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MMO Weekly: The Rise Of Fallen Earth

The Earth isn’t just fallen, it’s also full of junk. And that’s an important part of the game, it seems.This week’s edition of MMO Weekly is, as you may have guessed, about the freshly launched post-apocalypic MMO, Fallen Earth. It’s new, it’s hot, and it has a fair number of folk excited to give this game a try.Here are my initial impressions, in no particular order. I want to emphasise that these are *impressions*, as I haven’t played the game enough to write a credible review. (Be warned, I’m in a mood, and will likely make fun of every single feature, even if I absolutely love it.) Anyway, here goes:The world has been devastated by a combination of disease and nuclear war. Humanity is holed up to ride out the apocalypse in a series of underground bunkers. (Hmmmm. Where have I heard this before?) You, the player, are one of the folks that emerge. Oh, and there’s lots of mutants out there, so be careful.The game costs $49.99 USD via digital download. After you download it, you have to patch. That patch took about SIXTEEN FREAKIN HOURS to get done. I am not kidding or exaggerating in the slightest. The Fallen Earth community is, um, slightly displeased with this.The entire game takes place in Arizona, specifically the area surrounding the Hoover Dam. This means that instead of showing us a devastated landscape in a place like New York, the developers decided to show us what a devastated Arizona would look like. Surprisingly, post-nuclear Arizona looks exactly like modern, contemporary Arizona.Character creation is quite impressive. You have to be a human – there are no other races available – but there’s a lot of variety. You have dozens of faces to choose from; after picking one, you customise the living heck out of your own face. Tattoos, piercings, face paint (it’s more like war paint), many different hairstyles, variations in colouring, etc, etc, etc. There’re a lot of options, and I guarantee no two characters will be alike.Now, simply because it’s my personal tradition, I made the ugliest character I possibly could. Tall, old and shriveled, with the ugliest face I could find, a bad red Mohawk, some nasty facial jewelry, and ugly face tats. Also, my war paint turned my face a nice shade of woad blue. So, I’m kind of like a punk William Wallace, but in the future, after a nuclear war. Sweet.{PAGE TITLE=MMO Weekly: The Rise Of Fallen Earth page 2}Fallen Earth has the best tutorial I’ve ever experienced in an MMO. The story immediately grabs your interest. You find out, quite quickly, that you’re a clone. There’s no time to dwell on what that means, though. You need to fight your way out of Hoover Dam, and this drives the rest of the events. You learn to use doors, computers, how to fight, how to reload your weapons, how to interact with NPCs, you name it. The ambience of the whole tutorial is awesome; the sound effects, voices, and everything are truly immersive.After the tutorial, the game basically throws you out into the world. You have no idea what to do. It’s a little confusing.Come to think of it, why is every single post-apocalyptic future – including Fallen Earth – chock full of punk rockers? Is there something about punkers I don’t know? Maybe they’re like roaches, and they’re the only things that can survive the nukes.One of the basic problems with MMOFPS games is the control system. Most of the MMOFPSs I’ve played have gone with some sort of hybrid system, which is part of the standard MMO interface, but with some FPS stuff glued on top. You know, an MMO with an aiming reticule. Fallen Earth took an entirely different approach to this. Instead of a hybrid system, they simply have two systems. There’s “MMO mode”, during which you open doors and activate computers and craft all manner of junk. When it’s time to fight, you go into “FPS mode,” and the targeting reticule appears.The weird part is that the movement keys do entirely different things in both modes. In one mode, the A and D keys make your character turn. In another mode, they make your character strafe. The switching back and forth isn’t hard (at least not on the surface), but it practically fried the contents of my cranium. You’re playing an MMO, and then you’re playing an FPS, and then you’re shooting that NPC by mistake. Oops, forgot to switch to MMO mode! Silly me (I may get used to this over time)!Melee combat seems pretty rough though. You have to get close, put your reticule on your enemy, and swing your sledge hammer. Since he doesn’t want to get hit with that hammer, he generally runs away, puts stuff between you and him, or keeps moving in a frustratingly effective way. From what I’ve seen so far, unless the melee weapons are super-powerful, the guys with the rifles will have a definite edge. The gunfighters credo – don’t bring a sledge hammer to a gunfight – remains in full force in Fallen Earth.Crafting is huuuuuuuge. I have yet to experiment with this in a substantial way, but here’s what I understand so far. In a nutshell, everyone is a crap hound / junk collector / scavenger. You find stuff, you salvage it, and you make it into different stuff.Allow me to diverge, for a moment. Remember how in Star Wars: Galaxies they had that crazy crafting system? It wasn’t bad, it was just far out in left field. I’ve never seen anything else like it anywhere. You could make some truly unconventional things – like furniture – and there was a system in place to sell it. The weird part is that you could make macros that automated the whole process. If you logged off, the macros continued to run. So you could set yourself up to make 40 chairs, and then go log off. Go shopping IRL (Ed: I presume this is ‘In Real Life’…?), go wash your car, go find your first live girlfriend, whatever. When you came back later on, you’d have 40 complete chairs waiting for you. Weird, right? Well, of all the crafting systems in all the games on the planet, Fallen Earth chose to emulate the wacky one found in SWG.Still, this is an intriguing design decision. Players can make everything from guns to (presumably) mutations through the “mutagenics” skill. Beyond that, you can basically put your character to work for you even when you’re logged off, like a little digital indentured servant. Want to level up your armor crafting skills? No problem. Just gather the raw materials, and put your slave to work while you watch TV. Come back later, and your one man personal crafting factory is waiting to make more stuff.As always, I’ll update you as I become more familiar with Fallen Earth. It’s an indy game, and appears quite solid over all. If you’re interested in an MMO that’s a little different from your standard orcs and elves tripe, then buy it, download it, patch for sixteen hours, and then play it. It’s enjoyable, so far. :)And that is all we have for this week, friends and neighbors. As always, come and visit us over at Wandering Goblin.com, where we not only play a lot of MMOs, we huddle in our basements playing them until we turn all white, shriveled, and pasty. For now, ciao!

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