Fallen Earth

Original Release Date: September 22, 2009
Version Reviewed: 2.38 (March 11, 2012)
Game Type: MMORPG (Post Apocalyptic)
Custom Features
: Combat, Seamless World, Crafting, Progress Towns
Strengths: Graphics, Crafting, Single Server, Versatility in Character Appearance
Weaknesses: Learning Curve, Bugs, lack of Alternative Advancement
Notes: One of the best FTP MMOGs on the Market; has grown into a strong and solid product
Billing Style: Free to Play with Paid Subscription, Marketplace


Fallen Earth was originally released on September 22, 2009 as a labor of love from the independent game development company Icarus Studios. Taking place in the future post-apocalyptic southwest, since its release the game has grown by leaps and bounds. It converted from its original paid subscription model to a combination free to play and paid subscription model complete with marketplace. Since then, it has attracted a large player base which is keeping the game alive and well. Lovers of games such as Fallout 3 and the gritty post apocalyptic genre are finding a warm welcome in the world of Fallen Earth.

Besides the unique target-based combat system which allows snipers to headshot their victims from a distance and challenge one to control their aim, Fallen Earth also features a truly seamless massive world. I don’t know of any other MMOG on the market which has accomplished what FE has in the terms of size, scope, and AI-controlled NPCs; all on the same server and without any “zones”. While there are instanced underground bunkers/structures, those are also handled seamlessly. In addition to a seamless world which is always crawling with players, this affects features such as the Auction House as a player doesn’t have to worry about “poor server population”. There’s more than enough people playing the game and constantly bartering items.

New Flagstaff at Sunset

The game has no classes. Instead players spend points in specific areas which allow them to focus on particular strengths. Want to be good at pistols, rifles, and add fire damage to your attacks through a mutation? No problem! But don’t spread your points around too much or you will be good at everything yet master of none.

Another impressive thing about FE is how no two characters look alike. The versatility in appearances is exceptional; even with the NPCs. If you’ve never been attacked by a crazed woman with spiked hair wearing a crazy blood-covered hockey mask coming at you with a bloody machete and suddenly see her body fling back as she is shot in the head, only to turn around to see a female character on a hill in a wedding dress standing next to her motorcycle with a .50 caliber pink bunny sniper rifle waving at you; well, let’s just say… this sort of thing happens in FE, and it is fantastic. I won’t even begin to mention the cowboys with clown face paint.

Vehicles are a big part of the game as they can act as storage, are required for traveling long distances and can even be enhanced to engage in vehicular combat. Factions are critical in FE as well. Learn about them and choose wisely as once you join a faction and put the effort into building the faction points, there’s really no going back unless you want to use a one-time full reset.

But it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s different enough from other MMOGs where there is a substantial learning curve. Be patient and plan on taking a few days just to get the basics down. But once you do, you’ll find yourself having a great time. There is also PvP at the heart of the game, so be prepared to do battle with other players and factions. And be prepared to die. A lot.

Tradeskills are a core part of this game as nearly every item you can find or use is craftable. Resources are so abundant you cannot venture into the world without stumbling upon them. If you like to scavenge and build, this game is for you. If you like to snipe, slice with a machete, duel-pistol blast, or even utilize strange mutations to maim and kill your opponents, this game is for you. If you like a gritty, living and breathing post-apocalyptic world with fun content, great graphics and a solid level of depth, this game is definitely for you.

 

Content

Creation & Customization, Classes, Story, Missions, World & Sectors, Towns, Ambiance, Mounts & Vehicles, NPCs & Enemies, and Tutorial

Character Creation fun!

You begin the game by creating and customizing your human character. There are quite a few customization options including height, build, hair, tattoos, scars, jewelry, color and more. While the theme is very post-apocalyptic, there’s enough variance to both create a fun, goofy-looking character, or a serious wasteland traveler.

There are no classes in Fallen Earth, but specific areas of focus where you will put your skill points. I will cover this in detail below under Mechanics for stats, skills, AP and mutations.

The story begins with an introduction to LifeNet which you learn through the “Escape from hoover dam” starter tutorial and movie. You are a clone; that’s how you are able to come back to life after dying one of many different ways in the wasteland. Of course this story grows as you play the game and engage in quests, quickly branching out into many different conflicts, conspiracies and issues which require deadly force to resolve. This is experienced through the missions of the game. As with most MMOGs, there are many kill, delivery, group, and reward quests; but FE seems to have more stage-based missions than other MMOGs. When you start one mission, be prepared for it to take you from place to place and require numerous steps to complete. Missions come in four colors to show how difficult they are. From easiest to must difficult the colors are green, white, yellow and orange. In my opinion the first set of difficult missions begins with the Kingman Prison, but as you play the game, you will find many missions marked as group and higher level than you are easily soloable; part of this is due to the tactical aspect of the combat, which is covered below.  A player can have a maximum of 20 missions at any given time, but can only show one as “active” on the UI. At first, I found this to be annoying as I was accustomed to seeing multiple missions shown at once from other MMOGs, but as you get into the game and start playing without expectations set by other games, you find yourself not missing the multi-mission system at all. Additionally, nearly every quest in the game shows you on the world map exactly where to go and it’s easy to switch between quests which are in the same vicinity.

The world of Fallen Earth is huge, and in order to truly appreciate what has been built you really need to experience the game in full and explore every location you are sent to. While FE is a truly seamless world, it is broken down into sector maps. The entire world is known as the “Grand Canyon Province” which contains 7 sub sectors. These sectors are: Sector 1 – Plateau (for characters level 1-20), Sector 2 – Northfields (21-30), Secctor 3 – Kaibab Forest (31-40), Deadfall (40-50), Terminal Woods & Alpha County (50-55), and Territory Control. Territory Control is a purely faction-based PvP area and has different rules and features from the other sectors (which will be covered below). The gradual progression from sector to sector is very well done, and while there are “empty” portions of the sectors, they are more the exception than the rule.

