Fallen Earth: Finding Your Place In The World

One of the almost-indefinable reasons that Fallen Earth has resonated so strongly in myself — and, I suspect, in others — is that this is truly a MMO where you are carving yourself out an existence in an incredibly harsh territory.  Life isn’t handed to you on a magic platter; you have to work for everything good that you want, including shelter, transportation, food and even bullets.

I don’t think there’s a better feeling than being a fresh, wet-behind-the-ears newbie in MMOs, at the base of a large mountain of levels and achievements and gear and skills.  Starting from scratch, there’s a special exhilerating feeling of accomplishment when you finally do make it up the mount.  Before, the world didn’t even acknowledge your existence, and now you are master of your domain.

That said, one of the more valid criticisms levied at Fallen Earth is that the starting experience is simply too wide, too inscrutable and too bewildering for some players.  You learn as you go, for sure, but the problem is that you can make a few regrettable errors at the start that you will kick yourself for later.  So while I’ve previously posted a few tips for Fallen Earth, here is a follow-up guide on what I’d consider to be essential steps to getting off to a good start in the game:

  1. Your three best sources of info are the newbie help channel (read it!) and the helpful advisers that inhabit it, Globaltech ATLAS (awesome guides), and by typing /support in game, which brings up an in-game wikipedia thing that covers several helpful topics.
  2. Running around stinks as a form of transportation.  Craft (train) an improved riding horse as soon as possible.
  3. Hold off on spending Advancement Points (AP) until you’re fully informed as to how you want to build your character.  You can get by on 0 AP spent for the first half dozen levels or so.
  4. Save your money!  Generally don’t spend a lot (or anything!) on ammo or gear starting out — that’s a good way to go broke.  Instead, I’d recommend that you begin in one of the crafting starter towns (South Burb or Midway), as they give you lots of crafting books as quest rewards.  Then pick up and scavenge everything, and make your own weapons, ammo and gear, and continue to do quests to get gear as rewards from them as well.
  5. Store commonly-used crafting mats in your sector vault, less-used items in your barter vault (every town has a sector vault, only a few have a barter vault, and only one per sector has a VIP vault).  The more crafting skills you try to level, the more space you’re going to have to devote for mats.
  6. Never get rid of older transportation vehicles/horses!  They can sit in the garage/stable forever, and each has an inventory that you can use as an auxiliary vault.  Right now I have three horses, an ATV and a bike that I use for storage.  Speaking of which, whatever you’re riding around on, make sure you have fuel and healing/repair kits on the mount itself.
  7. Even if you’ve outleveled the content, plan on doing as many AP missions as possible (here’s a great guide for them).  The more AP you get = the better your character can become.
  8. Gear and weapons need to be repaired once in a while, or they’ll go “red” and you can’t use them until you fix ’em up.  Just buy an appropriate repair kit (armor, ballistics, melee), then go to your gear screen (“G”), right click on the item that’s showing a damage bar underneath, and select “repair”.
  9. If you’re not a crafter, consider at the very minimum doing geology, nature and science.  Geology and nature lets you harvest more items in the world (along with scavenging), and both science and nature are important for crafting mounts (science for vehicles, nature for horses).  Science + Ballistics = bullet production for rifle/pistol users.
  10. Buff the heck up.  It’s easy to overlook buffs, but they really can be the difference between life and death in the game.  You can always have on one stance at a time, and have on buffs that regenerate stamina, health, and increase various stats.  Food and drink also add on one buff apiece, depending on the item.
  11. Read this great thread over at Globaltech ATLAS on new player tips.  Invaluable stuff!

Fallen Earth: Down The Rabbit Hole

I look taller now!

I had a great time getting reconnected with Fallen Earth last night, dusting Syp off and getting her back up to speed.  Surprisingly enough, the clan has been growing over the holidays (Casualties of War, look us up!) and vent was hopping with highbies and lowbies alike.

