Wasteland Diaries: Terminal Woods

Edward Marshall
E. Marshall|02.25.11

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Wasteland Diaries: Terminal Woods
To say that the Fallen Earth 1.8 patch is going to have some massive changes coming along with it might be a bit of an understatement. It's going to come fully equipped with major skills, abilities and mutations re-writes. Much will be changed. So much so, in fact, that I don't think anyone's quite sure what to expect, the devs included. The game will still be recognizable, but the flow of combat will be different. After more than a year of adjusting to the gradual changes that have been made to the game mechanics, I had settled into my comfort zone only to be ousted by significant changes.

It still remains to be seen whether Fallen Earth's new changes will be good or bad. Of course, "good" and "bad" are subjective terms, and one person's good might be another's bad. The great thing about major changes like these is this: We get to test them out before they go live. This latest round of testing on the PTS comes complete with new content, including an entirely new area called Terminal Woods, which looks to be about the same size as Deadfall. So it's not quite a sector, but it's pretty big. The devs have put a bit of this area up on the test server for us to "test." Test it I did... if by testing you mean "exploring and shooting at stuff." After the cut, I'll discuss some of the new stuff I found while I was "testing." Consider that a spoiler alert.

My first foray into the Terminal Woods area was to test the scavenger bosses. What are the scavenger bosses, you ask? They are big (except for the White Crow boss), nasty and hard-hitting creatures that can be summoned with a crafted item. The crafted item serves as a sort of bait to lure the boss to you. We fought them all, under the watchful eyes of a few from the Fallen Earth team. One boss was a breeze; another killed us over and over again. The others were somewhere in between. The crafted bait recipes are in the general crafting books that the veteran mobs in Deadfall drop -- specifically, the books that have the recipes for the crafted vault expansions.

Once the bait is crafted, you go to a specific location and lure the boss in. Why fight the bosses? It's simple. They drop Volatile Chemicals. You're probably thinking, "Yeah, so?" Well, there are a few new recipes in 1.8; many of them are upgrades to specific pieces of equipment. For example: There is an upgrade sniper rifle and a few suits of armor. Each upgrade costs a number of Volatile Chemical vials. I upgraded a Mesoprene Suit. Stat-wise, it was a little better than the stock Mesoprene Suit, but the part I found cool was that it was color-customizable. Yes, I was able to make it the color of my choice. I went with a kind of "woodland camouflage" theme, as seen in the posted pics. It seemed fitting, given the new terrain, which is quite lush.

That brings me to the next thing: the terrain. In a nutshell, it's pretty impressive. It looks good and runs smoothly. Although I was in a dense, lush, rain-foresty area, I was getting decent framerates, even on my archaic machine. The terrain is pretty rough and can be a hassle to drive through in an Interceptor. A couple of times, I thought about getting my Combat Buggy, but since there aren't any garages in the area yet, I trudged on in the old 'ceptor. That Buggy is collecting dust but might see some use soon, considering that you'll have to dismount to repair cars with the 1.8 patch. It should be an interesting twist to PvP when car chases actually end.

I went to a few of the landmarks that were on the map, and most of them were inhabited by people I don't tend to get along with: CoGs, eco-terrorists, and White Crow mercenaries. I used my shotgun, battle rifle, and sniper rifle on them, just to see how combat would flow. It flowed just fine, but the mobs don't drop loot yet. I wanted to check out the new loot tables for these higher-level NPCs, but it's not done yet. There are quite a few scavenge nodes in place, most of them level 150 or more. I also ran into an abandoned car node (the kind that shows up as a treasure chest on the map). It gave me nine common plastic. Those who deal in common plastic in large quantities (the Haietta gang) know what a stack of this stuff is worth.

The flora is very, for lack of a better term, green. But it looks great. The fauna, however, leaves a bit to be desired. Fallen Earth needs some new critters. Now, I don't know whether or not the bears, porcupines, and blight wolves are place-holders for some new creatures. I do realize that the PTS is a place to test new stuff, not get sneak-peeks at new content. But at this point, even some re-skins would be welcomed. Don't get me wrong -- the art department at Fallen Earth, LLC is doing a great job. If you don't believe me, take a look at this video, which was put together by Balzola (Wolves of War's Red Emma). The video showcases the area much better than I can with mere words.

The area is pretty big, and I don't even think I scratched the surface during my little expedition. I made it a point to check out the ranger station that was marked on the map. As I drove up to the spot, I saw where I would be headed: up a mountain. My goal was to make it to the top and gaze toward Sector 4 from the peak... or die trying. In actuality, I was in no real danger of dying, all because of a bug. The Restoration mutation was a super heal even at rank one, and it had no cooldown. The cooldown on Patch was also not working. I was able to fully heal myself continuously. Hey, it's not an exploit when it's on the test server!

So, I dismounted and began my trek up the mountain. Rather than taking the most direct route to the top, I followed the meandering road up through all of the opposition the White Crow could throw at me. There was a hodge-podge of camps, ambushes, and roadblocks all the way up. I killed every single White Crow on that mountain. My trusty battle rifle and my new devastating skills made short work of the Crow, and I slowly and deliberately made my way to the top. I actually wounded one of the mercenaries who was standing a little too close to one of the new exploding barrels (a video game staple). At the top was a group of veteran officers. They were a little tougher but nothing I couldn't contend with. (Remember: I was cheating.) I then gazed to the south at the wall, which, along with the lethal radiation, keeps us out of Alpha County. I sighed.

I'm interested to see what else will be in the area, because it didn't seem fully finished. I know the team just wanted a few things tested, so there was no real need to put everything in and spoil the surprise. One thing that made me sad is the fact that I did not see a PvP zone or a conflict town. We never got a level 50 conflict town, so it would be kind of nice to get one in Terminal Woods to tide us over until the first installment of Sector 4 is ready. No matter; I'll be kept busy enough doing all the missions in the new area four times.

Well, that's what I've discovered so far. I'm not done messing around on the PTS just yet, though. I've spent more time there than on the live server this week, and I'll probably be doing the same until the patch drops. So if you don't see me in the wasteland, I'll catch you on the PTS -- or I'll see you here next week.

Ed Marshall has been playing Fallen Earth since beta and leads the KAOS 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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