Pros and cons of Fallen Earth

The Hive Leader asked me on Twitter, “How IS Fallen Earth? How’s the combat and such? I’ve heard mixed things. Gonna give it a shot and wanted to know your opinion.”

I thought this warranted a post instead of a quick reply, so here goes.  As a recommendation, Fallen Earth is… complicated.  It’s one of those games that has a great deal going for it while also having a lot of rough edges.  I find that this polarizes people rather quickly; if it clicks, it’ll click hard and if it offends, it’ll turn you off fast.

Now, I love the game and played it a lot in its first year, but since then it’s been an on-again, off-again affair with me.  I want to be as honest as I can in assessing it as a recommendation, so you could read my Why I Play Fallen Earth article on Massively from a year ago to get the basics, and then come back here for a pros and cons list.

Fallen Earth pros

  • Post-apocalyptic setting — This isn’t done much in the MMO space as of yet
  • There’s a great streak of humor that runs through the game
  • A good blend of theme park and sandbox elements
  • An absolutely terrific crafting system — You can make over 90% of the game’s items just through crafting alone
  • Being able to queue up crafting recipes and seeing them run whether you’re online or offline
  • It’s free-to-play with few restrictions
  • Mature themes and elements (if that’s your bag)
  • Plenty of contemporary cues
  • Huge world that encourages exploration
  • Nice assortment of mounts, from horses to cars
  • Skill-based character system that offers a lot of build flexibility
  • Some crazy mutated creatures (prairie chickens, giant ants)
  • Six factions with strong identities
  • Gorgeous sunrises/sunsets
  • Has a “wild west” feel to it
  • Really terrific help channel and dedicated folks (including GMs) who staff it
  • Probably the largest assortment of dance emotes ever in an MMO
  • Some semblance of housing with player towns and camps (but not true housing)
  • Combat is generally quick
  • Good assortment of weapons, from shotguns to golf clubs
  • Some pretty entertaining and interesting quests
  • Physics engine makes NPCs fly back and fall down in interesting ragdoll ways

Fallen Earth cons

  • Visuals are a mixed bag — sometimes it looks a little artificial
  • It really requires a huge time investment to level, explore the zones, and craft
  • Combat isn’t terribly engaging, especially at first
  • Animations are stiff, particularly jumping and fighting
  • Free-to-play does limit crafting queues and lengthens scavenging times
  • Little in the way of fast travel
  • Inventory management can be a pain, since you have to consider both weight and spaces (hint: get a horse that can carry a lot of stuff)
  • The cosmetic wardrobe system costs money to unlock
  • Interface isn’t the best-looking or most functional I’ve ever seen
  • Your mount stays put when you dismount, so you have to keep running back to it (which, for some folks, is immersive)
  • If you don’t go off the rails and explore, you might get bored with the quests
  • Clans (guilds) seem pretty insular and I don’t see many of them recruiting openly these days
  • It’s a smaller MMO that was “rescued” by GamersFirst, so you have to consider the size of the community and GamersFirst’s style of running MMOs
  • The fonts that are used in the game world annoy me and all look alike
  • Mobs in combat sometimes “float” around you as they move into position
  • It can be glitchy at times

MMO gaming update

revSo here’s a quick round-up of what I’ve been doing in each of my four primary MMOs lately:

The Secret World

Our cabal is under a general consensus that Issue 8 will drop sometime this week, if only because Halloween is next week and, y’know, Cat God.  In the meantime, I ran the latest 5-person instance stage of the Whispering Tides event (honestly, the whole thing has felt meh and grindy, so that’s why I haven’t been talking about it).

On my own, however, I’ve been filling in the gaps that I left with my first playthrough on Yeti.  I realized that I didn’t have 100% exploration and 100% missions, and that’s a shame.  So I’m working my way back through the game methodically, using the achievement panel as my guide.  Last night I did a few Orochi quests in Egypt, which all revolved around corpses and crashed planes because, y’know, Orochi.

Lord of the Rings Online

The 100% XP boost is nice and all, but what I’m really enjoying is reconnecting with  my kick-butt Lore-master as she whizzes through Moria.  The revamp is really nice and keeps progression flowing forward, and I just love how the LM plays.  It’s a good diversion for the month before the expansion, and I kind of want to just keep playing her.  But man, there’s a long road ahead to get her to where my Captain is.

Guild Wars 2

Over the weekend I finished up my October monthlies, and I’ve tried to be diligent about doing dailies as of late.  I’m getting pretty good at figuring out prime spots to go when I need to fulfill a certain achievement.