It also turns out that the random number generator (RNG in MMO parlance) favored me greatly, for I attained the ultra-rare white top hat from the First Night event after opening my third gift package.  It’s a little bit of high civilization in the midst of anarchy, and I consider it my great duty now to spread the “finer things” to the unwashed peasants of Arizona.

The wide variety of gear and weapons continues to tickle me, especially since so much of it is grounded in the real world.  Goggles, batter helmets, cowboy hats, golf shoes, shovels and rocket launchers are all easier to grasp than arcane-sounding armor.  Of course, the wide variety means that many characters start to look like they robbed the Salvation Army and a sporting goods store.

On a side note, I don’t know what the enemy mobs have against my horse, but they’re always trying to murder Mr. Ed when my back is turned.  What did the horse do to them?  It’s me they want, stop killing my ride!

I always feel a bit sad when I return from a quest to find my horse in a crumpled heap on the ground, eyes open but still.  He died so I might gain a few points of XP.  Oh well, time to patch him up and head on out!

Bio Break and the Year That Was

This is as good a picture as any to encapsulate this year

2009 was a big year for MMORPGs, even if you can’t pinpoint a single game that defined the entire year.  There was certainly more than enough going on to fill up a solid year of discussion, and if you want a brief recap of the year’s hottest MMO stories, I suggest you read this two-part article.

I began this year primarily playing WAR and writing for WAAAGH!, but neither would last for long.  Bio Break quickly became my blog o’ choice, as I wanted to branch out into discussing the MMORPG world at large, and I’m certainly glad I did so.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a year where I’ve played so many MMOs, met so many terrific people online or had so much fun as this one, and for me personally, 2009 was the year that gave me permission to stop being a monogamous gamer and go where the gaming was good.

So I wanted to end 2009 by going through my year in gaming and blogging.

iPhone Games

In June, my brother-in-law gave me his old iPhone 3G (he’d upgraded to the new model) and I discovered the sheer joy of this techno-Swiss army knife.

Although the app store is simply loaded with games, I’ve found myself to be a bit picky in what I want from the platform — it has to be quick to pick up and put down, work well with the interface (I really wish the device had a physical D-pad), and be worth my time.  This boils my game list down to the following:

  • Dungeon Hunter – A generic but wonderfully-done Diablo clone
  • Desert Chronicles – A tower defense/RPG hybrid that I still play months after downloading
  • Peggle – Because… it’s Peggle
  • Bloons TD – I love Bloons, but its reliance on cannons over all else has dampened my enthusiasm of this title
  • Civilization Revolutions – Civ in a pocket format
  • Skee-Ball – Dude, it’s SKEE-BALL
  • Star Hogs – I loved me some Scorched Earth back in the day

Single-Player PC Games

As I’ve long since moved away from console gaming, so am I starting to drift far away from single-player computer titles.  Even though many of them are fun, there’s something about the persistence and connectivity of MMOs that makes me miss them when they’re not there.

I spent a chunk of the year deep in BioWare’s domain — KOTOR, Mass Effect and Dragon Age all commanded weeks of my time, and were well worth it.  Dragon Age wasn’t quite the be-all, end-all gritty fantasy experience I’d hoped for, but it was excellent, and I hope to go back and finish it some day.

Torchlight… I’m still divided on this.  It’s a decent diversion, but it never really hooked me, and I was a bit turned off by its FATE 2.0-ness.  I do need to go back and give it more of a fair shake, tho.

Games I have on deck that I’ve yet to try — Majesty 2, Borderlands, Tropico 3.

MMORPGs

I’ve probably annoyed a few of my readers by MMO hopping, particularly when I’ve left a game that they care about for one they did not.  In my defense, I’m not suffering from gamer ADD or WoW tourism syndrome or whatnot — I just had the urge this year to explore, to play new and old titles that seemed fun and appealing, and I wanted to get as broad of a base of experience for writing about MMOs in general.  I don’t see 2010 as being any different, to be honest.

So what are the titles I’ve dipped my toes in — or dove deep into — this year?

