Fallen Earth is the type of game fans of MMOs should love to see hit the scene. From a small group of talented developers without coffers the size of Fort Knox, comes a game that hearkens back to the days of MMO-yore while giving the genre a much needed dose of originality. The game is buggy, a bit antiquated in terms of visuals, and has some rough edges that need smoothing, but in a gaming scene populated by products that are all trying to copy one another while spending the budget of a small country, it is certainly refreshing to see the little guy shine.
In a lot of ways Fallen Earth reminds me very much of EVE Online. Both are from unknown developers, had little to no fanfare at launch, and yet both managed to score a small but dedicated fan-base from day one. The latter, as we now know, grew exponentially over the years almost entirely by word of mouth, and I would not be surprised if with time and polish Fallen Earth sees the same trend. But before you start to think this game is my own personal messiah, let's get into the parts I found a little tough to swallow.
By no means am I the kind of gamer that determines whether or not to play a game based on its visuals. But after Age of Conan, WAR, Aion, and even Champions Online in the past couple of years, Fallen Earth looks nothing short of outdated. While the game's visuals have continually seen improvement through the patching process, the Apocalypse still seems a little old and rusted... though perhaps that was a design decision (READ: I kid, I kid).
Fallen Earth isn't ugly, and the artists have done a fantastic job at rendering a dystopian wasteland, but if you come into the game expecting Fallout 3 you're more likely to be disappointed. But with the improvements made since beta, I wouldn't be surprised to find this criticism null and void in a year's time.
The actual animations of the critters and characters in the game world are another story. Perhaps a drawback of leaning towards a more realistic art style, Fallen Earth suffers from what I like to call "GI Joe Theatre Syndrome". The characters and enemies look like action figures being manipulated by some unseen child on a playground. On the plus side, character customization in terms of both looks and progressions is vastly superior to most any other game on the market. You'll be hard pressed to find a clone of yourself out in the wastes even if you do look like a tinker toy when fighting mutated beasties. Just do not come into the game expecting to look like a super soldier with lots of shiny loot. It is the apocalypse after all, and pretty much everything you don will be either crafted or salvaged from the remains of civilization. No massive shoulders that extend ten feet above your head or glowing tridents here, no sir.
Speaking of character progression let me state here that Fallen Earth is a hardcore gamer's MMO. I do not mean to say that you need hundreds of hours to enjoy it, but rather that an MMO rookie might find himself overwhelmed, and similarly someone expecting the usual trappings will be lost in a jiffy. There is no fast travel system to shuttle you around the game world. You can get a horse (which does not magically disappear when you dismount) and you must take care of said animal. You can requisition yourself a bike, or an ATV, or some other motorized transport as well... so long as you have the gas to power it. I would be hesitant to call this a shortcoming of the design however. The point of Fallen Earth is not to level as fast as possible and start raiding.
It seems instead that players are intended to "live" in this futuristic landscape. Again, someone expecting to be able to walk from one corner of the map to another while on auto-run in a few minutes would be mightily disappointed. This isn't a game about dungeons and loot, it's about surviving the apocalypse.
Also worth noting is the fact that the game's character system is entirely classless. There are also no such things as respecs in Fallen Earth. Players are urged to make careful selection of their skills and abilities. I would even go as far as to suggest waiting to spend one's Advancement Points (AP) until you have full grasp of where they should be spent. You can get by without slotting them for a handful of levels, and in that time you should definitely refer to the Newbie Help channel in chat for all of your questions. The community is rather helpful, and I found myself in need of their guidance quite often considering how blind the game might leave you standing at first. I cannot overstate how each new player should definitely pay attention and digest the information garnered from the tutorial as well. In keeping with the fact that Fallen Earth is not "Yet Another Fantasy MMORPG", I found that upon playing the tutorial more than once I was much better prepared for life in the "real" world.