo, doing 12 points of blaster damage
    <Han Solo> Shots greedo, doing 9 points of laser damage
    <Greedo> Shots Han solo, doing 10 points of blaster damage
    <Han Solo> Shots greedo, crits (+20)10 points of laser damage
    <Greedo> dies. You loot 4 credits and a wood axe.

    Iterate this, but much longer, for every chicken, wolf, mercenary, on a large, very large,
    desert.
    That is a sci-fi RPG with everquest-like gameplay for you :-/

  13. JonFitt says:

    Bushido Blade the MMO: No more waiting while two characters wail on each other causing negative numbers to spring forth, just one good swing and kerblooey!

    Is it just accepted now that an MMO is D&D style combat with recharging “magic” powers, quests to kill X of Y, and a crafting system? Only the setting changes and a few tweaks to the combat.

    I would have thought the slew of failed MMOs in the last few years would have triggered some sort of innovation?

    • JonFitt says:

      Although, perhaps Borderlands and APB will take things in a new direction.

  14. no says:

    I made it to level six and got tired of dying over and over and over and over and over and over trying to get through the sandworms and scorpions and everything to return an item for the ATV quest. As a result, I haven’t even launched the game in about three weeks. Wish it had been a free client so I could get my $60 back.

    • Cvnk says:

      Ugh. Another MMO with the balls to charge people an up front fee. And people keep shelling out their cash to them without even raising a stink. It’s a ridiculous trend that is being abused by MMO developers more and more often. If an MMO expects you to pay $50-$60 just to download the client then you should run away — it means they aren’t confident you’ll want to stick around after trying the game.

      And don’t throw out the fact that games typically cost $50 to $60 these days. That’s a justifiable price for a single-player game that you can play any time you want for as long as you want (as long as you have a PC that’s compatible with it). If you stop paying the monthly fee for an MMO that $60 bought you nothing (as the person I’m replying to is well aware of).

      I know it’s useless to wish people would stop giving in since there will always be people with money to burn.

  15. whizzedoutwoz says:

    This is by far the best MMO of the bunch which all arrived at the sametime.

    I have put in about 2 weeks play time since launch, and I feel the game just keeps giving you new things, it really opens up at lvl 20 when you arrive in sector 2 with the Conflict Towns, also it’s not just about guns and weapons, the mutations kick in around lvl 20 also, and there are 7 to pick from.

    This game is a slow burner for sure, and maybe that’s a bad thing, but from what im reading on MMORPG and other such sites the feedback is very positive, Fallen Earth could turn out to be a real gem.

  16. h4plo says:

    I had much the same problems with the open beta that most of you seem to have had throughout; dull, droning combat, genre-typical quests, murderously slow travel.

    But really, I did love the crafting system – I found that the scavenging nature and ability to make everything you could need, in addition to being able to level EVERY crafting skill, really fit thematically with what they were trying to do. Also, I felt like a huge hardass when I finished my long, grey duster, dual lawnmower blades, and giant cowboy hat. Unfortunately, none of this made up for actually playing the game.

    Also, the graphics: I despised them, all muddied brown and pale blue and destroyed landscapes. It’s post-apocalypse; I get that. But it’s ugly, and I can’t look at bland design for too long without getting annoyed and depressed. The interface system was a chore, and the item system was an abomination – even for an MMO.

    Still, not a bad game to try if you’re interested in a more hardcore experience. With a bit more polish, it would have sold me .. but I’m just not interested in playing a game that it didn’t feel the developers cared about making wonderful, instead settling on mediocre.

  17. manveruppd says:

    So, for those of us wondering how similar this game is to Fallout, you’re saying that “if it walks like a duck, and talks like it duck, it’s a mutant chicken”, right?

  18. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    So, wait. This is an RPG with strange FPS confusion surrounding its combat system?

    Shouldn’t that be “Fallout 3: The MMO”, then? ;)