There are a lot of towns in Fallen Earth. Some are Neutral and others are Faction. If you’re friendly with the faction, you can enter. If not, you will be shot on sight by the guards. Each sector has one major town. I believe the largest town in the game is New Flagstaff, which is in Sector 2. Every major town has all vault types and serves as a central hub for that particular sector. You’ll always encounter plenty of player variance when you visit the hub towns. As I will cover below, the game also features Player-built progress towns.

The ambiance of FE is very engrossing. The colors, environmental sounds, lighting, shadows, structures, foliage and terrain all create an enveloping world which is very well done and detailed. The view distance for the terrain is the furthest I’ve seen in a MMOG; you can truly see a long distance, and it adds to the overall feeling of depth to the game world you are playing in. When you start out in Sector 1, the world seems like a barren wasteland. It’s not all like this; as you progress out of Sector 1 and into Sector 2 and then Sector 3, etc. you will notice a gradual change in terrain from wasteland to plains to heavy forest, and you will also begin to notice structural differences in towns based on factions, storyline and location. Day and night cycles last four hours each, and when it’s night it gets very dark. When day comes around, you welcome it.

Mounts and vehicles are key to getting around in FE, but they represent more than just transportation as they can also be used for combat and storage. There is quite a variation in mounts and vehicles. Players can ride on horses while shooting their targets, jump on ATVs and fly through the hills, acquire “interceptors” which are dirty muscle cars (which you can mount guns on), purchase a fat prairie chicken to bound around on, or even fly down the roads in a custom painted chopper. The variation in vehicles allows one to pursue a method of transportation which matches their character and play-style. While I introduce vehicles under content, I will discuss the actual use and management of vehicles below under mechanics and travel.

Horses are very popular in the early sectors

The tutorial (which is about escaping hoover dam) takes a new player through the basics of the game. I recommend every new player completes the tutorial as it does a good job of introducing the game, features and different play/combat style. Once you complete (or skip) the tutorial, you get to choose your starter town from a list of of seven (Clinton F.A.R.M, Mumford, Boneclaw, Zanesville, Terance, Midway, South Burb). Each town tells you the population and has a “focus” of Support, Pistol, Combat, Rifle, or Crafting. As Fallen Earth has grown in popularity most of the towns are at “full” population, but that’s not a problem; simply choose the town which looks best for what you want to focus on and enjoy!

 

Economy

Currency (Death Toll), Inventory & Items, Tradeskills (Resources & Gathering, Crafting, Harvesters & Salvage), Trading (Bank, Mail and Auction),  Subscriptions & Marketplace

The currency of FE revolves around chips, crafting components and the auction house. Chips come in four flavors: white, blue, red, and yellow. The lingo of the game is “for sale! 15r!” which is 150000 chips (100 white= 1 blue, etc). Merchants sell items for chips and you can sell items to merchants for chips. You can also buy and sell items for chips through the Auction House, which is very active due to the single-server natuer of the game. You can also acquire Death Toll by killing players. This can be spent at Death Toll merchants to buy PvP equipment. Yellow chips are the end-all, be-all, and the max currency of the game is 10y. You can also acquire “defense tokens” from the Citadel quest in Deadfall to buy end-game crafting components from a defense token-specific merchant.

Inventory is managed through storage on your character, through vaults, and storage on your vehicles. Vaults serve as the “banking system” for your character and come in four flavors: Sector, Barter, Utility and VIP. This is very confusing to new players as they are led to believe the different vaults represent different methods of storage which may include membership or even trading; this is not the case. Sector vaults are generally found in every town. Barter vaults are found in all major towns, and some towns contain utility and VIP vaults. All are connected and all are owned by you, so technically, a player has three sets of bank vaults they can use. The difference is utility and VIP vaults are only found in a limited number of towns. So if you’re in a smaller town, you may not have access to some of your vaults, so you generally only want to put things in the utility/VIP vault you rarely have to access (until you’re going somewhere like Los Alamos on a regular basis). Barter vaults are the middle ground; for example I put weapons and armor in my barter vault and use my Sector vault (which is found pretty much everywhere) to store all of my raw resources. Vehicle storage becomes important as you venture off into the wasteland. This storage is useful for extra ammunition. Your character inventory is based on slots and weight. You always have 64 slots and can carry a specific amount of weight based on your stats. When I started the game my max weight was around 30. At level 50 I could carry over 80 and I didn’t focus on strength.

I finally discovered what brought about the apocalypse!

