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Wasteland Diaries: PvP for dummies

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PvP in Fallen Earth is different. It's not much like an MMORPG, and it's not much like an FPS (first-person shooter, for the uninitiated). It's a hybrid, and it can take some getting used to. But isn't that what PvE is for? To train us to PvP? I would like to think that, but many players of MMOs refuse to ever fight their fellow players. Considering I get most of my combat joy out of fighting other players, I find this online conscientious objector mentality beyond my ability to understand. But there are also those who will always PvP, and then there are the undecided. If you're wondering whether or not to try out some Fallen Earth PvP action, this article is for you.

I have never understood why, in a game that has such paltry death penalties, so few engage in PvP. The fine folks at Fallen Earth, LLC have even been nice enough to put kid gloves on us when we PvP in Blood Sports. There is literally no penalty whatsoever for dying in a Blood Sports match. You respawn fully buffed and ready to get some. My goal in this article is to convince some of the players who are undecided on PvP to try it out. I'll give you the low-down on what to expect, and at the end I'll give you some tips from the pros. So, without any further ado, let's move on.



Types of PvP

PvP in Fallen Earth is quite similar to PvE except that your victim isn't going to stand still and obligingly let you kill him. Human opponents are much more challenging in a fight than scripted A.I. mobs and are much better at verbal PvP to boot. If you have spent any time playing Fallen Earth, you have been involved in combat. I'm assuming that the basics of shooting and/or clobbering foes is second nature to you by now. I'll cover the finer points of killing other players later. For now, let's look at the when and where of PvP.

There are four main methods of PvPing in FE. The first is dueling. Dueling is good for practicing PvP, since nobody will die in a duel. But dueling will only teach you how to fight one-on-one. To learn how to properly fight as a group, you will need to indulge in a type of PvP that you can die in. The second method is Blood Sports. This is PvP in a controlled environment and is very low risk. There is no death penalty. Strangly enough, Blood Sports is, by far, the fastest way to get Death Toll. You would think that open-world PvP would be more rewarding than the low-risk arena fights.

The other two methods of PvP have a little more risk attached. Upon death, you will lose all of your buffs except your current stance. Your gear will take a bit of damage, and you will get cumulative cloning sickness. Your mounts and pets can be attacked, as well. The first of the two more dangerous methods is entering PvP zones and conflict towns. These flag you for PvP as soon as you enter and last for five minutes after you leave. The last method is the PvP-anywhere-anytime method. You simply type "/pvp" into the chat bar to flag and do the same to unflag. You will still be PvP-enabled for five minutes after you unflag.

The basics

Staying alive in PvP is a little more difficult than it is in PvE. Your enemies will be hitting you with debuffs, direct-damage mutations and skills (DDs), damage-over-time mutations and skills (DoTs), stuns, and snares. They will be pummeling you with everything in their arsenals as fast as they can. You should be doing the same thing right back. You always have to keep moving. Take cover or wait until they are reloading to heal. Try not to present an easy target for your opponent or opponents. Always have every buff channel running something -- that includes food, drink, and other consumables too. Always try to have the best gear that you are able to use. Every five levels you should be replacing all of your equipment. Bind your most frequently used and most important abilities to your most accessible hotkeys.

Group PvP is a little different than a one-on-one fight or duel. You don't want to necessarily unload everything at once in a group fight. One person should be the designated target-caller, and everyone should focus fire on the target called. You should definitely be using some sort of voice comm like Ventrilo or Teamspeak or you will be outclassed by groups that do use them. Try to use group area-of-effect heals as often as possible and watch the friendly fire (it's always on in Fallen Earth).

That covers the basics of Fallen Earth PvP. Mastering your hotkey combos, getting your timing down (i.e., waiting eight seconds before using another stun on the same target), watching your health, gamma, and stamina -- all while trying to move and aim -- can be daunting at first. The important thing is to practice. There is a large rift between a new player and a veteran player in Fallen Earth. The vets will tear the new guys to pieces every time, but don't get discouraged. The tattered veterans of today were once the guys getting stomped; they just chose to persevere. Don't step into Fallen Earth PvP thinking your FPS skills will carry you. You will need the knowledge of what to do and the practice to make sure it's second nature when you do it.

