Fallen Earth • Page 2

Mad Min-Max.

Let's rewind a bit. By the time I hit that extended tutorial option I'd already played through a substantial starting section of the game which teaches you about the world around you (looting corpses and so forth) as well as the rudiments of combat. This action-packed intro scenario also sets up the story of the shattered planet you're going to be riding forth into (assuming you get the horse), and your place in it as a clone. The central fiction is based around a clone vat system to which you are linked. Thanks to this cloning system you'll be able rise again if you die, unlike all the other normal people who inhabit Fallen Earth. As such you're both valuable, and anomalous, which I think is - like EVE's pod-pilots - a useful conceit to explain the immortality of players in an MMO.

That's not to say the world is without its dangers. It is, of course, teeming with encounters that will send you to the respawn tubes. Fallen Earth does allow you to fight a number of enemies in one go without too much trouble, as long as they're not much more than a level higher than yourself, and all the early encounters are easy, but it doesn't stay that way. Aberrant humans, rabid animals and mutants await as you delve further into the game.

Combat, which is first explained to you in that instanced tutorial adventure, is a not-that-great mix of real-time and stat-based. While it feels a lot like the standard timed combat that you see in most older MMOs, ranged combat does require you to shoot at your target directly, and to hit them. It's quite possible to miss if an enemy is moving, and the same goes for melee, in which you swing in real time, with damage being calculated by your skills and the weapon you choose to use.

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Zanesville ahead - one of the starting towns, complete with funny antenna thing.

This alone makes Fallen Earth a little more engaging to play than a batch of other MMOs I could mention, and the ability to choose between gunplay and close-quarters combat is brave, if not actually that dynamic or exciting. It's something of shame that enemies don't reward you with the same kind of diversity of behaviour. It tends to be little more than a single kind of attack, which you either have the hit points to absorb or not. That said, cover is "real" and you can run and hide from a sniper if you need to.

This clumsy hybrid of a combat model might not be perfect, but it does offer a portrait of the game as a whole. What I mean by that is that Fallen Earth isn't boasting up-to-date production values, or genuinely innovating within the MMO space, but it is trying to be its own game. This is not a clone, nor an attempt to be brutally commercial.

While it has some very real limitations - PvP is currently rather pointless, it's not particularly rewarding for team-based play, and the animation and other glossy elements leave much to be desired - it's a testament to the dedication of this small, independent team that they've managed to create something that is both firmly embedded within the MMO tradition, while at the same time feeling new. And it also feels honest: they've got a good idea about where they're going, and there's nothing cynical about what they've done so far.

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