  • Warhammer Online – I began the year in WAR, but even back in January I knew that my time in the game was coming to an end.  It simply did not have what I was looking for in a MMO, and it never felt quite right.  I think that WAR is one of the biggest disappointments in my gaming career, because I had such high hopes for it, and because it really had so much promise and potential.
  • City of Heroes – Yes, I actually played CoH a bit earlier this year, partially because I was looking forward to Champions, and partially because I just missed the simplicity of the combat/missions grind.  Fun and amusing, it wasn’t to be for very long.
  • World of Warcraft – I played a month of Wrath then canceled my account, to what I publically declared to be the last time.  Which it wasn’t, so egg on my face.  Due to a great guild, the dungeon finder tool and a more laid-back approach to the game, I’ve found myself in Azeroth once more.
  • Lord of the Rings Online – 2009 was the year that I gave LOTRO its second big chance, and ironically, it ended up just like the first.  I had a great time, enjoyed the Captain class, found a terrific guild, and simply burned out somewhere in the middle of North Downs.  I like the game, but the setting and feel of it just isn’t *me*, which is one of those personal things that can never be resolved on Turbine’s end.  Speaking of Turbine…
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online – I hadn’t planned to play this, period, except for the announcement of the free to play version that got me thinking about DDO again.  And once back in the game, I found that there’s a lot to love and admire about this quirky, unique MMO.  While I’m not in it at the moment, I won’t hesitate to recommend it, especially since it costs you nothing for a good chunk of the content.
  • Free Realms and Wizard101 – Both of these I played and tried to get my wife into; both of these were too “kiddy” in tone for a long-term stay.
  • Champions Online – Had high expectations for this following City of Heroes, which were not met.  CO is an odd bird to me — I will stand by my statement that it’s a fun game with great combat, but it’s also shallow as all get out, far too linear and suffered a plague of embarrassing snafu’s in the first month.
  • Fallen Earth – Need I go into much detail here?  Hooked me after a great deal of positive word-of-mouth testimonies, and I agree with them all — this is a rough-and-tumble MMO that earns its stripes with a fantastic setting, deep gameplay and rewarding crafting.
  • Guild Wars – I had a copy of this sitting around, and I was determined to really get back into this game.  Unfortunately, my time restrictions forced my attention elsewhere, and my general feeling was that I’d rather start fresh with GW2 than plow through the first.

En Kankluzion

With no huge WoW-like breakout hit in 2009 (or 2008 for that matter), it’s easy to casually dismiss this year as so-so for MMO gaming.  Except that that does disservice to huge breakout hits like Free Realms, the growing success of EVE Online and Wizard 101, the more-than-adaquate subscriber base of Aion and Champions, and the thriving indie titles such as Darkfall and Fallen Earth.  It was a year that many spent eagerly anticipating titles that are still yet to come (TOR, Cataclysm, GW2, Star Trek), a year in which we saw many projects canceled and MMOs close, a year plagued with layoffs and debate and controversy, but it never was one thing.

2009 was never boring.

Silly v. Serious

Out of the very, very few common qualities that World of Warcraft and Fallen Earth share, this one I notice the most: both titles are saturated with silly, quirky humor.  Whether it be the thinly-veiled NPC name to a real world celebrity, goofy quests (one of which invariably asks you to dig through poo — what is UP with devs with this?), or laugh-out-loud interactions with the game world, they’re titles that never quite take themselves too seriously.

Heck, not even just those two games.  Champions Online is quirky as all get-out (Foxbat FTW!), and Warhammer marinated itself in black humor that was always worth a chuckle.

Personally, I appreciate that.  I’m never a person who can be serious for long — I love puns, teasing friends and looking at the sillier side of life.  It doesn’t break immersion for me to have a game try to make me laugh, or at least smile.  Jokes and humor have always been appreciated in my video games going back to the time when Syp was a wee laddie, cackling at the gags in King’s Quest and Space Quest.  Pain, as the saying goes, lets you know you’re still alive.  Laughter, as I see it, lets you know you’re still tolerable.  And if you’re a special breed of person, freak everyone out in the nearby vicinity with your braying, unholy brand of chortles.

