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PAX ’09 – Fallen Earth

PAX 2009

MMOs are a haven for swordsmen, demons, and magic-wielders. But what about guns? For the most part, the successful online RPGs have been fantasy-oriented – granted, it’s a genre that lends itself to the sword-and-sorcery backdrop. However, Fallen Earth is trying to take things in a different direction.

Drawing inspiration from films like A Boy and His Dog and The Road Warrior, Fallen Earth takes place around the Grand Canyon, in a bleak future where clones roam the apocalyptic wasteland in search of treasure and fame. The game controls like a regular first-person shooter, and even behind the scenes, operates like one too – instead of roleplay-style dice rolls, combat plays out like it would in countless other action games. The array off weapons is quite diverse: pistols, rifles, and nasty melee weapons are all available. The player classes are virtually nonexistent; anything can be leveled up with experience points, meaning that molding a character to your exact gameplay style is a breeze.

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The character creation is fairly robust, too. Dozens of faces are available for both genders, and features like hair color, eye color, and beard styling can be tweaked. Picky players will be delighted to know that, once in-game, changing the character’s hair style is as simple as a few clicks – no expensive barbers in this wasteland. Out in the world, characters must accept missions from factions – each with their own intricate relationships with other groups – to progress. The current level cap is 45, and there are many options for PvP play. The fast-paced combat in Fallen Earth will probably make the PvP feel fairly unique compared to most MMOs.

There is a deep crafting system in Fallen Earth, as most of the available gear in the game is attainable through construction. Fusing different materials together to make weapons ties in neatly with the post-apocalyptic feel of Fallen Earth, making each day a scavenger hunt for useful bits and bobs to weld to whatever ungodly zipgun you can think of. Even difficult bosses only drop parts, as opposed to whole items. It’s a slower process than most MMOs, but it fits perfectly with the presentation of the game. It also promises to set players apart, as different parts combine to create weapons with wildly different statistics.

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The one downside to Fallen Earth is the buggy graphics engine I encountered. While everything was artistically pretty, there were performance issues in the tutorial zone I played – odd, considering I was testing the game on a show-floor Alienware. I also came across bugs like clipping through walls and doors, menu oddities, and freaky textures. It’s a shame, and it hopefully only had to do with issues on the machine I was trying the game on, because the art deserves a good engine to do it justice. From what I saw, the graphics needed serious tweaking before release.

Players who pre-ordered Fallen Earth can begin playing on September 9th. The subscription fee will stick to the standard 15 dollars a month, but that’s the only thing about the game that appears standard. Hopefully the graphics can be fixed up so they can better support Fallen Earth‘s exciting concept.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in October 2006.

Gentle persuasion

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