Fallen Earth is an exceptional example of how a player-driven economy can make a game great. All armor, weapons, mounts, vehicles, food and much more can be crafted by the players. Sure, you can get some gear from enemy NPCs and quests, but the best gear is made by the players.
Far too often in MMORPGs, we find ourselves stuck in a gear-grind. We bust our butts to get to the end-game, and for what? The end-game is often dependent on the player's addiction to obtaining more attractive armor. This should not be the case for an online video game. An online video game should be about community, working together, and achieving goals as a team.
This is what I believe Fallen Earth is striving for. And the post-apocalyptic setting is perfect for this.
A world torn asunder by a devastating catastrophe, the last remaining peoples of the world become dependent on each other in order to restore humanity to its former glory. We are left with picking up the pieces, creating our own tools, food and clothing. We, essentially, have to craft the world.
I started my adventures in Fallen Earth in a combat-based town called Terance. An Artificial Intelligence, known as TETRAX, has been corrupted and is producing mutant clones that are slowly taking over the land. It is up to me, a newly reborn clone myself, to put a stop to this. But first, I need the weapons and armor to do so.
At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by the freedom. There is absolutely no hand-holding in this game. I was born in a LifeNet spawn facility near Terance, with two NPCs to greet me, both with quests available. One NPC offered me some very basic training to get me started as a crafter. The other NPC offered me a quest to get me started on my adventure to put a stop to the evil Artificial Intelligence.
I put crafting aside until I became more familiar with my surroundings and my abilities as a combatant. I ventured around the town, spoke with some Conversers, received some additional quests, and found some rats right in town that I could take a few practice swings at. I explored further out of town, not really knowing what to expect. I found a band of rogue humanoids called the Gully Dogs right outside town, and decided to try my luck. My starter weapons were a crossbow, two zip guns, a wooden plank, a metal pipe, and a shiv. I was able to equip all of the weapons, and figured out how to switch between them quickly and easily.
I started with my crossbow. Took a few shots at some enemies, and quickly discovered that I'm not the sniper-type, my aim and patience just aren't good enough. So I dual-wielded my zip guns (which are
essentially paintball guns that use ball bearings for projectiles), and found I was a little better with this type of combat. But I still wasn't satisfied with my performance. So I tried out the melee weapons. This is my niche. I like charging right at my enemy and bashing them over the head with a wooden plank. That's my style.
So, after figuring out what type of player I am, I made some decisions on how I would spend my life in Fallen Earth. I figured if I want to be a melee combatant, then I should probably be heavily armored. My first craft was Armorcraft. I searched around Terance for the different merchants and trainers, and found my Armorcraft trainer. I purchased some skill-books, opened up my recipe list, and started taking note of the different recipes, their skill levels, and of course, the components required for the recipes. Finding components was easy enough, all I had to do was look for the node icons on the mini-map. Before I knew it, I had already crafted a decent set of armor.
After some time spent exploring and completing quests in town, I decided it was time to upgrade my melee weapons. I purchased my skill-books from the Weaponcraft trainer, and away I went, gathering materials and crafting what I could.
One thing that is really intriguing to me is the fact that I can gather materials, and even fight enemies, while I'm crafting. The crafting mechanics work similarly to the skill mechanics of EVE Online. Each item that can be crafted requires a variable amount of time. The length of time it takes to craft an item is dependent on the item itself, and whether or not you are near a crafting workstation. For instance, if you are crafting a piece of armor, the length of time it takes to craft the armor will be less if you are within the vicinity of an Armorcraft workstation. Which means there is a benefit to staying at a crafting workstation, but by no means are you required to do so. You can still explore, fight, and gather while crafting. You can even log out of the game and your crafting queue will continue.
Since I started my life in Fallen Earth, I have learned many crafting skills. I am capable of crafting vehicles, weapons, armor, first aid equipment, mutations, and the list goes on. I can craft anything and everything I need. The true challenge in crafting is obtaining the components. Some components are very easy to find, while others are nearly impossible (scrap plastic in Sector 1).
Also, this type of player-driven economy offers more benefits than just the simple acquisition of armor and weapons. It also decreases the chances of gold farmers and sellers making an impact on the economy.
Fallen Earth has a lot to offer, but you have to be willing to take advantage of the freedom. There is a lot to learn in Fallen Earth, and I'm only just getting started.