Of course, my viewpoint isn’t shared by all.  Some gamers downright resent humor — particularly glaring, obvious, silly humor — popping its unwelcome head up in their super-serious quest to pwn n00bs and commit genocide on the local fauna.  These grinches scowl at any attempt of a game to introduce levity in the midst of death, gore and epic loot drops.  And if that’s your thing, then sure, there are plenty of MMOs out there that stamp down on the funny in fear of it taking over like Kevin Bacon infesting that midwestern town with sinful, sinful dancing in Footloose.

So out of curiosity, what’s your stance on this?  Does humorous aspects of MMORPGs annoy or delight you?  Are you too hardcore for a laugh, too uber for a tuber?

"No, the whole article is silly and it's very badly written. I'm the senior officer here and I haven't had a funny line yet. So I'm stopping it."

Chilton and the Wolf

I’m glad that Wolfshead continues to take Blizzard (and to a lesser extent, Tom Chilton) to task for dismissing player housing.  Yes, it’s an old drum that we continue to beat, but it’s just one of those things that absolutely boggles my mind — not just that WoW doesn’t have housing, but that Blizzard seems so dead set against it for vague reasons that are unbeknownst to us lesser mortals.  And that irks me, because I see a lot of other companies looking to Blizzard as the pace-setter, and when they pish-posh housing, why should the upstarts even bother?

I’ll admit that player housing isn’t for everyone.  It’s not.  But not all aspects of MMOs are.  My stance is that the more you strip out so-called “fluff” from MMOs to streamline them into questing/combat/PvP machines, the more you’re killing the soul of the games.  You’re creating a chess board with no frills — just strategy, combat and conquest.  To me, MMORPGs are the sum of their parts, which is one reason why I continue to advocate Fallen Earth.  Its individual parts are, more or less, substandard than what you can find elsewhere, but together they form a Voltron-like monolith of awesomeness.

I’m also more than a little bit confused, because when you think about it, player housing really is within Blizzard’s current modus operandi for World of Warcraft.  It’s casual-appealing.  It’s fluffy.  It could add tons of replay value for gamers to go on a world-wide hunt for furnishings and trophies.  As Blizzard’s spent so much time throwing in stuff like the achievement system, non-combat pets and holidays — and as they see how much people like and crave those features — is it so hard for them to take a step further and see that player housing is ideal for their game and that demographic?  Seeing as how there’s even signs that they fiddled with this in the past, it really shouldn’t be.

I know LOTRO’s housing is looked down upon by other titles, but when I was in the game this past year, it really meant a lot to me to have that little hobbit hole for my goodies and visual achievements when I wanted to visit.  More than anything else the game did, it made me feel at “home”.  It was the game showing me visually that I had a place in the world, that I wasn’t just a drifter, that my character had an origin, a home, and I could return there whenever I pleased.  It was sublime.

And it’s not even as though player housing is this far off, pie in the sky concept — it’s actually far more the norm than not in most of the major MMOs.  Ultima Online, EQ2, Wizard101, Guild Wars, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Runes of Magic, Dark Age of Camelot, Free Realms, Darkfall, Age of Conan all offer some sort of player or guild housing to enjoy.

So yeah, WoW will probably never have player housing, until they do, at which point they’ll pretend as if they invented housing first and will ignore the fact that they flip-flopped on their stance.  And as several other MMORPGs offer housing — I’m crossing my fingers for TOR, I really am — it’s not as if we don’t have alternatives, as long as we’re willing to go elsewhere for gaming.  I’ll just echo Wolfshead’s seniments by saying that Blizzard should be a lot more open as to why they’re not even considering housing at this point, or they should take a long, hard look at this stance.  There’s confidence in where you’re going with your game, and stupid overconfidence that you can do no wrong.  That line gets crossed all the time by all sorts of developers.  And it’s a shame.

