One of the largest differences between WoW and FE is the setting. World of Warcraft is set in a Tolkien-esque fantasy world, with mythical creatures and races, magic and lore. Fallen Earth is set in a world much like our own, yet ravaged by the effects of an apocalyptic event.
Contrary to the most popular methods of society's demise, Fallen Earth doesn't take place after global nuclear war. That's not to say there wasn't a bit of nukage involved though. The game takes place in the year 2156, after the Shiva virus wiped out most of humanity, and a resulting nuclear war in Asia helped clear out the rest. A company called GlobalTech bought up most of the area round the Grand Canyon, in America's Southwest, and began perfecting the art of cloning before the end hit. This put them in the unique position of rebuilding the world, including you. As a clone, you have the option of being recreated every time some baddie cut a little too deeply. Mysteriously, you always have your gear with you when you rez, but that's a loophole better left for another day.
The closest thing you'll find to an Orc or Elf in Fallen Earth is a mutated human, and they can't really be comparable. Humans, animals, and mutated varieties of both are pretty much all you'll find in FE's wasteland.
World of Warcraft is well-known for its stylized graphics and timeless art style. The animations are smooth and it works well for what it is, especially being almost five years old. Sure, it doesn't have the highest polygon count, but the simplified look bodes well for performance.
Fallen Earth, again, is a different story. Opinions about the quality of the art style are varied, but the general consensus is that it's not quite as smooth as something you'd expect from a game launched in late 2009. They've also gone for more of a gritty, "realistic" look, with a distinct lack of bright neon colors. This, of course, plays into the setting of the game, while Warcraft's bright colors are meant for that whimsical/fantasy appearance.
UI and controls
Radar compass on the top right, skill bar on the bottom, character info in the top left. These are now standard locations for the most basic user interfaces you'll see in MMOs these days. Fallen Earth doesn't have the modability and customization that World of Warcraft's UI has, but that's not uncommon in most MMOs. In FE, you can move your UI components around the screen, but there's not a lot of fluff to deal with, meaning your skill bar is a collection of icon boxes without swirly designs around the outside, taking up more precious screen real estate.
If you are used to the controls of WoW, you might find a few similarities and many differences in the controls for FE. You have your standard WASD movement and right mouse button turning, but the left mouse button is pretty much only for selecting things on your screen. If you want to pan your camera around, you'll need to hold down the Alt key and the right mouse button.
Keybinding can be changed easily, but the defaults are not the same as you'd find for WoW. One of the most peculiar was Cntrl+Q for a screenshot. Since the Q key is also used for movement, any screenshot you took would cause your camera to immediately pan to the left, so all of your images would be offset a bit. It reminded me of family pictures when my mother had the camera. This "bug" has since been fixed. In the game, not my photo albums.
The biggest control difference is during combat, which deserves its own section here...
As a WoW player, you may be used to Tabbing to select target, then pressing a number key to cast a spell. Then you cast another spell or perform another attack until your favorites are recharged. Rinse, repeat.
In Fallen Earth, things are much different. You press the Tab key to enter combat mode, which turns your mouse into your camera movement. You can then press number keys to perform special Actions, but the majority of combat is handled through aiming a reticle at your enemy and firing, or in the case of melee, swinging your melee weapon. The Actions in the Action Bar are used to compliment battle, but not control it. Most of that control is twitch-based, depending on your ability to get that enemy in your crosshairs while they run around and kite you.
While others, such as Tabula Rasa, have tried to create an FPS feel in an MMO, Fallen Earth actually does have a true first-person view that you enter by scrolling your mouse wheel all the way forward or pressing F9. You could literally play the entire game in this FPS view if you so desired. To add to this, each mouse button controls a different hand of your character, so you can dual-wield knives or pistols and swing them independently, depending on which mouse button you clicked.
Fallen Earth doesn't give you cookie-cutter classes to tell you how you should be playing the game. Instead, they give you the option to learn as much or as little as you want in any certain role. If you want to be a party buffer/healer, but you also want to carry around the big guns, you can do that. If you want to be a gunslinger without a care in the world for anything but your trusty hand cannons, you can do that. Heck, if you want to rely completely on mutations and swear off traditional weapons altogether, you can do that, too.
Within this classless system lies the core of all advancement in Fallen Earth: books and action points (APs). You don't simply run to a Druid trainer when you ding your next level, to train up the next skills in your class. You buy and read books to learn your Abilities and Tradeskills. Book accessibility is limited only by the level of that Ability or Tradeskill, not so much your character's level. The advancement of your attributes and skills are done through action points, which you can earn through quests or combat.
For example, let's say you want to focus on being a healer. You would use your earned APs to boost your First Aid skill, and your Perception and Intelligence attributes. You would then head over to a First Aid trainer to buy books on Treat Poison, Refresh, Staunch Wound, etc. These books are limited by your First Aid skill level. For Treat Poison, Volume 1, you would need at least 12 points in your First Aid skill.
