Fallen Earth: An-ti-ci-pation

Fallen Earth.  I can’t seem to stop playing it.  It’s haunting my dreams, even.

I think that after a year-plus in mostly fantasy worlds, it’s wonderfully freeing to be running around in a semi-contemporary environment (if one can include mutated chickens and ants in that statement), enjoying the lack of elves and exploding particle effects.  One of the aspects of the post-apocalyptic genre that calls out to fans is the Robinson Crusoe effect — the fantasy of “starting over” out of your element, using your wits and whatever happens to be lying around.  Questing in Fallen Earth takes about four times as long as it should because I’m forever hopping off my chicken mount to salvage a piece of wood, plastic, or metal for my ever-expanding crafting vault.

In today’s modern MMO climate, Fallen Earth’s approach of delayed gratification flies in the face of what devs have fooled themselves into believing is fun and necessary for every aspect of online games.  Now, some innovations that help cut out annoying and unnecessary factors are welcome, but I’ve become increasingly unsettled whenever I’ve seen a dev team make achieving something much quicker — or even instant — instead of making us wait and work for it.  The thinking behind such decisions is that it’s more fun to have something now so why not just give it to the players?

Except it’s not always as much fun to have things now, not if  you’re honest and look at the big picture.  Let’s take RIFT, for example.  Initially, RIFT was going to make players wait until level 20 to obtain a mount (I think it was 20).  Sometime in beta, this got changed to “whenever you can afford one.”  Players rejoiced, it was hailed as a step forward, etc.  Same reasoning why Trion stopped making players wait and work for class souls — “It’s not as much fun as if you just give them the souls right away.”

It’s the same progression we’ve seen in numerous MMOs.  City of Heroes speeds up leveling to the point where it’s a joke.  So does WoW, which also allows for the use of mounts at very low levels.  Why should we wait for anything?  GIVE US UBER GEAR AND ABILITIES FROM THE GET-GO!

The thing is, anticipation and effort have that funny effect of making you appreciate something way more when you get — or earn — it than if it’s just handed to you with little effort.  This is a cornerstone of RPGs dating all the way back to the beginning — the joy comes in the attainment of better loot, better abilities, better stats, and better progress.  We accept that, starting out, our characters aren’t going to be super-powerful millionaires, because it’s much more fun to go from zero to hero.

So I appreciate this about Fallen Earth.  The game gives you a handful of starter gear, but the rest is up to you to either find, make, or earn in some fashion.  I may really want a motorcycle and crazy powerful shotguns, but those are going to have to be goals for me to attain instead of welfare handouts.  It’s okay, in my book, for MMOs to be withholding of goodies until a later date, because I don’t want all my “fun” front-loaded, and I don’t think that’s healthy for a game’s lifespan anyway.

10 thoughts on “Fallen Earth: An-ti-ci-pation

  1. Alphaman (@Alphaman_) September 8, 2011 / 12:02 pm

    Earning a cycle was definitely fun, and felt worth it. Sure, I hardly ever use it (horses feeding advantage and mobility is too much to pass up), but getting those quests done and the enormously long crafting times finished was nice!
    I can’t wait (though I can wait) to level my skills up enough to begin crafting an interceptor.

  2. Gank September 8, 2011 / 12:04 pm

    This one has been on my sand-box list for ages. I’m looking forward to the free-to-play…….now if only they could free up some of my time to actually play something new 😉

  3. Drew September 8, 2011 / 1:38 pm

    You’ve nailed a lot about what I love in Fallen Earth, Syp. It really is the atmosphere – the realism, the non-fantasy setting, the “cool factor” of just stopping to sift through debris and trash cans. I really can’t wait for this to go F2P and hopefully pick up a bigger player base to interact with – will make the conflict and progress towns more fun, for sure.

  4. thevirtualexplorer September 8, 2011 / 3:07 pm

    I think your first sentiment in the article about a non-fantasy setting is why The Secret World is going to do very well.

    As for immediate gratification, it is in most of our games unfortunately. We use to call them MMORPGs as they were more time intensive to build our characters and explore the world and have an adventure, now it is more like a production line they move us on thru their worlds. Run these quests and get this then move on to this raid for this shiny object then on to this quest etc etc etc. I never made it to Sector 3 in FE because I kept getting distracted with side quests and just exploring the world.

  5. snickeringcorpses September 8, 2011 / 6:01 pm

    I think another reason for the speeding of progression is that as MMOs have moved into a more casual audience, they’ve adjusted the time between “rewards” to account for the many people who may log on for a couple of hours one night a week, but still need to feel as though they’ve made some progress in that time.

  6. Jacquotte September 8, 2011 / 9:01 pm

    Good post. I’m intrigued now about FE, but isn’t the coming F2P and cash shop going to ruin this by selling out to instant gratification?

  7. Drew September 9, 2011 / 8:47 am

    I guess that depends on what you mean by selling out to instant gratification. I haven’t looked at the cash shop items yet, but mounts, pets, re-specs, and vanity items seemed to comprise the bulk of the old one.

    Ultimately, Fallen Earth is a wide-open, expansive game world, and if people want to power-level to 55 they’re likely going to be sorely disappointed with endgame content unless they PvP. This is really a case where the journey IS the game, in my mind. Approaching it with more of a Fallout mindset (exploration) rather than a WoW-type (get to level cap, stat!) mindset will make the game far more enjoyable.

  8. Syp September 9, 2011 / 9:11 am

    @ Jacquotte — From what I’ve seen of the cash shop, I don’t think there’s a lot in there that shortcuts the game’s content, aside from perhaps a good mount starting out. And free players will have longer to wait for their payoff than subscribers.

  9. Midrena September 9, 2011 / 9:20 am

    Is there a nice post or something about the crafting in FE that I can read? I am really into crafting and I’m not entirely sure if the stuff I’ve read is up-to-date or not.

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