Fallen Earth: S.A.N.T.A. vs. Grandfather Winter

Ho ho ho... now I have a machine gun

My vote’s for S.A.N.T.A. — anything with that name, you just know it’s going to transform into a rocket-launching robot of some kind.  Or so 1980’s toy merchandising taught me.

As I said previously, December this year is a gift-giving month in more ways than one; MMORPGs are dropping expansions and patches left and right, and Fallen Earth is no different.  We finally have been gifted with the “Social Patch”, which also comes with a side order of the First Night holiday, and both are really excellent additions to the game.

I’ve never laughed as much in a MMO before Fallen Earth, and First Night is a scream of silly jokes and delightful post-apocalyptic misunderstandings of long-lost Christmas traditions:

Honestly, I like this version better

A big First Night camp appeared right outside of Sunshine Corners, my current questing hub, and I picked up at least a dozen or so new quests from it, all while reading quirky NPC conversations and listening to the outrageously off holiday music.  Really, it’s like what the Christmas station might sound like if run through a haunted house/Old West filter.

Snow and bright colors?  Nah, that’s not Fallen Earth’s thing.  Instead, it’s all about military groups looking to leverage this holiday for their own goals, while using you to carry out their dirty work.  I can dig that.

On a side note, I’m a little more than disappointed with my cargo motorcycle for localized questing.  It’s got a wicked top speed and looks great, but manuverability is crap, especially when you’re trying to navigate side streets or are trying to stop on a dime.  I guess I’ll keep swapping out for my trusty Riding Horse when I’m staying local.

I picked up the new construction tradeskill, more in the hopes that it will help me out with permanent housing in the future than the current temporary camps.  Buffs are nice, but unless I’m grouping and want to share the love, I can’t see myself using these, especially since they cost mats and time to make.

Finally, I dropped down a brand new hole in the ground to experience the awesome “Bunker Bars” that came with the recent patch.  I’m pleased to say that the atmosphere of the casino bars is spot-on with Fallen Earth’s tone, and Icarus really did a great job incorporating both the blackjack and slot machine minigames.  You aren’t even taken to a separate interface, but simply sit down and manipulate the touch screen machines like you would anything else in the game.

I found that I preferred blackjack over slots — even though the payout isn’t as high, at least there’s some strategy and you win more often.  I think I need to do a bit of reading up on some blackjack strategy to help my odds.

These all are small additions to the game, and I could see how some might be disgruntled that it isn’t as “meaty” in some ways — like a new dungeon or more end game options.  But I see it like this: Icarus is really building a MMO world to both play and live in, and they’re not taking their eyes off the fact that things like camps, bars, casinos and holidays give more depth and breadth to our experience.

(It’s also great to hear that people are still digesting the game without rushing through it — there really is a ton here to experience!)

Oh, and you gotta love the little guy taking a swipe at Mr. Big Bad World of Warcraft:

Stupid E.L.F.S.!

P.S. – For the holidays, Icarus is giving away 10-day trials of Fallen Earth, as well as selling the game for ten bucks cheapter than retail.  So what’s your excuse?

Presenting the 2009 Flushies!

Hey, if one of the perks of writing a blog is that you can arbitrarily create an award show with precisely one judge who hands out shinies from above, then you’d be a fool not to take advantage of that, right?  Right?  So I now present to you the 2009 Flushies, Bio Break’s first annual award show to whatever I remembered of the year previous.

Also, there are toilets.  We have a theme to uphold.

Sleeper Hit of the Year – Fallen Earth

If you told me back at the beginning of 2009 that I’d be playing this unheard-of MMO — and more than just playing it, raving about it and loving it to pieces — I would have smacked you silly with a smelly fish.  Yes, I keep smelly fish around just for that purpose.  But in one of the most delightful surprises of my MMO career, Fallen Earth slammed through my monitor and knocked me breathless.  Whether it be the post-apocalyptic setting, the bizarre sense of humor, the awesome dev team or the sum of its parts, I’m still recovering.

