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Fallen Earth Developer Diary: Exploring Hoffa Bunker

Shawn Schuster

Massively is proud to host a brand new five-part developer journal from the Fallen Earth team which will explore various levels in Fallen Earth, their storylines and how they make the player experience richer. This second one takes us through Hoffa Bunker, and was written by Wes Platt, Content Team Lead for Fallen Earth.

In the rugged hills of Toro Bend, far north in the Plateau region of the Grand Canyon Province, slouches a fenced town called Trailer Park. It's comprised of big-rig trailers and cargo containers left over from before the Fall. The inhabitants are mostly castoffs who can't fit in anywhere else – and in a mad world after the apocalypse, that's saying a lot.

Billy Bob Swayhill, a shopkeeper in town, talks a great deal. However, not much of it makes much sense. Beyond preaching the glory of soup, Swayhill mostly rants about the treasures waiting to be found in the Hoffa Bunker. He claims that's the final resting place of the treasures owned by Jimmy Hoffa, an assassinated President of the United States, who managed to get his hands on Al Capone's cash, the gold from Fort Knox, and Andy Warhol's soup supply.

History gets lost in the translation of time for some people. The truth about the Hoffa Bunker is this: It's the GlobalTech equivalent of a giant panic room, where corporate executives fled to survive the end of the world as they knew it. Now, the sprawling subterranean complex is full of throwbacks, underdwellers, and other hostile mutants.

Design began on the Hoffa Bunker in 2006, early in the content development process. The first vision that the content team presented to the artists was a large underground complex that included elaborate greenhouses and terraforming facilities. We also wanted a giant space elevator and bugs on the ceiling. Sometimes, artists and programmers must crush our dreams!

What the artists gave us: A sprawling underground complex that combines high-tech metal walls, whooshing automated doors, and glass window-walls with natural, rough, dark rock. It didn't contain greenhouses or terraforming machines. No space elevator or bugs on the ceiling! But it did give us a rather massive multi-floored level that could, because of its GlobalTech origins, be reused throughout the Province.

The entrance to the bunker protrudes from the side of Hoffa Hill, north of Trailer Park. It's a concrete turret with sliding doors that's guarded by throwbacks. Open the door and you'll find a corridor that leads into the security checkpoint chamber.

Down the stairs, you're into the bunker proper. It's a good idea to bring friends, because the throwbacks and underdwellers tend to cluster, which can make for some very difficult solo battles. Work your way down the corridor, which eventually opens onto a massive chamber, designed to be the first impressive sight inside the bunker.

A throwback warlord and his minions loom near an elevator platform, with a nearby door granting access to some GlobalTech medical facilities, meeting room, and primary command center.

Survive the warlord fight, then take the elevator down. This leads to the next cool sight: A catwalk stretching across a rocky chasm, guarded by throwbacks.

Past the throwbacks and up a series of stair platforms, you'll get access to a series of high-tech corridors, mechanical utility rooms, a secondary control center, and even a commissary.

Unfortunately, the cafeteria workers aren't offering anything good on the menu except you.

In the Plateau, the Hoffa Bunker is important to our overarching GlobalTech storyline because it's here that the first sector's adventure hits its peak. Players have to fight their way through the facility to help a clone named One. She's been trying to upgrade LifeNet's regen control servers so that the artificial intelligence can't be overwhelmed by a different AI, the crazed program known as TETRAX.

We liked the design so much that it shows up again a couple more times in the game. From a thematic perspective, it makes sense that GlobalTech would reuse certain facility layouts. However, our second use of the bunker, in the second sector known as Northfields, gives it a twist: It takes the cool facility, with all the twisty corridors and hidden passages and choke points, and puts it in the middle of the Wind Farm conflict town PvP zone. It's a blast to run this level in PvP. Trust me: You won't want to try to take and hold this place on your own. Take a group of meat, I mean friends!

Gallery: Fallen Earth | 69 Photos

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