Items come in a number of core categories: Weapon, Armor, Ammunition, Consumable, Tradeskill, Mission and “other”. Weapons are either ranged or melee and can be equipped in the following slots: BACK, BELT, and LEG. You can have 2x of each, so you will often see a player running around with guns, knives, and even “glow sticks”.  There is a very wide variety of armor with a number of slots: EYES, MOUTH, HEAD, EAR, BACK, CHEST, SHOULDERS, ARMS, WRISTS, HANDS, WAIST, LEGS, THIGHS, BOOTS, and STORAGE. Something which may not be quite intuitive is your Chest is your “shirt” and your Back is your “torso armor”. There are also wardrobe slots identical to armor slots where you can define the custom look for your character, and I must say the visual diversity in characters is exceptional; it’s almost impossible to find two characters who look exactly alike. There are a number of single items which will take up multiple slots. For example, you can wear a Helmet that just takes the HEAD slot, or a full face-covering helmet which takes EYES, MOUTH, HEAD and EAR. You can also find “suits” of armor which take up nearly every body-based slot; these armor suits start at level 45. Items such as weapons and armor have two degradation properties: condition and fatigue. Condition is durability and fatigue is the overall repair reserves for the item. When your item reaches a condition of 0 you must repair it in order to use it again, and higher level items require expensive repair kits. When you repair an item it loses a point of fatigue. If an item reaches a condition of 0 and fatigue of 0 it’s not repairable. However you can replenish the fatigue of an item by merging it with another of the same kind. Don’t worry; fatigue doesn’t become an issue until end-game, and it was designed to ensure a continued use of materials to craft and repair items. While items can have character level restrictions, each item in the game has an “item level” which is a different tier than character level. This allows the developers to define items of low and high quality in a specific character level range (or usage range). For example, a level 45 common and cheap helm may be item level 52, but the “best quality” helm for a level 45 character may be item level 64. You can also dye items (and vehicles) which allows the player to define their unique look. Surprisingly, very few items in the game bind to you; most can be repaired and resold.

Tradeskills are at the heart of Fallen Earth and probably serve as the most important set of features in support of the economy; even more than the chips because of the consumable nature of things. Resources from Gathering come in 3 core categories: Geology, Nature, and Scavenge. Geology encapsulates mining nodes, nature all types of nature-based resources such as wood, wheat, cactus water, etc. and scavenge is everything else: junk, which can procure everything ranging from pharmaceuticals to computer chips and salvaged metals. Scavenge can also return the same resources you find through geology in the form of metals. And there are a TON of crafting materials in this game. More than any other game I’ve seen.

Crafting skills are as follows: Armorcraft, Ballistics, Construction, Cooking, Geology, Medicine, Mutagenics, Nature, Scavenging, Science and Weaponry. And believe me when I say there is a monumental amount of things to craft in this game. Guns, Armor, Clothing, Food, Item Repair Kits, Healing Pharmaceuticals, Item and Vehicle Dye, Horse Feed and Fuel, Blades, Hammers, Tents and Campfires, Vehicles, and even guns to mount on your vehicles; you name it and you can craft it. While most of the crafting skills are self-explanatory (i.e. ballistics is guns, armorcraft is… armor) the one which people scratch their head on is Mutagenics, which is support for mutations. I will cover this in more detail below under skills. You must have a kit on your character in order to craft; if you’re crafting for multiple skills, this can take up a number of slots; of course there’s a single kit that does everything which you can purchase from the Marketplace, but you have to pay for it. Another important support feature for gathering are Harvesters; physical objects you can set up in the Territory Control zone (PvP) which harvest specific materials. Short on Scrap Steel or Lead? Set up a harvester! But there is risk as you can only set them up in PvP areas and players can both destroy and steal from them. And very importantly: Crafting is queued and done even when you’re offline. You can set up to 20 individual items to be crafted in your queue at once; and as you get into the higher level items, it can take hours and even days to craft complex items. Using construction skills, Players can also build camps wherever they like which can include mail, vaults, and merchants, and provide a nice buff to those who are around it. There are also crafting stations in towns which lower the time to craft if your character is in proximity. This can be helpful if you queue a lot of items to craft and want to shave off 10-20% of the time it would normally take.

A great example of the well-done long-distance terrain rendering

As mentioned above the Bank system of FE is the Vault system. Mail is pretty standard compared to other MMOGs; you can send, receive and COD items. The Auction House is very active as there is only one server and you can find an AH in nearly every town. It is common for popular item posts at good deals to be snatched up almost immediately, and you can almost always find what you need if you have the chips. My only gripe with the AH is the fact it is not apparent you can search items based on character level, but only item level. You can fix this by selecting “player level” under the required attribute dropdown. The UI of the auction house can be a bit cumbersome, but once you dive into it using the AH is pretty easy and a player can make quite a bit of money by selling the resources they find and items they craft.

Fallen Earth is a Free to Play game which offers paid Subscription and a Market. The base Free to Play account has limitations on many things such as the the number of characters a player can have, how many chips a character can have, experience gain rate, a limitation in crafting/harvesting speed, and how much time a player can spend crafting, etc. Of course the paid subscriptions address all of this by removing limitations and even enhancing them. There are three paid subscriptions available: Survivalist ($9.99/mo), Wastelander ($14.99/mo) and Commander ($29.99/mo). I personally recommend Wastelander; it’s the same as a paid subscription to any non-F2P MMO and works well. Subscriptions also give monthly Reward Points (thus rewarding those who continue to subscrive) which can be used to purchase in-game items; but if you don’t want to wait, you can buy some G1Credits and buy lockbox keys, equipment, mounts, slot expansions, enhancements and other marketplace items.

My Recommendation if you plan on really playing FE: Purchase the Wastelander Subscription and the Badland Rider motorcycle.

Welcome to the Northern Forest!

 

Mechanics

Level & AP, Stats,  Skills, Actions & Mutations, Factions, Modifiers, Regeneration & Consumables, Travel, Instances, Player Towns, Achievements,  Pets, and Death

Fallen Earth has a level cap of 55, and it does take some time to get there unless you’re an experienced player who knows exactly where to grind and uses XP boosters. However there is so much to do in the game I highly recommend completing every quest you can if it’s your first time through, especially as the world is massive and the quests will send you to bases and other important locations which you will want to be aware of if you choose to help out friends or level alts.

