Instant Action: Fallen Empires Beta

The browser-based multiplayer 3D shooter is go. Instant Action unveiled the Fallen Empires: Legions public beta earlier today, and I dropped out of our lunchtime TF2 session to play it. I have to say, it was a just-about-acceptable alternative. Fallen Empires is really shaping up to be something special, and I definitely feel a multiplayer FPS renaissance coming on. What’s most thrilling, however, is that it’s running on another tab in the same browser I’m using to write this post… More after the jump.

So then: impressions? Fast, slightly fiddly. The game browser was a bit laggy. They could make it clearer that you can choose a class and therefore loadout on the front page. The size of the maps and the speed of travel means it’ll probably be a few minutes before you even get close to an enemy. But it’s instantly comprehensible: it’s an FPS, and you have a jetpack. Go! Go!

Obviously there are some strong Tribes vibes here (holding down right mouse button allows you to “ski” with your jetpack) and that’s definitely a good thing. There’s a good, smooth, fast-paced feel to it. Once you get into the skiing and start seeing the game as a series of ramps and jumps it becomes the FPS-variant of extreme sports. Rocket-skating for deathmongers. The weapons aren’t quite beefy enough (and I seem to remember saying the same thing about Tribes) and the rocket-launcher currently dominates the game. Still, I suspect that will change as people get a better handle on what the hit-scan weapons are actually capable of. Hurtling across the map with chaingun whirling is going to become a favourite feeling.

The environment for deathmatch and capture the flag do feel a little empty, but that seems to fit the fluid feel of the game. This about racing across open-space as you fight, a kind of humanoid, semi-aerial dogfighting. “Freedom of Movement Returns” is the tagline for Fallen Empires, and it’s bang on: what are all these game designers doing ignoring the jetpack? It’s the perfect videogame-world tool. Fallen Empires is an antidote to everything else that I’ve been playing for the past six months. Really great stuff.

Of course the Instant Action website itself is an incredible piece of software. Browser based gaming, all streamlined and simple. It should have been like this years ago, and GarageGames are my personal heroes for making it finally work so well. If you’ve not played around with this yet, then you should do.

So… everyone should go and play Fallen Empires. It’s free, it’ll run on an aged laptop. Let me know what you think, and I’ll see you on the servers later this afternoon.


  1. itsallcrap says:

    Sounds brilliant. Not going to stop playing TF2 for long enough to try it though…

  2. Al3xand3r says:

    It’s really just your standard Torque engine running within the browser window so not exactly a wondrous achievement in terms of web development… Still, they have done a great job with the actual website, it’s basically a Steam alike in web based form.

    But I’d prefer to have the chance to buy this game in a box (when it’s done with lots of content) and not have to run it in my browser. If this is the only way I can play it, it’s worth the annoyance I guess (but certainly reduces the amount of what I’m willing to pay when it’s eventually got its own pay to buy content). Make sure people know you can run games in fullscreen (at the res of your choice).

    I was in the closed beta for a while and the best thing about this game is you can ski/fly @ full speed in one direction and turn around and shoot at another (like duh, right?). It sounds obvious but it feels a bit like killing your inertia in a space combat sim which then enables you to do all sorts of cool stuff…

    I also liked Marble Madness on Instant Action (multiplayer, planned a bit like Trackmania), and the top down multi player shooter game (though it’s really nothing so new).

    Anyway, all this needs is more variety and it’s a winner. More weapons, more kits, more maps (that feel different, current maps are samey apart from switching grass with snow), more game modes.

  3. Yargh says:

    ‘But I’d prefer to have the chance to buy this game in a box (when it’s done with lots of content)’

    except that this is a free-to-play game, with micropayments for ‘stuff’ if memory servers.

    edit – I guess you already knew that though….

  4. Al3xand3r says:

    Exactly :P

    That’s one reason I’d prefer that chance :P

  5. The Sombrero Kid says:

    yeah he’s saying get rid of all the stupid casual gimmick crap and charge for it and i have to agree, putting games in browsers is worse than putting games on macosx or a toaster!

  6. roskelld says:

    Hey, More games on OSX please!

    I just tried it… Well, I tried to try it.

    “We’re sorry, but InstantAction doesn’t work very well with the web browser you’re using right now. If you want the best experience try:

    Firefox 2 – Internet Explorer 7 – Safari”

    I’m on Firefox 3.
    I boot Safari instead and I get.

    “We’re sorry, but InstantAction doesn’t work very well with the web browser you’re using right now. If you want the best experience try:

    Firefox 2 – Internet Explorer 7 – Safari”

    And that’s the end of that chapter.

