The new Deadfall area is big enough to be considered Sector 3.5. It has its own map, and it takes a considerable amount of time to traverse the area. The terrain is also much more rocky and jagged than we are used to. This makes the mountainous areas look much more natural. While climbing some of the mountains in the area I found quite a few spectacular vistas (not the faction).
There are 3 new factions in the faction menu. Outsiders, Human League, and Shiva's Favored. There is still no option to try and befriend the CoGs or Judges, unfortunately. We should be able to buddy up with the Survivalists. They seem okay, right up until they shoot at you to ensure their own survival. I also visited a couple of the new towns in Deadfall. Pitchblende, with its rather ironic name struck me as a former housing project that is now occupied by all six player factions. And Los Alamos, which was the hub of Deadfall, had everything a post-apocalyptic wanderer might need.
I also ran into our old friend Elena Winters. She was kicking back and grilling a couple of armadillos up near a facility that was overrun by a bunch of mutated clones. Looks like we will be cleaning up another one of LifeNet's messes in the form of zombie-like horrors. Grab your shotgun and let's have a "highest zombie headshot critical" contest. I love that game.
There was a small PvP zone that was essentially just an office building and its parking lot. I also found one other southeast of Los Alamos. There are quest items in the Office Park PvP zone in the GlobalTech Relic Nodes. Some people get snippy when the are force-fed PvP, but I'd like to remind them that all quests are optional. Just click on the little red "X" to tell the quest giver "No, thanks." The fact that the new PvP zones are small and few should lead to some nice action. It reminds me of Fort Forgotten, right outside Depot 66 in Sector 1. Plenty of action, no hide and seek. Just short, intense gun battles with the occasional nine iron wielding maniac mixed in. Ah, the good old days. Intense firefights look so much cooler now with the tracer visual effect that has been added to ballistic projectiles. Pew pew pew.
I got a peak at a few of the 180 skill books and got almost giddy. The Mastercrafted Rifle Manual was one such book. I didn't find Portable Flamethrowers or Plasma Rifles, but my search wasn't too thorough, and I can't rule out that they might exist.
Effects rebalance and the respec
The biggest change today will be what has been dubbed the "Effects Rebalance". It is a drastic overhaul of the Fallen Earth combat system. I won't go into the specifics in this post, but the book has been rewritten. Sweeping changes like this create a need for a full respec. While I could probably live with the choices I made, if I had to, I'd prefer to start from scratch and I know I'm not alone. The respec will arrive in your in-game mail in the form of a Pristine Recombinant Injector. When used it will remove all of your AP and allow you to re-spend it. Once claimed from the mail it can be used at any time, or never. I tested the respec, and even though it was the test server and I could do it over and over, I was still a little nervous. I think I will wait until we see how the new style of combat plays out before I use my respecs.
The achievement system is split into five different categories: Crafter, Explorer, Mercenary, Survivalist and Wastelander. The Crafter achievements are awarded for eating food, drinking drinks, popping pills and learning new recipes. The Explorer achievements are gained by finding tourist viewfinders at each of the designated landmarks. The Mercenary achievements are awarded for killing particular mobs and bosses, in certain amounts. The Survivalist achievements are more varied, encompassing use of skills, faction relations and gambling. The Wastelander category will chronicle the missions you have completed, and is a welcomed addition considering Fallen Earth has a lot of missions. Every time you are awarded an achievement, it is announced to your clan. Oh, and don't worry, you will be credited retroactively for all Knowledge, Faction, Tradeskill and Mission achievements on your existing characters.
The following Conflict Towns will behave differently now: The Gallows, Tinkersdam, Hollister Point, The Dump, and Fender Gate. These are now timed Conflict Towns. There will be a timer on each town. When the timer reaches zero, the faction with the most faction points will control the town. There is no neutral state, the new faction seizes control immediately. Every player from an enemy faction that you kill will now score faction points for the town as well as you. The faction controlling the town will also determine what kind of faction-specific scavenging nodes will spawn in the vicinity.
Death Toll rewards
Death Toll gear is blood-stained and purchased with Death Toll. Death Toll is no longer lost, only gained. The only way to get back down to zero is to spend them. You will even be awarded Death Toll just for showing up. In one Deathmatch in particular, I didn't kill anyone and still walked away with 1100 DT. I must have wounded a lot of people.
Some other changes that came in just under the wire involve stamina and stealth. Stamina now regenerates dependent on player movement speed. It regenerates at 1/3 its base rate while running, 2/3 if jogging and full if walking or stationary. Also, when in stealth mode or crouching you will move slower, not just strafe slower. No more running in stealth mode. Yeah, I'll miss that too.
I have only scratched the surface on what is new in this patch. If you want all of the grisly details, the copious patch notes are available at the Fallen Earth website.