Civilization as we know it has ended and you’re a clone without a home in GamersFirst’s Fallen Earth.
As a game, FE is an examination of the science-fiction post-civilization trope that is played well in games such as BleedOut—but it approaches it a lot more like Fallout or Borderlands. The people are mutated, dirty, and unhappy; but they eke out a wastelander’s life with a lot of gusto and a huge crafting economy.
The game looks a little bit dated now (with not-so-bright graphics) but it has a strong story and a loyal player base. The developers have worked hard to make the game fun and engaging and it includes a dark sense of humor that percolates through the community that has grown up around it.
Come and explore Fallen Earth with me; you won’t be disappointed.
Graphics and Sound: A little bit murky here, but it’s an otherwise solid game
First and foremost when encountering a new game, I like to go over how much control I have in the customization of my character—Fallen Earth did an excellent job at this end. Aside from the usual expectations of choosing my gender and other elements, I found myself fascinated by how they approached the feature customization elements. It lacks sliders except for in the most simplistic terms, but there’s about 16 different faces, and a set of features that go on the face and the body.
I got a chance to choose my eye color (or lack thereof) two facial tattoos, two types of piercings from ears, nose, lips, eyebrow; even tattoos on my body; there was a portion that gave me a set of hair colors and even makeup and lipstick. Add to that some interesting face paint options that I could mix and match with the tattoos and piercings. I really loved that element of the game and it felt like I could really customize my appearance the way I wanted.
Although I did get stuck in a standard body (comparable to everyone) at that point I felt like I’d found a face and a look that fit my interests.
Once in the game, though, it became obvious that the graphics are a bit outdated and they’re full of graphics glitches. As a post-apocalyptic game, the scenery is also very drab, all brown and grey, filled with rust-limned objects (often broken machinery) and lambent but anemic fires and lighting. Indoor settings are gloomy and shadowy, and the characters themselves look broken down and worn-over. Some of this is because of the setting, and is entirely appropriate for the atmosphere; but the rest is due to a peripheral lack of detail caused by low polygon count and poorly rendered textures.
An obvious amount of care was put into making sure that what textures were used fit the bill, however, and the environments fit the motif with a vengeance. As a wasteland-style game (reminiscent of what you’d expect in a Borderlands or Fallout universe) the dirt and twisted-metal fit in very nicely.
All I can say is that you shouldn’t come to this game expecting top-of-the-line graphics, and that it does pretty well without them.
As for sounds the game lacks much of a sound track (except perhaps what felt like a sort of ambient and very quiet tune.) Much of the atmosphere of the game is led by the sounds that you make walking on the ground, a profound sense of loneliness, and perhaps the sounds of other players moving around you. The desolation is extreme when it comes to both graphics and sound, but voices are obvious and cut through the silence like a knife.
The entire opening tutorial is voiced well and after that while missions are not voiced, the NPCs do say short phrases like most RPGs. The guns make an appropriate crack-crack sound, dogs woof woof, and the horse clatters and canters with hoof-ish noises on different surfaces (although I don’t recall if it whinneys or neighs at all.) Needless to say, sound is also a little bit lacking, but what sounds it does have give you a fair idea of what’s going on around you.
In fact, the shouts of the enemy when they see you and the sound of taking hits fit nicely with the lonely, desperate atmosphere that the game promotes.
Gameplay: Welcome to life-after-life as you know it in an MMORPG/TPS hybrid
The first huge accolade that I must give Fallen Earth is that it tells a story with a good hook from the very beginning. It starts with a classic sense of anxiety and science fiction amorality by putting me in the role of a clone, fresh produced and released from a vat, whose entire life had been planned for her to be thrust onto an operating table and chop-shopped for organs (and then possibly die there.) However, something went wrong—an operator with a conscience released me.
I quickly discovered that I was in Hover Dam in Nevada—at a cloning facility, of course—and my release just happens to coincide with an attack by some band of vandals. The world at this point must still be somewhat intact, but obvious the apocalypse is approaching. I won’t ruin the tutorial; but needless to say it explains that clones are virtually immortal (part of LifeNet) and when we’re killed, we just get cloned again and arrive at the nearest LifeNet pod.
