Fallen Earth - First Impressions

By Stacy Jones -

A super virus has wiped out a large chunk of the worldÂ’s population, seeding distrust across the nations of the world and leading to nuclear strikes that kill even more. People are dead and the world is in chaos. If you want to survive you'll need to toughen up, choose your allies, and most importantly, start packing a lot of heat. This is the setting for Fallen Earth. There are no orcs, elves, or goblins. Just the evil nature of man and some seriously deformed creatures born out of radiation exposure and genetic manipulation. Welcome to the apocalypse.

Character creation provides you with a number of different options.

As with all MMOGs, the first thing you will encounter in the game is the character creation system. Character creation in Fallen Earth isnÂ’t as detailed as some other games, but thatÂ’s not to say you donÂ’t have plenty of options to choose from. You can choose from a number of hair styles, some resembling fashions sported by villains from the Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and Road Warrior movies. You can also choose tattoos and piercings for your character. While there arenÂ’t a huge number of tattoos available, you can ink up several body parts. If you want a more tribal look, face paint is also available. The creation system offers more types of customizations than you will find in a lot of other games even if the extra detail options like slide bars arenÂ’t all there.

Once your character is created, you will enter the world and get dropped right into a hornet’s nest. The man in charge of the facility you are now in, that is incidentally built deep within the Hoover Dam, is somewhat of a lunatic. The voice of a mysterious woman will begin to communicate with you through the electronic collar fastened around your neck and guide you through the area. You will learn from her that you are one of many clones that have been created within this facility for nefarious purposes. Without ruining too much of the story, you’ll end up having to fight your way out. To make matters worse, some of the local factions have decided the madman running the facility needs to suffer a sudden case of death, so they have attacked it, sticking you between an invading force and the defending forces within the facility. The mysterious voice will give you one goal. There are no “kill 20 rats” (that comes later) or “speak with your trainer” quests, just one goal and that is to get out of the damn dam before all hell breaks loose. Along the way you will have to fight and obtain an item or two, but all tasks are constantly leading you along the path to escape and in the way are plenty of people and creatures that would like nothing more than to see your insides decorating the facility walls.

This bomb loaded ATV is the first vehicle you will have the opportunity to ride.

You begin your tutorial adventure at level 40, but donÂ’t let it fool you as you can still die. The tutorial mode is pretty simple and allows for easy learning without a high threat of getting your spine monkey stomped by some mutant. YouÂ’ll work your way through several encounters that will train you in combat and looting, but at the end you will find that the resident madman has strapped a bomb to an ATV. It will be up to you to get that bomb out of the facility before everyone is killed. I hate to ruin this for you, so spoiler incoming:

No matter how fast you ride, that bomb is still going to blow you all to hell. After the “last ride,” as I like to call it, all that will be left of you is a smoldering pile of ash and some burnt sneakers. This is where the real game begins. The lady that was guiding you managed to use that collar you were wearing to download your mind into another clone, but something went wrong with the old machine she used and now, four years after your death, you return as a piddly little level 1. On top of that, you’re dying, and thus you begin your quest for survival and that’s just the beginning of the game.

End spoiler.

Bury the hatchet is a literal term in Fallen Earth.

The gameplay is a good mix of part shooter, part RPG. In some ways the game is similar to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadows of Chernobyl with how theyÂ’ve merged shooter with RPG mechanics. You can choose to play in first or third person view and combat can be with ranged or melee weapons. As you level up you can invest gained skill points in a number of areas to improve your character such as your use of rifles, pistols, melee weapons, or upgrade your crafting skills and mutations. You are pretty free to enhance your character any way you want, which leaves a number of possible builds.

Another neat little additive is the ability to go prone or crouch to try and be a sneaky little killer. Jumping is a bit awkward as when you land your character stops for a second before being able to move again. This can be a pain in combat and just plain aggravating while running and jumping an object.

Combat is a little different and takes some getting used to. When you join a battle, you need to enter aiming mode to attack. This can be confusing in the beginning, so to save you some time the default is the tab key. Once in aiming mode, you can attack with your mouse. Your primary attack is your left mouse button and your secondary is your right mouse button. You can carry different weapons on your character as several slots are provided. You can then alternate between those weapons without having to constantly switch them around from your inventory.

Combat is a little crazy at times due to some questionable AI. Sometimes you can unload a round into an enemy and heÂ’ll take off running away from you and it will be a second or two before he figures out that itÂ’s kind of hard to engage the enemy when youÂ’re both running in the same direction. At other times you can pop an enemy in a group and his friends wonÂ’t be compelled to help as you blast him out of his boots. Aggro range in some cases seems very small, so you can run right by some enemies and never even get their attention. However, when combat is engaged, you can often just back-peddle and pop a pursuing even level melee foe into swiss cheese to bring him down and not suffer a lot of damage if any yourself.

The ruins of civilization make up the world of Fallen Earth.

Characters across the world make use of short voice-overs from time to time and this works well with the theme, but you can see the developers adding subtle jokes into the mix. One example came from a character that gives you a mission (quest) in Zanesville. After you speak with the NPC he will insist you take some training before receiving your mission and he sends you off with some insight on the town and the parting G.I. Joe line of, “Well now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”

The graphics of the game are not bad, but they arenÂ’t the same quality as a game like Vanguard or Age of Conan. Still, they are not bad and tend to fit the gameÂ’s theme, but things do tend to get bland at times as there arenÂ’t a lot of colors in the world. World population seems dense in some areas as well. I spent quite a while just running across the landscape to see what lies beyond the plains, but there were huge gaps in enemy or NPC population. You can traverse the open lands and often times not see anything aside from dirt and grass for quite a ways. However, there are several areas that have been set up like enemy camps; itÂ’s just the areas between those and the cities that seem devoid of life.

Crafting is pretty simple and continues on the disappointing trend of not being too involving. You get a recipe and the materials to make an item, click it in the crafting window, and then wait until itÂ’s finished. Depending on the item, this can take a while if you havenÂ’t added to your crafting skill. Resources of the world are a bit limited, so trade with other players is a big part of the game.

Earning your place with one of the world's factions will provide you with benefits.

You can also acquire mounts in the game to help get around. Horses and other craftable mounts like ATVs can be made to allow faster transport across the large landmass. These can be useful, but resources can sometimes be hard to come by, making trade a useful tool.

Factions are another big element of the game and an important one from a progression standpoint. Each faction has two allies and one arch enemy. As you gain faction with one you are essentially losing it with three, but also gaining with your chosen factionÂ’s allies. However, the way the faction wheel works is that you can work your way into becoming allied with your chosen factionÂ’s sworn enemy by working up your faction with their allies, but in doing so, your allies will then become your enemies. Each faction specializes in certain skills that can be useful to you as you progress, so choose the one that will best suit your needs.

Fallen Earth comes off as a niche MMOG and it certainly fulfils that role. While the graphics and combat will not be for everyone, there is certainly a strong core group of players in the game and enjoying the post-apocalyptic world of Fallen Earth. Combat offers a unique experience for an MMOG and the mix of shooter and RPG play works well with the game's overall design. Crafting is a bit disappointing, but it's fairly standard for the current trend in most MMOGs design. Overall, despite a few issues, the game offers a fun experience and an intriguing world for players to enjoy.

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