As you progress through levels you are awarded APs (advancement points). This is the bread and butter of character customization. What’s nice is you will receive APs as you progress through a level so you can enhance your character between levels and not have to wait until you “level up”. While leveling will increase your root stats, it does not increase your skills or mutations (except Alpha). You must spend points to increase those. Each stat point costs 5 skill points and everything else costs one point. Another reason it is important to do quests is because many of them reward AP points, so if you simply grind to level 55 without doing any quests, you could find yourself fewer AP at max level than you would have received through questing. Max usable AP is currently 1960, but you can acquire more than that through quests after you’ve reached level cap. My guess is this is for future expansions which raise the level cap, allowing players who continue to “collect” AP to store it for expansion.

There are eight stats: Charisma, Coordination, Dexterity,  Endurance, Intelligence, Perception, Strength and Willpower. Each stat serves as the foundation for all skills, mutations and tradeskills. You can see which stats affect which skills by looking to the right of the skill/mutation/tradeskill in the UI. For example, the skill Armor Use is based 25% on Coordination and 75% on Endurance while the Armorcraft tradeskill is based 75% on Intelligence and 25% on perception. This means you need to plan in advance what stats you will raise to support the skills you want to pursue. I recommend doing some research on character build templates before starting your character; that way you can get an idea of what to shoot for. I decided to go with the Rifle/Crafter template for starters, but instead of First Aid and Group Tactics, I went with the Empathy Mutation and Dodge. All characters also have health, stamina and gamma. Health is the traditional “if you reach 0 you’re dead” value. Stamina is consumed by actions and gamma is consumed by mutations. Each stat has a regeneration value which can be enhanced through consumable items, as discussed below.

There are 13 skills in the game: Armor Use, Dirty Tricks, Dodge, Escape Artist, First Aid, Group Tactics, Heavy Weapons, Melee, Pistol, Power, Precision, Rifle, and Social. Most of the skills are self explanatory, but a few are not. Dirty Tricks is mainly for melee support, and Social supports bartering and other interesting features such as being able to walk around enemy towns, reduce aggro, etc. Each skill has a set of action books which are necessary to open access to the actual actions which is what you can place in your slots and activate/use. For example, the Rifle skill has an action called Bull’s Eye which causes the next shot to do extra damage. Each book/action comes in multiple levels and you must acquire each level of the book to access that level of the skill. For example level 4 of Bull’s Eye required Rifle 156. Most books are sold by merchants or can be crafted, and some can be found.

For those of you who are more familiar with fantasy-based MMOGs, Mutations are the equivalent of “magic classes” in Fallen Earth and encapsulate a number of actions based on a theme. There are a total of eleven: Alpha Mutation, Empathic, Enhancement, Illumination, Nano-Manipulation, Patho-Transmission, Primal, Sonic Influence, Suppression, Telekinesis, and Thermal Control. All characters have Alpha Mutation and it’s automatically maxed based on the level of the character. This ensures every character has access to the most basic mutation actions available (simple heals, etc). Mutation actions can do everything from acting as support buffs and debuffs while others cause damage over time to your attacks, heal you, remove disease, etc.

Factions are a key part of Fallen Earth and define the overall play style and attraction for each character. While most games have a static faction system, Fallen Earth has created a faction wheel which creates a balance between multiple factions. There are six factions total: Techs, Enforcers, Lightbearers, Vistas, CHOTA, and Travelers. Each faction has its own theme, custom armor and gear sets, and attracts a certain type of player. For example Enforcers are very military while Vistas as more “wild west” and love running around on their horses doing mounted combat. The interesting part of this is when you gain faction, you also gain faction for the nearby factions and lose on the opposite side of the wheel. This means gaining Enforcer faction also gains Tech and Lightbearer faction, but at a lesser rate. This causes the CHOTA faction to take the biggest hit (2x negative to the opposite gain) and the factions next to the opposite to take a lesser hit. What makes this interesting is you may want access to faction vendors that aren’t your primary faction (i.e. an Enforcer may want to go to a Tech town to buy something from a Tech faction merchant). While you can take Tech quests, you now gain faction with Techs, Travelers and Enforcers; but lose with Lightbearers Vistas and CHOTA. So you need to keep an eye on your wheel to make sure you don’t turn a nearby faction to your main opposite faction by engaging in quests of a faction other than your main. This creates “faction friends” and absolute enemies which show up different on the minimap; however, the next big patch is going to change this so all PvP is either primary faction or enemy. This tells me they may be foregoing the faction wheel as it doesn’t appear to add anything from a PvP perspective, but can enhance the game from a PvE perspective. Your faction level also allows you to choose your faction title.

There are many modifiers which can be both beneficial and detrimental. Buffs are positive modifiers which can enhance your stats, armor, etc. and debuffs are poisons, diseases, and other harmful effects which can be used against you by NPCs and other players. Consumables are critical to timely regeneration, especially when it comes to ongoing combat. You can eat food (health regeneration), drink yummy beverages (stamina regeneration), and obtain other food and boosters for gamma regeneration. You can even find boosters which take from one stat to enhance another (i.e. take health and add gamma). This can be very important for characters that utilize mutations and are in large combat groups.

Travel is either by foot, mount or vehicle, or lifenet fast travel. The lifenet fast travel is critically important due to the size of the world. It costs chips and instantly transports you to key hubs where you have registered your clone. It’s important when you travel from one location to another to always register yourself at the closest lifenet fast travel hub so you don’t have to hop on your bike or horse and spend five minutes traveling from point A to point B. Lifenet hubs are shown on the minimap with little blue icons. One thing to keep in mind is the fuel needed for your vehicles. When your horse runs out of stamina, it will only trot at running speed. Same with your vehicle. Always keep an eye on stamina and make sure you have extra feed and fuel if it’s getting low. Also, your vehicle/mount can be “killed” by NPCs, other players, and through damage (yes, driving or jumping off the cliff on your bike or horse will hurt/kill/destroy it). For this reason it’s always a good idea to keep vehicle repair or veterinarian kits on you in order to “restore” your vehicle/mount.