  19. OcularDissonance says:

    I don’t want to wholly disagree with the OP but alternatively I have found that I can get 3-5 levels in the first day of play you just have to explore and run around to the other starter towns for missions. luckily there are like 9 starter towns. It doesn’t seem like the OP even made it out of his starter. It does get frustrating when you don’t know where to find a town with quests in your level range but a little time on the forums reveals that there around 2 to 3 options for each level range.
    The combat once you figure out how to hot key and use actions and where to buy actions becomes quite enjoyable and even easy. I would say the melee combat is most akin to DDO you just hold auto attack and keep your mob in your targeting reticle then augment your attacks with special actions like trip, stun bleed or a debuff like parry to lower the mobs defense dump all your starter ap into dodge and starting the game as a melee will be in easy mode. There are a ton of cheap buffs in the first aid tree to keep you alive and also a stun in almost every single skill tree you can find. Ranged combat is a different beast and is much more gear and ammo Dependant. which is why the stats that govern ranged combat also govern crafting. to circumvent crafting there are always auction houses and you have to play past the starter town to find them. The game is for those who like to explore but there are also plenty of guides on the forums. As for the future of the game the sector 4 expansion is already in development and they are already responding to criticism and working on a fast travel system between barter towns plus limited respecs. In 4 days they are also revamping the tutorial. They will also be releasing periodic 15 day trial keys in limited bursts to cut down on gold farmers. There should be a big huge sign outside of each cloning facility saying if you need help go to the forums. This does discourage the casual gamer but ultimately for those who plod ahead provides the best mmo gaming experience to be had in years. The game isn’t for everyone but I do hope people don’t get discouraged for lack of info on the game since most of their money seems to be going into continued development and not PR.

  20. Marty Dodge says:

    With a bit more polish, it would have sold me .. but I’m just not interested in playing a game that it didn’t feel the developers cared about making wonderful, instead settling on mediocre.

    Well put…

  21. We Fly Spitfires says:

    Nice write-up. I’m on the fence with FE and considering trying out although I just can’t bring myself to yet. Not sure what I’m waiting for as the setting appeals to me but something just doesn’t seem… right.

  22. Davee says:

    Good post, but I think you could’ve used a bit more time in-game ;)

    I was in the beta. It has some very good and interesting gameplay aspects and ideas, it did however have bad ones too. Combat was cerainly a confused part of the game (classic RPG mixed with FPS and super-speedily strafing opponents?).

    But I’ll be keeping my eye on this one, if they work out the kinks this could turn into something very awesome.

    • h4plo says:

      you sed, “Good post, but I think you could’ve used a bit more time in-game ;)”

      –I’m not really sure that’s a fair criticism, especially with an MMO. Can you think of any piece of MMO writing – or really, any game writing – that /wouldn’t/ benefit from more time in-game?

  23. Lightbulb says:

    h4plo – A blog of a player whos played Warcraft for 4 years?

    But yes, although your question is phrased such that you can get around it, I agree with the point you’re making… Its very hard to review MMO’s I would imagine. However this isn’t a review however, its not even a “Wot I Think” however as a start point for conversations its doing well…

    :)

    • Davee says:

      You’re both right, but what I meant was that it seemed like he hadn’t noticed there was more than one starter town (I think there was atleast three in the beta), and it didn’t take myself a huge ammount of time to discover that once I had left mine. But of course, this is just a “first impressions” -post, so let’s not dwell in this matter anymore…
      Also, the game could accually benefit from totaly throwing the level system out the window and only going skill point counting, seeing as how some players can have more skillpoints at lvl 30 than another player (thus possibly unbalancing combat).

    • h4plo says:

      Even on a 4-year-long WoW game blog, the blogger still could have found time to have rolled that last class he hadn’t played, and thus actually get the “total” experience. I’m kind of beleaguering the point now, but I think it’s an important one :p

  24. Prospero says:

    FE is the first MMO in a long time that has held my interest. The writing and stories are generally pretty interesting which is a definite plus for me. Each town in the starting sector has its own arc that ties into the rest of the town tangentially.

    The combat is basic FPC combat, not unlike FO3. There isn’t much dodging to be done in the open desert but it’s been pretty cool to be able to take cover during gun fights when fighting in caves. Headshots with sniper rifles are very satisfying, as is hitting a guy in the head with a pick axe( both of which do bonus damage )

    The crafting system is all sorts of fun. I find it very satisfying to be riding through the desert and stumble on an abandoned farm house loaded with crafting materials. At this point I’ve done a large amount of crafting and still have never had to grind items to push myself to the next tier, which is a sign of a well designed system to me.

    There were a lot of performance problems at launch but things have been solidifying nicely. It is very much the love child of pre-CU SWG and Fallout; if either of those things are appealing I’d recommend it.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Flimgoblin says:

    Started playing this a few weeks back, didn’t play in beta – just heard about it from a friend who was playing.

    The quests are a lot of the time same old MMO quests (incidentally even the “ooh it’s not just kill 10 rats” quests annoy me after a while in any MMO) and it’s a little confusing moving around at first.

    Combat is different to the usual fare thanks to the aiming, if a little quirky.

    However being able to go out, harvest some chickens and cook them for dinner is just cool.

