We hopped on the phone with Associate Producer Asa Reed, Director of Operations Joe Willmon, and Senior Game Designer Marie Croall to talk about why 2.4 will be the patch that will change the wasteland forever -- and why you should anticipate it, whether you're a crafter or a player-killer.
The centerpiece of patch 2.4 is its global territory control system, which was born from the much more limited faction territory patch that came out last December. Instead of small, localized struggles over lands and goods, Fallen Earth will feature at least six territories per sector from Sector 2 on up that are fair game for PvPers to conquer. A territory becomes the sole domain of a faction if that faction takes all the control points within it.
"It's always been a goal of ours to expand what factions can and cannot do and what roles the factions have in trying to control the world," Croall said.
The new conflict areas take advantage of the large footprint of the Grand Canyon and are clearly marked on the game's map. PvE players won't have a hard time avoiding these conflict areas, however.
The developers think highly of the PvP community in the game but were disturbed to note that a majority of the action happens in the endgame and that players often held off from participating until then. Hence, patch 2.4 became about making PvP an experience for the majority of the leveling process.
Fortresses in the sand
Control points are defended by keeps, which are tough buildings that give the defenders all the advantages other than the possible element of surprise. Keeps have a very strong door that requires either a dedicated force pounding away at it or a strategically placed bomb on its hinges. Inside, the current owners can take advantage of defense points and upgraded Lifenet pods to hold onto their claim as long as possible.
Patch 2.4 will launch with two versions of these keeps, but the dev team is already looking at doing more. The keeps have another way to be visually distinctive: Their exteriors will change based on the faction controlling it.
PvPers in Fallen Earth will now be required to ally themselves with one of the game's six factions, as the developers want to provide strong factional identify from the get-go. "The world's gotten a lot less friendly," Croall said. She noted that PvE players won't be affected by this change and can continue on as before but that PvP players will witness a much more dynamic world.
Territories are not just there for the sake of winning; they have plenty to offer the dominant faction. The rulers of a territory can reap a bounty of rare resources and merchant items. Some of these merchants have limited merchandise, but if a territory is held on to long enough, the merchant's inventory will expand considerably.
Since you never know how long your faction will be able to hold on to any given territory, it's vital to plunder the region's resources as quickly as possible. It's here that the devs are going to equip players with an invaluable tool: harvesters. Harvesters allow players to suck up resources from one of their faction-controlled territories whether the player is in the game or not. Harvesting kits can be purchased or made and last for three hours once deployed.
Another reward for engaging in global territory control isn't as tangible, but it will most assuredly be desirable. The faction that has the most control points under its thumb will be granted a substantial buff to its members' combat skills -- something on the order of 5% to 10%. Since this will help in PvP, the dominant faction will be that much more difficult to dislodge.
Still too low to care about PvP or hardcore crafting? The dev team hasn't forgotten you. It's prepared several quality of life additions to give new players (and even veteran ones) an easier time navigating the game.
With patch 2.4 comes a Find Garage ability that will point you in the nearest direction of a garage. "It was one of the most frequently asked questions in the newbie chat channels," Croall said. Also, the old zip guns will be replaced with handmade-style guns to address the complaint that zip guns weren't that interesting.
Other changes include a buy back option on merchants, skill trainers that simply sell skills (not books), and easily accessible information that explains the progression of stats and skills in greater depth.
If you're into plundering the game's treasure boxes, there are 47 new pieces of cosmetic gear to be found. These include a Mad Max-style suit, a plague mask, Valkyrie armor fashioned from football gear, and not one, not two, but three gimp suits.
On the horizon
So what's past 2.4? Two words: legendary weapons. We didn't get much out of the developers on these except the fact that they will host the coolest weapon models in the game. The team's also looking into both ways to give players more control over scavenging and ways to add a Marketplace purchase that will finally expand inventory space.
We concluded by asking the devs what their favorite post-apocalyptic movie or book was. "The Road Warrior," Croall said. "A Boy and His Dog," Reed replied. "Z for Zachariah," Willmon reported.
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