Welcome to Kingman. Make sure you’re armed!

Fallen Earth features a number of instances, but they are done in a seamless fashion. Most instances are “bunkers” and other underground or structure-based areas. When you enter an instance, a custom UI comes up informing you of the instance, and presenting a button that allows you to reset the instance any time you would like. While the instances are fun and can be challenging, I have encountered a number of bugs which I hope the next patch addresses.

One unique feature in FE is the ability for characters to use their construction skill to build Progress Towns. These are player built and controlled towns which can rise and fall based on PvE incursion. One of the most active and notorious of the three Progress Towns in game is the Citadel; a player controlled town which comes under massive siege every 70 minutes and requires a raid party to defend. And when I say massive, I mean it. When you see the wave of attackers for the first time, you’ll be blown away. If the party fails, the town is razed and overrun by the NPCs which must then be defeated in order to take it back and rebuild the merchants, quest givers, etc. The other two towns are Progress Town in Sector 2 (Northfields), and Stronghold in Sector 3 (Kaibab Forest). If you want a break from quests or to get great experience with a group of people, head on over and check these towns out. They can always use an extra hand either defending the town or retaking it.

Fallen Earth has numerous Achievements, but they really don’t provide anything at this time other than a list of goals a player can work toward. My guess is the developers will evolve the Achievement system to give rewards and possibly access to items based on the total achievement score, but they have yet to announce such plans.

There are a number of fun Pets in the game, and some even offer storage, but none provide any actual combat support.

You’re in a post-apocalyptic world where most everything wants to kill you. Luckily, you’re a clone! Death is merely inconvenient . When you die, you  re-appear at the closest regen chamber with some condition wear on your equipment. Most regen chambers also have garages next to them so you can pull your mount or vehicle back to you and be on your way once again. There is also a debuff which lowers your experience for a few minutes. Don’t worry, there’s no running back to your body or losing gear.

 

Gameplay

Combat, PvE, PvP (Blood Sports, Conflict Towns and Territory Control), Reward, Progression, Learning Curve, End Game, Difficulty and Replayability

Much like a solid golf swing, there’s a certain bliss experienced with a clean headshot

Combat comes in four flavors: Ranged, Melee, Mutation, and Vehicular. Sadly, when I say Vehicular I don’t mean that you can run over your enemies (quick flashback of glee to Borderlands). Instead you can engage in combat while on/in a combat-ready mount/vehicle. Some mounts and vehicles allow combat while others do not (read the description of a mount/vehicle to determine if it’s combat capable). One of the unique features of combat is the aiming capabilities which are most apparent when you’re engaging in a 80 meter sniper shot of your target’s head. You can damage a target in two locations; body and head, and a head shot does much more damage than the body. The targets will weave around, duck, and move, making even the most basic up close combat scenario a challenge to score headshots. But if you can, you’ll drop your target much quicker, regardless of the combat being PvE or PvP. This adds an extra level of satisfaction to every fight and adds a hint of “tweak damage” to the game, which takes it one step above other traditional MMOGs where you simply click on your target and execute action X. Another interesting feature related to combat is how a player can be zerged by numerous targets. It’s entertaining to fight your way through an encampment only to see somebody fly past you on their motorcycle and watching them get caught on an object and suddenly swarmed and pummeled to death by the 30 angry NPCs they accidentally aggro’d on their way in. This happens a lot. All in all, combat is fun. Add ragdoll physics to the mix and you have bodies flying around with great knockbacks from those .50 caliber sniper shots or monster hammer hits. Another level of strategy the game adds is line of sight shots. If you’re in a highly dangerous area, you do not want your bullet sailing past your target and striking the boss behind it. This aspect of the game requires the player to pay more attention to what angle they’re shooting at and what is behind their target. It can be very entertaining to see new players flailing their shots around and pulling in groups of mobs from behind their target, only to have their ragdoll body slammed through the air and pummeled to the ground. Some mobs are also ranged, and more than once I have pulled into a camp of snipers and thought I had plenty of space to forego aggro only to have a group of NPCs from all around me shooting from afar. One rarely survives such a situation, so depending on the type of camp you’re approaching, a player must exercise caution before entering.

Fallen Earth supports both PvE and PvP play. PvE is plenty fun and there is tons content for those who do not want to engage in PvP. There are hundreds of quests, numerous encampments, underground facilities, hostile towns and raids will keep all players busy for quite some time; and the continual need for crafted items keeps the economy going even at end-game. But make no mistake, Fallen Earth also has a very focused PvP side to it for those who want to participate. The core of PvP revolves around three means of participation: Blood Sports, Conflict Towns and the Territory Control sector (the only total PvP sector in the game). Everything except for Blood Sports revolves around Factions, and as mentioned above, the game is about to be patched to make it so “friendly” factions don’t exist anymore; it’s either your faction (friends) or enemies; even for support factions which are in the green. Blood Sports are queued PvP in custom maps with different goals and themes. The four maps are Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Survival and Assault. By participating in Blood Sports you gain Death Toll currency and rank. Conflict Towns are found throughout the game and offer open PvP in a designated area where the players can complete quests to take control of the town (which opens up merchants). Territory Control has keeps which factions fight over. You can upgrade the keeps and when you control a keep, place harvesters for resources. Territory Control is probably the busiest location of organized PvP groups which move from keep to keep, resulting in some juicy battles. But make no mistake, PvP in Fallen Earth can be frustrating and brutal. If you’re a L45-50 character and come up against a L55 PvPer, you’re probably toast. The only hope is that you have more people with you (or that they aren’t very good). Be warned, there’s friendly fire! This can result in some very heated battles, especially if somebody in your faction decides to shoot their own for fun. This can result in characters who are on a faction “blacklist” and shot on sight by their own faction members in Territory Control.