    Then go kill a couple of coyotes for their skins, salvage some fasteners from a wrecked old car and combine it with a couple of tree stumps you’ve chopped down to make yourself a pointy stick…

    It probably helped that I tried playing gog.com’s Realms of Arkania (seriously hardcore RPG) shortly before I bought fallen earth, as it realigned my RPG difficulty/complexity balance so that I can cope with having silly amounts of choice with what to do with my skill points and not having everyone tell me exactly where I should be going next.

    It’s not super polished, but it’s the first MMO I’ve played that’s felt more like a virtual world than just a game…

    My first month’s not up yet though, so we’ll see. I’m hoping it stays as much fun :)

  26. Nerd Rage says:

    Unless I’m horribly mis-remembering, I first heard about Fallen Earth quite a long time ago either on NMA or Duck and Cover. So the Fallout comparison, I think, is completely fair and valid. This was before the Fallout 3 announcement even, if I recall correctly.

  27. SheffieldSteel says:

    “the niggle that stays with you throughout… until it’s gone entirely”

    Which is it, damn you? STOP PLAYING WITH MY MIND!

  28. neofit says:

    Warning: wall of text.

    I played FE to about level 6 in beta, figured it was good enough, pre-ordered and stopped ruining it for me till the early start. Then since 09/09/09 I’ve been playing it religiously until a few days ago.

    There is a lot to like in this game. The main drawback imho, as evidenced by this review, is that the game didn’t even have a manual until a couple of weeks ago. Many of the reviewer’s problems would have been solved by a proper manual (and of course, the willingness to read one :) ). For instance, if the merchant markers are sometimes making it hard to see the quest-giver symbols, there is a “Y” symbol at the upper right corner of the map. Click on it and you can filter about 3 dozen of map marker types; remove the merchant markers and voilà, all the green quests markers are on display. The same “Y” on the inventory menu allows one to create tabs in the inventory for different item types (armor, weapons, ammo, etc.). Other windows have them.

    I didn’t find leveling to be slow, on the contrary. Actually it was too fast imho. The current game is designed around 3 sectors, each supposedly designed for 15 levels, for a current cap of 45. But I don’t know if it’s the designer’s “rookiness”, but there is no proper quest flow in the game. Over the years we went from the EQ’s “go chain-pull stuff to level”, to WoW’s and EQ2′s carefully planned successions of quest hubs with controlled experience gain, allowing one to replay a totally different experience with an alt.

    You don’t have this in FE. You have all of the sector 1 at the beginning to play in. You finish everything you have to do in the starting town, get a referral to a couple of other cities or just see them on the map and go there. You do everything you see in the new quest hub and move on to the next. Then you hear or read on the forums that there are quests, in every quest hub, that give AP rewards. APs, or Advancement Points, is what you invest into your skills and abilities to raise them. You get 20 per level, and any extras will make your character more powerful or versatile. So in the end you are compelled to do all the quests in every sector with each of your characters. Former long-time beta-testers and other fanboys will yell at you on the official forums for even bringing this up, because surely it’s the player’s fault that he wants these extra points. But if they had played at least one other MMO instead of just bragging about their hardcoritude, they’d know that in this world anything optional that could make your character more powerful or versatile becomes an instant must-have. That’s it for replayability. And at the same time we gain too much exp, so we are constantly fighting mobs of a much lower level.

    I rather liked the combat system. I went Rifle, because finally we had an MMO where a rifle was used properly. Sure there is a bit of dice rolling behind the scenes, but actually sniping stuff in the head in an MMO is much more satisfying to me that the pre-NGE SWG “lock and auto-shoot” stuff that makes it not different from melee. And I didn’t have the weird feeling I had in Planetside where I was carrying a pea-shooter even as a “robot”. In FE I didn’t have to shoot someone 100 times as in PS, most single mobs were dead before they reached me, and I like it when things make a tiny bit of sense.

    Never tried melee because it makes absolutely no sense given the setting. Who would bring a knife to a gun fight? In the desert? Someone to whom you must then give a ton of armor and stupid things like stuns. I have medieval fantasy games to swing a sword in.

    What killed the game for me is the lack of fast travel. I was level 33 and had finished Sector 2. The maps are huge. It can take you up to 20 minutes to ride from one quest hub to another, 10-15 minutes being the norm. And sometimes quests send you from one hub to another. And you ride 90% of the time over an empty landscape, nothing to harvest nor fear. Even when there are mobs you can ride through them with nothing happening. Heck, at level 16 I went all the way to the heart of Sector 3 and never died. Try going in WoW, in the teens, into a level 30-40 area, you’ll draw aggro from beyind your visual range and get one-shotted before you can say “wtf”. Nothing of the sort in FE, you see a roadblock, ride through, you won’t get one-shotted, nothing will catch you on you horse, nothing can make you dimount, and even mobs 15+ levels above yours won’t aggro for more than about 20 meters away.

