Fallen Earth. We all know it's the winner hands down of best game logo for the year (SO cool those horns coming out of the skull and the clearly mutated to the bones of the face gas mask) but what about the game? It showed up all sparkley shiney in September to us general public newblets and truthfully I was busy. I had games to play and was enmeshed in a random and pointless comparison of crossbow use among different games. No, I don't know why I found the "who lets you level with crossbows and what classes do they assign to them" thing interesting but I did. Just put it under the "weird/pointless but somehow compelling/fun" header on your list of stuff to do.
So I missed the launch of Fallen Earth. I'm not really a FPS kinda gal (unless you count Portal, which I still randomly play just to make up conversations with the central computer) and I don't like the whole murder and pillage the whole dang village kind of mentality that FE seemed to require. Yes, I admit it, I've never played grand theft auto in any of its forms. Post-apocalypse world where you scavenge stuff and everything is mutated just appears on the first view to be another favorite game for the fellows hanging out by the local army surplus and storing 7 tons of food in their underground bunker.
However. And of course there's the however otherwise why would I be writing this post? I got all 3 of my toons to adventuring level 15 in Istaria in one coffee fueled burst of dragon lovin' energy and thought that it would be good to ease up and take a few days off Istaria. Did I mention my biggest challenge in life is not going overboard? I sternly shut down Istaria, got some sleep, handled real life, then looked around for something to distract me before I blew another 13 hours in Istaria. I wandered around the forums and stumbled upon some posts about Fallen Earth and felt the old, familiar hmmm that might be interesting thought snake its way through my brain.
Yep. You got it. I downloaded it. Free trial this time rather than just paying for the game because I'm serious about ToR and don't want to blow my ToR buying stash on something I may or may not like. Download was easy but they did that thing where most of the game downloads when you login for the first time which I always find a bit bait and switch. Got the game installed (which was seamless) and started in on my first character. Characterization was well done but minimal, which truthfully is necessary given that it's after the end of the world in this game. When it's the end of the world everyone does indeed need to choose from a set of eyes that are either blank due to the trauma suffured, haunted with memories they can't let go of, or filled with a steely rage as they plot their revenge. In FE's defense, you do get to pick the color.
Loaded into tutorial, which ran me through the combat system and here's where the schiziod part starts. You've got weapon slots everywhere. You switch between weapons by holding down the Ctrl key and rolling your mouse wheel and it's just nuts when you fight. You're ranged to pull them with your crossbow (starter weapon -yay for my list!) then you're melee with a pipe in one hand and a dirk in the other. Your hits trigger off of left and right mouse keys so you have control over which hand hits when. You can use a wooden plank, a corkscrew, a pistol, rifle, old hammer... it's nuts. There are so many weapons that drop off of mobs that keeping track of what is best for what slot is crazy and after a while the whole Ctrl/scroll thing gets to be second nature and you're switching weapons mid-fight like a multiple personality damage dealing freak. It's insanely fun.
Your enemy targeting system is your mouse. Friendly targeting system is the ol' fav the F1, F2 keys etc. What's that? Yes, you heard me right. No autotargeting that I could find. If you want to hit something you need to get the target brackets or dot or whatever is the target graphic for the weapon you're holding OVER the target and in the right place. Please. Stop crying. No the dev's don't hate you. Yes, you can target stuff by keeping it within the target graphic range, yes, yes you can.
Which brings us to the paranoid part. There's a definite ambiance of "everything's screwed and the world has ended and it's only us now and really big mutated stuff" in the game so it's smart to be cautious running around. But the true paranoia realllllly kicks in when the players realize that the game is hard. Not in your face let's make you fail hard but rather a hey you wanted to play a post apocalyptic game and so here ya go kinda way. There's a lot to learn and some of it requires dexterity in real life as far as mouse/keyboard coordination. Your horse (which you get right away... THANK YOU dev's) runs out of food and you have to feed it. Your car will need gas. You need to target whatever you want to hit and specify each hit down to which hand hits at times. There is no auto-fighting. Again - there is no auto-targeting. There are no markers for a lot of the places you need on the overhead map and one of the two view options on the map does not scroll in and out, making finding things out of your immediate area difficult. There's little ingame info as far as documentation and I was soon suffering myself from the paranoid certainty that there were dev's watching me in the game- pointing and laughing and saying things like, "she can't even find the horse merchant... look.. her horse is dying of starvation.. what a noob... it's so easy to do... laugh laugh laugh laugh... ".
So why play. Well, here's the addiction part. The game is really fun. It's challenging and difficult but it's a blast to play. The community has been excellent so far and the Help channel is both social AND helpful. Just a few idiots popping up here and there but I've seen no bots that I could recognize and there's so much to do and so many different directions to go in that the issues of kill stealing or someone camping a boss just are not here. I don't know how to describe the game to tell the truth. The best I can do is to paraphrase what is in the chat window over and over which is that it's like pre-NGE SWG, or like Anarchy Online with a heavy population, or it's like a game for actual gamers. The crafting is intricate like AO, the various ways to tweak your character and change your actual build are diverse like LOTRO and SWG, the landscape is detailed and solid feeling like Aion. This game is harsh, but great.
Fallen Earth is rated M for Mature. They're serious, not because of the occasional F bomb your character drops as you hit mutated ants, but because of the truely disturbing nature of the game. I've been trying to define why the game reminds me so much of pre-NGE SWG and think that a large part of it is that the game developers don't get between you the player and the game itself. If you play FE there is the feeling that it is real, that you're riding your horse out into a deserted wasteland trying to recover precious lost books that carry information that will be gone if the books are destroyed. You feel like you're doing something worthwhile, important, necessary and the entire game gives you this intense level of immersion by virtue of its very structure. When you're fighting huge spiders (btw have NOT seen any pigs yet :-) you really have to have them in your targets and hit them hard with everything you have or you don't live. As you wander through the desert and come across a grave you do actually feel like you want to pause and take a moment to acknowlege the departed. And then you move your mouse, it swings over the grave, and you realize you have the option to scavenge the contents. You can be the best and worst of whatever character you want to be in this game and the wonderful and horrible thing about it is that often the worst parts of your character help you survive.
Open up your head and dump Fallen Earth in for a few weeks. See what shakes out. This game is hard, fun, diverse, challenging, rewarding and deserves to succeed. Come get lost in the wasteland - and see if you can take it when the world comes to an end.