This same method is used for tradeskill (crafting) advancement, which we'll talk about next.
Crafting in Fallen Earth is quite involved and different than what you'd be used to as a WoW player. The essentials are very similar, as you'll be gathering resources from spawned nodes and refining those resources into components to build a finished product, but there are some differences.
The most obvious difference between the two crafting systems is the time it takes to create something, and the location of its creation. In WoW, items can be refined and assembled in minutes, as you stand next to the appropriate forge or table. Of course this doesn't apply to every crafting profession, such as Leatherworker, but it's there in most cases.
In Fallen Earth, you set up a crafting queue, where items can take several minutes, hours, days or even weeks to craft. Luckily, the crafting continues even when you log out of the game, but you don't need to stand next to any special stationary equipment to craft. Being in the vicinity of these certain facilities can cut down on production time, but they're never necessary for the crafting process to continue.
You also earn XP while crafting in FE, so you could essentially level your character through crafting alone, It would take an insane amount of time, but it is possible.
While both games could be considered "item-based", it is said that 95% of FE's items can be crafted by the players. This helps build a strong economy and relationship among players.
In WoW, you have the Horde and the Alliance. It's a black-or-white system that has worked effectively for almost five years. But in Fallen Earth, there are six factions, adding a whole new spectrum of gray to the color wheel.
Each faction has its own backstory, its own line of quests and its own reason for being in the Fallen Earth lore. These factions operate on a wheel system where earning reputation points with one faction will actually remove points from the opposing side of the wheel.
You may have noticed I love to give examples, so here's another. If you have your heart set on being a law-enforcing member of this new society, the Enforcers are for you. They're very militant and were actually formed from the remnants of the remaining military and police forces in the US government. This means that their polar opposites are the Children of the Apocalypse (CHOTA) who are all about being tribal, primal and anarchistic.
So you go Enforcer, but that doesn't mean you now have five factions who hate you. On either side of you on the faction wheel are the Lightbearers and the Techs, who will both be tolerant of your Enforcing ways, and their NPCs will not attack you when you enter their cities. But the two factions on either side of the CHOTAS (the Vistas and the Travelers) would probably have no problem bashing your head in if given one good reason. They don't outright hate you, but they don't really like you either.
You earn your reputation points with each faction and these points actually mean something. If you go Enforcer, and then decide that you're sick of The Man and anarchy is your true calling, it will take a long time to win over the other factions in order to move down the wheel on either side. You would have to gain rep with the Lightbearers, then Vistas then move into CHOTA territory. If you're the type who can't decide on a faction and you move around the wheel too much, no one will ever trust you.
To complicate things even further, Fallen Earth has NPC factions as well, and they each offer their own rewards. One such example is the Bankers, who give you extra vault space if you can prove yourself worthy. Quite useful in a game like this.
Both games feature a strong guild/clan system. If you're used to the control of WoW's guild system, you'll be pleased to know that Fallen Earth's clans are very similar. There's a clan bank, specific chat for officers only, fully customizable ranks and assignable permissions. The only thing really missing is a tabard or some indicator (besides the clan name) that you belong to that clan.
The other basics are there: friends list, ignore list and even a list of connected players.
Fallen Earth's PvP system is fairly unique, but could be compared to both Warhammer Online's RvR system and bits of WoW's PvP system.
There are certain zones that you can wander into, and consequently be warned that you're about to get your butt kicked by another player. These PvP zones make up roughly one-third of the entire game world, are completely open and provide their own sets of rewards.
In Sector 1 (the first 15 levels or so), you will get minimal exposure to PvP. Sector 2 is where the PvP action really heats up with more zones and Conflict Towns. Factions also play a large part of PvP, as you will gain or lose rep points, depending on who you fight and what faction you belong to. You don't just run around requesting duels with low-level players, as you'll find plaguing most of WoW's starter areas, but you fight other players for a distinct reason in FE. It's not about a leaderboard or item looting, it's about securing resources, controlling territory and discovering rare knowledge.
Conflict Towns are particularly interesting as they involve so much more than players killing players. You enter these towns to perform certain tasks and quests that actually level the NPC guards, making them stronger against attacks. Once you've gained enough rep for that city, your faction takes over the town (changing the NPCs to be your faction's), giving you additional benefits such as access to special gear, new missions, mutations, resources, knowledges and more. Each conflict town is different and offers its own specific set of rewards.
There are also PvP raids for certain objectives, arena battles and clan wars to keep your PvP mojo active.
While Fallen Earth and World of Warcraft are drastically different, they both strongly appeal to certain types of players. Fallen Earth seems like more of an alternative to WoW, rather than a game to compliment it. They're both extremely deep games which really require a solid investment of time and knowledge.
So if you're a WoW player looking for a game with a post-apocalyptic flavor, and gameplay more in the style of the games that actually inspired WoW, look no further than Fallen Earth.