This is an excellent science fiction lampshade for the resurrection mechanic served in many MMORPGs. Also, the LifeNet video describing the process is hilarious (if you’re a post-apocalyptic science fiction fan like me, you’ll enjoy it.)
Of course, the tutorial ends with me getting killed and the game starts 5 years later, with the desolation complete.
The gameplay mechanics for this MMO hybridize it into an MMORPG/TPS hybrid—but they do in a manner that I find a little bit dodgy. Movement is based on the usual WASD and when in RPG mode using the mouse-button-hold for steering and in TPS mode it’s just WASD and standard steering. Switching between them uses the middle-mouse; but it’ll also switch in and out sometimes when interacting with objects… A little bit hazy and difficult for a UI, but I got used to it eventually.
Melee and gun combat are interesting, in TPS mode its primarily point-and-shoot (even with melee weapons.) Also, to my great amusement is that there’s headshots, which seem to cause an automatic critical; so when swinging an axe or using a rifle, aim for the head to kill the baddie as quickly as possible. There doesn’t seem to be leg shots—it would be nice to slow people with melee weapons down. And with certain weapons there’s aim-down-sights (or scope in the case of my zip-gun rifle.) All that felt pretty natural for a game like this.
The questing mechanic works pretty much the same as every other MMORPG. After the tutorial quests are no longer voiced, except for the “We’re counting on you,” and “Thanks so much!” that gets spit out by quest giver NPCs. The map shows you were to go with a red “X” and all this is taught in the tutorial.
Vehicles such as horses, ATVs, and motorcycles also make an appearance and have their own inventory (there’s even a hermit crab pet available in the cash shop that has an inventory.)
Then there’s the best part: The entire game runs on a crafting and scavenging economy. There is a currency system, but it feels a bit secondary to the scavenging system.
Players are given a robust and huge set of crafting skills all of which run into one another and some use items crafted by others in order to complete more complex items. This only adds to the totality of the bleak post-civilization atmosphere and gives players a strong reason to pick crafting skills and items that compliment each other; it also gives rise to demand for gathering, scavenging, and trading between players to keep the in-game economy going and to keep producing consumables.
Right now, Fallen Earth has a huge population and a fairly well run economy. There’s people chatting everywhere and a lot of things to do. It also seems to have a thriving PvP base connected to its PvE base and people are constantly chattering about how they feel about things, trading, and auctioning off items and recipes and trying to connect to one another.
Freemium: Come on now buy something!
Unlike many other games of the free-to-play genre, Fallen Earth is not at all squeamish about shoving premium services in my face—in fact, it did so immediately right off the bat by throwing a huge advertisement right at me when I first logged in. And then it leaves an “UPGRADE” button on my UI.
Fallen Earth is a game that went from pay-to-play to free-to-play in October 2011 so it’s still got a lot of elements from its pay-to-play days.
Premium players receive a lot of advantages including extra character slots, unlimited chips, no crafting queue limitation (free players get 8 hours crafting then 24 hours off) and so on. A lot of services are included with the “Premium Commander” access that can be bought for a period of time—it ranges from 30 days for $29.99 to a year (365 days) for $249.99.
Fallen Earth includes a microtransaction currency called G1c (the GamersFirst credit) and this can be used in a virtual item shop to purchase a multitude of items. Most of them are in-game things like premium services (costume slots, extra character slots, inventory upgrades, etc.) boosts for XP and skill generation, respects, and name changes; and even some in game items such as vehicles (ATVs) and pets.
Conclusion: In spite of the weak graphics and a buggy interface Fallen Earth is a solid game
If you’re as big a fan of Fallout and other post-apocalyptic settings as I am, this game will do a great deal for you. The atmosphere and the story has a sense of humor; there’s a lot of things to do, stuff to kill, and a huge crafting economy that runs the entire game.
There’s a lot out there and a giant player base to engage with.
This game has a lot of glitches, the UI is a bit buggy, and sometimes it feels like the graphics are a bit run down; but many people have found that it’s possible to overlook all this because the game itself has a great deal of character. The narrative of the survivalist game is one that has a big draw for a lot of players and that alone gives it the life that it has.
Welcome to the wastelands, clone; here’s your rifle, and your axe, now make a name for yourself.