"Heaven for some, hell for others"
I have played FE for quite a few hours now and even though I have just hit level eight (takes ages to level) I feel I have experienced a great deal in the game already. A good sign from the outset is that I am always looking forward to logging in and exploring the barren world, which is FE.
FE in my opinion falls in between a main stream MMO and an indy game. It dares to be different in some key parts in the game but it still maintains enough mainstream elements to make it feel familiar and comfortable.
The most refreshing factor of the game is the skills system. In itself it’s not unique or original but it’s well thought out and even at this early stage of the game it comes across as being balanced without any obvious exploits. In short you earn Action Points that you can allocate throughout your attributes or skills directly. Attributes cost 5 points each whilst skills can be upgraded 1 point at a time. The skills have a direct affect on the access you have to weapons, armour, combat etc. The use of AP’s doesn’t finish there. Depending on your skill level you can gain access to purchasable skills that can be very useful. What this means is that you have complete control over how your character develops and having a hybrid is perfectly good option.
Moving on to an area always close to my heart is crafting. I don’t judge a game solely on this but if crafting is under par then I expect a great deal more from the rest of the game play. In FE the crafting is a core component to the game and I would be surprised if a player could manage without it. Once again I am not going to stand on the rafters and scream joy to the world due to a new and exciting system, because it’s not. However it is an in-depth varied system that incorporates another large element of the game, which is scavenging and salvaging. I have played too many MMO’s that have a similar crafting system but it feels bolted on as an afterthought and thus suffers from lack of resources or direction. FE has several categories and dozens of ingredients a player can collect. On the face of it I would be groaning but to support crafting a player can salvage and scavenge for ingredients. These are generally quite common and one of my favourite features of this game is the one seamless world with a massive exploration element. It can be a viable option to log into FE and just scoot or ride around looking for piles of wreckage ranging from garbage bags to forklift trucks.
By scavenging these wreckages and other mobs you will find more than enough ingredients. Unlike a lot of games where crafting is only useful once you hit upper skill limits or have access to rare minerals, FE has made it useful to craft right from the outset. First you need to craft to increase your skill in that area and of course once you reach a certain level you can craft more effective items. However I personally have found it quite useful to craft food items for buffs, weapon and ballistic repair kits and I have also made my first two melee weapons, a golf club, yes I used a golf club to beat the living hell out of my enemies and more recently a crude sword. To support this, the auction system seems robust enough to make it a generous money spinner, but I have to admit I have not spent a great deal of time on there but judging from the 20+ players standing around the auctioneer all the time I guess it’s working.
The more familiar part of FE is the mission system. You grab your missions from various NPC’s and they are generally kill, go to location, courier or another abstract version. The saving grace is that you have access to vehicles and or horses from the start of the game. I can’t believe how much better a game is when they give you mobility at the start because no matter how many pretty waterfalls I run by, after the first one or two times I start cursing the damn elf that has asked me to go to the same spot three freaking times, its beyond me why they can’t give me the whole story up front! Anyway in short I have not noticed mission fatigue setting in yet but then again I try and pace myself these days. It’s just a nice feeling when you can jump on your quad bike and drag off into the desert to knock of some job. Not to mention the substantial inventory and weight allowance they give you.
On to the big selling piece of the game...combat. I have to admit I really haven’t been following FE that much over the years because my attention has been on Jumpgate Evolution and a couple of other potential sci-fi gems. One of the key reasons for trying FE is the ability to have true FPS combat. Thankfully the game is true to its word and you really need to aim manually and hitting the head will generate a critical hit and do maximum damage. Shoot slightly off target and you will deal a glancing blow. This has given a different feel to the MMO genre because after so many auto aim, auto lock attack options in other MMO’s this combat system feels fresh. For the gamers who prefer to get up close and personal to see their victims face before drilling their golf club into their skull, melee combat is a viable option and will not put you at a disadvantage; both range and melee are used widely in this game.
On to the environment and social aspect of the game...The game is called Fallen Earth for a reason. Its post nuclear war and mankind as we know it, exists solely in the Grand Canyon. So when I see people moan in general chat about the landscape I wonder if they knew what game they were purchasing. FE is barren filled with desert shrubs and run down shanty towns. If you need a lot of colour in a game and thick lush forest then don’t buy FE. The game has a similar feel to the Fallout series and I am glad they didn’t shy away from this.
On a social level people are still getting to grips with the game and grouping is minimal as I can see. However when I post a question I have numerous responses and yesterday when I asked for help to kill a boss someone popped by and help me clobber him. I can see grouping being easier than most MMO’s due to travelling at high speeds and being able to drive through mobs without any real issue, no more dying on the way to a group impatiently waiting for you to join. The good news is that there is only one server so no more trying to work out which server you should pick out of the 200 available, only to then find out that all your mates have joined another. I believe another server is on the way for the EU, especially because the population is bursting when its EU and USA peak time on the weekend. When the towns fill up with a few dozen horses and quad bikes the lag sets in, which now brings me on to performance and customer service.