  7. Al3xand3r says:

    I’m not sure if this is cross platform yet but Torque engine is so I’m sure they’ll enable that later on. The problem is probably your OS and not your broswer (I use FireFox 3 on XP).

  8. Seniath says:

    Initial thought: Shiny, but the (seeming) lack of an invert mouse option is a serious issue for me (yes, I’m a weirdo freak, etc).

    @roskelld: I’m running it in FF3, no problem.

  9. The Sombrero Kid says:

    a game in a browser on macosx! yuck, that’s worse than putting games on a freeview box! lol

  10. Noc says:

    Don’t worry, Sombrero. When I try and boot this up on a Macbook (Even on the Windows partition), I get a graphics error and the game refuses to load.

    That’s right. The Macbook’s graphics card is incapable of running a browser game.

    I am unhappy with this development.

  11. Rosti says:

    Surprisingly good game hidden there – I particularly like how the healing and boost recharge work, leading to a more hit and run affair. It also follows the Unreal Tournament CTF rules of ‘no capture without your home flag’, which makes me happy.

  12. AbyssUK says:

    Am sorry I thought this was a PC gaming blog.. why on earth are you whining on about mac’s… who cares.. macs are for web designers who don’t actually know any html and people who own those stupid range rover sports 4×4’s.. honestly of all the places to complain about lack of mac support…

  13. roskelld says:


    I can’t afford a 4×4 range rover sports, nor do I develop websites (well, not often or professionally).

    I just thought that the concept behind a browser based game was that it would run in a web browser, not a web browser on a specific system. Kinda goes in the face of what it’s supposed to be right?

    Anyway, I’m sure (or I hope) that this is just an issue due to the pre-release status of the game. I mean if it just runs on Windows, why not just be a .exe and be done with it?

  14. TychoCelchuuu says:

    They took too much out of the game for me to have much fun. Different armor types, most of the weapons, all of the packs and deployables, the command interface, the base buildings, the vehicles, the voice recordings, the objective capturing… too little there for me compared to Tribes, which is now free so I don’t have to worry about losing my disk.

  15. Jim Rossignol says:

    Roskelld is right, browser-based stuff should ideally run on any platform. If it just runs on Windows that’s a big problem for the model.

  16. AbyssUK says:

    Ok roskelld I’ll agree with you there.. it is stupid calling it an in browser game it is nothing more than a glorified .exe for shitdows. All the browser technically does is launch the game which to be fair can be achieved with a simple file:// url… sigh

    It does say that OSX and more importantly Linux support is coming in its support board

  17. Noc says:

    Oh, my bad, Abyss. I should have realized that when I bought a computer that apparently I’m a useless little twat who doesn’t deserve to be able to eek any functionality out of it because I ended up with a white plastic one with a little glowing apple on the front.

    Even those things that are ostensibly made specifically for it. I mean, Safari’s a Mac application, and Instant Action claims it supports it. Apparently THEY care. Apparently RPS cares, because there was an article on this very thing a few weeks back.

    Because you know what? Macs and PCs are functionally the same thing. You buy them for the same things, you do the same things on them. They are, in all respects, different flavors of the same beast. And, in that context, “This program works in ONE Firefox but not the OTHER” is an entirely reasonable observation to make.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve some fiddling around with 3D Analyze to do.

  18. AbyssUK says:

    Apology accepted Noc, no hard feelings.

    No in context saying it doesn’t work in Firefox is a stupid thing to say If you said it doesn’t work in the OSX version of Firefox that is a reasonable observation to make..

    Also Safari is an “Apple” product which you can also get in Windows.. I bet you 27p that it works through that.

    Now if you don’t mind I have chemicals to mix and stuff

  19. PaulMorel says:

    I don’t understand people who are bitching about browser games.

    If you want a fully featured, multiplayer, boxed FPS then you have plenty of options. PLENTY! We all know and love TF2 and CSS and CoD4!

    Still, I am definitely down with a solid browser-based FPS. It definitely has appeal to me, and I understand why they would make it this way.

    This is an FPS-lite that you can jump into for a few minutes of fragging over your lunch break. This an FPS that you can enjoy on your laptop, using hotel wifi. This is an FPS that you can play with your nephew, whose secondhand computer sucks.

    I don’t get all you haters. I am psyched for this game, even if it isn’t something that will compete with TF2 or CSS or XY&Z.

