Choosing the right mount is important, as each character may only have 5 vehicles, horses or combination thereof at any given time. Once the cap is hit, one must destroy (that's right destroy, not salvage) a vehicle or horse. Unfortunately, you can't send your Old Nag off to the glue factory and reap a stack of Weak Adhesive. It just ceases to exist.
Another consideration is that mounts have requirements, such as Coordination or Dexterity for vehicles and Nature Skill for horses. Before you buy or craft a vehicle, make sure you are able to use it. When choosing a mount, the first question you need to ask yourself is: equestrian or mechanical?
Why use a horse? Horses dominate in certain categories, mainly in fuel efficiency and mobility. Horse Feed is cheap and/or easy to make. Also, a horse, much like a player, recovers stamina over time (its stamina being its measure of fuel supply). So while you are scavenging that Refuse Node or chatting away with your clan-mates, your horse is recharging. You can also use Stamina regeneration buffs like Fortify on your horse to increase its recharge rate. I've heard of people with horses like the Long Distance Runner never feeding them. Horses are photosynthetic after the apocalypse. Everyone knows that!
Horses are also the kings of mobility. They can climb up the steepest hills of all the mounts. This will become woefully obvious if you ever try to cut across the The Grand Canyon Province's jagged terrain -- the Plateau region especially. I destroyed my motorcycle (and myself) on quite a few occasions trying to find shortcuts.
Another thing a horse can do that vehicles can't is jump. Jumping can mean the difference between hopping over a low wall or driving a kilometer out of your way (Barret Manor, anyone?). There are actually places you can only reach on a jumping horse. Hint: The garage roof in a PvP zone that rhymes with Pew Pallows.
A horse is also, currently, the only mount that you can fire a rifle from. But, this is only possible with horses of the combat variety -- you can't shoot from a cargo horse. While being able to fire a rifle from horseback may be huge for a rifleman, it doesn't do much for other builds. However, pistoleers will be happy to know that they can fire dual pistols on horseback. Yeehaw!
What about melee? Well, they have to dismount to fight. I'd like to see melee attacks be made possible while mounted, but I don't think it will happen anytime soon. Speed, however is not the horse's strong suit. All horses run at 30 km/hour, even the high-end ones. It seems horses have quite a bit going for them, but despite this, later in the game they are all but nonexistent. Tip: To rename a mount, type /renamemount <new name> in the chat window with the mount selected. I suggest Hoof Hearted for a horse's name.
Vehicles have one major advantage over horses: they move faster. This is an important attribute in a mount when you consider the amount of traveling you will do in Fallen Earth
. A motorcycle is 50% faster than a horse. That, in and of itself, is reason enough for many players to opt for less squishy modes of transportation. One major drawback with vehicles is fuel costs. While some vehicles are rather fuel efficient, some guzzle gas in the gallons per mile range. There are also alternative fuels, such as biodiesel and batteries. These are used to fuel their corresponding alternate fuel vehicles which are more efficient, and their fuel is both easier and cheaper to obtain.
Each vehicle excels in a different category. Well, excel might be an overstatement, because some vehicles (ahem, the ATV) really don't take the cake at any level. The ATV is, however, a well-rounded vehicle to those on a budget. The ATV has decent storage capacity, fuel efficiency, and is slightly faster than a horse at 32 km per hour. Also, mobility is not too bad with the ATV and one can fire a pistol (just one) while driving the combat versions of the ATV. All-in-all, not too shabby. The basic ATV can be put together at a moment's notice with materials you probably have lying around. In fact, you can probably find the materials you need to do it under the cushions of your couch. Of course, the more advanced versions are increasingly expensive, but still fairly inexpensive materials-wise.
The motorcycle seems to be the most popular mount for established players. While the cycle isn't the fastest vehicle, it's a close second at 40 km per hour. Though, its most endearing property is its fuel efficiency. You can run a cycle from Sector 1 to Sector 3 on one tank. The motorcycle's storage capacity and mobility leave much to be desired, and they are comparatively fragile. One can also fire a pistol while driving from the combat versions, much like the ATV. I typically use a motorcycle to travel from sector to sector, or to go long distances, not for general use. A motorcycle is also not very difficult or costly to construct and is definitely worth the price paid. Unless of course you buy it from the auction house at a criminally insane price.
The next vehicle in the hierarchy is the dune buggy. At 35 km per hour, it is slightly faster than the ATV. But, where the dune buggy shines is in cargo capacity. Even the baseline dune buggy has 44 inventory slots, and isn't too costly to produce or even buy outright. The dune buggy is an excellent tool for the scavenger or crafter as it's like having a mobile vault at your disposal. The dune buggy is my favorite vehicle for general use, although fuel efficiency is too poor to use it for long distances. You cannot fire any weapons from a dune buggy, but the Combat Buggy is currently the only vehicle available with the capacity to mount weapons. The Combat Buggy mounts a pair of ZI-12 light machine guns. Before I go into detail about the combat buggy, let me make a disclaimer: Although it leaves much to be desired, I love the my combat buggy.
Even with my rifle skill buffed up to over 200, each shot from the machine guns only does between 10 and 20 points of damage to most targets. And the ammunition can only be made in batches of 40 at a time. The machine guns are on par with the pair of zip guns you start with in terms of devastation. But, the machine guns are a real crowd-pleaser. You really get noticed by new players when, as you are driving by, you kill that Prairie Chicken that was just about to eat their face. But, if making noobs go "Wow!" is not your thing, then maybe it's 900 hit points and 32 cargo slots will sell you on it. Even though it's weapon systems are nearly ineffectual, it is hands down my favorite vehicle, and I can't wait to see what other vehicle mounted weaponry lies in store for us. Like this Interceptor with guns.
And last but not least: The Interceptor Speedster. At 48 km per hour it's the fastest vehicle in the game. All of its other stats are impressive, too, and it boasts the most hit points, as well (1000). Its only real drawbacks are the cost of construction, its horrid mobility, and the fact that it uses Improved Gasoline. The Interceptor also achieves (some might say surpasses) the wow factor of the Combat Buggy without mounted weaponry. It's the perfect vehicle for a clone that's having a mid-life crisis.
The development team has hinted at new mounts in the upcoming 1.4 patch. We are all hoping for a Prairie Chicken rodeo, I'm sure. And perhaps someday we will get to craft and drive the Tornado (even though it kind of looks like something Barbie would drive).
Until then, I'll see you around the wasteland, firing my machine guns at random critters as I drive by you in my Combat Buggy.