I'm not exactly sure why I am such a glutton for punishment, but over the last week I thought it would be a good idea to revisit Face of Mankind, an MMOFPS that pushes roleplay and politics in its description. I had already known from my previous experience that roleplay was pretty much non-existent and that the crowd was made up largely of typical MMOFPS or PvP types, but I have a rule to always give games second, third and sometimes fourth chances. It's a simple fact that many of them, especially independent ones, take a long time to grow and mature into the games they always should have been.
So how has Face of Mankind matured? How has it grown?
I have to be honest with you and tell you that the game surprised me in some ways this time around. Perhaps it was because I was already familiar with the controls and layout, but click past the cut and let me tell you all about it.
As a returning player, you will notice the new extended tutorial area first. Really, it seems as though the developers just made a simpler and more direct tutorial for players to learn about the game, but I was not really impressed. After all, one mass of text after another really does not do well with twitchy gamers like myself, but it did attempt to get most of the points about the game across. Luckily I already knew a decent amount about how to fight, run, sprint and other staple activities of the game. Perhaps a brand-new player might find the tutorial more exciting and helpful, but I found it to be unimaginative and boring.
Graphically the game appears the same as before. Perhaps no graphics changes were made, or a million of them were made, but either way I did not notice. The game's graphics aren't bad, anyway, and resemble a more primitive Fallen Earth. I actually prefer the fact that the game is so easy to run... that means a lot when you are in the middle of a firefight. Also, a game with graphics that do not require a super machine to run means that players with lower-end machines can play as well. That's always a good thing. There are actually some nice spots in the world, and the outdoor environments, with their flowing grass and sky, are quite lovely. The character models are animated well, and the clothes and customization are in-depth.
Another new bit of change came in the form of accessible player apartments for everyone. Now, I could be wrong, but I believe that only paying players (there is an optional subscription) had access to personal homes before, so I never saw one. Now, though, everyone has access to at least a basic apartment. I really like the layout of the tiny place and the fact that you can actually sit in the chairs or lie in the bed. There is a small screen that you can change personal information with and a fake television that streams "video." The word is that customization is coming to the homes soon, and players will be able to swap out furniture and move things around. If the devs added in working video players and more accessible information from inside the apartment, or if they added some sort of benefit to logging out in homes, then I could see housing being very important. For right now, it seems to mainly be a social tool and not much more. A cool social tool, though.
Early on during my return, I noticed these new things and enjoyed them. I took my time walking around the city, sight-seeing a bit. The bad stuff started to happen after that.
First of all, both times I played I was told that I had joined the "wrong" or "bad" faction. Last time it was a group of miners, and they were pretty much a bunch of roughnecks and not very helpful. Some of them were nice, but most of them just yelled at me to "Get on Vent! Get on Vent!" This time around it played out in about the same fashion. The very first thing I heard from the EuroCore faction channel was "Get on Vent! Get geared up! Meet at X!" Now, I know that it is possible some of those players were "roleplaying" the role of the angry commander, but to be told what to do constantly as a newish player was a huge bummer. I didn't want to get on Vent, especially since I rarely use voice programs anymore except to do interviews with developers. I know for a fact that no one will be roleplaying over voice. I came here for roleplay and dammit I was going to find it.
So I spent most of the week ignoring the chat of my own faction mainly because I had no idea what they were talking about. I asked a question here and there, but my words were quickly covered over by some screaming or discussion. I gave up. I didn't bother asking the people around me too much, especially since many of them literally killed me when they would find me in some dark corner of the city. I spent all of my time wandering around in between visits to the clone facility.
It wasn't so much boring as it was depressing. I knew that there was some good old fashioned fighting going on somewhere, and that much of it was pretty exciting, and that the stereotypical PvP jerk was usually only a small, if loud, part of the population. Even knowing that, though, I was disappointed that I didn't see the game living up to so much of the potential I know it has. The environments were nice-looking enough, the combat was easy enough to understand, the political strife was intense enough to fuel blood feuds, and there was almost always a sizable number of players around. So why did this game suck so bad?
I tried a few of the missions that were assigned to me, but they quickly proved to be way out of my level range. I have no idea why the system would assign me missions that I simply could not do, but I learned to ignore the missions after I died for the fifth time at the hands of some monster or random bored player. Then, on the last night of my time with game (I play Saturdays through Fridays), I clicked over to the faction chat tab. Someone simply yelled something like, "NEW PLAYERS, MEET IN BROOKLYN." That was me, and I knew where he was talking about!
Now, at this point I was tired and was needing to go pick up the wife soon. Did I really feel like spending the last few hours of my evening getting yelled at by a bunch of 17-year-olds?
"I was prepared to spend the rest of the evening doing this. In fact, I was cursing under my breath as I logged out... that was really fun, and on the last night of the visit! (I'll just have to go back for more.)"
We met and eventually the higher-ranked players gave me an entire set of gear and a new gun. They told me where to put the healing items and how to change my keys so that I could easily switch in battle, and then we all met in a night club of some sort. Now, at this point I was hitting the print screen button like crazy, but I can't find any screenshots. I normally use Picasa for that, but unfortunately I wasn't running it at the time. Anyway, the leader gave us drill sergeant-like instructions, then he gave us pop quizzes to make sure we understood what he meant. I actually paid attention and attempted to learn something. Two other players fought so we could watch how it all worked, and we were asked about the combat. Sure, a lot of this stuff would be known to anyone who might have picked up a virtual pistol before, but this was fun.
Then we were attacked by a rival faction. It was pretty intense. We were all on our guard, and someone from the law-enforcement division even showed up and helped. My leader thanked him in-character! The enemies showed up again and we drove them off. I was prepared to spend the rest of the evening doing this. In fact, I was cursing under my breath as I logged out... that was really fun, and on the last night of the visit! (I'll just have to go back for more.)
I felt bad at that point. I should have stopped being such a snob and should have been more vocal in the chat and asked for help long ago. I should have stood up and volunteered for more combat missions. I am not new at this at all; I should have known that the loudmouths would make the game seem rough, but all that was needed was to ignore them. I should have trusted my gut more... I knew there was exciting stuff going on in this game, and I knew there was roleplay. From now on, I'll just have to fight harder to find it, and maybe others will as well. This game didn't suck -- I was just giving up too easily.
Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email! You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook!