Syp, of Bio Break, wrote a great post about why you shouldn’t play Fallen Earth a couple of days ago. Syp is a big FE-fan, but he still manages to see the faults, for which I applaud him. And while I love Fallen Earth as well, more and more cracks are starting to show in the otherwise so lovely (in a barren, post-apocalyptic sense) facade.
I’m still sticking with what I said about immersion – Fallen Earth does such a great job when it comes to that. I am also having a lot of fun questing, fighting, harvesting and crafting. After all, who doesn’t love wearing a top hat while stabbing things to death with a pointy stick? I did have a head towel that had better stats on it, but seriously, there was no way I could stay away from the top hat. I look awesome, especially wearing my sunglasses. Killing coyotes or bandits never looked this good before.
But I can’t help thinking that I’m forgiving Fallen Earth for sins that I’ve blamed other MMOs of doing. While I am having fun playing it, I wonder if certain design choices that Icarus Studios have made that are just as damning here as they are in other games. So, I thought I’d take a look at things that are already in place, but which I personally hope will get fixed/changed before they make me burn out prematurely.
First of all, the crafting versus the economy. The crafting in Fallen Earth is deep, it’s immersive and it’s most of all fun. You can craft more or less everything, there’s a bigger chance that you will be wearing your own crafted equipment over anything you pick up from doing quests or loot from mobs. Early in the game, everyone can craft more or less anything – it’s just about salvaging (or buying) the materials and picking up the skill books and you are away.
That means that the economy is more or less shot right now. It might be better when more and more people level up, since you need to cap both intelligence and perception to be able to craft the most advanced stuff, but it’s not certain it will help. I’ve been crafting quite a lot and I haven’t been to the auction house once. It doesn’t feel like there’s much of a point, except for being lazy. Also, capping out the two stats needed for crafting costs a lot of ability points, which means you can’t put them into ranged combat, which might mean you end up at a disadvantage in PvP. Which leads on to the next point…
The end-game in Fallen Earth seems to be all about PvP. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I like PvP, when it is well-designed. There are a few problems with Fallen Earth PvP, though, which are easily identifiable even at my low level. For example, there’s the capstone abilities, which you can only get by capping a skill and a faction. This can lead to the common balancing issues which has plagued other MMOs for years. There’s of course melee vs ranged, which also runs the risk of going through the good old nerf/buff-dance. And there’s the whole problem of not offering anything else.
Is it viable to stay a crafter? Can I make a career in the game as one and still have fun? Will I always feel like I’m missing out because I didn’t put my APs into the “right” skills? Do I have to break my immersion and go “grind the wheel” (as grinding through all the factions for maximum AP-gain is called) to be competitive? Do I just have to accept the fact that I will get smacked around a lot, without the chance of dealing out any pain in return? What happened to the “no classes”-design that is supposed to be such a large part of Fallen Earth?
Some have called Fallen Earth a sandbox game. But is it sandbox enough to allow for a wide range of playing styles or is it actually just another PvP-game, just like Aion or Warhammer Online? Which brings me to my final point, which is actually more of a question…
Is Fallen Earth a sandbox game at all? Since day one, I’ve heard people calling it a sandbox. The more I play, the more I wonder if that’s actually the case. While I’m still in Sector 1, and is still only low-level, as it stands right now, it’s looking more and more to be designed as a typical quest grind, with a PvP end-game waiting. More sectors will be added to the Grand Canyon, but will they be any different and not just offer new quests and raised level caps?
I am afraid that I might just be dazzled by the fresh new setting, the immersion and the crafting system. The problem is, I am not sure that I want to go through another long quest grind just to find myself at the top of the world, a world consisting of either waiting for more levels to grind or PvP I might not even be able to compete in. With no danger to the gear you go out to fight in, will crafting be a viable way to make a career, as it should be in a sandbox game?
I sound like a broken record at times, but I can’t help looking at Ryzom, where crafting is a must for the game (and the quid pro quo economy) to function – stuff breaks and needs to be replaced, which means that the crafters are in high demand. Also, the way the recipes work in that game, two pieces of armor that has the same quality might have completely different stats, depending on what materials the crafter used. It creates a game where crafting is important while being deep, while in Fallen Earth it feels like something everyone is doing anyway.
Also, the whole “Fallen Earth doesn’t have classes”-mantra doesn’t really hold up in this light. While you might be able to build a character to your liking, with the game focusing so much on PvP and since you always run the risk of missing out on the powerful capstone abilities, the question is if it is viable to go your own path or if you’ll just end up gimping yourself completely. Respeccs, when they are introduced, will be limited – we know as much. So you might end up gimped, with no choice but to reroll. Awesome!
Of course, these points might actually be completely unfounded. They might also be 100% true and be addressed by Icarus in the future . Patches are being released at an impressive speed and I applaud the work they are doing on the game. But from where I stand right now, I might not keep my sub up until I know certain issues have been looked at or explained by the devs.
Either way, I doubt I will be playing much Fallen Earth over the next couple of weeks. I don’t have a lot of time to play as it stands and there’s no way I will be out of Sector 1 before the first couple of thousand trial keys start going out. I have no clue why the devs are pulling this now – the game seems to be selling well, actually more than the servers can handle. Embry Crossroads are a pain to navigate through as it is, so I have to ask how well-planned this publicity stunt is.
I love Fallen Earth, absolutely. I would love to keep my sub running in order to support another indie developer. But if the trial key experiment turns out as catastrophic as I fear it will, and if the end-game isn’t really thought through, I am not sure that I will.
Oh, and feel free to prove me wrong in the comments.