Performance on a whole is quite good for a new release. There will always be the odd person for whatever reason getting hammered with lag and they will generally become a constant troll on the forums or in game channels. What has been a big surprise is the FPS I am receiving when the game is on max settings. Outside of towns the FPS is hitting 60-150 FPS which is outstanding but it will drop down to 10-25 FPS in the main towns but it’s still possible to get around and do what I need to do. Based on the fact that there can easily be up to 100+ people jammed in a small area then this is still pretty decent. I may drop a few settings and see how go but for now max settings is quite feasible.
Another nice surprise is the customer support in-game. Most new launches the GM’s are rarely found and never heard from in the channels. FE has regular GM’s in the help channel answering questions whilst spanking the odd prat who decides using CAPS is a good idea. On a more serious note I lost 30 cogs, which took a while to save up and after writing a ticket the very next day the items and mission were corrected for me. So in general my experience has been a positive one. Known issues are picked up quickly and it’s nice to see a GM confirm that it was being addressed immediately and I have seen firsthand bugs being fixed in a minor patch the very next day. In general I feel this company really wants to remain hands on and keep on top of issues that pop up and the GM’s actively sought out the location and exact issue when players start complaining in channel. I for one will renew my sub and will continue to play until I can really experience the PvP element of the game and for once I don’t have a sour taste in my mouth after purchasing, yet another MMO.
Buy this game if you:
• Loved the Fallout Series or Mad max films (excluding no 3 because it was lame)
• Enjoy FPS in a Sci-Fi setting
• Enjoy open world with exploration and a deep crafting system.
• Inclined to sandbox games with a semi steep learning curve
• Prefer a classes system without pre-determined character types
Don’t buy this game if you:
• Only like fantasy
• Prefer colourful setting with a multitude of mobs to kill
• Prefer auto aim / auto hit in a familiar MMO setting
• Dislike a barren, cowboy like setting.
• Need a class system with titles and like to have lots of race options
Screenshots taken with pretty much max settings. Look a lot better in game but these hopefully give a good feel for it. I will take some more of me in combat later today. Also keep an eye on the FPS middle left of the screen. Mostly around 60-80 FPS.
END of review
PREVIOUS ONGOING NOTES
After a 6 months break from MMO's I decided to jump into Fallen Earth yesterday based on the fact it sounded interesting on paper and with the lack of Sci-fi MMO's in the marketplace I wanted to see what the title had to offer. Since the patch takes about 10-15hours to install I didnt get a lot of game time in so I will continue to add updates as I go along.
Character generation is interesting as it has set profiles but there are so many options you pretty much be one of a kind in the game. Better than most but not as advanced as AoC or similar. Much better than WAR or even LotRO in my opinion.
Graphics - I have to say that I was slightly concerned about the graphics after watching youtube footage and checking out the screenshots. But for those of you who are like me and a bit of a pixel whore, don't worry, the graphics are definitely modern, it aims for realism and carry the feel of a single player title like Fallout 3. However as in all MMO's the scenery has reduced detail to cope with the bandwidth.
Combat - This is an area I am quite impressed with so far. I bought Tabula Rasa and even though I enjoyed the game to a certain degree the combat auto aim did bother me slightly. If you are a sci-fi fan like myself and a FPS fan then Fallen Earth will be of interest. The aiming is totally manual and has a real FPS feel to it so even though I have not participated in PvP, I can finally see some PvP enjoyment in a Sci-fi MMO with. Better still, it has realism for drops, no more killing 10 creatures who are using shotguns and only looting a bowl of lettuce. Maybe it will change but so far killing humanoids will result in them mostly dropping the weapons they used and their ammo as well.
Skill system - This may be a good sign but I haven't worked it out yet but then again I have only started the game and not really tried working it out. However the openness it shows is exciting and it means I won't be pigeon holed into a class system.
General feel - The game looks polished for a brand new release. I know we shouldn’t be surprised because normally when I buy a new product it works well but hey, it’s an MMO. I have had one CTD but other than that blip, the FPS for me is very fast, smooth and without lag. The movement of the character is ok but not as fluid as Tabula Rasa, which is a shame but then again Fallen Earth finally looks like a Sci-fi game with depth and I will take that over a nice jump emote any day. A nice surprise is the voice overs and sound quality. I still need to get out of the starter mission, which is quite substantial, but it’s nice to see the extra touch and have voice overs for all NPC’s with dialogue.
