Let me start off by saying it’s difficult to review MMOs, especially in the first few months. There are constant updates to fix bugs, stability issues and any initial design flaws that need to get hammered out. Due to the wide variety of things to do in an MMO, along with the vast world to explore leaves a reviewer unable to experience everything an MMO has to offer. So while playing through Fallen Earth, I was unable to do everything I wanted due to such as PVP contested areas due to the fact real life got in the way and my trial play period of thirty days had expired. Anyhow, now that I have this preface out of the way it’s time for the review.
Welcome to Arizona
It’s the mid 21’st century, the world is in turmoil due the pandemic of the “Shiva” virus (named due to the dance like convulsions associated with it) is driving the world’s leaders into a frenzy. As the virus continues to spread at an ever increasing rate, nations become paranoid and start accusing each other of crafting the virus. This of course, leads to the inevitable downfall of humanity, mutually assured destruction in the form of nuclear combat. Welcome to post-apocalyptia Chiiiiiilllllllldren.
The character creation screen is pretty remarkable. Character customization allows you to modify your characters height, skin color, tattoos, piercings, facial hair, wrinkles and even the clothes you’ll be wearing as you pop out of the ole “clone hopper”. As you crawl out of the pod, scratching your head trying to figure out the basic gameplay mechanics, a ominous female voice chimes in on a PA system giving you a basic run down on who you are, where you are and why you’re here. This is of course, the tutorial portion of the game. The tutorial doesn’t do an excellent job telling you how to navigate the more advanced menus. Just some basic stuff such as opening your inventory and character status screens and of course, combat. Of course there’s a big learning curve with a lot of MMOs and personally Fallen Earth‘s learning curve is a bit high. I’ve played a lot of MMOs over the years, and while it may not be nearly as bad as Eve Online, it’ll still take a bit of time before things are second nature.
As you’re milling around this giant cloning facility located in the middle of the grand canyon, the facility is under attack and you’re given a brief introduction to the six main factions that are fighting for control for the Globaltech installation, each other, and of course attempting to hold and control as much land so they can enforce their vision of how they see post-apocalyptic America. There are factions such as “CHOTA” (Children of the Apocalypse) who see chaos as the natural order of things where as the “Vistas” and “Light Bringers” search the wastes looking the restore order and recover technology that’s been lost due to the ravages of time and nuclear fire. As you come to the end of the tutorial, you have to take dune-buggie that’s been rigged with a bomb, and drive it out of a tunnel in the Hoover dam to save the complex, you of course die in the explosion but only be resurrected… five years later.
The heat is unbearable.
Once you pop out, you’re given a choice to be either a “crafter” class or a “fighter” with a small selection of towns with starter quests to help you get your basic skill sets. As you might have guessed this is where Fallen Earth starts to fall back into typical MMO gameplay – grind! You’ll find yourself doing the typical fetch quests, killing a certain number of creatures, a big boss and if you’re a crafter spending a lot of your time rummaging through a wide variety of refuse piles looking for materials so you can craft it into something useful. An interesting feature is that Fallen Earth is classless. You level up by improving your skills which allows you to dump points into stats such as intelligence, strength, etc. which help you fight off bigger and badder monsters and craft better goods. The developers were kind enough to give you a wide variety of templates that place markers on your stat and skill meters telling you where they should be for “Armor crafters” and “Gun Slinger”. This is nice in theory, but if you make one wrong move and distribute some points where you didn’t want them to go, or change your mind later there is no way to respec your character. You’re screwed.
One of the games big selling points is that you can create 95% of the games items. This sounds nice, and pretty damn good in theory, but the developers allow you take make everything. Where in most MMO’s you can only select a few professions everyone is allowed to craft everything. I’m sure later on if your stats aren’t spent accurately for certain objects, you can’t craft it but while I was playing the economy seemed broken as everyone was pretty much able to craft everything they needed. Sure people are lazy and will go to the auction house on occasion to buy what they need but I know what trumps being lazy : Being cheap.
Combat doesn’t fair much better. You can fight in a third-person view, or scroll in with your mouse wheel to a first person view to fight. All you have to do is keep your cross-hairs on your target and attack. Combat feels rather clunky, it’s hard to explain it but something feels off. The enemy AI is horrendous, even though you have a “noise meter” if you want to play it stealthy to sneak by your adversaries, I was able to just walk past most of the baddies provided I didn’t walk into a gaggle of them around the next corner. For those who do like combat you can have quick access to 6 weapons at a time. Along with being strapped to the nines, there are tons of armor slots. Where most MMO’s just have a basic armor slot, there are slots from everything from your head, down to your toes. So for those who really like crafting armor and a lot of customization in terms of what you can wear. You might be asking, what about death and resurrection?
Well, every “clone” (PC) in the game wears a collar that sends your biological stats to a central server so that when you die, you’re spit out of the nearest clone hopper. Strangely enough, the collar also clones everything else you’re carrying as well. I know it’s just a simple, sci-fi way to resurrect your character but it’s funny to think about.
Characters also have a “stamina” and “gamma” meter. You can get certain “mutations” that act like spells you can invest into and stamina is used for skills such as “sprint” allowing you to run at an increased speed for a short distance. Once again, Fallen Earth just removes the magic portion, and throws in some sci-fi to distance it’s self from it’s fantasy based siblings.
Items are well detailed, telling you of course the base damage, attack rate and weapon quality. Normally, I hate weapon decay in games, but it seems to happen so slowly I didn’t find it an issue, as when I leveled up I had access to better weapons. Items on occasion will have a description that can be rather humorous. My favorite one was the description for the “safety glasses” where all it said was “In ancient times, it was rumored there was a dance associated with these goggles.”
I never did get around to playing the PVP sections of the world but the world is insanely huge. The world is actually based off of topological maps of the Hoover Dam area. You do get a horse early on in the game to help speed up travel, but it still takes ages to get from point A to point B. In later levels you can get access to motorcycles and dune buggies that’ll easily trump your horse. Each mount has an upkeep. Horses need “feed” for fuel, and gasoline for your mechanized mounts. Travel is rather boring, but while you’re out there you do feel immersed in a wide, vast wasteland that seems empty at first, but it is populated with mutated wild life, raiders, plant life and broken wreckage you can rummage through for goodies. The scenery is rather drab if you’re playing on the default settings, so you better have a fairly beefy machine if you want to play with the shadows on and the details set to the max. The sound effects can be weak at times, but nothing seems out of place. The music has a “wild west” feel to it that sounds like something taken out of westerns, but seems oddly fitting given the location and the lawless nature that follows a nuclear apocalypse.
The biggest problem facing this game as there is only one server. Sure this saves you the trouble of trying to get all your friends on one server, but once peak times come along you’ll notice that this isn’t the greatest idea. Lag is one of the game’s biggest problems. The most obvious solution is to add more severs, but I don’t think the game is that popular to warrant more servers. Only time will tell.
As I said earlier, I didn’t have time to check out everything. To be honest, real life got in the way and I got bored of Fallen Earth as it quickly devolved into your typical grind fest of an MMO.