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Fallen Earth review

AT A GLANCE
  • Different from typical orcs and elves MMOs
  • Refreshing action oriented combat approach
  • Huge crafting system
  • Unoriginal, boring setting
  • Weak melee fighting
  • No saved favorites for crafting

Fallen Earth is essentially Fallout: the MMORPG. But then in some key respects, it’s definitely not. Icarus Studios’ ambitious online roleplayer is a game suffering from an identity crisis.

In terms of setting, the Fallout series is an invaluable touchstone. Fallen Earth shares more than the first four letters of its name with the grand old gentleman of post-apocalyptic RPGs. Action takes place around a topographically correct Grand Canyon in a ruined vision of AD2156, populated by six factions, ranging from the religious Lightbringers to the anarchist (and excitingly coiffured) Children of the Apocalypse. With its muted world – a daring change from the wooded glades and primary colors of its MMO peers – it’s an intriguing prospect for those left cold by elves.

It’s a shame the wasteland doesn’t quite deliver its full potential. Chucked out into the wilds as a clone after a rushed introductory sequence, new players are provided with little more than a vague description of their chosen starting town. Wander into the wilds and you’ll find uninspiring countryside. Stymied visually by its decimated locale, Fallen Earth doesn’t inject enough drama into its landscape. One stretch of green-brown grass is identical to the next, and with few graphical flourishes beyond the ubiquitous ruined overpasses, treks to new locations soon become trudges, even with a mount.

The indistinct visuals could be forgiven if the action – dodging heinous mutants – was suitably tense. Unfortunately, Armageddon seems to have left survivors with severe myopia – only a few feet of distance is needed to avoid attack.

Combat is real-time and, bucking the MMO trend, relies largely on mouse ability, rather than stat calculations. It’s a refreshing decision, but the clunky game engine renders it frustrating, particularly during server lag. Ranged combat is acceptable, if stilted, but melee battles are weak. The vision of a dog-eat-dog future is ruined somewhat by two men taking turns to bonk each other on the head with pipes. Group combat is also hamstrung by this issue, despite a helpful and friendly community.

Fallen Earth’s key selling point is its crafting system – 95% of the game’s items are player made. Happily, the mechanics for creating these inventory pieces are strong. Regular skills are leveled with a typical experience system, but so-called trade skills are developed by repeated use. Our first character, Hugh Fearnley-Killingstall, became a dab hand in the kitchen, putting together a mean salad for sale to hungry NPCs. With mining, scavenging and hunting all viable means of getting by, it’s an intriguing prospect, but with no way to save favorite crafting combinations, creating anything – from cookie to shotgun – requires far too much clicking. Plus on higher resolutions, large portions of your time will be spent squinting at the unexplained lumps in your inventory.

Yet, despite its glaring errors, Fallen Earth remains oddly compelling. It hasn’t achieved its hugely ambitious aims, lacking the polish of the Fallout games, but there’s a kernel of underlying excitement beneath the engine and interface problems. Ever-evolving MMORPGs are tough to judge in their opening weeks. If Fallen Earth manages to sort its issues quickly, the interesting setting and sense of reward afforded by making your own way in its wasteland could draw in a dedicated player base. Until then, it’s an opportunity missed.

Oct 9, 2009

More Info

Release date: Sep 23 2009 - PC (US)
Sep 23 2009 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Fallen Earth
Developed by: Icarus Studios
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
PEGI Rating:
18+

8 comments

  • mars505 - February 2, 2010 8:50 p.m.

    Also again, who ever is taking the screen shots for mmos, please upgrade your pc.Your screen shots look awful.
  • mars505 - February 2, 2010 8:44 p.m.

    I have to agree with the guy above, the reviewer missed the entire concept of the game. For one, anything and everything your character equip or ride, is craft-able.From ammo, armor, to mounts and vehicles, you craft everything. If you had studied the content, the combat is for survival purposes, it is not the focus of the game. This is one of the first games that warrant exploring, surviving and crafting as the main focus. One of my favorite parts of the game "scavenging" was amazing, simply wondering the desert of the apocalypse and finding usable items, was simply one of the most forward thinking designs in a mmo. Progressing without even firing a weapon, forward thinking. FE devs. just released a graphics update , and are continuing to work on the game non stop. To give a game like this a mediocre sends a message to other forward thinking indie developers "why bother." As I said countless times , Pcgamer needs to stop reviewing mmos, unless they get someone who has never played WoW to review them. WoW is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to MMO architecture and components, yet time and time again you reward this simply because it is a one hat developer Blizzard, and their one hat trick art style. Move on already and widen you mmo experience pcgamer staff, seriously, break out of the lame and dive into something different. I applaud Kristen for playing Age of Conan, that is a small step, but more steps need to be taken to get a better understanding of what an "mmo" is. Be well all :)
  • blix2006 - October 18, 2009 5:26 p.m.

    wow..i mean..wow that was an awful review..this game isnt perfect but it definitely isnt as bad as this guy puts off.uninspired???please how can you rate the same elves/dwarves fantasy games 8s and 9s all the time and give a game that bucks the trend a 6..the game does have bugs is every single mmo has.but they are bieng worked on everyday.this guy obviously never left a starter town..the land scape isnt always the same.the story in the game is better then any of the AAA trash mmos that have come out this year.forget the reviews here.go to the website for fallen earth of mmorpg.you will still find people like this guy there.but you will also see people really enjoying the game..i cant wait for the promising future that is instore for this title.keep in mind people...this website gave operation flashpoint 2 a score of 9 lol.
  • blix2006 - October 18, 2009 5:25 p.m.

    wow..i mean..wow that was an awful review..this game isnt perfect but it definitely isnt as bad as this guy puts off.uninspired???please how can you rate the same elves/dwarves fantasy games 8s and 9s all the time and give a game that bucks the trend a 6..the game does have bugs is every single mmo has.but they are bieng worked on everyday.this guy obviously never left a starter town..the land scape isnt always the same.the story in the game is better then any of the AAA trash mmos that have come out this year.forget the reviews here.go to the website for fallen earth of mmorpg.you will still find people like this guy there.but you will also see people really enjoying the game..i cant wait for the promising future that is instore for this title.keep in mind people...this website gave operation flashpoint 2 a score of 9 lol.
  • rancid92 - October 11, 2009 8:57 p.m.

    Children of the Apocalypse. Children of Atom. Hmmm...
  • michaelmcc827 - October 10, 2009 9:04 p.m.

    aw....this looked pretty good....dang
  • CreeplyTuna - October 10, 2009 12:14 p.m.

    any game with a setting anywhere near fallout's is now being called uninspired
  • evilgoat420 - October 10, 2009 9 a.m.

    ....really wish i would of read this sooner cause now i am stuck with a game that just can not draw me in.

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