Faction control points are the newest PvP draw in Fallen Earth. They're still in their infancy, but I have already seen an increase in faction control point PvP. Factional warfare has always taken a backseat to clan warfare in Fallen Earth. At least for as long as I can remember. Right now, clan warfare vs. factional warfare is dividing the FE community. A rift between omni-clans and single-faction clans has resulted in more clan warfare, with factions completely disregarded. Faction control points were an effort to add some meaningful faction-based PvP to the game. In some ways it succeeds and in some ways it fails.

I was able to get in there and test these faction control points this week. I died plenty, but I also slew more this week than I had in a long time. I was able to test them exhaustively alone and with a group. I was able to witness the dynamic of six different warring factions in one small town. If that wasn't confusing enough, there was also a layer of clan politics muddling things up even more. After the cut, I'll give you the low-down on faction control points (FCPs for short), detailing my personal experiences with them, and how they have changed the face of FE so far.
In a game like Fallen Earth, the lines between faction loyalty and clan loyalty can get blurred. The majority of players want to see factions mean something. They want to see factions be worth fighting for (or against). But most players also want to remain loyal to their clans, and to fight alongside their friends. This isn't a problem for single-faction clans, but they are outnumbered by omni-clans clan-wise and player-wise. We aren't exactly sure what the developers will have in store for us in the way of factional warfare, but this is a strong entry into that realm.

One of the flaws in my opinion (note: not everyone views this as a flaw) of the faction wheel is that your allies are enemies with one another. Now, that's just fine and dandy if your game is based on political intrigue, but that's not our genre. Sometimes it's not easy figuring out who to kill, and a weight-trainer to the noggin is not the best way to determine friend or foe in most cases. As long as clans and factions exist, there will always be some uncertainty about who your enemies are. FCPs simplify things a little bit by eliminating "shoulder" factions. To understand what this means, let me explain how the FCPs work.

A faction control point is little more than a faction's flag, with a guard and some nodes, all belonging to that faction. The main difference with these factional guards is that they will fire on all five of the other factions. This has some rather obvious implications for all but the purest (factionally) combat team. You can't capture these points under the flag of your allied factions like you can in a conflict town. Only your highest faction counts.There are 23 of them spread throughout the Sector 3/Deadfall area -- mostly around PvP zones like Haietta, Park City and Office Park. But there are also some in PvE areas. You must be flagged for PvP to capture them, however.

Here is how capturing works: First, you have to dispatch the guard. Don't worry about harming your rep with allied factions, you will only lose one measly point for killing this over-zealous guard. And the guard is easily soloable by even an average player. Once the guard is down, you have to use the flag to capture it. It takes a few seconds, and is interrupted by damage. The guards respawn fairly quickly, so you have to act fast. Once you finish the "capture" animation, the flag disappears and is replaced with your faction's banner. At this point, a friendly guard spawns and so do faction supply nodes. They spawn one at a time until there are three. You also get rewards dependent on how long the flag had gone uncaptured.

The rewards are nothing to scoff at, either. You have a very good chance of receiving a 100-point Death Toll reward and a 250 faction rep reward. There is also a chance that you will be mailed a package. These packages contain either high-level or rare materials. Sometimes it's the really good stuff and sometimes it's meh. There's a lot of luck involved on those. Even the guards drop nice stuff like Common Steel. Also, one faction supply crate will spawn immediately, and these give decent rewards as well. You stand to gain quite a bit by conquering these FCPs, and have very little at risk, since dying in FE is just a slight inconvenience. The risk-to-reward ratio is very appealing, in my opinion.

A few things I didn't like about them was the lack of structures or fortifications around the flag. There should be more going on there, rather than just a flagpole and a bored guard. I'm sure this will be addressed at some point, once the important things are ironed out.

I'd also like to see more than one guard, but with longer respawn times. They can be hard to find too, as they aren't marked on the map, and there is no way of telling if the point you just captured is being besieged the moment you leave. The only reliable way I've seen to determine how many points your faction controls is to capture one. It will then tell you how many your faction holds. Another thing I didn't like was the "no more rewards" debuff that you get if you take too many points too quickly. I can see the reason for something of this nature, but it is a 30 minute debuff that only expires while you are logged in. It should be toned down a bit.

My personal experiences with FCPs have been good overall. I have seen plenty of PvP action near them. I have gotten some decent rewards in the form of chips, materials, Death Toll and faction rep. Sure, they have some minor short-comings, but I think they are a great addition to the game, and I'll probably be hanging out in Haietta and Park City in the near future. I have seen people PvPing that I have never seen before. It's quite refreshing to see new faces, since I'm constantly fighting the same few dozen players, day-in and day-out. I was able to snag 15 of the 23 FCPs in S3/Deadfall by myself in less than an hour. That gave my faction the tier 2 buff, but the faction-wide buffs are kind of weak, so that's not nearly my main incentive.

I know there isn't much that will get players that have no interest in PvP involved with something like this, but the rewards are hard to pass up. Even if you die just trying to sneak in and capture one, what have you really lost? Hopefully, I'll see even more new faces in the PvP zones trying to get their hands on all the amazing loot that is just waiting to be had. But if I see the new faces before they see me, they had better be in the right faction or the right clan, or they may never see me at all.

Until next week, take one for the team, and get out there and grab a flag for your faction. It will be worth it.

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.
Betawatch: October 22 - 29, 2010