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Fallen Earth and the free post-apocalypse

14 Oct

I don’t know what is up with MMORPGs going through huge changes when or events while I am in a isolationist mood. At least that seems to be the case with the ones I keep tabs on anyway. This time it was Fallen Earth going free-to-play last Wednesday. This was something announced a few months ago shortly after Icarus, the company that develops Fallen Earth, being bought by Gamers First. Apparently the transition went pretty smoothly and the channels today seemed to be more busy than usual. There was some lag on this morning but I am not sure if this was because of my connection being wonky as it has been problematic lately or the influx of new players. It became normal later though when I logged in for the above screenshot.

Unlike other titles I’ve seem going from a pure subscription model to a hybrid free-to-play/subscription model, Fallen Earth might be the first where I don’t have any mixed feelings about the change. Probably because of how they setup the different subscription tiers.

Before I get to the meat of it though let me do some bragging. Since I was subscribed before the game going Free To Play I got that bike in the screenshot, the Spiked Chopper (insert “Born to be Wild” music here) as a reward. Plus a few other benefits. Now the cool thing about the bike is it is insanely better in terms of fuel efficiency than the bike I crafted a while ago. It also has more storage which for a crafter like me is pretty important as I need every space I can get to store my materials. Specially when out in the wild scavenging said materials. So I think I might be using it for quite a while. 🙂

Alright. Enough bragging, on with the show…

Like I mentioned I still have a subscription running as of right now. Also, I should point out that despite being subscribed to the game for a while Fallen Earth is another one I’ve been neglecting too much. The end result is another game where I am pretty much a perma-noobie. This might be making me seeing the whole transition with rose-colored glasses.

Still, I think the free account option is pretty compared to other games. The EXP rate shouldn’t be too bad since so far I have never found myself in a shortage of quests. Quite the contrary actually. Even if there was there are a lot of repeatable quests one can do too. Also, since Fallen Earth is more of a crafting-based game to get your gear and FPS-like for combat you just don’t feel as pressured to level up to get better gear and better spells. It is one one of those where the journey is more fun than the destination, in my opinion. Also, since there are no classes, it is a skill-point based system, there isn’t much incentive to roll another character. So 1 character slot should be good enough for most people.

What might put a damper on it would be the money cap, which is pretty much standard to all the games with a similar subscription model and the limited time for crafting. The latter shouldn’t be a problem for consumables as  they are pretty fast to craft. But stuff like the higher level vehicles… Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen. I am not sure if it won’t allow you to not craft those outright or it will start then once your allowed crafting time ends it stop and give back your materials.

For those confused about it, here is how crafting works in Fallen Earth. Unlike other games where your are limited to crafting in certain places or  by a mini-game, on Fallen Earth it is time based. That means that, if you have the materials in your inventory, you can select the recipe anywhere in the world, click on the crafting button and then go do something else like quests, access the auction house, socialize with your friends, whatever. Once the crafting is done all you have to do is open the crafting window and click a button to pick up your item.

Each item takes a different amount of real world time to be crafted. Usually, consumables like ammo, food, etc are pretty fast. Gear takes longer and vehicles are the ones that take the longest time to craft. You can also stack items to be crafted. Once one item is crafted it will start on the next one as long as you have the materials on your inventory.

Crafting also continues even while you are offline. So you can set stuff to be crafted just before you login and pick up any item or leave it still crafting, if necessary, the next time you log. Oh, and crafting gives XP too.

Talking like this may make the system sounds boring but it actually works pretty well. For one, you still have to work to scavenge your own materials or buy it off the auction house. That part might even have become more complicated now due to a patch that changed the harvesting nodes. This patch came before the game went free to play and I haven’t yet tested it out. I mostly write about it eventually as I have my own interests on it.

Anyway, the other thing about the crafting system in Fallen Earth is that is actually a good compromise between clicking a button and have your item in 4 seconds or having to go through a excruciating mini-game when you just want to mass craft something, like ammo, for example. It also helps to make you feel like you are accomplishing something even when you are logged out as the coolest stuff, like the vehicles, takes hours to craft. So you while it crafts you will probably be out in the world doing quests then logging off to take care of real life, then log in the next evening to do more quests and so on until it is completed.

Back to the account analysis, it is because of that time limit that free accounts most likely won’t be able to craft the highest level gear/vehicles. Any form of subscription though shouldn’t have any problem with it.

The different plans subscriptions is another thing I was pleasantly surprised about. The basic plan, the Survivalist, is pretty much the same thing as the subscription before the changes. Except that it is five bucks cheaper, two less character slots and a monthly supporter gift which I have no clue what it means right now. The other two subscriptions plans are like more buffed up (and more expensive) versions of it.

What I like about it is that you don’t feel like you are paying a subscription to access stuff that is basic to the game. Ok,  the crafting and money limitations can actually be a hindrance but until someone gets to that point there is plenty of game playing to do. Still the stuff that is added with the subscription plans, like the monthly supporter gift, the monthly rewards points and the marketplace discount gives me more of a VIP feel to it.

One last nitpick I will be making about the transition is the marketplace. Granted, it already existed before it became free to play but back then I never really paid no attention to it. Out of curiosity I decided to check it out today. Some of the prices there seems to be a little on the expensive side. Granted, I never really spent money in any other game’s cash shop so I can’t say how it compares against others. The only one I did actually buy stuff from was some character slots in EQ2 and Fallen Earth’s character slots are definitely way more expensive. They aren’t really anything you have to buy but still….

All in all though I think they did a good job with this. I will even go so far as say the future of Fallen Earth looks promising. 🙂

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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Fallen Earth

 

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