I also finished the Halloween meta and the final instance.  It was… okay, I guess.  Story-wise, it wasn’t much of anything.  Oh, the Mad King has a son.  Oh, I have a candy corn elemental (?) that will put him back in his coffin.  Oh, that’s it.  Seriously, that’s story?

Mostly I just spend time working on my Ranger and kicking myself for not spending each play session finishing up the world exploration for my Engineer.  WvW is not a fun place to visit when you’re just trying to hit vistas and POIs.

Fallen Earth

Right now this game is vying for my attention really hard, and I’m not really doing much of anything super-interesting.  I’m in Odenville, another low-level town, sort of doing quests but mostly just harvesting and crafting.  There’s a really great field of nodes surrounding a cemetary that also has a lot of enemy NPCs to kill.  I’m just raking in the mats left and right.  I also built a new rifle to use that is a really nice improvement over the starter version.

What’s nice is that, for whatever reason, I got a month of subscription in the mail.  So that lets me harvest faster and queue up 20 crafting recipes instead of just 3 at a time.  I figure I might as well use this initial month to get a jump-start on my crafting — the quests can always wait.

Too much to play, too little time

scopeYou ever have one of those periods where the entertainment scales tip from “nothing to play” to “in my groove” to “holy crap I want to play everything right now?”  The latter is me at the moment.  There’s just so much that’s interesting me right now to where I’m almost paralyzed with indecision.

Lord of the Rings Online has captivated me with the fun that is my Lore-master.  It’s been a while since I last played her, and after getting reacquainted, it all came back to me in a flash.  The pets, the crowd control, the bizarre dual wielding.  The fact that she’s my first character who’s going through the newly streamlined Moria adds to the compulsion.  So far I’m really liking the quest flow and progression, although I am resigned to the fact that I’ll have to put her back on hold when Helm’s Deep comes out next month.

Then there’s Fallen Earth, which has quickly gone from a little experiment to see if I still have feelings for the game to a full-on obsession.  I really missed the crafting and the world, and even though everything in the game moves at a snail’s pace in the beginning, I keep wanting to log in and spend another half hour here and there.  I finally found a clan to join, which was more of an issue that it seems to be in other MMOs.  I just never see clans recruiting in the chat channels, and someone told me that they’re very insular and elitist now.  Fortunately, I think I fell in with some good folk who made a point of saying that they’re about supporting each other and putting on fun group activities.

Guild Wars 2 just dropped its Halloween patch, so that’s another big attraction.  I got some time in with it last night, did the new opening quest, and joined up with the massive zerg in the labyrinth for a kill-fest.  Man, that brings back memories of last year and it was quite relaxing to just go with the flow and enjoy the scenery.

I couldn’t wait for the tablet version, and so I picked up The Wolf Among Us last night.  Telltale Games has become one of my favorite studios after putting out The Walking Dead and Back to the Future: The Game, and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed with this.  It’s an adventure game based on the Fables comics, and boy is it one of the best-looking games I’ve seen.  I love the comic-style art design and color choices, and the return of tough decisions that must be made quickly is welcome.  Only the first episode is out so far, so I should pace myself… but I probably won’t.

I’m also squeezing in Hearthstone matches here and there, trying to stay on top of my dailies for that precious, precious gold.

And if The Secret World drops its Issue 8 soon?  I’m going to be in serious trouble.  Thank goodness WildStar isn’t coming out this year.  I’d have to give up sleep.

Fallen Earth: A horse and a girl

horseMy recent return to the post-apocalyptic Grand Canyon of Fallen Earth has been slow-going but oddly satisfying.  I don’t craft in any other MMOs at the moment, but I can’t resist doing so in this game.  There’s something very compelling about constantly harvesting and queuing up recipes.

So my character’s name is Syppi, and she’s still in her starter town of Midway.  I’ve been taking my time to do all of the quests for the sweet AP and the free crafting books, vacuuming up mats as I go about my business.  It’s a nice re-introduction to the game, as I’ve been here before and that familiarity is triggering all of my memories of how to play.

My goal with Syppi is to eventually craft and use shotguns, although right now she’s stuck with her initial rifle and fire axe.  I did make some good progress on my transportation, however, “crafting” a racing horse to replace my old nag.  She’s faster, has a big inventory, and is full-up on stamina.  I honestly like the horses more in this game than the vehicles.  I think I might just stick with them.

I did wrap up all of the quest lines in Midway, culminating with a raid on the CoG underground bunker to mess with them a bit.  In keeping with Fallen Earth’s quirky, offbeat, and sometimes dark humor, the CoGs all worship old technology like broken fridges and cell phones.  And their leader’s name is Mother Board.

