Fallen Earth Impressions From PAX

The future isn't all shining, magical and fantastic, but that doesn't mean it can't kick serious ass. Check out our Fallen Earth PAX Preview!

The future isn't all shining, magical and fantastic, but that doesn't mean it can't kick serious ass.  In Fallen Earth, developed by Fallen Earth LLC and Icarus Studios, players will find themselves immersed in the post-apocalyptic hell of Arizona's Grand Canyon, circa 2156.  Nuclear war has ravaged the world and, in the aftermath, people have discovered that chivalry doesn't pay off as well as a couple of shotguns and an awesome motorcycle.  Get ready to don your best Mad Max Mohawk and Clint Eastwood snarl.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of Fallen Earth is the setting itself.  The development team has accurately recreated the entire Grand Canyon, based on satellite topography, and over 1000 square miles of unforgiving, non-instanced desert is available to explore.  The harsh landscape is populated by 70 towns, plus 10 non-instanced player-controllable PvP settlements.  Much of the game is focused around vehicles and mounts, but even driving a relatively speedy ATV we're told it will take around three hours of real-time to make it from one end of the game world to the other.  If you plan on hoofing it between locations you might want to stash a healthy supply of straight whiskey and cigars within arms reach of your keyboard, because the mutant monsters don't take kindly to non-grizzled adventurers.

If you're in need of transportation, though, you have plenty to choose from.  Everything from motorcycles, horses, ATVs and cars are acquirable in the game.  It’s interesting to note that none of these are 'summoned', as they are in other MMOs.  You can bring your vehicles to garages and your horses to stables, and where you leave them is where they'll stay until you're ready to pick them back up again.  Vehicles and mounts have their own inventory space and you can equip them with repair kits in case they get damaged.  While motorized vehicles need fuel, horses will graze on their own. No flying vehicles yet, unfortunately, since the tech-level of planet Earth has been set back quite a few levels by copious nukes.
Combat is a hybrid action system that requires you to aim your weapons.  The damage you do is based partially on your stats, and partially on your skill, we were told by our tour guide extraordinaire Marie Croall. "The range combat reticule is a traditional crosshair, but with the melee we wanted to reflect that you can swing a bat and be a little less precise.  That's one of the advantages of melee: I don't have to be targeting someone exactly.  We do have hit locations, so if you get a headshot you will do more damage."
There are non-instanced world bosses, including one that's inside a PvP zone, but many of the missions are event-based instances. "The way our instances work is very different from other games [...] As you're doing a storyline you'll get a mission that will unlock a building or a level as an instance.  You go into the building and the state of it is dependent upon where you are in the mission.  So you could go into a mausoleum with an instance running that's infested, it'll be infected with the Cult of the Dead, and it'll be full of scavenging cannibals.  I complete the mission, kill the boss with the help of my clan, I go back, and now it’s full of happy settlers who've inhabited it.  So, in that way, your world's very custom, depending on where you're at in the storyline." said Croall.

Some locations have several different states that they can be in depending on your level and the missions you've taken or completed.  A bunker that's populated by monsters while you're at a low level might later be populated by scientists who've killed all the monsters and are performing experiments on them.  Repeatable content in that same bunker might open up toward the end-game, and it’s interesting to note that the team should be able to get a lot of mileage and re-playability out of the same locations in this manner.  Fallen Earth certainly sounds like it has a lot of content for players to enjoy.
Another innovative feature in Fallen Earth is the Faction Wheel.  The Faction Wheel represents the six major factions in the game, with each faction bordered by its allies and facing opposite its enemies.  Each faction has two allies and three enemies, and you'll be able to join factions by running missions and engaging in PvP.  The six factions are the Vistas, Travelers, Enforcers, Chota, Techs, and Lightbearers.
Demonstrating the wheel, Marie Croall said, "So, here I've joined the Travelers.  My allies are the Techs, which are mechanics and scientists, and the Chota which are bloodthirsty, mutation-heavy Mad Max savages and my favorite faction.  Travelers are sort of gypsies, tramps and thieves.  They're the mafia, and are opposed by the Lightbearers, which are healers and can be loosely compared to monks and ninjas. [...] Once you join a faction, say, if I decide I want to switch off from the Travelers, I can start running missions for the Techs, which will improve my faction with the Enforcers, so you can eventually make your way around the whole Faction Wheel. [...] There are also neutral factions if you decide you don't want to get involved with any of the main ones.  One such neutral faction is the Franklin's Riders, which are our mailman and kind of inspired by the Postman.  You can do missions for them and gain access to special armor and equipment by staying neutral."  Obviously, you're not limited to playing a harbinger of peace and justice.  Heroes?  Who needs 'em.  Bring on the genetic mutations and moral ambiguity, please.
Something else of note is the crafting system.  Crafting plays a huge role in Fallen Earth, as some 95% of all the usable items in the game are player crafted.  It can take weeks to craft something like a car, but to ease the burden you're able to craft while offline or playing other parts of the game.  You have a crafting queue, similar to an RTS that quietly runs in the background and allows you to play alts or progress the storyline instead of watching your character tighten screws all day long.  There are also crafting facilities that will speed up the process if you log out while inside of them.  That's good news for anyone who might need to take care of real life for a while, too.

While there are plenty of weapons, armors and vehicles to create, you can also craft food and there's an entire system built around brewing.  Most of the food is pretty disgusting, considering that something like fajitas might be cooked using ant parts.  One of the more interesting food items in the game is called 'suspicious cheese.'  When asked if you'll notice blurring or other visual effects after a bout of heavy drinking, the answer was that it conferred too big a disadvantage considering the FPS-style combat system.  While that may disappoint lushes like myself, it's still a valid point.

We were very interested to hear about future plans for the game.  "We want to go to Vegas.  That's the big thing," mentioned Croall.  When pressed about the possibility of gambling, she said quite simply, "We would love to," but left it without any real confirmation.  There are obvious issues with that, not least of all the ESRB.  Still, we can remain hopeful!
Fallout 3 comparisons are obvious at this point, especially when you consider that Fallen Earth employs a classless, skill-based advancement system.  Really though, who didn't wish that Fallout had a multiplayer option?  The game goes on preorder on the 9th, and final release is scheduled for the 22nd.  As you prepare to don your steampunk goggles and gunslinger trench coat and ride off into the bleak landscape, remember: We don't need another hero... all we need is Thun... erm... Fallen Earth.

Chris "Xenophage" McGraw
Junior Editor


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