GDC Interview: Fallen Earth
Garrett Fuller had the chance to catch up with the folks from Icarus Studios, the makers of Fallen Earth, for a talk about their upcoming MMORPG.
Here at GDC this week we got to see a lot of games. One of them is a unique MMO that has been on the radar for a while and plans to offer players something new in genre. That game is Fallen Earth. For those who have not seen the game, it is a post apocalyptic world where the earth has fallen prey to disease, nuclear war, and general devastation. The remaining human survivors have formed into groups who live in the area of the Grand Canyon. These factions each have ways of believing that they are the ones to save humanity. From the savage to those who believe in law and order the six factions of Fallen Earth eventually fight it out for control. Think of a world with the look and feel of The Road Warrior and game mechanics that cater to player tastes and you've got Fallen Earth.
The character design I got a chance to look at was very customizable. Humans are the only race in the game so they did a lot of work on giving you plenty of options to build your apocalyptic virtual self. Hair styles, skin tones, even age (yes age) offer a variety of choices to the players in the game. When building your character's skills and abilities Fallen Earth is a skill based system. That is right a skill based system. There are no classes in the game, only skills. As you quest and fight your way through the game you pick up AP points. These points can be spent to build up different abilities. Whether it is using a rifle, melee combat, or first aid you will have enough points to be good at a few things and okay at several. There are also mutations in the game. These abilities are more subtle than something like the super heroes we think of. The abilities gained through mutations are more there to enhance your regular skills. Another very important way to build up experience is through crafting. As a player you gain AP points through crafting. It is possible in the game to reach maximum level simply through crafting. Here is the great part about Fallen Earth, you can set up your crafting queue and then craft offline!
The six factions that make up Fallen Earth represent different sides of humanity. The Children of the Apocalypse or CHOTAs are the savage side of the people left on earth. Wearing armor and wielding weapons they believe that strength is the only way for humans to survive. Think of Lord Humungus's gang in Road Warrior, those are the CHOTAs. You also have the Enforcers who believe law is the only way for people to continue on. The Techs are exactly what they sound like, hoping that technology will bring us through the dark times. While the Vistas are more nature based and want the earth to rebuild itself. The Travelers are the gypsy shady type of characters. Think of them as the mafia of the age. Opposite the darker Travelers you finally have the Lightbearers who are the monks and healers of the era.
The technology in Fallen Earth begins the game at a base level. You have a few left over weapons like guns but also have make-shift hand to hand weapons coming into play. The guys at Icarus studios plan to have the technology of the game grow as characters grow. With more modern technology becoming available as you gain in skills. They did say that they plan to have some extreme science technology in the expansions when they come out.
On the PvE are no fantasy elements to the game. Imagine that, an MMO without elves! The creatures are mutated versions of their former selves. Giant spiders and monster chickens dot the landscape as well as some very nasty humanoid groups of NPCs. There are instances in the game, but Icarus is doing everything they can to limit their usage. There are story line quests that are linked from the starting towns throughout the entire game. Players will certainly have a lot to do in regards to content. The unique world offers some very interesting stories for players to build.
The game is divided into sectors, with Sector One being the starting zone. As players advance they will start to learn about the different factions they can become a part of and soon be able to join up with the faction of their choice. Once players get more skills they will enter sectors that have Conflict Towns. These towns are the PvP zones. Fallen Earth will have open PvP zones that are clearly designated. So players will know if the enter them. They will not have instanced PvP like many other games. The Conflict Towns offer a battleground for the different factions to fight it out for control of the areas.
In regards to voice chat, Fallen Earth is working with Vivox to allow players voice chat. This can worry some players especially girl gamers who may not want the players base knowing who they are. The guys were quick to say that they are working on voice modulation with Vivox so you can disguise your real voice and change the way you sound. This is a great feature for any player who uses voice chat and hopefully will become part of more games in the future.
Overall Fallen Earth is a very polished game. Icarus Studios continues to add the polish and are encouraging players to sign up for Beta now. Though there are no exact dates on when the Beta and Launch will be, the game continues to look better and better each time we see it. We want to thank Lee Hammock and the gang for speaking with us and look forward to seeing more from Fallen Earth in the near future.