I was able to ask a few of the top PvPers from three of the major PvP clans to provide us with some insight on PvP. Think of it as tips from the pros. I've added some bits of commentary here and there.

Misbee Haven, a ranking officer and driving force in the PvP clan Exile: "The first rule is survivability. Second rule: stuns, knockdowns, debuffs, go-to DoT and DD mutations should be a linear hotkey configuration. Riflemen should stick to assault rifles and shotguns up close and only ever use sniper rifles in a pure support role. Snipers rifles are only good in group-support roles in PvP (assault rifle or shotgun). When I was first learning to PvP, I wanted to attack attack attack, only to find out that survivability trumps damage-per-second (DPS) in Fallen Earth PvP. Make sure to figure out your heals (HoTs/static heals) and contingency plans (armor buffs and skill buffs) and allocate them in the easiest-to-access hotkey configurations on your key bindings. I run Revitalize, Accelerated Recovery, and Unstoppable at the onset of a fight, with the assumption that my opponent will attempt to debuff me. With a food and drink buff, Ignore Pain, Gird, and Mind Over Matter mixed with already-high base regen rates, you have a recipe for survival.

"Now that survivability has been attained, it's on to hurting the other guy. You have a number of choices of stuns, knockdowns and snares that are at your disposal to lay on the guy to debilitate him, keep him from drawing first blood, and allow you to get the upper hand. Achieve victory by using your debuffs and DoTs more effectively without having to have 10 sprained fingers from using all these things in a spastic finger-twisting assault on your keyboard. Unloading a stun, debuffs, a DoT and then some copious DPS will put this opponent down and leave you at full health for the next victim.

"OK, you loved being a sniper in Call of Duty and Battlefield? Sweet, me too! It's not gonna happen here in FE. Why? Because of everything I've already told you. Health-tanking is a big thing in FE PvP. Self healing and HoTs are available to all builds. A single shot from a sniper rifle doesn't scare anybody that has a halfway well-thought-out build. In a group PvP situation a sniper will provide adequate cover fire and complementary DPS to your guys in the scrum. Occasionally the sniper will get a lucky headshot to finish off a guy who's been thoroughly debuffed and has but a sliver of life left in his health bar."

(Ed: When sniping [with a battle rifle, not a sniper rifle], I like to pop my favorite enemy with Fatal Setup. It's un-resistable and drops the target's ranged defense to zero. Enemies go down fast, especially if my next shot is loaded up with Puncture.)

Misbee: "Since most skills, debuffs and mutations are only effective within a 20 meter or less range, every group fight ends up in what is affectionately called the 'furball' (imagine 15 cats all fighting each other at once). In order for a rifle build to be effective in this furball fighting, you will need to use either a shotgun or an assault rifle. All of the above is even more efficient if you can do it on the move. Standing in one place and making yourself an immobile target will ultimately get you killed. Practicing your combos with friends and clanmates will familiarize you with your key settings and make it possible to commit actions to your 'muscle-memory.'"

(Ed: Pay close attention to this next one -- this guy is nearly impossible to beat in a one-on-one fight.)

Hollywood Undead of the Saints clan: "Step 1: Debuff. Attempting to do weapon damage (aka white damage) to a player, prior to using an armor debuff will only get you pwned. Always lead with some sort of armor debuff or defensive-skill debuff, though I strongly believe that in the current combat system, all stat debuffs are worthless based on the stamina/gamma requirements for use vs. their benefit.

