Wasteland Diaries: Car wars

Edward Marshall
E. Marshall|04.08.11

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Wasteland Diaries: Car wars
Lately, I've been doing a lot of crafting in Fallen Earth. I have a lot of materials stockpiled, and it seems they are just taking up space. So I've been putting together some vehicles (Interceptor Speedsters, to be precise). They take about four days each to make; that's in real time, mind you. There isn't much of a demand for them right now. In fact, they sell very inexpensively on the auction house. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with them, but I guess it can't hurt to have a couple on hand.

Fallen Earth is unique in the sense that you can't purchase a mount from a vendor NPC. You can get them from the rewards merchant or buy them from the Fallen Earth store, but the usual method of acquiring one is to craft it or buy it from the auction house. Some are even quest rewards. But the majority of the mounts out there are provided by the playerbase. In this post, I'll look at the evolution of vehicular combat in Fallen Earth and what we might hope and expect to see in the future. So put the pedal to the metal and zip past the cut for more.

As cool as fighting from a mount is, you just don't see enough of it in Fallen Earth. I remember back in the beta when I always made pistol/rifle hybrid character builds. And I would normally get to about level 15 and then make a new one. My first long-term goal would always be to craft a horse. Everything I did would eventually culminate in my being able to ride a horse. Once I was on top of the horse, I would just ride around on it, shooting the local fauna from my new vantage point. I would explore the wastelands for hours, never really accomplishing anything, just riding around and finding new and interesting stuff.

It wasn't until I got a character to level 45 (it was the level cap at launch) that I traded in my horse for a vehicle. I moved up to a motorcycle. In a way, it was a step down, but the bike was a good deal faster than the horse. I would like to note that vehicles also get a boost to their top-end speed on the open road, while horses do not. But horses (not just horses, any living mount) regenerate stamina over time, which is handy. The main things I missed about my horse was being able to jump and shooting a rifle while mounted.

That's why I stuck to my horse for so long. The horse was able to navigate harsh terrain better and I could use my main weapon from atop it. At launch I envisioned my first character (Nufan) to be a sort of dragoon -- a cavalry rifleman. So that was the path I took. I enlisted with a bunch of like-minded individuals when I joined up with Soldiers of Fortune. They were a military-themed PvP clan and believed that the cavalry charge would be a serious "shock-and-awe" weapon of the apocalypse. In short: It wasn't.

From horseback, you are hindered by being unable to use the vast majority of your skills. You are unable to heal yourself, your mount, or anyone else, and your traverse rate is limited. SoF made the cavalry charge a reality in Fallen Earth, but they never perfected it. As far as I know, nobody has. The most awe-inspiring mounted charge I ever saw was on the bridge in Zanesville, when Wolves of War charged Exile on their blight wolves. I wouldn't do the moment credit by trying to describe it in mere words. Epic, to say the least. But these days, most PvPers run around in Interceptors. They are, after all, the fastest mounts in the game.

I, for the most part, also use Interceptors for PvP. They have a good amount of storage space and can take 1000 damage before being destroyed in addition to being the fastest ride. Until recently, you could repair your vehicle as often as you liked while still sitting in it. You could just stop for a moment, hit the "repair" button, and drive off laughing. This made for some goofy and annoying tactics in PvP. But now, you must dismount to repair your vehicle, making it a bit more hazardous to try the fix-and-run tactic. A lot more hazardous.

Last weekend while we were battling in Park City, our enemies pulled out to attack Haietta while we were all massed in PC. I talked everyone into setting up an ambush on the road out of town in the hopes of bagging the inevitable stragglers. So we hid our cars and ourselves and waited. Just about the time we got into position, one drove right into the midst of us. The car and driver went down in a hail of gunfire. Even though it was our only kill in the ambush, it was worth the five-minute head-start we allowed our opposition in Haietta. I see more road-side ambushes in our future. The subtle change in the mechanics of vehicle repairs has made a dramatic impact on vehicle tactics.

It was one of those changes that has far-reaching effects, effects that can't be fully realized until they are put into action. Nobody could really foresee what would happen if fatigue were added to vehicles. I always found it strange that equipment has fatigue, but vehicles do not. You can repair a vehicle as many times as you like and it never degrades. And the repair kits are insanely cheap to boot. It's really a very minor inconvenience to have your car destroyed, unless you yourself are destroyed shortly thereafter. A change like this would certainly be met with a lot of complaining (which is why we will likely never see something like this), but it certainly would give the crafters something to do.

Lately I've been using my combat buggies more often that usual. With the rugged terrain in Terminal Woods and the dismounting required for repairs, it's become a viable vehicle again. I kind of regret not making a Load Runner buggy before the vehicle re-vamp. The old version sports a medium machinegun, which hit a little harder than the light MG in the combat buggy. This isn't saying much, because the MG (actually twin MGs) in the combat buggy hit only slightly harder than the zipguns you start the game with (seriously), which is a shame.

Most of us are still patiently waiting for the Interceptors with machineguns mounted on them. We know they exist, because we've seen the devs and GMs driving around in them. Maybe we will see them with the next level cap increase. Guns on our 'ceptors will definitely kick off vehicular PvP in Fallen Earth with a vengeance. I personally know a few players who would re-sub the moment we were able to get armed and fast cars. Hopefully the team will also give the vehicular weaponry some much-needed love soon.

Until then, I'll stick to my combat buggies. Or I'll ride around on a motorcycle, shooting a pistol at bad guys (or good guys, depending on what side of the wheel you call home). The days of the "invincible scout" are over, and PvP has a new dynamic that isn't quite established just yet. Thankfully, it's no longer a waste of time to try to shoot someone's mount out from under him. So if I see you out in the wasteland and you happen to be an Enforcer, keep the repair kits handy, because it's a good bet I'll be shooting at you one way or another. Until next week, buckle up and drive safely.

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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