This mode will take a large amount of self-discipline. It will be very easy to cheat. Many of the rules that will be imposed on you will also be enforced by you. In order for it to be considered truly hardcore, apocalyptic-realism, you can't cheat. Even Fallout: New Vegas has a hardcore mode. Of course, I played it in hardcore mode and still found it too easy. I had to impose rules on myself to keep it challenging (like no V.A.T.S. allowed). I also found that the ability to save right before a big decision or fight also alleviates some of the difficulty. Of course, I could impose further restrictions on myself to make the game more difficult. With that in mind, after the cut, I'll show you how to do just that with Fallen Earth.
Terance. Once you spawn into the cloner at the starter town, type "/pvp" into your chatbar. You are now flagged for open-world PvP. You are now a level 1 scrub in LifeNet duds who is flagged for PvP. Nothing says "kill me for the lulz" more than that. See how dangerous you've already made the apocalypse? Do not unflag. Stay flagged for the life of the character. And make sure you are in first-person mode, and stay that way.
Did you notice I said character and not clone? That's because you aren't a clone. For the purposes of hardcore mode, you are a regular one-shot human. If the character dies, you simply exit the game and delete him. This means you may not use the unstuck command or use the fast-travel system. In fact, you must walk everywhere unless you are in combat. I mean, let's face it, how many people do we see running from place to place whilst going about their business? Aside from purse-snatchers and speed-walkers, not many.
The next thing you will do is disable all chat channels except for the local channel. This is more of a nod toward realism than it is toward difficulty. It's probably going to make the game a bit easier since you won't have to endure the normal buffoonery in region chat. Also, no private messaging to anyone who is not adjacent to you. Then turn off your GUI. Turn it off completely. Hit ALT+F10 to do this. Your GUI may only be opened when you're crafting, using your inventory, or interacting with NPCs. The GUI is never, ever allowed in combat. And never look at any of your maps -- use the sun as a compass.
spend AP. Your character will still slowly improve all of his or her skills and attributes as he or she levels up. You may also never log out. Your character must remain in the world and vulnerable. Just use the sleep stance and walk away from your computer. Remember: You are flagged for PvP, so typing "/afk" would be a nice gesture for any would-be gankers, just to let them know you will be an easy kill.
Your character is not allowed to use any skills or mutations. No buffs from any type of consumable are allowed, either. Any time you eat, drink or visit the restroom in real-life, your character must do so in-game. If the eating or drinking results in a buff, remove it from your effects bar by clicking on it. There are restrooms in Fallen Earth for your character to use. I suggest using the "/sitchair" command with your pants unequipped for reality's sake. If you wish, you may also delete any scrap paper you have to simulate... well, you know.
Logistical realism will also make the game a bit more difficult. Assume all of the vaults aren't linked. If you put some scrap leather in your sector vault in Midway, make a note of it. You may not reclaim that leather anywhere but Midway. It doesn't magically appear in Embry when you need it. If you buy anything from the auction house, please allow six weeks for delivery. Yes, I know that you can only have a mail in your box for 30 days. Take it up with Franklin's Riders if you have a problem with it. Also, choose an item you own to repair every hour. If you lack repair kits, delete an item of your choosing. Entropy is not your friend in the wasteland.
All crafting must be done in real-time. You may not craft while AFK. You must be standing in the proper facility for the item that you are crafting and facing a work bench. You must also continuously run the "/fixit" animation. I don't know of any way to loop it, so you may have to type it in every few seconds.
For the next step, you will need a 20-sided die. Find the nerdiest person you know (it may be you) and ask him to lend you one if you do not own one yourself. Roll on the following chart every four hours of actual play-time and follow the instructions that correspond with your die roll.
1 - Nothing happens.
2 - Mutant bot fly larvae burrow into your heart; delete this character.
3 - You lose some of your ammunition; delete a stack of ammo.
4 - You succumb to a terrible infection; delete this character.
5 - You contract dysentery; you must make in-game bio-breaks every 15 minutes.
6 - Your horse dies. Delete it. If you have no horse ignore this result.
7 - Your vehicle is stolen. Delete it. If you have no vehicle ignore this result.
8 - You lost all of your chips. Simulate this by mailing them all to Nufan.
9 - Mutant earwigs have popped your eardrums. Turn your speakers all the way down.
10 - A massive dust-storm has blinded you. Turn off your monitor.
11 - A meteorite strikes you on the head and kills you. Delete this character.
12 - You have sprained your ankle; you must remain crouched at all times.
13 - You have broken your leg; you may only crawl.
14 - You suffer a sudden, massive heart attack. Delete this character.
15 - The bankers lose your stuff. Delete the contents of your sector vault.
16 - One of your weapons breaks. Delete a weapon of your choice.
17 - Some of your food spoils. Delete a food or drink of your choice if you have one.
18 - You are the victim of a pickpocket. Send half (round up) of your chips to a random player.
19 - A mutant scorpion stings you. Delete this character in exactly 24 hours.
20 - There's a hole in your pack! Delete the last five items or stacks in your inventory.
That about wraps up the hardcore mode rules set. If you can make it to level 50 under these stringent rules, then you have truly dominated the wastelands. As for me, I'll continue playing the game in easy mode like I always have. I've never been too masochistic. So if I see you in the wasteland, and you're playing in hardcore mode, make sure to let me know so I can give you the virtual pat on the back you deserve. Until next week, stay safe out there, unless, of course, you prefer danger.
Ed Marshall has been playing Fallen Earth since beta and leads the KAOS 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on the official forums as Casey Royer, or hunt him down in the wastelands as Nufan, Original, Death Incarnate, and Knuckles Mcsquee.