"Step 2: DoT. Once you have landed an armor debuff, the next attack should always be a DoT. If possible, you want to keep a constant DoT on your opponent throughout the entire fight. This will give constant damage regardless of your landing any white damage. Another great aspect of a DoT is the annoyance and distraction it causes the player it's ticking on. Finally, most players use a 'status clear' to drop the DoT. This will cause your opponent to waste a significant chunk of his/her stamina or gamma base that could have been used against you. However, I think using a status clear is simply a waste of stamina or gamma; I don't use them at all. If I'm hit by a DoT I simply ignore it, relying on my regeneration to heal through it because I don't want to sacrifice the stamina or gamma to clear it.

"Step 3: Elemental attacks. Use your 'elemental' attacks from nature/medical/mutangenics. Personally, I never PvP without a stack of Quick Death Poison and my Electric Generator. Assuming both of them land, you're looking at 250+ damage done at the cost of zero stamina/gamma."

(Ed: I carry around an Electrical Generator, but I hardly ever remember to use it. As far as a stack of poisons goes - I just don't have the hotkeys to support that. I'm already doing finger gymnastics as it is.)

Hollywood: "Step 4: Stun and pound. It's now time to stun your opponent. Lock him up and pound him with repeated head shots to maximize your damage. This is also the time you want to fire any 'abilities' that require a direct hit. As a rifleman, after I apply a stun, my first shot while the person is stunned is always with Agonizing Wound. With the person's health hurting from the previous steps, applying a zero regeneration ability all but locks up the fight for you.

"Step 5: Snare: If the person manages live through the stun and pound, immediately snare him when he comes out of the stun. This will allow for an increased damage chance from your white damage landing on the person, thus increasing your chance of maximizing damage done while the person is still not regenerating health."

(Ed: And last but not least, some advice on the finer points of P-versus-P.)

ZeroGravitySE, leader of the Wolves of War clan: "Changing binds/hotkeys is effective for using primary skills instead of using SHIFT and a key or CTRL and a key. Use the keys that aren't being used, like Q, E, Z, X, C, V, F, R, T, G, B, TAB and tilde. Also use whatever else you can from your mouse. It'll help reaction time greatly.

"Willpower and Intelligence can change the outcome of a fight, by resisting that one stun that made or broke you. It's important to know that investing in these takes a lot of AP because they both are 'optional.'

"Flipping for AP is useful if you're looking for optimal time saved by flipping the wheel (meaning going around doing all faction AP quests). It's important to level from 1 to max level, then go back to do the opposite faction side of what you want to be, collect the AP from conflict towns and faction towns. Grind back to the opposite side, and then repeat the same for the faction you pick.

"The game currently has balance issues with the weapons, so it's important to know that some weapons are more effective than others. With pistols, dual-wielding is key, as it is with melee. Just pay attention to damage shields (although the suppression mutation line with Willpower can allow you to strip damage shields). With rifles currently, the shotgun is the best alternative to all the other weapons.

"Mutation builds are not viable. I wouldn't play a pure mutation build."

That wraps up the advice from some top FE PvP veterans. If you have any questions about builds or PvP, don't be afraid to ask these guys (or me; I'm usually on as Nufan or Original) for help in-game. The knowledge they have obtained through trial, error, and practice is invaluable, and they are willing to share it. Our goal is to educate people on what FE PvP is all about and to get more bodies out there on the battlefields. Maybe bodies isn't the best choice of terms... combatants out there on the battlefields. If you haven't tried PvPing yet, try it. You don't have much to lose thanks to LifeNet. Or maybe you just got discouraged from this aspect of the game... give it another shot. I won't lie; Fallen Earth PvP is easy to learn but hard as nails to master. Practice and persevere. And if you see me in the wasteland minding my own business, you had better land the first stun.
Ed Marshall has been playing Fallen Earth since beta and leads the Outsiders clan. Wasteland Diaries is his weekly column that covers all aspects of Fallen Earth: PvE, RP and PvP. To contact Ed, send an email to edward@massively.com, find him on the official forums as Casey Royer, or hunt him down in the wastelands as Nufan, Original, Death Incarnate, and Knuckles Mcsquee.

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