Wasteland Diaries: Flag up

Since the addition of the open world PvP flag to Fallen Earth, I haven't seen it being used often enough. There are only a handful of players, including me, who stay flagged for PvP 24/7. For a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Fallen Earth is a pretty safe and cozy place for most. The majority of the game takes place in relatively civilized areas where clones can't harm one another. PvP zones are optional, and many players simply avoid them. With the well-guarded towns, sporadic and weak mobs that are always right where you left them, and the resilience of player characters, there isn't a huge element of danger out there.

I know a lot of these issues are being addressed with the combat changes, but today's wasteland isn't too frightening. I drive into PvP zones and almost breathe a sigh of relief, because everyone around me is on an even keel. When I roll into a crowded town, that is when I'm really on my guard. I appear to go about my business normally, but I'm looking over both shoulders. You never know who in the crowd might have it in for you or might just attack you on a whim. Truth be told, it's not so bad. Most people won't pay you any mind. After the cut, I'll take a look at the past month I've spent PvP-flagged and try to explain why I think it's the only way to play.
First of all, dying in Fallen Earth is a minor inconvenience. One of the first things I overcame in FE was my fear of death. It kind of takes a bit of the excitement out of combat when dying isn't a big deal. Not to mention, in most PvE encounters, you have utterly no chance of dying. PvP is a different story and is inherently more dangerous. But dying in FE is still dying in FE, and it's not a major issue. You respawn and take a little bit of wear and tear on your gear. Oh, and you suffer from cloning sickness, which is temporary and really only brutal if you get to tier five. Hint: You have to die a lot to get to tier five. Dying is no big deal, so why not flag for PvP?

Before I go any further into why one should flag, let me explain the mechanics of flagging for world PvP. You type "/pvp" into the chat bar and you are immediately flagged. You can now attack, heal and/or affect anyone else who is flagged. You will also see "(PVP)" after your name. It's as simple as that. A message is broadcast to those nearby in local chat in an effort to make the ninja-flag-and-gank less attractive to our less honorable players. Unless you are paying very close attention to your chat windows, it doesn't help much. And to prevent cloner-camping, you are immune to PvP for three minutes after you die. You can voluntarily remove your immunity if you like. That about covers the mechanics of it. It's a simple but powerful system that doesn't get as much use as it should.

There are some players who absolutely refuse to flag for PvP or even enter a conflict town. It's just not their thing. They don't derive any pleasure from competing against other players. I can respect that. I don't understand it, but to each his own. I myself just don't feel very challenged by the environment in most games, and I prefer to duke it out with other humans, not scripted (or unscripted) mobs. That's what single-player and cooperative games are for. I'm not saying that Fallen Earth is a PvP-centric game, but it's no secret that I wish it were.

Even the roleplaying community uses the world PvP flag. And why not trade in a weak emoted punch in the face for a real punch? Shouldn't mindless violence be portrayed the same way in a roleplay setting as it would be in a competitive PvP setting? Of course it should. The roleplaying community in Fallen Earth has embraced the world PvP flag for its usefulness despite its liabilities. Roleplayers do run the risk of being attacked by miscreants. For example: This past Tuesday night, Mendoza's Marauders attacked a peaceful bike rally south of Haven. It comes with the territory. But if you ask me, danger is fun.

Strolling into town and knowing that anyone around you could attack at any given moment makes the game more edgy and tense. While this might not be everyone's cup of tea, I like it. I want to have a sense of danger in a post-apocalyptic world. I want to be distrustful of everyone I don't know. I want to view strangers as potential enemies and be ready to react to sudden hostilities. I check my surroundings before I check my mail or root around in my sector vault. Unless I'm in a hurry, I check the entire town for hostiles or enemy clan members before I do my business.

I was caught unawares once in Los Alamos while checking my mail. I was killed by two guys, so I called in some backup, then they did too, and it escalated into a big fight in town. That's the great thing about a fight erupting in town: Most players will stop and watch, and some bystanders will even flag up and jump in. Almost every time I've been attacked in a crowded area, it has evolved into a pitched battle that goes a few rounds.

I've been flagged for PvP on all four of my clones for over a month now, and I play every day. I think I would have been bored silly by now if it weren't for the world PvP flag, as I've done most everything the game offers. But I wear the PvP flag as a badge of pride and as a invitation to fight me if you so desire. Hell, even my squishy social/crafter is always flagged. If you are wondering how intense FE can be, flag up and find out. You never know what might happen. I can tell you one thing: If you die, you haven't lost anything, so what's the big deal? Until next week, if you see me in the wasteland, flag up and pop me in the head.
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.