Watchtower at Sunset

Rewards are obtained through harvesting resources, looting NPCs, receiving Death Toll through PvP, participating in progress town quests (defense tokens) and Quests. NPCs do not drop any chips at all; loot is all item based. Also, most NPCs do not drop anything more than components and ammo. Some bosses can drop weapons, armor and vanity pieces, but only the bosses. You can occasionally get lockboxes and books from NPCs, but that’s the most variation I’ve seen from the norm of component drops. I will admit the quest rewards are fairly lacking in the area of items (only because they are generally lower level than what you can easily craft or acquire through the auction house), but you can get reasonable chips out of them and are shown great places where you can gather materials and gain reasonable experience. The second time you play the game through you’ll know where to go and what to farm, and the overall experience will be much more familiar.

Progression comes through experience, leveling and distributions of advancement points. A character gains experience through combat, gathering, harvesting and quests. It’s actually possible for a character in this game to reach max level without ever using a weapon, although I would not advise it. Some of the more costly and complex crafting recipes can yield quite a bit of experience as well.

There is a Learning Curve to Fallen Earth; more than other MMOGs because of the way combat works (it takes some time to get accustomed to switching in and out of aim mode with TAB) and the process of understanding the depth of crafting and how factions/towns/PvP all work. The game is unique; there isn’t really another MMO like it. The UI is custom and also takes a bit of time to learn as well. The help channel is always flooded with questions and answers and is available to new players, but it can be hard to sift through the public “romper room” nature of it. There is a great FAQ resource which can help any new player, and I highly recommend if you are playing FE for the first time to check it out.

Welcome to Blaine! You will only try to go up the hill once…

End-Game really consists of PvE in Deadfall/Terminal Woods/Alpha sector, PvP, harvesting, crafting, gearing and alts. I do admit the lack of alternate advancement is a bit disappointing (and I think they really need to add it), but the really “high level” weapons and armor take quite a bit of time, resources and money to complete, and leveling your character also takes a good amount of time unless you specifically grind for experience with boosters. There really isn’t any raid-based end-game content that isn’t tied to public events such as the Citadel. The most pursued thing for level 55 characters seems to be Impure Volatile Chemicals and Salvaged Pre-Fall Tech. Both are required to craft some of the most powerful weapons and armor in the game.

Red bodies and lots of flies represents a successful battle!

Fallen Earth ranges in difficulty based on what you are doing. Running around and harvesting is pretty easy, as are the wandering mobs in the plains. But come upon a well-fortified compound with ranged NPCs or in an active PvP area, and look out. I did find most group quests to be soloable and fairly easy, but some of them do require a bit of help to handle. The first real set of quests a player needs help with in Sector 1 are in the Kingman Prison. Based on play style, melee can be much more challenging than ranged, and depending on a character’s build, wandering into an enemy camp can be a monumental task of strategy and luck vs. simple well-placed headshots from a distance. Making money can be a bit challenging depending on play style, but I have run into players who have achieved the maximum amount of currency in the game (10 yellow) and are still playing. I have also encountered many level 55 players who seem to always be broke. As with the real world, it simply depends on how you manage your funds, plan, and how much effort you’re willing to put into building your own ammo, items, consumables, etc. While playing Fallen Earth, I’ve run into casual women gamers who love crafting and stay away from PvP, and others who are hardcore PvP tweakers. Fallen Earth appeals to all kinds.

When it comes to replayability there is plenty to do in Fallen Earth. Even if you max all of your tradeskills (which takes quite some time since it is still time based even if you have all the resources to make it happen), there’s always more to gather, craft, sell, barter and explore. While there is a deficiency in the lack of alternative advancement, Fallen Earth features some of the best crafting I’ve seen, and the combat is much more fun and involved than other MMOGs. Level 55 characters are constantly running through Territory Control, planting harvesters and engaging in group and solo combat while gathering materials to build that next great weapon or piece of armor. Also, when a progress town falls, players with the proper construction skills have to team together to rebuild the town. This can be costly, yet the players work together, spend their own resources and take action to benefit and protect everyone from the next impending assault.

 

Community

Help  & Global, Clans & Clan Wars, Events, Groups & Raids, Population, Quality and Forums

Need a job done? These ladies deliver!

It is very obvious Fallen Earth is a Free to Play game when a new player first begins to read the default Help channel. Many prefer to turn it off, but new players can find useful discussions and receive responses to any questions which they have. GMs do a reasonable job to keeping the really bad talk controlled, but it is a never-ending sea of communications. The good news is there are helpful people in both the Help and Global channels (note you get access to Global when you subscribe). As you begin to play the game, you will also learn which players are helpful and which ones you should put on /ignore.

The FE equivalent of guilds are clans, which have the traditional shared chat system, rank-based structure and clan vaults. There is a Clan Wars feature in the game where clans can declare war against each other and engage in battle, but I have not seen or heard about anyone using this feature and have not seen a listing for a battle, and when I asked about it, I was told nobody really uses it as there are plenty of other avenues to engage in PvP. I do think the developers could evolve the clans to include some sort of advancement and collaborative reward system, but I haven’t heard any mention of this. I will say joining a good clan does make the game much more enjoyable, especially when you get with a group of fun and mature players. It certainly makes asking questions much easier, and if the clan is sizable, you’ll always have people you can play with and call on for help when it’s needed.

