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.