Wasteland Diaries: Sector 4 lives!

To many players of Fallen Earth, the expression "when hell freezes over" has been supplanted by "when Sector 4 is released." At launch, the sector was supposedly largely completed, and it was expected to be released shortly thereafter. After a year had passed and we were still waiting to see it, many players started to believe that it didn't even exist. Well, I am here to tell you that not only does it exist, but I spent a few hours roaming around on the other side of the big wall. Aside from some nice pictures, I got a little bit of insight on what we might expect to see in Alpha County, which will be the first installment in the fourth sector.

It's been quite some time since Fallen Earth's opening day, and we have been waiting quite some time for the new sector. But the team at Fallen Earth, LLC has given us a few things to tide us over: Deadfall and Terminal Woods, which combined have as much content as a full sector. So it's not like we've been stuck in Sector 3 for over a year and a half; the devs have given us some new stuff and made some fundamental changes to the game (some good and some bad, but mostly good). The first bit of S4 we will see was released on the public test server (PTS) earlier this week, so I took the opportunity to do some exploring for you (actually my motivations were entirely selfish). After the cut, I'll tell you a little bit about what I saw (slight spoiler alert!).

I had a clone parked in southern Terminal Woods when our characters were copied over, so he was in view of the big wall. I loaded him up and started driving south. I steered right for the giant lighted tunnel and started to get a little excited. I imagined what it would look like driving through the wall and emerging on the other side into a strange place that I'd once had doubts about ever seeing. When I got a bit closer to the wall, I started to take radiation damage and got the obligatory "approaching lethal radiation" message. Then it dawned on me: Use the bus stop. The bus stop ability is a teleportation ability that's available on the test server to get around quicker. I opened my abilities menu and there it was: Bus Stop 4.

Before I go any further, I'd like to point out that the sector is still devoid of objects such as mobs, NPCs, vegetation, and clutter. It is just the raw terrain and the large structures. Though the area is certainly not finished, this preview is still a rough idea of what to expect when the 1.9 patch goes live.

A quick look at the map told me that there would be only one PvP zone in the entire county, and that PvP zone would be a conflict town. This is good news for a couple of reasons. We never got a conflict town with the last two new areas, so we are still stuck duking it out in Haietta and Park City. Now we will have a higher-level PvP zone with content that is built for levels higher than 45. I always questioned why we never got a conflict town with Deadfall when we got a level cap increase to 50. But at least I know we will get one with the forthcoming level cap increase. The best news is that there is only one conflict town, which will ensure that all of the endgame PvP will be in the same place. Currently, in S3 alone there are four conflict towns and a couple of other PvP zones. The non-town PvP zones go largely unused, and that's a shame because they are well-designed battlefields.

The name of the conflict town is Blockade, and it was the first place I visited, not because it was the first on the list alphabetically, but because it was the one place that piqued my interest the most. I'd wager it's called Blockade because there is a ring of impassable terrain around it with a narrow pass that leads in. The zone itself is pretty wide-open. There are a few rubble piles and large, destroyed structures to use as cover. I'm sure the area will be filled with plenty more clutter before all is said and done. The six bases that are spaced around the zones are more individualized than the standard-fare faction camps you see in conflict towns in other sectors. They are also clearly marked on the map. Another thing the team did was add a faction-specific cloner in the PvP zone in southern Terminal Woods (the name of the zone eludes me at the moment). I'm sure that these types of cloners will be implemented in Blockade as well.

The Tech town is called Camp Sagan, and when I first walked into it, I found it very reminiscent of Megaton from Fallout 3. I'm not saying it looks anything like it, but that's just what popped into my head. Desolation was the name of the CHOTA encampment, and it looked pretty ravaged, just like CHOTA settlements tend to. It was dotted with what looked like giant mutant baobab trees with festering sores. These trees are pretty common throughout the entire sector, and some of them are gigantic, but Desolation is overgrown with them. All of the structures, even some destroyed heavy equipment, are entangled by these trees.

The Lightbearer town is called Mercy, and it looks like a field hospital that was built with scrap metal. There is a lot of scrap metal in Fallen Earth, but hey, it's the apocalypse. Post 88 is the Enforcer town; it looks militaristic, as we might suspect. Most of the buildings look like canvas-roofed Quonset huts. It will likely be an interesting place when fully dressed. Redemption is the name of the Traveler town. It is perched near the big wall that separates Alpha from the rest of the province. Redemption sort of looks like a post-apocalyptic flea-market, but then what do you expect from a bunch of nomads?

The most impressive town of all is the Vista town, called Unspoiled Grove. It is nice and green and cheery, unlike the rest of the county. It consists of some kind of large industrial facility and a giant tree intertwined with one another. It looks like a mix between a giant oak tree and a trailer park, with a pinch of awesome added in for good measure. I was pretty impressed by it, and I can't begin to capture what I saw with words. Wait, nevermind -- just look at the picture below.

Just when I thought the apex of epic architecture had been reached, I zipped over to Shackleton. Shackleton looks to be the main, central (and likely neutral) town of the area. The structure that the town is built around is simply immense. It is some kind of monstrous industrial structure that has some ominous (though assuredly eco-friendly) purpose. What amazed me the most about the place was that my anti-powerhouse of a computer was able to render it with a decent framerate. Of course, it's not a completed product, but my framerates were high, not merely good.

There were a couple of other points of interest on the map that I took a look at. Fontaine's Hermitage looked to be a launch pad of some sort. And the Scorcher Base could be the home of a new NPC faction or maybe even CoGs. End Run was a giant industrial plant (seeing a pattern yet?) that straddles the main road. You will actually drive through it to get past it. Two other areas, Kelson's Haven and Abbidon, hint that they're home to the Judges. I won't go into much detail about what I saw there, but crucifixions, impalements and skullpiles were among the avant-garde decor. The Judges: You thought they were nutty before? This should solidify that belief.

In conclusion, I have to say I am impressed with what I have seen so far. The end product still remains to be seen, but the art department has hit a home run. If the rest of the content in Sector 4 is of this quality, I am bound to be one happy wastelander. If you get a chance, and you are curious enough, take a look for yourself. But if you're the type that would just like to wait and see, you may not have read this far to begin with. Either way, I'll see you next week or in S4, whichever comes first.

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 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.