Wasteland Diaries: Long-term goals

So you're a brand-new clone in Fallen Earth, dressed in your snappy LifeNet ensemble? So far you've managed to get yourself blown to bits inside the bowels of the Hoover Dam. Remember that awesome scoped battle rifle you were using? Well, forget that. The weapons you will be using for the time being will be a bit more primitive and a lot less deadly. Luckily for you, Elena Winters was able to respawn you safely away from the dam.

After being led around by the nose, you're no doubt ready to begin making some of your own decisions. I'm going to tell you that you aren't quite ready to do that. Not just yet. Before you go off on your own, there are some important things you need to know. These things I will tell you will save you a lot of trouble later on. I wish someone had given me all the information I'm going to give you, but I learned it the hard way. As they say: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." This also holds true in Fallen Earth. Now that you're in a safe place, I'll get that handy information to you after the break.

I'll skip over most of the obvious, no-brainer stuff. The kind of advice I want to impart is more geared toward long-term success. Sure it's helpful to know how to get a better horse than the "Old Nag" that you get at the end of the extended tutorial, but it's not going to make or break you in the long run. The long-term decisions are best made early on because fixing an AP mistake can be costly and fixing a bad faction choice will have you facing a grind of extraordinary magnitude.

Eventually you are going to want to flesh out your character by spending AP. Don't rush this. You will get 20 AP per level, plus any additional bonus AP rewards. You will amass them very quickly, but early on, there is no rush to spend them. It's better to hold off on spending them until you absolutely need to or until you have a plan. Your clone will toughen up considerably simply by leveling (without spending any AP). You should be able to do 90% of the Sector 1 missions without spending a single AP. It's probably a good idea to put points in Dodge or Armor Use, as these skills usually fit into every build and will help keep you alive.

Typically, you will want to add AP to skills first, and then stats once the skills are capped. If you are making a crafter, it is usually a good idea to keep your Perception and Intelligence maxed out at all times. All tradeskills rely on these two stats, and in order to be able to make the best gear for your level, you'll want to max them first.

While running missions in Sector 1 without spending your AP can be difficult, it can be made easier by not making too many beginner mistakes. Always run all the best buffs you can. This includes food, drinks and medicine. You should also use stealth to infiltrate and exfiltrate some mission areas. It isn't always necessary to kill tons of angry mobs. Stealth mode is activated by crouching and gives you a 50% bonus to your Athletics. Going prone gives you a 100% bonus. This is then tested against double your enemies' Perception. If they don't spot you, they won't aggro. This works in PvP as well. (You won't show up on radar and your name won't be visible unless you are selected.)

Weapon choice is something that you should take very seriously. The best way to figure out which weapon type will work best for you is to try them all out for a while. You start out with at least one simple version of each type. Don't just use the weapon; use the abilities that apply to that weapon class too. You may be swayed by the usefulness of some of these. You should get used to using hot-keyed abilities in combat early on, because later in the game (or in PvP) you will need to be proficient with abilities and mutations.

The weapon you choose will have a direct bearing on most of your capstone choices, which are going to determine your faction. It's probably your most important choice. It's inadvisable to specialize with more than one weapon type, but it can be an interesting choice if you don't intend to PvP. Certain weapons work better with certain faction choices (this could be an article unto itself), so faction choice is also heavily influenced by weapon choice.

After you have chosen your weapon spec, your capstones, and the mutation lines you will want, your stats and skills should fall right in line, as should your faction choice. When you choose a "main" faction, you can also choose to have two allies, or just one. If you are allied to only two factions, you can max the reputation of both, which in most cases is redundant, but it is an option. I won't advocate a wheel-flip anymore, since it goes against the spirit of the game, it's a tedious chore, and "it won't be required" in the future, according to the devs. Your faction choice is a heavily weighted decision, because recovering from a bad choice is a terrible amount of work.

Another thing I would like to point out is that joining a clan early is probably your best bet. You can join one of the starter clans, or you can check the recruitment threads on the forums. But considering what a clan offers, you should join one earlier rather than later. Fellow clan members can be very helpful in every capacity, from helping with group missions to answering your questions to crafting you new gear. Choosing a clan can be daunting because of the variety out there.

Your best bet is to find a clan that fits your playstyle best and try its members out. Some clans are single-faction, some are triads, and some are omni-factional. How multi-factional clans will work in the future is an uncertainty, but choosing a faction before you experience the game is also an uncertainty. There are two deeply divided schools of thought on this issue as well (another entire article), but luckily, quitting a clan is a single click away.

I hope this helps at least one new player not be forced to reroll. I've been lucky so far, and I have the four main archetypes on my four slots: Rifleman, Pistoleer, Meleer and Social Crafter. I've got all of the bases covered (or so I think). It was because I did a little research and planned ahead. Sure, I had to tweak a few things here and there, and I've bought my share of respec injectors, but it could have been much worse. Remember: An AP is a terrible thing to waste. See you next week or in the wastelands, whichever comes first.

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.