So far with my limited experience of the game I quite excited about what the game may deliver down the track. For gamers seeking a different genre to fantasy and enjoyed Fallout 3, then Fallen Earth may be an MMO of interest but for now I will restrain from giving it a score. More in a few days...
After thought...To set up the account it was relatively simple. However the patching will take a good 7+ hours. Continue to check it as it will occasionally hang. Don’t panic, if you close and restart it will continue patching files where it finished. The bar will show 1% but it hasn’t returned to the beginning, so don’t freak like I did!
5 DAYS LATER
5 days on I have managed to leave the tutorial, complete missions in the first town and end up in a much larger town called Oilville. My opinion of the game has varied from ok to liking it, possibly not a lot at this stage but definitely liking it. Amendment to the above. I mentioned that once you kill a creature its common for it to drop a weapon its using. Well post tutorial its a lot more random and pretty much standard for an MMO.
Some of the big plus's to date:
•Open world with no loading screens and I mean none. I drove for ages and its quite refreshing to feel like the world is one whole location. Something AoC desperately needed
•True FPS and aiming. I have been trying to judge the damage based on where the hit landed. The damage is quite realistic and you will get a 'glance' hit if your aim is bad. There is no auto aim or auto hit. So 'yes' you need to use both hands and do some work.
•Vehicles at the start. More games need to do this because it allows a player to explore freely and not get tied down with walking everywhere. There are plenty of incentives to acquire more vehicles but having a little quad bike at the start has been a great addition. (Horse is an option also)
•General crafting. Crafting in this game may not be ground breaking but its certainly in-depth. You can acquire new recipes from missions or vendors etc. There are literally dozens and dozens so you can pretty much get involved in anything you want. Also the balance is there at the start. At just level 2 I was crafting basic food items to use out in the field.
•Stable launch. Now this is up for debate but I cant believe I have this game on max settings and I still get a range between 50-150 FPS! Ok I have seen it dip as low as 15 FPS but that was standing in front of the Auction vendor with another 25 people. However a game with no loading screens and no zones performing at this level just a few days after launch its pretty special. I see he occassional moan about lag but its certainly not a common issue for the majority. I think they were smart by making such a big world then providing personal fast transport at the start, it has certainly spread the load a fair bit.
•Support. Once again open for debate but there are GMs in the chat channel answering questions and keeping an eye on the comms traffic. I have not seen this before and its nice to see some GMs offering help and advice after launch in a public environment. I did see some people moan when none where about but it was about 3am in the morning!!
•Exploration. I love an MMO that allows exploration and the chance of stumbling across something. Unfortunatley most MMO's don't cater for this. FE actually has quite a lot. If you kill a critter and have a skill to skin it then you can loot it and rummage through its guts to get another item or two. Running, driving or riding through the wilderness you come across scraps or plants that, if you possess the skill, you can salvage or harvest for random items. It brings variety to the game and it also means a player could almost build everything free if they wanted to spend the time searching for it. Oh, you also get real XP for salvaging, skinning and harvesting etc. Plus the skill you use increases allowing more options.
•This may not bother everyone but the landscape could be an issue for people who want a lot of greenery and forests etc. Its very...barren and post apocolyptic..funny that. There are some really nice structures that are detailed but the open land can be a little plain but then again I personally would buy that any day over loading screens and lag everywhere. There is always a trade off.
• update- Combat and non combat swap over. When you enter free mode or combat mode you push the 'tab' key. No big deal right. However once you kill the mob and want to loot it, you need to push the 'tab' key again to enter non combat mode to loot. Still doesn't sound like a big deal right? Well after a while it becomes tiresome pushing the 'tab' key for every single loot. Basically now I take a few mobs down then loot but I do feel they need a much easier option to loot in both modes. correction - prompted by the comment below I needed to correct the above concern. It is possible to scavenge in combat mode and its actually quite easy by pushing 'y'. So not a concern at all but I will leave it here as a point of reference.
•Learning curve. I don't have a problem with this but the game does have enough differences that make you ask loads of questions or spend time to work out the gameplay. I actually enjoy this learning process but if you are a player that wants to jump in and understand the game in 5 minutes then you may get frustrated.
•Not a concern but it will be if you don't like this genre of game. I can see Fallen Earth having a long term following but quite a selective group who like this genre. Its very close to Fallout 3 gameplay feel so if you hate or love that game then I would suggest basing your assumptions of Fallen Earth on that game if you are trying to decide to play or not.
Overall I am pretty happy right now with the game and looking forward to what has to come, especially PvP and factions. I wouldn't say the game is that niche but if you are into hunting trolls and goblins whilst running through pretty forests then this may be a rude shock. Something else of interest is that I have played for several hours and I am still level 5. No problem really but its quite slow compared to other MMO titles.
More to come once I level up some more...until then I may see you in Oilville