Innovation of the Year – LOTRO’s Skirmish System

Although I was only with LOTRO for a few months this year, I enjoyed my stay (but curse that North Downs duldrum!) and am continually rooting for this solid title.  Their mini-expansion, Siege of Mirkwood, unleashed a brand-new feature that’s already having other games lusting after it — the Skirmish system.  A fast-paced customizable instance experience, skirmishes let you hop into a quick battle either solo, in a small group or in a raid, and give you a companion character to equip and train for these encounters.

Flash in the Pan Award – [tie] Aion and Champions Online

While their settings, history or gameplay couldn’t be more different, both Aion and Champions shared a couple of eerie similarities.  Both released in September after roaring amounts of anticipation, both were praised for their looks and accessible gameplay, and both were dropped from the public consciousness (as well as several subscriber’s budgets) by mid-October or so.  Once the honeymoon ended, judgment hit these two titles hard, and both were found lacking of substance and long-term interest.

Fall From Grace Award – Warhammer Online

As much as Fallen Earth brought a smile to my face, the saga of Warhammer Online saddened my heart.  By January 2009, WAR was still fun and we were holding out for future greatness — greatness that never seemed to come.  2009 hit WAR hard, with layoffs after layoffs at Mythic, subscriber defections, and a much-hyped Land of the Dead “expansion” that didn’t do much to reverse WAR’s fortune.  Although they hit a couple of right notes with the unlimited trial and the Mac version, WAR’s fallen on hard times indeed.

Biggest Blog Spat – Soloers vs. Groupers

When you write or read blogs long enough, you see recurring themes that never quite get satisfied and/or agreed upon pop up over and over again.  Out of these percolating topics, the biggest blog spat I saw in 2009 was the intense debate between MMO soloers (i.e. those who prefer to spend most, but not always all, of their time in game soloing and appreciate titles that accomidate that) and MMO groupers (i.e. those who feel that multiplayer games should always favor, encourage and design for grouping).  My personal bit on this topic was here, but passions flared bright and hot for a good two-week period before all calmed down and we started jawing about why you might play a character of the opposite gender instead.

Renovation of the Year – Dungeons & Dragons Eberron Unlimited

Seriously, who thought we would not only be talking about DDO at great lengths this year, but actually praising a game that most expected to be on the way out the door?  Not me, that’s for sure —  but DDO’s renovation as “Eberron Unlimited” has injected a huge amount of new interest in the title, and proved that a MMO can switch from subscriber to F2P and make it work.

Trend of the Year – Free-to-Play/Freemium

Microtransactions, MMO stores, Turbine Points, Cryptic Points, Free-to-Play, Freemium and more were all the rage around the virtual water coolers this year, as several titles started exploring F2P options, giving players an unprecedented amount of variety and depth for no money down.  And the good news for both sides is that this is trending well for companies with making money (if they hook you, your wallet will come) and for players on a tight budget.

Most Improved Award – World of Warcraft

It wasn’t the best of years for WoW — the China syndrome hurt Blizzard in the pocketbooks — but the MMO-that-could showed that it wasn’t afraid of reinventing itself with the upcoming Cataclysm, nor of continually expanding the game to make it more accessible and attractive to a broad field of players, with features such as their acclaimed Dungeon Finder tool.  My history with this title might be contentious, but only because there’s still some love there, and I have to give credit where credit’s due.

Biggest Surprise – Torchlight

As action RPG fans continue to wait for the decade-in-development Diablo III, Runic Games quietly came along and stole the show with a casual Diablo clone that took their classic FATE and did it ten times better.  Bloggers and gamers almost everywhere were loving on this title, which is a good sign as they prep to transform it into a MMO of some kind in the next couple years.

Biggest Disappointment – No Guild Wars 2 Until 2011

In 2009, the silence surrounding Guild Wars 2 finally broke, as trailers and first details about this much-anticipated title poured out of ArenaNet.  But almost as soon as fans were whipped into a frenzy, the bombshell dropped — we wouldn’t be seeing this title until 2011… at the earliest.  Suddenly, 2010 became a barren wasteland of a year for many souls.

