Falling Back Down - A Second Look at Fallen Earth

Entire communities abandoned, rampant crime and chaos, skyrocketing death rates from global pandemics…in a warped version of life imitating art, some aspects of

communities abandoned, rampant crime and chaos, skyrocketing
death rates from global pandemics…in a warped version of
life imitating art, some aspects of style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth mirrored
the real world in 2009.  Although post-apocalyptic themes are
quickly replacing zombies as the flavor of the year, the game has yet
to find its footing and become a major player. With the world in the
midst of a major recession all subscription-based games are finding it
harder and harder to compete for a player’s hard earned cash

It was an impulse buy of the post-apocalyptic console FPS, Borderlands,
and a multiplayer session with Ten Ton Hammer’s Executive
Editor, Benjamin J. de la Durantaye, that piqued my curiosity and
caused me to go back and take another look at style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth.
After reading through the copious patch notes, which mainly consisted
of bug fixes (pages and pages of bug fixes), I fired the game back up
and started a new character in order to experience it with fresh eyes.

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For those unfamiliar with style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth and
its premise, allow me to set the stage for you before I dive into the
current state of affairs. Taking place in the not-so-distant future, style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth tells
the tale of a world that was besieged by a deadly virus which triggered
a nuclear holocaust and a global breakdown of civilization. Players are
members of a rag tag society that exists in the southwest area of the
former United States, in and around the Grand Canyon to be more exact.
Besides being among a small percentage of the population that survived,
players are made even more unique by the fact they are not quite human,
but high tech clones (think style="font-style: italic;">Bladerunner
replicants that can’t be killed and you’re on the
right track).  

The intro quest line is a guided narrative which familiarizes you with
the controls and mechanics of the game and sets the stage for the main
plot line. The post-patch version I played was far and away smoother
than the one I slogged through at launch, giving me hope that many of
the issues which made me pull the plug months ago may have been
resolved. While I would love to report this to be the case, there is
still much work for the bug zappers to do. Rather than focusing solely
on the negative, let’s first take a look at what style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth is
doing well.


style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth is
a crafter’s paradise, with a robust system that is
reminiscent of Star Wars Galaxies. The game uses a system that allows
players to create almost any imaginable and useful item in the game
world without restrictions as to where you can craft (although there
are certain crafting stations to help speed the process up.) This
flexibility makes crafting in style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth become
less of a niche for those who don’t mind spending time in
crafting halls and more of a gameplay mainstay. Some items are created
in real time and others can take several days to complete but, like style="font-style: italic;">EVE Online
skills, the lengthier combines will persist even after you log out and,
once started, take no further player interaction. The only downside
here is that your eyes may get bigger than your backpack. Storage space
is at a premium here, so players must make sure to prioritize well and
gather based on current needs. Impulse gathering can leave you with a
glut of valuable but burdening resources.

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- One of the most compelling facets of the game is the lack of defined
player classes. Open ended character development allows you to use the
game’s advancement points to custom build your toon to suit
your needs. There are templates available for guidance, but they
don’t lock you into any particular path.

- The game world, while beset by a bleak landscape, is amazing to
explore. The area of Grand Canyon Province is currently the only
playable space in the game, but it is massive in terms of area. Once
you play through the intro quest line you reawaken to a transport hub
that allows you to choose among a sizeable list of starting cities.
These cities set the stage for the quest hubs and launching points that
you will encounter throughout the game. The world is non-instanced so
you’re free to set out to explore as you like. This is a
post-apocalyptic wasteland though…so use caution.
– The quest writing and layout of style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth easily
rivals that of any other game on the market today. While the bulk of
the quest objectives aren’t groundbreaking--it’s
the typical errand boy fodder that you find elsewhere--the dialogue and
interactions are. Immersion comes from paying attention to quest
details and the interpersonal relationships that unfold throughout
them. Fallen
has six factions with
which you can ally and the intrigue and interplay between them is
fascinating and well written. Take it slow; read each quest description
and complete as many quests as you can to anchor yourself to this
complex and fascinating world.


No game is perfect and most that fall below the success threshold do so
for a reason, or reasons. While style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth has
made some serious efforts at improvements, it still falls short in
several areas.

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– There is a good
reason most successful MMOGs stick to swords, boards and magic spells
– the implementation of them is simple and time-tested. If
making FPS combat work well in this genre was easy then one would
conclude that at least one of the top three MMOG titles would be a
shooter. Unfortunately, it obviously isn’t a simple mechanic
to make work well. style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth is
certainly ambitious in combat designs and one day may dial them in to a
completely smooth and intuitive package, but that day has yet to come.
Aiming mechanics for ranged weaponry are clunky and lack any sort of
fluidity or consistency; some fights go rather smoothly and others
leave you scratching your head wondering how they went so wrong. Even
melee combat is awkward and probably a victim of other necessary
mechanics that factor into the ranged side of the equation. Ultimately,
combat here seems to be a victim of an overly ambitious undertaking,
but not so much so that it becomes unplayable. Perhaps someday the
wrinkles will be completely ironed out and the combat engine will rank
up there with the hits instead of the misses.

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– In anticipation of the flaming I may receive from diehard
fans of the game, let me state this up front: there are some wonderful
and helpful people playing style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth and
this isn’t a bash fest on the individuals. With that out of
the way, let me say that playing any pay-to-play title that
hasn’t lived up to expectations, and therefore has a smaller
community as a result, is always an exercise in patience. 
While the overall friendliness level and maturity level may be high,
any low population game will suffer many similar problems, and a game
as ambitious as this one will have a lot of bugs and quirks to
exacerbate those issues. A division occurs between the haves and
have-nots, the “get its” and the “what
does this button do” crowds, which can often make in-game
chatter hard to bear. This dynamic is on full display in style="font-style: italic;">Fallen Earth,
an unfortunate side effect of the aforementioned factors. Sadly, the
only thing to help remedy this problem is a fresh infusion of more
players which is rare in today’s current gaming climate.

Overall Fallen
is a game brimming
with potential, with a solid foundation that could support a robust
community. The team of developers working on the game are continuously
rooting out bugs and fixing them, but it still ultimately feels like a
beta test more than a live game. Perhaps in the near future this title
will have the same epiphany that style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons &
Dragons Online had,
changing its subscription model to some type of limited free-to-play
setup to allow for a much needed rebirth. If the bugs have been
sufficiently squashed, and the improvements continue to roll out, this
grim vision of the future could someday take its place among the top
games on the market.

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

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