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Fallen Earth Survivor, Part Two

Phil James Posted:
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"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want." Dan Stanford

I first read that line in an issue of 'Heavy Metal' magazine. It was in a single panel comic back when 'Heavy Metal' was more than just T'n'A. The line now seems a bit trite, but I read it when I was a young man and it has stuck with me. I think of it whenever a "short cut" ends up adding more time to my journey, and it has also sprung to mind after certain jobs have not panned out as expected.

For gamers, experience is what you get when you grind and hand in quests. This was my plan when I booted up Fallen Earth this week. As I mentioned last time, I am planning on taking a rifleman route through the game. I fancy myself as a frontiersman, making my own guns and ammo, and cooking up what I shoot. Before launching myself into the world, I took a look at the Fallen Earth website to check out the latest news and forums to see what tips I could pick up.

Some of the news caught my eye: Patch 1.4 went live, a product key giveaway and the addition of achievements, but the real gold was Trivia Night!!! Here is what the website said:

Not only was there a trivia night, but they had gone to the effort of working out GMT for me so I didn't even have to do any math to attend. I was so there. First, though, I handed in my beginner quest to the Lifenet technician right in front of my spawn point. Then I picked up the first quest in the extended tutorial. I have a pretty crappy memory, so I figured that having a quest in my journal to remind me of which town I belonged to would be a good idea.

Next, I had to get to Embry from my starting town, South Burb. The map screen shows you a bird's eye view of your area and there is a check box on the map to switch between this view and a full game map, and this larger one is an entirely different beast. It's a topographical map, drawn on paper with some notes scribbled on it and repaired with a bit of tape. A very nice touch, but I do wish it had a tad more interactivity. However for my purpose, it did the job. I right clicked on the town of Embry to set my waypoint there and followed the x on my minimap.

On the way to Embry, I came across a group of survivalists blocking my path. I considered going around them, but as I hadn't fired a shot since the tutorial, I decided I'd take a shortcut through them. I dispatched a couple that were in my way, looted the bodies and got the following items for my troubles: Tainted Milk, Tainted Egg and Stringy Goat Meat. Yummm. I guess with all my favourite eateries being turned into rubble, this is the best we can hope for. I like the 'make-do' aspect of the game, we can't have nice things any more (just like my mum used to tell me) we are all just getting by on shabby items we found and scraps of unsavoury food.

My starter weapons were also of the downmarket variety. Starting as I meant to go on, I was using my 'rifle', a converted paintball gun. Having depleted my ammunition, the reload animation kicked in. My character opened up the hopper at the top with a satisfying hollow pop and poured in more ammo. Sometimes the little things in a game give you endless enjoyment. If I had rounds to spare, I'd empty my gun and reload it all day just to watch that animation.

After a fair bit of walking, which really drove home the scale of the game, I arrived at Embry. Well, I had actually pinned my map marker to the wrong spot and had to double back, which really, really made me feel the sense of scale. Embry is a large town, and quite busy too. I saw quite a few players running about or riding horses and ATVs. As it is a tier 1 town, the healthy population here is a good sign.

I had a bit of time to spare and followed the chat channel for a while. Overall the community seems very helpful. There were so many requests for help from new players, and nobody that I could see went without assistance.

Not having any idea where the bar was, I checked the website again to get the co-ordinates and entered them into the game's map. Luckily nobody was watching me play when the waypoint appeared almost right on top of me. I turned around and, bingo! There was the ladder down to the bunker bar.

I had a bit of time to kill before midnight so I explored a little, taking in some of the sights. These sights were mostly other players in their cool looking gear. I like it when game designers take the time to come up with a wide variety of appearances for characters. Fallen Earth has variety in spades; so many hats, jackets and accessories, I'm looking forward to outfitting my character when I've levelled up a bit. It reminded me of an FE screenshot I saw of character facing away from the camera, and slung across his back was a melee weapon made from a street sign with concrete still attached to the end. This was the image that made me want to try this game out. I may have mentioned it before, but I'll repeat it anyway - I'm really a sucker for post-apoc genre.

Once in the bar, I played a couple of the slot machines with my starting cash. I did ok for a while, but the house always wins so before long I was down to a penniless bum. Fallen Earth's currency is the casino chip. I'm guessing that, like cockroaches, these things can survive a nuclear war. There are different colours for different denominations. I would have thought that the blue chip would be the most valuable, but this isn't the case. I don't know why devs don't consult me about these things beforehand.

I waited a while but there was no quiz forthcoming. There wasn't even anyone in the bar once midnight had passed. This was a bit annoying, and in the end I called it quits and went to bed. There was due to be another quiz night on Saturday, and I wouldn't have work the next day then either.

Saturday came and I logged in and returned to the bar. As midnight was approaching I asked in chat how long until the quiz started, and apparently I was an hour too early. The actual start time turned out to be 1 am GMT. I couldn't help but feel a little cheated by Fallen Earth's own site. Still I hung around though and watched as the bar filled up.

Despite the maturity I'd seen on Thursday in the chat channels, something happened in that bar on Saturday night. There is a rule (it may even be a commandment in the bible somewhere) that when three or more MMO players get together in a virtual drinking establishment, some of them will dance naked. The redeeming feature here was that players can pick different dances. Watching three people dancing to 'Thriller' on the bar is entertaining regardless of how many clothes they have on. A few naked duels broke out too, which is no surprise really.

One O'clock came and went and still no quiz. At half-past, there was an announcement that it was due to start soon. At this point I decided that bed would be a good idea. I never got to experience the quiz, but I did have an interesting time, and I did get to see a different side to the game that most newbies probably miss out on. Next time, however, I will be resisting all distractions and taking on some missions instead.

No naked dancers were harmed during the making of this article, nor shall the screenshots be published to protect their dignity. But you know who you are.


Phil James