There are a number of events in Fallen Earth. The most common are incursions on progress towns and sector events. Sector events are defined on a sector map with a little nuclear hazard symbol. Most of the sector events take place outside of towns. You can mouse over these events to see what they are, and race on over to participate. The progress town events (as covered above) occur every 70 minutes and if there are not enough players present, the progress town is overrun, destroyed and taken over. Most events require at least one group of people to complete, and some require full raid groups. There are also “resource events” where areas in a sector are given extra resources to harvest for a period of time. These areas are marked by a hammer on the map and very much worth visiting if you want to do some serious gathering.

Groups are teams of 8 and Raids are 4 groups for a total of 32 players. There are numerous buffs (and constructed structures, etc) which affect the entire raid. Raiding is popular for Territory Control, farming in popular areas, to participate in world events, to drop the occasional world boss, or participate in progress town incursions.

The Citadel is full of action every 70 minutes

Since the population of FE is on a single server, there are always a ton of people on. While I do not know the exact number of players, I would say the player base is well over 100,000 strong and growing.

Since it is Free to Play, the quality of the community varies. I have met some great people in-game; some through help channels, others through running across them in-world, and others through my clan. The help channel can be a mix of useful dialogue and romper room, and while Global is only available to subscribers, the channel can also be hit or miss – but the GMs do their best to keep things under control. A large clan of good folks is the best way to go. So far I’ve met a number of very helpful and mature players in-game. I have also met some really nasty folks who receive a /ignore, but I will say the majority of the players I’ve met seem to be good folks rather than not.

The forums of Fallen Earth are a great source of discussion and information. One of the best sections is the New Player FAQ and Guide section. I highly recommend every new player goes to this forum and reads not only the posts, but the Ultimate Guide to Fallen Earth.

 

Technical

Graphics, Sound, Interface & Addons, Connectivity & Downtime, Patching and Bugs

The Graphics of FE are very well done. The assets tie very well together, there is a great level of detail in many of the environments and structures, and the overall feel of the game is vast, open, and alive. While there really isn’t much in the way of music, the Sound is well-done with good environmental FX which represent the time of day and overall “feel” of the game’s theme and landscape. The sound is also very good for notifying you of combat and where it is taking place. It’s quite common to be roaming the wastelands and not see another person for a long period of time only to hear the faint crack of gunshots in the distance, drawing you to investigate a massive gunfight which is taking place. It’s actually very cool.

Fallen Earth UI everywhere!

The Interface takes some getting used to, but it works. You can resize most windows vertically, but not horizontally. The Map resizes in full, but that’s the only window which does. You can have multiple windows open at once (which is often necessary) and you can loot bodies with shift-click. When I pick up a bunch of quests in a new town, I bring up the mission window and the map window and with both side by side, click through the missions to see where the most red X’s are clustered and then head in that direction. The game is very right-click based for inventory and you can easily split items with a shift-click. You can add friends by left-clicking on somebody’s name in the chat window. The game handles overflow and lack of inventory very well by tagging “complete” buttons on quests which have been completed but you didn’t have room in your inventory to accept the reward; either that or the item is mailed to you. There is no addon support.

In memory of Fattywangs. The aspiring kid’s party clown who was killed during his first show.

Connectivity has been a problem for me even though I’m on 30MBit cable modem and have had no issues with other online games. However I’ve spoken with others in-game who state they have no connectivity issues whatsoever. I’m located in the Seattle area. As there is only one server, when it goes down, nobody can play. This seems to happen every once and awhile, but not too often. The game does have weekly maintenance which lasts one to two hours. I would say FE has more downtime than other MMOGs, but that’s only due to the single-server nature of the game. On the flip side, I’ve been involved in large-scale group combat at Citadel without a single hiccup of lag or latency; this is very impressive given the sheer volume of action which is taking place.

Fallen Earth has a sporadic patch history. Sometimes they will patch every few weeks, and other times every few months. The latest patch was 2.38, released on March 13, 2012. The upcoming patch is supposed to have some pretty big changes including Global Territory Control. This Patch is anticipated to go live sometime in April or May 2012, but given the scope of this patch, I think it’s safe to say it will be available when it’s ready.

While Fallen Earth is a great and fun game, it has more bugs than any other recent MMOG I’ve played. I get constant disconnects, have encountered numerous UI issues and other strange behavior. This includes problems with instances improperly resetting (and booting you out), quest completes not showing, rubber banding of mobs, getting stuck on surfaces (including doorways and steps which one should not get stuck on), having chat channels “die”, gaining achievements but not properly showing them (or allowing you to even find out what achievement you just got), abilities getting “stuck”, and not being able to equip a weapon. The good news is logging out and back in usually fixes these problems. However I cannot be too harsh on the developers as I believe FE’s seamless world has more active AI NPCs and connected clusters than any other MMOG currently on the market. This is not easy technology to master.

 

Support

Forums, GMs, Bug Reporting & Knowledge Base, Wiki

While the forums provide great support, the help and global channels are the most used venue when it comes to asking questions or discussing problems. However on the rare circumstance a player runs into a serious issue, the game almost always has at least one GM online at any given time. You can directly message the GM by bringing up the social window, clicking on the GM tab, right-clicking on their name and sending them a private message. While it can take time, I’ve always received a response.

There is a bug report ticket system built into the Fallen Earth website where you can log into your account and submit a ticket. There is also a knowledge base where players can browse articles and recent questions related to certain topics.