    It does suck that it is windows only … imho that does disqualify it from being called a ‘browser game’. I imagine that the final version will be significantly different from this one.

  20. Erlam says:

    “Initial thought: Shiny, but the (seeming) lack of an invert mouse option is a serious issue for me (yes, I’m a weirdo freak, etc).”

    No invert mouse? Count me out.

  21. darkripper says:

    My problem is everytime I try to ski Firefox right click menu goes up. Any way to fix it?

    Also, fullscreen is broken for me.

  22. Turin Turambar says:

    I tried some months ago, but the server browser was terribe, without lag indicators!. I entered in a pair of severs, and of course the lag was terrible (american servers, i suppose).

  23. Martin says:

    Site’s broken when I try to register.

    Ah well, another time perhaps…

  24. The Hammer says:

    Has anyone else got an account on Instant Action?

    Mine is The_Hammer, because someone stole the TheHammer variant, which upsets me greatly!

    Thought it’d be nice to get a few games going.

  25. Noc says:

    On a side note, Think Tanks is pretty fun. And I’m OtherNoc.

  26. Whiteout says:

    Well when I got word that Fallen Empires finally hit the site, I jumped on to play. Then I was greeted with the error message of failure “Videocard Not Supported”. And my heart broke. I have an older card, on a 7 year old outdated computer. It’s good enough to play Tribes 2, but not Fallen Empire sadly. NO Pixel Shader 2.0 (It’s a Radeon 9200 :( ).
    Oh well, whatever, nevermind…

  27. Hermes says:

    hmm doesn’t work on the Safari 4.0 developer preview either. It is funny the way the comments turn infantile in some cases when someone mentions games and the Mac platform in the same sentence.

  28. Alexandros says:

    Like said several times already, it’s an OS issue, not a browser issue. Currently most (all?) games only work in Windows. It’s not really browser games. The 3D ones use the Torque engine (of Tribes fame, and most every Garage Games release), I’m not sure about the 2D games on the service.

    Whiteout, I could play Rockitball (or whatever it’s called) even on my crappy unsupported (no drivers in ages) GeForce4 Ti4200 (now using a less crappy Radeon 2600 Pro) and even though some of the visuals were missing it actually looked and played fine so, no idea why Legions would behave like this, same engine and everything, though I never tried it on that card cos I wasn’t in the beta yet.

    But maybe you can at least play that game, it’s pretty neat actually, just make sure you play with friends, not bots, they play good but it’s boring.

  29. Rook says:

    I should dig out vengeance and see if anyone still plays that.

  30. Jim Rossignol says:

    You’d be amazed what people still play. I stumbled across people on a multiplayer Sacrifice server a few months back.

  31. ReturnToNull says:

    @darkripper: You need to go into Firefox (And/or browser of choices) options and set the advanced javascript stuff so that it allows sites to ‘Disable or replace context’ menus. Without that allowed it tries to do a normal right click and the game acts as if you clicked outside the window.

    Edit: Darn you Gravatar, why are you so fickle in your working?!

  32. wtc? says:

    For what its worth – I believe that we are working on a mac version of Legions. Usually this requires porting the game files over though, so that’s why it takes extra time.

    We love to hear your thoughts on all this!

    Join the discussion here:
    link to

    InstantAction Web Design/Dev.

  33. FP says:


    Me too, I don’t know how to fix it specifically but it doesn’t happen in full screen mode (press Escape in game and click Options).

  34. Leeks! says:

    To be fair, the spinfusor was pretty much the only gun you needed (if you played light) in Tribes anyway, and it was basically a rocket launcher with a more creative appearance. I felt a wave of giddy nostalgia when I booted the game and found I could emulate the spinfusor duels of olde with the launcher.

  35. Marcin says:

    Workaround for the invert Y axis option:

    C:\Users\\AppData\LocalLow\GarageGames\IAPlayer\products\102\install\Legions\legions\preferences\prefs.cs on Vista. Its slightly different on XP, but still in appdata.

    Open prefs.cs in notepad and look for the line:

    $Pref::Input::MouseInvertYAxis = 0;

    Change it to:

    $Pref::Input::MouseInvertYAxis = 1;

  36. Seniath says:

    Excellent, cheers Marcin :)

  37. roskelld says:

    “Jim Rossignol says:

    You’d be amazed what people still play. I stumbled across people on a multiplayer Sacrifice server a few months back.”

    You’re not wrong. I popped on the 3DRealms forum yesterday (Check out the latest Duke screen) and I saw that some guy was still making maps for Rise of the Triad.