You really have to take the Fallen Earth package as a whole deal, warts and gems and all.  The combat isn’t always the most exciting (although I do like pegging enemies with head shots while they try to run up to me), the AI is sometimes laughable, and there’s a complexity here that takes some getting used to.  But dang if it’s not a really great setting with lots of funny bits, and there’s a great deal of satisfaction in being able to make all of the gear you use.

My next steps for Syppi’s journey is to take her to Odenville for a few quests as well as to work on her initial crafting.  Her gear load-out is very thin right now, and while nothing’s seriously challening her in the combat department, that time will eventually come.

Fallen Earth: Return to the wasteland

wastelandIt’s been a good long while since I’ve played Fallen Earth — 2011, I believe.  But I was listening through the soundtrack this week and became eight shades of nostalgic.  Prairie chickens!  ATVs!  Shotguns!  Awesome crafting!  How could I resist the call?

I guess it’s also just part of the summer malaise.  I’m really not dissatisfied with anything else I’m playing right now, I just want an injection of *new* for a little while, at least.  I mean, it’s a game.  Does anyone really need to justify why they’re playing one?

Anyway, I rolled a fresh clone and spent a couple hours getting re-immersed in the grand canyon.  Even though it’s been a couple of years, everything came back to me pretty quickly.  Fallen Earth’s quirky control and combat scheme required a small mental shift, but before I knew it I was shift-clicking to auto-loot and tabbing to enter into combat mode.

What I really missed from this game was a combination of the setting (post-apoc is always great fun), the ability to make practically anything, and the black humor that runs throughout.

dyeAlready making me chuckle.  Thanks, Fallen Earth!

My clone went to Midway because it’s the starter town that’s more concerned with crafting.  The only major downside to being a pure free-to-play character is that scavenging takes a couple of seconds longer than subscribers — and those seconds do add up.  Every node is about five seconds to mine/scavenge/pluck, but I didn’t mind.  It felt more laid-back and I spent the time watching the incredibly active chat window.

It seemed like there were a lot of people both in the chat and Midway itself, which is gratifying.  I mean, you don’t want to come back to a game and find that it’s a wasteland.  Er, a wasteland of players.  You understand.

The starter series of quests did a good job getting me resituated and equipped with weapons (I’m going rifle this time around), a horse, and a few crafting recipes.  I always love being able to make my own ammo in this game.

Maybe I’ll just fart around in this game for a couple of weeks until my curiosity is sated.  We’ll see.  I’m just glad that it’s still there to go back to for when I need my apocalyptic fix.

My desert island MMO

A few days ago Massively ran a Daily Grind topic about what your desert island MMO would be.  I found that interesting, because I’ve been thinking about that same idea as well: If I could pick only one MMO to play on a desert island for the rest of my life, what would it be?  And here we’re adding the stipulations that it already has to be released and currently operating, we assume that it won’t grow any more nor ever be cancelled, and it can’t be some sort of weird portal game.

So what would my desert MMO be?  That is insanely tricky.

  • First of all, I’d want something with maturity and established growth.  A game that’s been around a little while so that the more egregious bugs have been stomped out, content patches and/or expansions have been added in, and enough holidays and regular events to keep things interesting.
  • Second, I’d need a game world that is as large as possible.  Fun to explore.  I don’t want to see the same scenery over and over again, considering that I’ll probably end up making a bajillion alts over the course of my lifetime.
  • Likewise, tons and tons of content.
  • Options as to how to level — not just a linear experience.
  • Plenty of side activities, such as crafting, collecting, and even PvP.
  • A developed end game.
  • Player-generated content.
  • Lots of classes or ways to develop your character
  • Something I haven’t played to death

And while there are many fine games out there right now, this list eliminates quite a few of them, because we’re not just looking for a good game for now, but for a lifetime.  That changes things drastically.

LOTRO is an obvious choice, but it kind of fails that last point on the list.  Honestly, I’m torn between two: EverQuest II and Fallen Earth.  Both have gobs of content, a huge world to explore, player-generated content, great crafting, lots of options.  I’m leaning toward Fallen Earth just because there’s so very much in that game I haven’t seen or explored yet, and I love that world (logged in just last night, as a matter of fact).

What about you guys?  What’s your desert island MMO, and what would be the qualities that make it so?

Where to get MMO soundtracks

Yesterday on Too Long; Didn’t Listen (you know, that podcast you so adore!) Dodge and I were talking about MMO and video game soundtracks, a topic which I quite adore.  I wanted to follow the podcast up with a quick post about some places that I’ve found legal ways to obtain these scores:

Free MMO soundtracks:

Amazon MP3 downloads:

Direct Song:

Blizzard Store/iTunes/misc.:

Let me know if I missed any and I’ll add them to the list (I’m not looking to list/link torrents and CDs, however)!