Test server development tools
There are a few tools to make testing things on the test server a little easier. There is a quest giver in each capital (Embry, New Flagstaff, and Trader's Flat) that will give you enough XP to level you to 26 and give you a million chips, once per character. Why level 26? Who knows? Next to this NPC, there will also be a component merchant that sells some of the higher-end materials. There is also the handy Bus Stop mutation that you will find in your actions menu. This spawns a bus stop that you can converse with and be whisked away to any town in that sector. Travel time while testing stuff got old fast, and once again, the developers were listening. There is also a tool in the abilities tab to make any item's craft time 30 seconds, which is useful for just about everything, except maybe the Omnibus books. Want to build an Interceptor really quickly? You can on the Public Test Server.
The Deadfall area and level cap
The new deadfall area boasts over 140 new missions, requiring a level cap increase to 50 to absorb all of that yummy XP. It gives the players the opportunity to join forces with Shiva's Favored. Once you get past the way they smell they're not such a bad bunch. There are five new settlements in Deadfall including a ruined city to explore or base operations out of. The area also includes six new instances, which will be tough or impossible to solo.
Fatigue and item decay system explained
Fatigue is a new variable that every item over level 30 will have. It represents the number of times you can repair the item before it breaks. The default value is 20, meaning you can repair the item 20 times before it breaks. Typically one point of fatigue is equal to 1 hour of being ridden hard and put away wet. In other words, we are talking about an hour of constant use: shooting of guns or bashing of armor per point. Fatigue points can be added to the item by sacrificing a similar item (think spare parts). Even a completely broken item (zero fatigue) can be repaired. Crafting skill figures into the equation, but it will always restore it to a level which is more than the fatigue level of the item being consumed. Originally there was an "overcharging" system, that would add enhancements to the item stats when the fatigue was raised over 25. This was scrapped by the developers because, well frankly, the community hated it. They do have plans to add an item enhancement system, but no word on how they will implement it, yet.
Man's best friend
You can also test the pet system. The developers do remind us that the test server is not a showcase for new content, it is a testing grounds. Therefore, we do not yet have a plethora of pets to choose from just yet. At any garage in Sector 1 you can purchase, for the low, low price of one chip, the Wasteland Mutt. This loyal canine will attempt to follow you wherever you go, even if you leave him in the dust on your motorcycle. He will do his best to keep up and will use his pathfinding A.I. to the fullest. I have to admit, I tried to lose him, and wasn't able to. For the record though, I think he cheated. At the moment, we are only able to see the minimalist version of the pet system at the moment, but the developers have hinted at more useful pets and even hirelings. We do know for a fact that the Blight Wolf Mount is going to be one of the exotic pet/mounts available as a quest reward. Prairie Chicken mounts are a no-brainer.
This Sector 2 PvP hotspot is now a neutral town. The town has been taken over by The Human League (no, not the eighties band). The faction camps are gone, but the town still has the same overall appearance. The main difference is the town is no longer a conflict town inside a PvP zone. There are now a group of missions that the players can run to protect the town from the anti-mutant Human League goons. It was the premier S2 PvP zone because of it's central location, but I'm sure the PvP will a new home somewhere nearby.
Players can now initiate a one on one fight anywhere that is not a PvP zone. Simply right click on the intended opponent and select Duel or target the desired opponent and use the </duel> command in the chat bar. The one challenged will receive a pop-up message stating that they have been challenged to a duel (there is a setting to ignore all duels, much like clan invitations). The challenger's name and level will also be displayed. If the challenged accepts the duel, a ten second counter begins to count down. After the ten second cease fire, hostilities can commence. The fight is not to the death, so there is no penalty for losing a duel, except to your ego. The winner will be declared in the local chat channel to all in the general vicinity. All pets, mounts and vehicles are also fair game, so make sure they aren't in the line of fire. Unless you want to use your horse as cover (I've done it, sorry horsey). The winner will use a pre-configured emote upon winning (my personal favorite is </bird>). This is currently implemented on the test server, so try it out.
Blood sports is a new style of PvP sponsored by the Bankers' faction. These are sanctioned events, and there will be no respawning penalties. Death Toll is awarded for kills, however. So, there's really not a lot to lose. It will be a good training ground for those who are curious about PvP, but don't want to risk damaging their gear. There will be four different game types, they are all pretty much standard FPS fare: Deathmatch, Assault, Survival and Capture the Flag (the flag is a melee weapon by the way). There will be Death Toll merchants nearby to use put your Death Toll to use. I know the developers eventually plan to make Death Toll into a form of currency, hopefully it will be included with the blood sports content. There will also be an announcer giving the play-by-play, à la Unreal Tournament.
Perhaps the coolest PvP enhancement will be clan wars. Clans will be able to declare war on one another, making the two clans involved fully PvP enabled with one another. There will be a challenge system that will spur on combat, and entice both sides to hunt one another down. Being a clan leader myself, I think I'm going to enjoy this feature. Also, players can wager on the clan war's outcome.
The not too distant future
The Fallen Earth development team also notes that they will be working on other important changes over the next few patches. Many of these improvements are major changes including a one-time respec. Some aesthetic things that are being worked on are the melee animations and the terrain. Game mechanics related stuff includes the effect system and buff-stacking inconsistencies, and a rebalancing of one and two-handed weaponry. They also want to assure us that there is a Sector 4 and we will get to see it. All the new content in the 1.4 patch should keep us busy while they put the finishing touches on Sector 4.