But who knows. Maybe the folks at Icarus got it right. We'll never know until the earth is destroyed. And games won't be such a matter of import when almost everyone is gone. Anyway, what I am getting at is the setting. The setting looks fantastic; the art department has certainly captured a desolate wasteland. The writing is great, and the towns and encounters are well-designed. Fallen Earth has the ambiance nailed. But the wasteland just doesn't have that sense of danger about it. Not for me, at least. After the cut, I'll discuss what I thought FE was going to be like, what it is, and what I think it should be.
My inability to find much danger in Sector 1 made me wonder what I would find up in Sector 2. There were mutations and factional warfare. I thought: That's the place for me. I'll join a faction and go to war with the bad guys. I envisioned a line of dug-in enforcers preparing to defend a prepared position against a horde of charging CHOTA warriors. What I found were players riding around in New Gallows, looking for people to fight. In many case I wound up fighting with allies as well as enemies until I carried a clan tag. Then it was all about clan, not faction. It kind of killed the immersion of the so-called faction war. Then I would go into a town and see a Tech and Vista chatting happily about great scav spots. They should have been killing each other.
Flagging for open-world PvP helped me find that sense of danger again. Well, for a little while. After the novelty of watching my back wore off, open PvP kind of lost its luster, and the apocalypse seemed nice and safe again -- especially in the PvP zones. When you are flagged for PvP, the PvP zones are the only place you can really relax. Considering that the penalty for dying in FE is so minimal, the danger-factor was again nullified. If FE were a full player-looting system, then there would be a hint of danger. I would never suggest such a thing in Fallen Earth, though. An army of rabid carebears would be up in arms from my mere uttering of such a thought. Besides, the game is far too gear-driven to incorporate player looting.
Clan warfare has always seemed more important than factional warfare in Fallen Earth. A clan is close-knit group of folks who help each other regularly and know each other well. A group that communicates through voice comms, such as Ventrilo or Teamspeak, seems to forge stronger bonds. A faction is a seemingly random group of players whom you may not even like. That makes factional warfare even less appealing. Then there's the prominence of omni-clans, which were formed out of tactical necessity. The factions were the de facto "weapon classes," so in order to have a more effective combined arms force, many of the PvP clans ignored factions altogether. All of my visions of what the factional war would be like were fully shattered.
After giving it some thought, I think the factional choice should have been more married to PvP. As it stands, factions are a very PvE-oriented convention (and clans are the PvP-oriented player groups). I'm probably going to be mauled by vicious carebears for saying this, but... I think that once you choose a faction in Fallen Earth, you should be flagged for PvP with all three of your hostile factions. If you don't want to PvP, why would you join a faction that is the sworn enemy of other players? And if someone didn't want to get caught up into the factional struggle (which involves other players), he could simply remain neutral and unflagged. He could play the lone-wolf scavenger turned war-profiteer.
faction control points. By limiting the factional war to specific places, the devs ensured that the PvP action is spread too thin. Much of my actual PvP time was spent waiting for something to happen. The fact that the factional war in FE is an opt-in system is a big part of the reason it isn't working. A lot of players are calling for factions to mean something or to be worth fighting for. Making open hostilities between enemy factions the rule and not the exception would create a lot of action for everyone.
Until next week, I'll see you either here or out in the wastelands. If I see you out in the wastes and you happen to be in an enemy faction, I may just give you a French taunting, because I really can't attack you without your consent.
Ed Marshall has been playing Fallen Earth since beta and leads the KAOS clan. Wasteland Diaries is his weekly column that covers all aspects of Fallen Earth: PvE, RP and PvP. To contact Ed, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on the official forums as Casey Royer, or hunt him down in the wastelands as Nufan, Original, Death Incarnate, and Knuckles Mcsquee.