Los Alamos… or what’s left of it.

There is a Fallen Earth wiki, but I’ve found it to be rather hit or miss as it is lacking a lot of information related to quests, sector maps, and other aspects of the game. There is another site called GlobalTech which features a planner, atlas and database.

Despite the romper room aspect of the help channel, there are actually quite a few helpful folks who will answer direct questions. That’s always the best place to start as you can quite often get an answer to your question in 30 seconds or less.

 

Conclusion

Fallen Earth is the only real post-apocalyptic MMOG on the market. It’s a fun and engrossing game that has been out for years, stands on its own, and is unique in the industry; catering to those who want something different from the traditional fantasy model. More importantly,  it’s fun. There’s always something to do, and as you wander the wasteland you constantly come across new areas and creatures. The game will also appeal to those who played and loved the Fallout series (especially Fallout 3). In the end, I give a hats off to this fun and engrossing game that has survived the trials of a unique MMOG. Jump in and enjoy!

 

Additional Resources

Newbie FAQ (a must read for new players, also answers numerous questions regarding crafting, finding items, etc)

The Ultimate Guide to Fallen Earth

Globaltech Atlas

Fallen Earth Wiki

Assault Crafter’s Character Template (recommended)

Hybrid Crafter’s Character Template

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About The Author

Mr. Allen has an extensive background in technology spanning 20 years including software architecture, design and development, project management and leadership. He specializes in corporate planning, productivity and collaboration, and is the creator of the games Mordor, Demise, Horizons, and Alganon.

13 Responses

  1. Michael

    Amazing review, very in depth. I obviously didn’t read it all. I am just sifting through some stuff while I wait for my game to patch, I have yet to play it. :) Would be interesting if I could have a playing partner, you know, for the game. If you want, you can contact me through that e-mail I entered. :)

    Sincerely,
    Michael

    Reply
  2. Carlos

    Well-written review. Actually got me back into playing the game. Like it thus far.

    Reply
  3. Mark

    One of the best reviews I have read in a long time. It was very in depth, well organized and included the good and the bad. Thank you for taking the time to provide such detailed information.

    Oh and I have been playing a week and love the game ^^.

    Reply
  4. foomoo

    > I don’t know of any other MMOG on the market which has accomplished what FE has in
    > the terms of size, scope, and AI-controlled NPCs; all on the same server and without
    > any “zones”.

    darkfall

    Reply
  5. Electric Rider

    I did read the whole review. This is the best in-depth review I have ever read. I’m not an MMO player (I hate the MMO teen frag fest mentality) but am downloading this game to try because it has tons of fps/third person/RPG elements you find in an offline game with some pvp tossed in for good measure. A MMO that’s more like a real FPS.. might just be the most perfect MMO ever made. Heck even the client program is 5 gigs – that should tell you the amount of stuff that went into this game. Can’t wait to start my learning curve and get into this game. Thank you so much for this outstanding review!

    Reply
  6. john

    i put in thirteen hours and all i can say is, this is the most boring game i’ve ever played. you failed that if you don’t kick down some real world money, all you can look forward to is humping it in the desert from one plant to another and endless hours of digging items out of the ground. i guess gamersfirst didn’t pay you to spread that kind of knowledge…

    Reply
    • David Allen

      Hey John; Fallen Earth is definitely not for everybody, and when I first played the game shortly after it came out, I hated it. However when I returned, I decided to really dive into things and not only enjoy what the game had to offer, but also talked with numerous other players who were die hard players with multiple characters – asking them what kept them in the game, etc. Sorry your experience wasn’t a good one; perhaps if you try again in the future, things might be a bit different. Note all of my reviews are completely independent and written solely based on my interest in a game; I have no affiliation or contact with any gaming company or game publisher, nor do they influence my opinion on their products.

      Reply
  7. Diana

    Hi. Really nice review, as a new player (level 11) i’ve learnt a lot about the game by reading it. From my short experience I can say that FE is not easy, progression seems slow and I felt that gameplay is a bit clumsy. Having said that I believe the game is fun and addictive, but I agree that this is not for every gamer. To fully enjoy it you need to take your time to learn and read, you need to see it more as a world to explore and a story to develop than a “race to endgame”. Also I think it is more appealing to mature players.

    Reply
  8. Owen

    Beautiful review. Been playing for a month myself. My only gripe with this review is at the end of the Economy section…calling it the Bedland Rider. (It’s Badland!)
    Other than that…you hit the nail on the head for my feelings on the game. A few differences, but you wrote it, not me.
    Regards,
    Enigma Zero

    Reply
  9. nick

    I have played the game for lil over 10 hours and i was on the help channel first 10 mins just tryn to get a feel for the game asking what people thought of it there opinion and likes or dislikes and the only reply i got was “play it yourself and find out were not guna spoon feed you!”, “were all pretty much going to be baked on here”, i guess they took it as i was trying to get them to convince me to play when really all i was din was currous of others opinions ive had my own mind made up else i would tof spent almost 24- hours downloading in the first place you know lol? Great game though other then that minor set back, and excellent review very helpfull!!

    Reply
  10. Linda

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a valuable, and thoughtful post.

    I’m already enjoying the game tremendously, but your review makes me look forward to playing through, with even more enthusiasm and excitement – and I know it will help me avoid some early mistakes.

    I will definitely be printing your review for a more thorough read.

    Thanks also for the resources sprinkled throughout. Will check ’em out :-)

    Reply
  11. Amber Myers

    When I first played this game at launch in 2009 I was fraustrated because it was not ATI friendly. Upon reading your review I have returned and I’m enjoying the game immensely. Thank you!!

    Reply

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