Fallen Earth is a post-apocalyptic MMORPG set in a near-deserted wasteland somewhere near the American Grand Canyon that recently announced its plans to re-launch with a free-to-play business model. Being the diligent journalists that we like to believe we are, Daniel Owens and I sat down together to give it a try. Here what we found:
Cody: Fallout Online. That the shortest summation I can come to when attempting to describe Fallen Earth in a nutshell, as it the central feeling I had from the moment I began playing. Not because it has opted for a similar setting, though I can see why you’d assume that it was, but because right from the beginning, I felt like I was part of a story.
And story important. I know most of us don’t seem to think so anymore, but we’re really quite wrong. It was story that transformed video games from Pong into Final Fantasy back in the 80s, and it was story that gave you that sense of belonging when you created your first character in World of Warcraft. Fallen Earth has a story, and it”¦
EXACTLY WHAT THE POST-APOCALYPTIC-MEDIC-DOCTOR ORDERED
Dan: That the same vibe I felt stepping into the game, and it is important that the story is used as a tool to immerse us in the world. The main pull for me was the way Fallen Earth tries to simulate survival in a post-apocalyptic setting. There are 1000 square kilometers of seamless Nuclear Playground out there for players to explore, and the story-arc changes depending on which direction the player takes.
This really lets players choose how they experience the story, and that what puts the RPG in MMORPG. Ultimately players are left to their own devices, deciding in which manner they will survive the dangers of everyday life. Player driven story-arc and wasteland exploration; are you sure we aren’t reviewing Fallout Online?
Cody: I wish we were. If this was Fallout Online, it might have a better engine. I don’t mean to sound negative — there are a huge number of reasons why Fallen Earth is a fantastic MMORPG, and we’ll talk about plenty of them soon — but in the spirit of honesty (and so I can get it off of my chest), the game engine used for Fallen Earth feels like it was designed in 2003.
This obviously wasn’t on purpose. I doubt that the game developers chose this engine; I find it much more likely that this was the engine that the budget would allow, and that the concept designers behind the scenes imagined a much grander result that simply wasn’t possible due to”¦ money, or something. But, sadly, that doesn’t change the fact that the current engine leaves much to be desired. Movement, combat and UI navigation are all a little below the bar, but they don’t hinder gameplay as much as they could. Fortunately, other elements of Fallen Earth, such as the character creation process, certainly help to alleviate the sting.
WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING HERE?
Dan: Now the character creation is nothing advanced; there are no sliders or advanced tweaking tools here. This isn’t to say there is no customization: creating a character in Fallen Earth follows a series of choices between preset options. Players are able to make all the standard choices such as face, hair style, height, clothing etc. The true flare is in the accessories available with the ability to apply tattoos, piercings and face paint.
The important thing to note here is that while you don’t have total freedom over the appearance of your character, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a great system. This may not please everybody, but I think it does great things for immersion. A lot of developers tend to break their lore with ridiculous vanity features, so it nice to see Fallen Earth isn’t straying from the path. Character creation is simple yet effective, but the true colors of a players class is definitely within character development.
Cody: I couldn’t agree more. I was also quite impressed with the ‘stick-to-the-style’ character creation, but the character development was definitely the more impressive of the two. Strangely, it also seems quite simple at first glance, but it really anything but; each time you increase your level you’re given a number of points that need to be distributed among the available options.
We’ve all seen this before. The innovation comes from the amount of options available; there are 4 menus: stats, skills, mutations, tradeskills and each of them contain a bunch of unique options that allow you to further develop your character the way you want to, offering a distinct feeling of individuality with every new level gained. And this ties in perfectly with the general theme of Fallen Earth: exploration. Go anywhere. Do anything. Be anyone.
ACHIEVEMENT EARNED: WORLD EXPLORER
Dan: I’m not sure if calling it exploration even does it justice, as I mentioned earlier there are 1000 square kilometers of terrain in Fallen Earth. This is a massive sandbox filled with mutants, strange technologies, old world ruins and six rival factions. The truly amazing thing is that the game world was actually created using real-world topographical maps of the Grand Canyon; it a shame the engine really lets this feature down.
Exploration is essentially everything in this game. There is a main story and quests to participate in just like any other MMO, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow them. The cool thing about Fallen Earth is the game changes the story-arc depending on which direction you travel in and who you interact with; everything you do changes your story. At the end of the day, it all up to the player on what they want to accomplish in the world. Do you want to become a trader and explore the Wastelands as a scavenger? Maybe you fancy yourself as a Mercenary for hire, or an explorer; choose your own path to success.
Cody: That a perfect way to wrap Fallen Earth up; it the MMORPG that allows you to be whatever you want, and by utilizing more than a few innovative concepts (such as the ability to attack with your left and right arms independently, and play in first or third person depending on your own playstyle, or the weapon you have equipped at the time) it overcomes many of its potential flaws, and ultimately, offers one of the most rewarding free to play MMORPG experiences available today.