Wasteland Diaries: A year? Already?

Has it been a year already? I guess it has been. Fallen Earth launched on September 22nd, the same day as Aion. But by launch day I was already working my way to Sector 3. I pre-ordered and got to start playing on the 9th. My performance at work suffered that first week as I tried to keep up with the power-levelers. Ultimately, I couldn't. But on launch day I was nearly level 30 and still, to this day, I couldn't tell you why I was rushing. I made it to the level cap of 45 a couple of weeks after the official launch. My next three trips through the wastes would be more slow-paced and lackadaisical.

While Fallen Earth is still the same game, it has changed drastically since launch day. Drastic change can be good or bad, but in FE's case, it's all good. The game has gotten nothing but better. Sure, the developers have added some mediocre content, but overall the game has been improving by leaps and bounds. And there seems to be no end in sight for these improvements. Let's take a look back at Fallen Earth's transformation from buggy, beta-like MMO to a first-rate gaming experience. After the cut, I'll break it down by patches.
The main purpose of each major patch was to fix bugs, and each patch had pages of bug fixes. But each major patch also added new content to the game, and some added new concepts and systems like slot machines or a new tradeskill. In the interests of brevity, I'll just touch on the important changes.

Patch 1.1 and 1.2

These two patches were mainly bug fixes. The servers, even during the open beta, weren't nearly as populated as they were on launch day. There were a lot of bugs, and the first two patches addressed the major ones (like repeatable AP missions, oops). There were also a few graphical changes. My favorite change was the grass-trim in Sector 2. The tall grass that harbored such nasty critters as creepers, giant ants and giant roaches put me in the cloner more than a few times. Once the foliage got scaled back a little bit, I seemed to become ant food less often.

The tutorial was also reworked to be a little more noob-friendly. Some noobs are smarter than others, it seems.

Patch 1.3

Patch 1.3 introduced a redesign of all of the starter towns and added some content to Sector 1. Also, all of the vehicles and mounts were redesigned to be more varied and specialized. But the main addition to the game in 1.3 was the Deadfall Point area and its 50 or so new missions. There were also new enemies, craftable items and weapons to go with the new area. They also raised the level cap to 46 to absorb some of the new mission XP.

The starter crossbow also said goodbye as it was replaced by the crude slugthrower. The crossbow seemed to be too unwieldy a weapon for new players, and the slugthrower was well received. I have to say, I don't miss the crossbows much, but they did have their purpose.

Patch 1.4

This patch was a major turning point in the evolution of Fallen Earth. This mother of all patches changed a lot. It changed the very structure of the game. It changed the structure of the game so immensely that everyone got a full respec, free of charge. The patch eliminated stacking buffs by assigning different effects to specific channels. Depending on the level of the effect in that channel a new effect would either fail or overwrite it. With buff-stacking gone, combat got a little faster and a bit more decisive.

Faction gear, which was a bit too awesome, was brought down a few notches so that it would not be better than the best crafted stuff. Even tracer effects were added to the firearms to spruce up combat. There were a few other changes to the combat system concerning stamina regeneration while running and moving too fast in stealth mode. All-in-all the combat system was drastically altered. But it was altered for the better, and the days of the god-like tank melee specialists were ended.

The patch also saw New Gallows completely redesigned and a new area called Deadfall (which is nearly a sector in itself) created with the new terrain sculpting tools. The terrain looks much more natural in both areas than some of the smooth, featureless places we grew accustomed to seeing in the Plateau Sector. The new Office Park PvP zone created quite a stir while it was the only source to gain faction reputation quickly. The devs caved into the pressure and eventually added a PvE source of faction rep. I miss the fighting in Office Park, and occasionally I will go there and stir up some trouble, but the new source of faction is, by far, the most profitable.

We also got the bunker bars as part of the social patch. They are underground bunkers that have been converted into bars. They also come equipped with fully functional slot and blackjack machines at which you can lose your hard earned chips.

We got a new tradeskill. The construction tradeskill only allows us to build camps at the moment, but it is the precursor to the building of permanent player structures.

Blood Sports, an arena-style PvP contest sponsored by the Bankers, also came about during the 1.4 era. I have mixed feelings on Blood Sports, probably because I don't like it myself. But I can't say it isn't a good addition to the game. And some players swear by it. I prefer open-world PvP, and it annoys me to no end how small the Death Toll rewards for open-world are compared to those for Blood Sports. Dueling was also added, which is a one-on-one non-lethal fight. Dueling was a great addition that allows players to practice or test their builds without using consumables or breaking gear.

Clan wars were added, and while fun, they are still a bit buggy and need some more testing. With many of the large PvP clans down to skeleton crews, there aren't many able to comprehensively test it. But it's there and it works pretty well with unranked wars.

Patch 1.5

This patch graced us with the serendipity system. Tougher than average mobs will drop unique items. People go nuts over these rare items, and they will usually fetch a pretty penny on the auction house. I don't quite understand the fascination, but I caught a good deal of flak when I photoshopped a fake FN P-90 serendipity drop. We also got a limited fast-travel system to four different locations. We got a new Blood Sports type called assault, another vault, and a weather system. The rain pooling on the road still looks really cool to me.

Around this time Icarus also opened the item store. It caused quite a stir, even though the items being sold were pure fluff. Until recently, the company hasn't added much to the store. We can now pay for a name change. Ha, I put a lot of work into earning my bad reputation, and I intend to keep it.

Patch 1.6

With patch 1.6 we saw new trees, vehicle color customization, and even the destruction of Monkeytown. Yes, Monkeytown is no more. It is now called Quarantine, and it now sports a good number of new missions and a large group instance. Once again the tutorials were revamped, and a better extended tutorial was put in place that teaches our new wastelanders some more practical skills that before. We were also offered partial respecs that can be purchased in-game from the mutagenics merchants. They're a bit pricey, but put AP in the wrong place can kill your build.

The main addition to the game from 1.6 was the PvP flagging. This opened a lot of doors as far as possibilities go. But, unfortunately, most people are reluctant to flag. I have had my lowest-level alt flagged for three weeks now and haven't been attacked once. It's a great tool even for the RP crowd when put to use.

Patch 1.7

Our most recent patch introduces customizable clothing and veteran rewards. There are other new content and encounter areas that have been added throughout the region and remain undiscovered for now (by me anyway). The combat system needs some tweaking, but the majority of the veteran PvPers who have tested it like what they see. It is not ready to go live quite yet, and the devs took the advice of the community (which did test the system) and have held off on releasing it. Dave "Archangel" Haydysch personally thanked us on patch day for being the best community ever.

I'd like to thank the fine folks at Fallen Earth, LLC and Icarus Studios for being the coolest game development team ever. See you next week.

Ed Marshall has been playing Fallen Earth since beta and leads the Outsiders 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 edward@massively.com, find him on the official forums as Casey Royer, or hunt him down in the wastelands as Nufan, Original, Death Incarnate, and Knuckles Mcsquee.

This article was originally published on Massively.