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Rise and Shiny Recap: Face of Mankind


Each week Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. Some of the games will be far out of your gaming comfort zone, and some will pleasantly surprise you. We will meet each Tuesday and Friday night at 8 PM Central time, with a recap column on Saturday. I welcome any suggestions for games, either in the comments or at beau at massively dot com.

First of all, there are three major rules of PvP that everyone should know by now. They are:

  • There is always someone better than you. You can practice your jumping, your strafing and your abilities, but there will always be another player who will take you down. The goal of PvP in any MMO is not to avoid dying, but to avoid dying more than your opponent.
  • Death is but a pause in combat. This might sound like a cool "Peace is just preparation for war!" type of saying, but I mean it literally. In every PvP-centric game I have played, death is just a slap on the wrist. Players can take your loot or sit on your corpse, but otherwise you pop up seconds later, no worse for the wear. While games like EVE Online and Face of Mankind try to make death more "deathy," it really only makes me concentrate on the fact that I am playing a game. If you want me to fear something, to feel real excitement, make death something that I regret.
  • PvPers have potty mouths. PvP game developers would never want to police their chat or do anything so carebearish, for fear that their playerbase would go find a game in which they could use all the naughty words they wanted to. I am not sure I understand why it is hardcore, or even cool, to allow players to use the names and language they do, but so be it. I have said naughty things in my life, too, but be warned if you have virgin ears that a PvP game will test your patience.

Understanding this, and preparing for little or no roleplay (RP? lol), I logged into Face of Mankind after making my character. You have to choose from one of 8 factions, and to be honest I went for the lamest faction I could think of. The Colonization and Mining Guild was so lame sounding that it was attractive. My character would forge his destiny through thick red clouds of dust, darn it! He would fight his way up the ladder! Little did I know that everyone in the game would remind me of how much the faction bit, and how much the players in the faction would simultaneously bite and rule at the same time. Unfortunately, it was my understanding that I would not be able to change factions unless I paid for a premium account.

The first fellow Miner I met told me to follow him. I did, and I have to admit that his urgency was exciting. He seemed to be pulling me out of a firefight, hopefully to educate me a bit (the game makes you work to find basic information, while calling it a "learning curve.") Soon, though, he pulled me out of the tutorial city and into our faction homebase. He told me then to "Get teamspeak." And then to "Get on teamspeak." I looked for the emote to signal "Hold on there, buddy" but instead stared blankly ahead.

Every Miner who recognized me as a newbie seemed to welcome me while barking orders at me. The faction you reside in has a very steep ladder of command to climb, and I was on the very bottom rung. I literally had someone tell me to "GET ON VENT" while handing me new armor and ammo. Another friendly faction member told me that I was a "----ing NOOB" while he gave me advice on where to find the tutorials. Later, when prodding for some information, a faction-mate told me to ask the boss. The boss then chimed in with: "I command you all to find me and gang rape me."

"In fact, the newbie tutorials were the best part of my week. They felt immersive and a little spooky."

At this point I'd learned how to craft, which consists of looking up at the screen in between Tweeting on your iPhone to make sure that no one is coming to kill you. It is actually a very neat system that makes you decide among speed, quality and cost, but the looming presence of PvP meant that you had to essentially babysit your PC while the ore chinked by. The systems do go deeper, I know that much. You mine basic materials, turn them into other materials, and craft items from those. I know it sounds vague, and that's because it is. Between figuring out the basics and literally hoping to find at least one other player to shoot at, I didn't dedicate much time to crafting.

While there are many complaints about the graphics, I found them decent enough to be a good setting for exploring. One of the few planets I visited is frequented by typical insect monsters that, due to my noobness or lack of decent weaponry, killed me in three seconds. Luckily before I died I did notice how nice the scenery was.

The quests were actually pretty interesting, some consisting of literally scouting areas for XP and faction points. I also enjoyed some of the basic tutorial missions that walked me through the basics of gameplay. In fact, the (recently implemented) newbie tutorials were the best part of my week. They felt immersive and a little spooky. When I tried to ask about some of the solo-friendly quests, I was told that I was being a leech and to avoid doing them. Then I watched as one of the leaders of the faction used his ability to decide which quests can be done, exchanging the "F---ing eco missions" for group combat. Again, I was being told what to do.

To sum up, the game might be for you if you are into squad warfare, factional combat or any other sort of PvP. If you like your local chat saucy and your groups forced then, again, this might be for you. If you were a fan of Tribes or of Planetside you might enjoy this game. But if you are looking for a deeper experience with a playerbase that wants to actually use the potentially fantastic tools that the game world provides, look elsewhere. Face of Mankind is your run-of-the-mill MMOFPS with your run-of-the-mill playerbase. You will die a lot, you will slowly learn bits of the game, and you will be told to GET ON VENT several hundred times.

The next game we are going to be looking at will be Earth Eternal. While I have already played this, it will be interesting to see how others experience it. My main character is Beau Turkey, a Clockwork knight. We will meet on Tuesday and Friday night, at 8 PM Central Time, USA.

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