So far during my time in Fallen Earth I have managed to live up to the title of survivor, but that's it, just survival. I wouldn't say I have risen beyond my humble origins yet. After the fun and games of the tutorial and my misadventures of trying to attend the trivia night, it was time to knuckle down and get a few levels under my belt.
The game has an extended tutorial now. On release, players had the basic intro after which they were let loose to make their own way in the world. The game has since been updated to hold players' hands a little longer. In order to undertake this new content I set off back to my starting town of South Burb.
One thing that really struck me on my journey was the view. Miles and miles of plains and desert, stretching away into one of the most breathtaking draw distances I've encountered in an MMO. The scenery is liberally dotted with towns, farms, water towers, radar dishes and broken elevated train/monorail tracks. Wherever you look, you are greeted with the desolate beauty of the game.
The sound of the game adds another layer to this desolation. It's quiet. Not completely silent; there are gusts of wind, the occasional animal noise and intermittent bars of music enhancing the mood. I don't yet know if the tunes change depending on your location, but my travels so far have been accompanied by some guitar riffs. These sound a lot like the Neil Young score from the movie 'Deadman' and really drive home the isolation and loneliness being a survivor of the apocalypse.
In order to find my way home I used the waypoint system on the map. Your waypoint appears as a yellow x on your minimap. There is also a red x on there too which is the waypoint marker for your active mission. My goal at the time was to track down a survivalist thief, my journey brought me to near the red x which happened to be the place where I had killed a couple of survivalists on my way to Embry. I dispatched the villain and was rewarded with a horse bridle. Using this, I was able to summon my first mount and ride back to town to turn in the mission. Not many games allow you to have your own transport so early on, so this is a big tick in Fallen Earth's column. However, a few people have mentioned that I'm going to want to upgrade to a better steed pretty quick as the beginner one is quite lousy. Ah well, I've got my eye on getting an automobile anyway.
After a short while I started to see what people mean about the horse. He has a stamina stat that ticks down when I'm riding him and once this reaches zero, he's pretty much useless. You can refuel your horse by feeding it, but that was too much of an unnecessary expense for me so I left him idle to regenerate stamina more slowly while I did a few more missions.
My next mission was to speak to a cooking trainer to learn the culinary arts. Now I was getting to the good stuff. One of Fallen Earth's selling points is the crafting system. Almost all the items in the game are player-made and unlike in many other games, players aren't straight-jacketed into one crafting profession. You can do all of them, and if the number of different profession trainers in South Burb is anything to go by, I'll be very busy for the next few months at the very least.
Crafting works by first having the ingredients and the recipe (are you with me so far?) then you get your artisan to begin working. Items take varying amounts of time to make, with the recipes I've managed to get so far taking from 45 seconds to a couple of minutes. You can queue a few recipes up, just select what you want to build and then you are off - quite literally off as you can run around and carry on with your missions as your items are being knocked together. I'm assured that later on, more elaborate gear requires you to be at a crafting station to build them, but even if you are logged out you still carry on creating your goods so this shouldn't be a problem.
I was also introduced to the harvesting system. I've already gleaned a few tradeskill items from vanquished mobs. You can salvage many other ingredients from a variety of places: There are plants, scraps of wood, refuse bags and pieces of machinery to name but a few. You can harvest from bodies too; after looting the corpse, many mobs can be skinned, gutted and generally dismembered for the goodies they contain. A lot of these creatures are too difficult for a newbie like me to dissect, so I need to keep my eye out for books to train me in the fine arts of mutant or reptile harvesting.
At the end of the initial batch of missions from the Lifenet Technician, I had reached level 2 and earned the bandage recipe book. I was also rewarded with a plug-in for my lifenet collar which grants me some health regeneration. Not a bad day's work really, but there was still more to do. I did a full circuit of South Burb and gathered up all the missions. There are two factions at work in the town: The Vistas and the Fincher family. There is a lot of tension between these two groups as the Finchers have set up a mining operation on the outskirts of town while the Vistas are environmentalists who oppose this. Don't be fooled though, the Vistas may be tree-huggy, but they aren't much for peace and love as one of their missions required me to kill some survivalists who had been chopping down trees.
My plan was to perform some favors for the townspeople and use my reward money to buy some tradeskill books to further my crafting career. A look down my mission journal, however, showed me that a few missions actually grant these books as rewards so I did these ones first. The first on the list was the task of gathering some iron. The waypoint on my map took me to an old train yard but unfortunately my scavenging skill was too low to retrieve the metal so I moved on.
The next mission I picked was to mine some copper. It is also possible to buy tradeskill items from vendors, but I imagine that this is a great money sink so I did it the old-fashioned way. The mission took me to the quarry where I picked up some more quests, one of which offered me a book to teach me to mine iron. While this was good it did make me concerned that I wouldn't be able to mine copper without the relevant book-smarts and my fears proved to be true. However, I picked up a mission to kill some Quarry Creppers and got the copper mining book as a thank you.
I was now a bona fide copper miner, but the iron mining skill was still beyond me. I had the book, but in order to learn the knowledge I needed a geology skill of 30 and I'm not even half way there yet.
There is a lot to learn in Fallen Earth, but I'm getting there. I've always been one for scouring forums and paying attention to in-game help chat, so I'm sure that I'll overcome my noobishness soon. Even if I don't, the experience is unlike any other MMO I've played before and at the end of the day it's the fun that counts and I'm having lots of it.