Fallen Earth: A Front Row Seat to the Apocalypse Pt. 2

Prarie Chicken

At the core of MMO gameplay there needs to be a compelling central conflict to ultimately drive the notion of a living, breathing virtual world forward. Let’s face it, were conflict not...

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href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/40061" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Prarie Chicken"

the core of MMO gameplay there needs to be a compelling central
conflict to ultimately drive the notion of a living, breathing virtual
world forward. Let’s face it, were conflict not a key
component to the continual growth of the industry we’d all be
playing World of Fluffy Bunnies: Age of Redundancy. In many cases the
central conflict will simply boil down to a means of generating an
atmosphere of competition; in others conflict serves as a backdrop in
which grand stories can be told both by developers and players alike.

Weaving those two concepts together can be a difficult task. A good
example is the continuing trend in which console shooters draw a
distinct line between story (single-player campaigns) and competition
(multiplayer modes) even in an age when online connectivity is the
norm. Some of the most successful MMOs to date have even taken a
similar approach, though there still remains a near deafening roar from
the keyboards of forum posters who emphatically
“request” a content rich MMO that offers a robust,
meaningful PvP system that takes place within a compelling PvE
framework. While attempts have been made along those lines, the
tendency is for one aspect of gameplay (PvP or PvE) to take center

These were some of the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/66979" target="_blank">concepts
I had swirling around in my (cybernetically enhanced) brain a few weeks
ago that remained with me as I made my way to Cary, N.C., to pay a
visit to the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/177"
target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth
development team at Icarus Studios late last month. Throughout the
gameplay demo and studio tour, we discussed numerous aspects of the
game that will no doubt set it apart from an ever growing sci-fi
market. Last week I touched upon various aspects of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/67281" target="_blank">character
advancement, including a brief
look at the mutation system, but I was perhaps most interested in
learning more about PvP and how large a role the 6 factions in style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth
will play in the title’s central conflict.

Speaking with Project Manager Colin Dwan as his demo character sped
around the desert landscapes of Grand Canyon Province on an
impressively agile motorcycle, I posed the following Ten Ton Question:
Could Fallen
be described as a PvE
MMO with a compelling PvP system, or is it a PvP game set within an
interesting PvE framework? The answer Colin provided was excellent in
its simplicity; “Both.”

In Fallen
, it’s
entirely possible for players to continue their advancement without
ever being forced to participate in the PvP aspects of the game. In
other words, while PvP is certainly a major aspect of gameplay and
players will be encouraged to participate, there’s a massive
amount of PvE content for players to explore. The goal here seems to be
crafting an MMO in which both aspects are woven together in such a way
that the lines begin to blur, the central conflict ultimately revolving
around both NPC and PC forces in equal measure, resulting in an epic
struggle that’s not mutually exclusive.

The tie that binds the two gameplay elements together is the faction
wheel, which represents the varying degrees of animosity between the
game’s six distinct factions and their numerous sub-factions.
Throughout the course of gameplay, players will be introduced to each
of the main factions gradually at first, but by the time you reach the
zones in Sector 2 you should have a pretty clear understanding of what
makes each one tick. Lead Game Designer Lee Hammock also pointed out
that while players will be able to remain neutral it’s
typically in their best interest to ally themselves with one of the six
core factions. Neutrality in the face of the major conflict between
opposing factions will be somewhat difficult to manage, thanks in part
to the way faction is tracked based on which content you choose to
pursue. Do a favor for the Techs and you’re bound to piss off
the Vistas and their allies in other words.

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href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/38956" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: left;" alt="Vehicle 1"

Siding with a given faction will ultimately open up content unique to
that specific faction, such as storyline quests that will also provide
a fairly high degree of replay value, as following different paths on
separate characters will culminate in two distinct experiences with the
higher level quests in the game. Faction selection can also give
players access to skills and crafting recipes that can’t be
obtained in any other way, but the system will truly begin to shine
once PvP comes into play.

A main focal point for PvP in style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth
will be the Conflict Towns. These towns will begin as neutral areas
complete with shops, quests and trainers, with faction-specific camps
set up outside the towns themselves where players can pick up missions
to help destabilize the town, eventually taking it over for their
faction. Lee Hammock explained that there will be some Conflict Towns
that will take perhaps an hour for a given faction to take over, with
others designed to be a much larger challenge that might take a few
hours to take over depending on how large of an opposition you face
once the process begins.

Killing other players (which nets you points for your chosen faction)
is only one way of gaining control over an area, as each will have a
series of objectives you’ll be tasked with completing that
will tally points for your side. Once a certain threshold is met, the
town will be under your faction’s control so long as there
are players on your side who actively work to maintain control. In the
meantime, controlling a Conflict Town will open up new content options
for whichever faction is in control. This can take the form of new
missions, equipment, abilities, mutations, resources or crafting books
unique to that specific town.

Providing this type of framework for PvP while still keeping it linked
to the much broader overall PvE aspects of the game could very well be
an elegant solution to the many design challenges developers face when
tasked with creating an MMO that can appeal to a broader spectrum of
players. While I wasn’t able to witness any large-scale PvP
in the Conflict Towns during my time at Icarus Studios, the core
concepts behind style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth’s
gameplay in these areas certainly left me itching to experience the
game first hand.

From what I was able to gather, style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth
is in a “content complete” state, with the current
emphasis of the closed beta on bug squashing and adding a solid amount
of polish rather than attempting to squeeze in too many more major
gameplay elements. Hopefully we’ll be hearing an announcement
about the timeframe for open beta and launch soon, but in the meantime style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth
is certainly one sci-fi MMO that will remain locked on my radar.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Fallen Earth Game Page.

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