Fallen Earth: Some beta impressions

I’ve had the Fallen Earth beta on my hard drive for a good week now, and have put in somewhere around 5-6 hours with it.

From a technical perspective (graphics, sound, animations, FPS), if you have the top-end hardware to run it, FE can look and sound above average, but won’t blow you away in the same way Fallout 3 does. If you don’t have the hardware, FE on the lower settings can look VERY dated, which I think is what many people complain about when talking about the game. If you are a graphics whore it’s hard to recommend it, but I would not say that the graphics are distractingly bad unless turned down. The animations at times are a bit rough (especially jumping), but things like having all your weapons displayed on your character and being able to click them to draw them are nice touches and help to pull you into the game.

Gameplay is a mixed bag IMO. The combat is a little off, because while you do need to aim ranged weapons to hit, even when your curser is over an enemy you can still miss due to combat dice rolls. This is actually somewhat confusing at first, since you never quite know if you missed because your targeting curser was off, or if you missed because of bad luck. Considering my first ranged weapon after the tutorial was a single-shot crossbow, and I’m use to DarkFall’s “if you aim and swing, you always hit” combat, I felt a bit of a disconnect. Melee follows the same rules, but it’s obviously much easier to know if you are aiming correctly.

From my time with it, FE followed the standard PvE quest-hub model, setting you off in all directions to complete very familiar tasks. This mixed with the odd combat did not leave me with a huge desire to log on and plow ahead, and I did not notice a lot of groups being formed or people working together. Even with my limited time, I did some crafting and liked the passive, real-time system. I think the major appeal here is that you can craft a huge amount of useful items, and the resources for all this crafting are found all over the map and on enemies, meaning you are always building up your supplies to create new things. If one feature is going to carry FE, it’s the crafting and it’s related economy, but with my limited time I was unsure how this all plays out in the grand scheme of things. Will players eventually need to work together to craft bigger and better things? Is there something later on in the game that rewards such collaboration? Aside from bigger guns and better armor, what other impact does the crafting have?

One final point, which is that Fallen Earth’s opening 30 minute tutorial is SO good, so well paced and interesting, that once it ends and you get into the game it’s a natural letdown. Gone are your machine guns, the ATV you escaped on, the body armor, the high-level skills, ect. Instead you are left standing in a standard issue jump suit, a few weak weapons (a xbow, a board, a shank), staring at your first hub of generic MMO quests. During the tutorial I was thinking “This is exactly like Fallout 3 in MMO form”, after I was thinking “This is Everquest after a nuke hit it”. That’s a bad line of thinking to go through within the first 30 minutes.

10 Responses to Fallen Earth: Some beta impressions

  1. Andrew says:

    Your comments mostly reflect my own feelings about the game. (Especially the terrible jump animation!)

    I don’t, however, share the sense of “letdown” that you had after coming off the tutorial. while I agree that it was amazingly well done, it left me wanting to play more and work to regain that power….. the tutorial, in effect, provided me with motivation to play more.

  2. coppertopper says:

    After a few minutes in the starting area (after the tutorial) I realized that when your targeting retical is green you are actually aimed at your target. Reddish, and you are aimed on target, but the distance will reduce accuracy/damage. After figuring that part out, the skill based accuracy fell right into place. Something else to look forward to improving on my character, which is what a good skill based game is all about IMO. I imagine in Darkfall there is a parry/dodge/block mechanic which are dice roll based as well per your skill level or stat level? Or does everyone who holds a shield automatically block all incoming melee damage…

    • syncaine says:

      No, DarkFall is 100% with everything. If you fire an arrow, it flies in an arc through the air and hits whatever is in its path (be it a wall, a mob, a friend or enemy). If you parry with a shield or weapon, you parry 100% of the time, reducing incoming damage from the front/side by 95% (or whatever the exact number is). Collision detection is also 100%, so if I’m blocking a ramp, at no point will another player/mob EVER pass through me (unlike in WAR, which has collision detection but players will eventually pass through each other). It’s that absolution that makes it more of a player-skill based system than a gear/character skill system.

  3. xXJayeDuBXx says:

    I thought the tutorial was great, and I had that letdown feeling as well.

  4. sid67 says:

    Boy that combat system sounds aggravating. Maybe they should have done some kind of huge cursor to little cursor (ala Rainbow Six style) to indicate your “accuracy” while shooting a ranged weapon.

    • syncaine says:

      Technically the targeting reticule DOES have some color changing and minor animation to it, but it’s not very noticeable (at least not for me at 1900×1200, maybe on lower resolutions it is?), and I mean, if I’m pointing my Xbox point blank at something, it’s a little odd when you here the bolt release and you somehow miss. Again though, maybe DarkFall has spoiled me in that regard, as even in WAR I’m always a little surprised when I execute my slow ability on a player and they continue at full speed because the game rolled a ‘miss’.

  5. Malakili says:

    The combat is, in the end, the single thing keeping me from playing this game. I know they want to make an RPG/FPS hybrid, but the FPSer in me expects the game to behave a certain way, and when it doesn’t, it totally ruins it for me. Maybe it just isn’t up my alley. I do like the game world though, and the crafting. Its the kind of game I want to like…I just don’t.

  6. J. says:

    I was also in the beta demo, I was very frustrated by repeated inabilities to get into the damn tutorial from the start-up screen (and yes, I have a very good XPS-710 Dell computer). The graphics looked like 1990s, very surprised that any MMO would not focus more on looks. Had repeated problems picking up quest threads in the tutorial, finally got too frustrated and unloaded it. Like Malakili, I really wanted ot like this game but it just didn’t come through to my expectations.

    Onward to SW:TOR!

  7. Laslo says:

    I had the opportunity to play this game in regular beta.

    There were a couple of things that I enjoyed, harvesting and crafting were fun, and combat was ok once you got used to it.

    What I didn’t get was a need to play with the other survivalists out there in the wastes with me. You don’t find a reason until around lvl 8 or so if you stumble upon the group quests, but since I hadn’t grouped before I didn’t have much desire to group up now.

    I personally don’t need a game to be visually stunning, to me that detracts from the game as you know it can’t ever look totally real. Usually you end up with some fake plasticy looking characters that just don’t feel right. What would have been nice is if the buildings and objects had more rounded edges or the appearance of them to make it seem like it was a world that had taken a beating. Even though the buildings sometimes had holes in them or cracks the edges are still perfectly straight.

    This is a game that I think I would have to wait for and hope that it gets a little better. Thanks for your insights into the game.

  8. Derrick says:

    I had a similar experience. I got right into the tutorial (after restarting and actually reading the “how to do this” text) but once you get out of the tutorial, you’re really kind of let down. I understand it’s supposed to “show you what things will be like” and “give you a taste of things to come” but… it’s… somewhat disappointing.

    I’m ok with the combat system, though I found the reticule to be ridiculously small on my 1920×1080 display, as well as all the other UI elements.

    From an FPS perspective, my hardware could easily handle maxed settings at 60+fps at that res, but I had a lot of wierd texture issues (flickering) that were resolved by reducing texture resolution… but required lowering it to medium (this is absolutely not my hardwares fault – 1g video ram, new drivers, etc). Medium textures start to move you into the realm of “good lord, this is ugly”, particularly when you’ve seen the highres textures.

    Still, I’m ok with mediocre graphics if gameplay is good.

    What ruined the game for me? Traditional kill-ten-rats quest hub design. Seriously, I’m done with that. No more. As soon as I got to that point, I was done with Fallen Earth.

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