Wasteland Diaries: The old vs. the new

Edward Marshall
E. Marshall|09.02.11

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Wasteland Diaries: The old vs. the new
Bunker bar
When it was first introduced, the new combat system seemed pretty awkward and cumbersome. As with all new game systems, you just have to get used to it. Luckily, due to the extreme familiarity I have with Fallen Earth, I adapted fairly quickly. But I didn't like it much at first. It was too healer-centric in PvP, and it was nearly impossible to die in PvE with such a large health pool and awesome self-heals. Instead of grinning and bearing it, I complained and hoped for a fix. It got fixed, and though it's not perfect, it's pretty close.

In this post, I will take a look at the new system and how it differs from the old one, now that I've had some time to think it over. I'm still not sure whether I like it better than the old system yet, but it's growing on me. There's a lot of stuff that I miss from the old system and a lot of stuff I'll never miss. Knockdown and stuns are two of those things. A lot of players were worried that the new combat system would take ages to tweak, but it seems like it's pretty close to the mark already. A few minor adjustments might be needed, but it's already close to a finished product from what I see. After the cut, I'll tell you why I think that.

The flow of combat is back to what it was pre-1.9. Sniping is still as effective as it once was, perhaps even more so. If you get caught out in the open and have a couple of Riflemen bearing down on you, you are headed to the cloner unless your team is fast with the heals. This new combat system did nothing to eliminate the furball (the furball is the swirling mosh-pit that all FE fights eventually devolve into) because as long as there are heals, rezzes, and plenty of cover, battles won't be decisive without players closing to point-blank range.

The rezzes have been toned down quite a bit (especially since there are no more AoE rezzes), but the heals are incredibly potent. Melee is still brutal and deadly in the furball in this new system. But the furball isn't going anywhere in this system either, folks. Flow of combat has no clear winner, as both systems are very similar. Both systems have a pronounced furball effect, so there is no clear victor there, either. So far, the two systems are in a dead heat on the big points, but there are some major differences on the more subtle aspects.

PvE combat was easy before the 1.9 patch and still is. Before the health nerf (which lowered everyone's health considerably with the 1.9.2 patch), PvE combat was ridiculously easy. OK, maybe not ridiculously easy. There was a time when full dodge and a damage shield coupled with a tesla coat could be used to kill a camp of melee mobs while you were AFK. It's not quite that easy, but it's still a breeze. This is all assuming you have plenty of healing skills and mutations like First Aid and Empathy. If you don't have tons of heals, life will be rough for you in the new wasteland. All PvP and PvE builds should include First Aid. The buffs and regens are slower now, but the active heals are much better. These factors balance things out, and because of that, PvE hasn't changed much -- fewer HoTs (though I do like the stance-based regens) and more heals. PvE looks about the same overall for both systems.

Los Alamos PvP team
With more emphasis on weapon DPS, the disparity between novice and veteran players has been lessened. There is still a noticeable difference between the two, but taking on an onslaught of newbs single-handedly is a thing of the past. Weapon damage is likely to meet or exceed its theoretical DPS even against fully armored targets with mitigation at the 50% cap. Against unarmored or fully debuffed targets, the damage is incredible (pro-tip: wear armor). Now that a small group of skilled players can be easily overwhelmed by a larger group of less-skilled players, numbers count for more. Aura-stacking also makes the numbers matter more. I prefer the old system in this sense, but I'm also glad to see the new guys doing some killing too.

The crazy movement speeds that were once possible are gone. And so are stuns and knockdowns, though some abilities can still be used to stun NPCs. I've always felt that stuns in an MMORPG of any kind were a bad mechanic that sucked the fun right out of the game. Some people swear by them as being a necessary evil, but I disagree. The new system is so much better without the stuns and (especially) knockdown. The clear winner in this category is the new system.

The skills and abilities are more streamlined now. There are fewer abilities per skill or mutation line, but each line is more specialized. Each has a theme, so to speak. Under the new system, Statistics no longer add to the minimums of a skill or mutation line. This has the effect of eliminating the "jack-of-all-trades" issue since the players have to pay for every AP put into a line (and the players were given 10 more AP per level to compensate for this). The old system had a lot of redundancy, but the new AP system would have all but eliminated it. I preferred the old skillsets, but I like the new AP expenditure system... I suppose I would have preferred a mix of the two. Call it a tie.

PvP after-party
Last but not least are the 30-minute consumables. Seriously guys, PvP is expensive and the chip grind is no fun. Advantage: old system, by far. Making us have to craft twice as many consumables to support our habit was just plain mean.

All in all, I have to admit, I like both systems. Given enough time, I'm sure that I'll get fully accustomed to the new one and completely forget about the old one. For the time being, I'm still having fun playing FE now that it's no longer healer-wars or stun-fest. I am still awaiting (not very) patiently for the economic overhaul and the territory control. So if you see me out in the wastelands, don't hesitate to say hello, and I'll try not to talk with my mouth full while I'm eating twice an hour.

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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