    Yet for some reason the game makes you ride and ride and ride. You are not exploring anymore, you are not challenged in any way, yet you keep riding. By the end of Sector 2 in my thirties I was starting to feel I was spending more time riding than playing. Sure, for a fanboy’s 12-hours long play session it may be bearable, but for someone with a day job playing 2-3 hours in the evening it is way too much. Some guildmates I played with in other games joined FE a bit after me, there is a 15-20 levels gap between them and me. The other day they asked me if there was a way for me to come help them in a dungeon. Sure, if I spent my evening on the 1.5 hours boring ride to reach their low-level zone, one-shoot the Boss, then spend most of my next evening playtime to get back to my questing place.

    In the last “State of the Game” the producer said they were caving in and will add a “limited and expensive” fast travel option (huge uproar among the tardcores). Which means I’d still have to ride to my current sector’s capital, fast-travel to the destination sector’s capital, then ride to my friends. Still at least 30 mins wasted for nothing. And I’d have to pay through the nose for the honour of helping my guildmates. Not gonna happen. I’ll be back in a heartbeat as soon as there some kind of cheap fast travel between every town, but they won’t see any of my money until this happens.

    And another thing FE taught me: long quest chains spanning many levels are a good idea, but not when there are too many of them. When you have 2-3+ running at the same time, 5 levels after your last step you don’t remember what evil you were fighting at the time.

  29. Premium User Badge

    Flimgoblin says:

    Looks like they’re aware of the intro being a bit rocky. From latest patch:

    “Implemented new training areas containing missions to provide a kinder learning curve for players. Players will enter the world after the tutorial at 1st level and be offered additional training by the local LifeNet pod operator. This training will teach the player the basics of mounts, mail, crafting, etc. At the end of training they will advance to 2nd level. Players may elect to skip this training at the first step and those who do so will immediately advance to 2nd level.”

  30. Tiger Senpai says:

    First. I love this game!

    Well I love Fallout and Wasteland before it… “thug explodes like a blood sausage!” “all that’s left is a fine red mist” and all the old Wasteland quotes when you vaporized some thug.

    Now, I completely disagree that FO and FE are totally far apart. There are many similiarities in the types of quests and that overall you are working on some much larger quest in the background of your running around the apolocolapse wasteland becoming a hero of the wasteland. That’s pretty much straight out of FO.

    However, obviously its an MMO and not a single use game like FO so there must be mechanical differences.

    There lies the rub. The mechanics of FE are tough to figure out. Like holding the mouse buttons down will continously autoattack. NO WHERE DOES IT TELL YOU THAT! Also as someone else pointed out you get EXP, the same EXP, for crafting, harvesting, questing and killing. So regardless if you want to be a Crafter primarily, melee or gun-monkey you can stay up with the Jones’ thoughout the game.

    The EVE esq crafting off line is a great addition to an MMO because that too allows you to keep up. Often times in the cloned fantasy MMO of EQ2,WoW, et al if you have got more hard core player type friends with forgiving occupations who can spend 40 hours per week playing where you can only spend 20, you quickly lag behind. While the same is true here to an extent you can at least stay some what close to their range.

    Also you aren’t stuck to one class! The suck! If you want to fill a different roll make a new character and spend the next few months leveling it to cap to rejoin your old friends. I call that the EQ2/WoW suck-zone! This game you simply learn a few different skills from the various skill vendors. My character Tiger Senpai is a Melee character first and foremost. However, I learned a few buffing skills, some healing and even a resusitate power to help my team not have to run back from the cloning stations. With a modest AP expendature I can be a very effective secondary healer and bring the healer back to life if he goes down, while still maxing out my Melee & Dodge skills.

    I will be honest. In Beta I hated the game. If was after finishing FO3, again, that I thought hey lets give that FE another shot. THE DIFFERENCE between when I played in BETA and this time is that when I went in during Beta I went in with the thought and attitude that I didn’t need to pay attention to the tutorial and that it would be like every other MMO. I WAS WRONG. Post Beta I payed close attention to the Starting walk through and the opening quests that teach about combat and crafting after I was out of the cloning box.

    Now I dropped my EQ2 and WoW subs and this is my only MMO.