Best Hype – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Hype’s almost a dirty word for many MMO gamers, but around here, it is what it is — an acceptible and traditional part of being a fan of this genre, and even enjoyable as you anticipate a (hopefully) good game coming down the pike.  Hands-down, Star Wars: The Old Republic dominated the hype-o-meter this year, continually resurfacing to announce new features and classes, and dethroning temporary hype kings such as WoW, Champions and Star Trek Online.  TOR’s hype is a creature that’s grown beyond BioWare’s machinations — the community for this game is absolutely huge, with multiple podcasts, blogs and sites salivating over this MMO.

Most Impressive Numbers – EVE Online Tops 300K Subs

Hitting 300,000 subscribers in a MMO is a respectable number, for sure.  Hitting it after six years of constant growth is, well, almost unheard of.  So kudos to CCP, showing us how to launch and grow a small MMO into a veritable giant empire in a shade over a half decade!

In Memorandum – Matrix Online, Dungeon Runners, Tabula Rasa, Shadowbane

It wasn’t the happiest of years for all gaming communities.  Small and “niche” as they were, these MMOs received their pink slips and went into that final death spiral — some leaving too soon, some lasting far beyond what was expected.  In any case, a toast to the fallen and to players who miss their virtual homes.

Fallen Earth Gets Campy

So what could make a post-apocalyptic romp through the irradiated wastelands of the future even better?  According to Icarus Studios, the answer is “gambling” and “shantytowns”!

And you know what?  I really can’t agree more.

I haven’t been putting as much time into Fallen Earth lately as I would’ve liked, but I’m raring to make a comeback, and today’s patch is as good a reason as any.  FE is finally throwing us their first big content patch, unofficially labeled the “social patch” due to the fact that its features are designed to get players together and mingling more often.

So based off this IGN preview, let’s take a look at the new hotness:

1. Camps

Camps aren’t player housing — at least, not permanent housing — but they’re a step in the right direction.  They’re basically temporary structures that you can construct in the middle of almost anywhere — towns, deserts, zombie-ridden mines — and boast buffs, vendors and crafting tools for players on the go.

I’m very much on board with this idea, even though it means having to level yet ANOTHER tradeskill (construction) from zero.  Way back in my Warhammer days, I once suggested that it would be really cool if WAR would use temporary tents as their player housing system, representing the drifting fighters a long way away from home.  It’s good to finally see something like this in a game, and I can’t wait to see what permanent housing might be coming along soon.

2. Gambling

This is pretty much the definition of fluff, but in Fallen Earth’s world, gambling makes sense as “adult” fluff — an enjoyable if slightly seedy activity that could bring folks together.   There’s two games here: slot machines and blackjack, the former offering worse odds with a better payoff, and the latter offering better odds with a less extreme payoff.

I can’t see myself doing a LOT of gambling, but it is attractive in giving us a quick diversion, especially if you’re in town to do a bit of crafting or hanging out waiting for friends.

3. Taverns

The gambling minigames will be the highlight of “bunker bars”, taverns for the wasteland warrior that will also offer buffs and refreshments.  Icarus wants players to congregate in these bars, and so they’re offering the aforementioned incentives to get crowds together.

One of the best reasons to spend time in a tavern is for a great buff that both increases gained XP and makes you more resistent to attacks — kind of like “rested XP plus”.  Fallen Earth hasn’t had rested XP up to this point, so spending some time at the end of a play session building this buff up for the next day might be a great strategy.

And coming at the same time as the social patch is this new holiday, entitled…

4. First Night

First Night is the second Fallen Earth holiday (there was a halloween-themed one in October), which is going to take the place of Christmas/New Year.  In Fallen Earth’s bizarre world of humor, First Night is when everyone’s finally figured out when the calendar year begins and ends, and they’re out to celebrate as they reclaim old traditions.  Oh, and there’s the Seasonal Arctic Network of Toy-based Altruism (S.A.N.T.A.) — free gifts for all!

So lots and lots of new content to check out, and I really need to get working on my Tech faction as well!