  38. James says:


    The game’s throwing up an “Error Code: 510” at me every time I try to play. I suppose that means it’s desktop only for me, rather than quick games on my trusty laptop. Hopefully I’ll be able to play it there.

  39. Hexx says:

    I was lucky enough some how to get into the closed beta. It’s a blast. I’m just happy more people are playing now =D. Keep in my I loved Tribes.

  40. Kismet says:

    As someone who generally enjoy movement more than shooting in FPSs and who enlists Tribes 2 among his all time favorite games I couldn’t wait for Legions beta to become open.

    I’ve been able to spend some time in the game during the last couple of days and the first impression is overall quite positive.

    At first I was a bit disappointed to see Tribes:Vengeance-like skiing implemented, but the 3-directions jet and overdrive mechanic will probably avoid the learning curve turning flat too soon. I still need to get comfortable with the idea of jetting down, but I’m enjoying learning the new mechanics: time will tell if it’s something adding or taking away from the ski-jet experience.

    For what regards weapons, the spinfusor rocket-launcher feeling seems right and that’s really the most important thing. Chaingun: I almost couldn’t hit a thing back in my semi-pro T2 days, I almost can’t hit a thing nowadays, so I’m glad it’s still a finishing weapon in most people hands. Can’t comment on the grenade launcher, as I’ve mostly chosen the rocket-launcher specialist layout, but I’ve seen nice things done with it by more experienced players, and for the bit I used it, it didn’t seem to have received the very sad treatment that Epic reserved to the flak cannon moving from UT99 to more recent installments of the franchise (read: it’s pretty much an hitscan weapon in most usage scenarios).
    I think they’ve made a good selection of the weapons to implement, given the current gameplay.
    I’d love to see the shocklance added too, but in Legions it would really be just to showoff.

    Having a selection of light-medium-heavy armor wouldn’t probably make much sense in Legions, at last in the maps currently available, so the decision to keep things simple but still provide an equipment choice through weapon loadouts (and special alternative fire) makes sense – the only annoying thing being that it seems that all loadouts but one will have to be unlocked (by playing the game, not by paying money) according to the FAQ (but it’s a beta, nothing is written in stone). The armor feels like a slightly lighter T2 medium armor: I would gladly trade a bit of health for a bit more speed and reactiveness but the current implementation is probably more appropriate for Legions gameplay.

    What I think should currently receive more attention is the HUD: the game would benefit of at last a flag status indicator (“On flagstand” – “Returning in… [seconds]” – “Carried by [playername]”), and world objects indicators should scale a bit better at higher resolutions: recognizing the flag icon near a player name at 1920×1200 is not exactly immediate (not asking for an happy mod eh, just something a bit bigger). Ah, and slow minded people like me tend to have a brief moment of confusion when there’s a green text indicating good health under a red player name of the same font size, so having the player side standing out more than health status would avoid those milliseconds of “friend or foe” indecision.

    CTF seems to work fine, even if I’ve seen quite a few stalemates that lasted a bit too much for my taste, but that’s possibly a consequence of the disparity of skills on servers at the moment (new comers versus veterans) and of the HUD weaknesses outlined above.

    For what regards DM and TDM, I’d have preferred Rabbit implemented instead, which share certain aspects of DM/TDM while being more fun to play in my opinion. The reason I said “instead” in place of “along with” is because I’m selfish grumpy old player getting annoyed by the prevalence of DM/TDM over CTF servers, yes. Hopefully there will be dedicated servers in the Euro-zone later on: most matches are definitely playable on player hosted games, but not without the occasional stuttering and relatively high pings.

    Overall I think GarageGames is making a very good job mixing the old with the new, increasing accessibility without excessively reducing depth and balancing the various game elements, it looks like Legions is going to be a great game.

    Anyone wishing to shoot rockets in my direction can find me on Instant Action as “Ki5met”.

  41. Mike says:

    Kismet: I agree with all UI-related points: flag indicator should be bigger, there should be text on-screen saying whether flags are at base, being carried, or dropped somewhere, and I’d love to see floating indicators of where the flags are at all times. Also, definitely agree with the green text on enemies being a poor decision, though I definitely like the damage indicators. And again, really enjoying this so far! Like, really a whole lot! Congrats to GarageGames.

  42. Lunacy says:

    i get an error 510 everytime i try to play legions at home but on the computers the library bought a few days ago i can play it what do i need to run it?

  43. Alec Meer says:

    [Having to lock this thread due to its continuing to attract a monstrous spam-flood. Will unlock again if anyone requests it.]