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Today Fallen Earth, Gamersfirst's latest MMO acquisition, makes the transition to Free to Play. Set in a post-apocolyptic universe, it's a gritty, bloody game for the hardcore among us, and at the same time features an impressively robust scavenging crafting system.  Fallen Earth was one of those titles that I rooted for but didn't see succeeding with a subscription mode, so this news is most welcome.  The screenshot above is just one (pretty awesome) example of the sorts of things you can build in the game.

In celebration of the game's paradigm shift, I got the opportunity to interview Joseph Willmon, the associate game director for GamersFirst and Marie Croall is Lead Designer for Reloaded Productions.  Hit the jump to read their responses and learn about the next MMO you should be adding to your game library.




How does Fallen Earth fit in with the current GamersFirst catalog?

Joseph Willmon: Fallen Earth occupies a unique place in our lineup. For one, it’s the only game we have (and really the only one on the market) with the post-apocalyptic backdrop we’ve come to know and love from movies, books, other games. It’s got a lot of sandbox elements that embody the ideas that draw us to post-apocalyptic fiction so much: exploration, factions with competing ideals attempting to rebuild society in their image, and a crafting system built on using scavenged parts to make something new. And some of the NPCs and quests…let’s just say we provide some pretty interesting experiences unique to Fallen Earth that you won’t find in an elves and sorcery kind of setting.

Marie Croall: We’ve also got a classless progression system that lets you decide how you want to play your character by investing in skills and attributes rather than funneling you into a class. The end result is a real feeling of being on your own in a wasteland, fighting for everything you end up crafting and using.

Exactly how will the F2P model work in Fallen Earth?

Joseph Willmon: First and foremost, the game will be 100 percent Free2Play; we don’t charge for content or force anyone to fork over cash after a set amount of time has passed. Want to play for free? Go for it, we’re glad to have you in our wasteland.  Free players can do anything a paying player can do, including trade, use the Auction House, and mail system, but in most cases a paying player will be more efficient. We’ll be offering three Premium Subscription packages that will offer increasing tiers of advantages in leveling, crafting and foraging times, AP gain rate, increased Reward Points to spend in the reward merchants, character slots, and more. One of the new subscription prices will actually be lower than the current subscription price, but will offer the same rates of increase as players currently receive in the game.

Marie Croall: The coolest new thing we’re doing is with this stackable aura that comes with the top tier of Premium Subscription packages. Basically, all of the packages give the player who purchases them passive benefits, but this aura extends those benefits to others in your group – even if they don’t pay anything themselves. So, for example, in a group of four free players and one with a Commander package, all five players get some benefits! Multiple Commanders will stack this as well, so four free players and two Commanders would see increases for everyone (though not to game-breaking levels, of course). We’re also expanding the in-game cash shop with more cosmetic items, pets, mounts, wardrobe slots, and services (like bank slots, character slots, name changes, etc).

What sets Fallen Earth apart from other F2P games on the market today?

Marie Croall: Other than the setting, source material, unique hybrid combat system, deep crafting system and enormous world? For one, Fallen Earth doesn’t force players to play a certain way. As an example, in other titles if you want to be a melee fighter and proficient at ranged combat, then you have to choose between two different classes. In Fallen Earth you can spend your points any way you chose, allowing you to be both deadly at range or up close. This of course necessitates tradeoffs—you might not have any healing skills or mutations—but how you choose those tradeoffs can be unique to you and how you want to play your character.

Joseph Willmon: The community. In every game you get a mix of personalities, playstyles, and neuroses – Fallen Earth is no different, but as a whole, it has got to be the most intelligent, helpful group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure to mingle with. The in-game help channel is a testament to this. If you’re in-game and you have a question, no matter what time of day or night, you’re only seconds away from getting your answer.

How will microtransactions affect game balance?

Marie Croall: Because of Fallen Earth’s unique and almost entirely player-driven economy, it’s very important that we keep everything on the “up-and-up” as it were. Selling weapons, armor, potions, things like that would just end up de-valuing the work that players have already put into the game. We’re focusing on things that increase efficiency, expand cosmetic options, and provide additional services (like faction changes and respecs, both of which are also available in the game).

Joseph Willmon: It’s sort of a joke now how developers tend to say “I know all the other guys say they won’t go pay-to-win, but we really won’t!” and then before they’ve even finished the sentence they’re selling +10 Broadswords or whatever. So rather than just say that myself, I invite anyone to stop by our forums and check with our community about our commitment to not selling power advantages. We think the right way to do Free2Play is to offer a compelling game experience and allow people to support that by choosing their level of investment.

As a mature MMO, what changes if any will you be making to the general content of the game in order to make it acceptable to a wider audience?

Joseph Willmon: Yeah, we’re not going to do that. Fallen Earth is the kind of game mom and dad play while the kids are off playing something with elves and fairies in it. This is an awful, horrible, nasty, brutal post-apocalyptic future, exactly as it should be. We’re going to age-gate our access to the game, much like we do already with the open beta of APB Reloaded. But we’re not changing the game to make it more kid friendly. It’s a hard-core MMO in a dystopian future. You can’t remain true to the source material and also make it an E-rated title.

Play the quest “Messered Up” in Sector 2 for a good example of the kind of content we’re not in a hurry to do away with :)

Marie Croall: We’re 100 percent dedicated to the source material and the current player-base. So no, we’re not going to change the gritty and violent nature of the game.

With news of a Fallout MMO in development, are you at all concerned about competition in the post apocalyptic MMO genre?

Joseph Willmon: We’re all Fallout fans, so of course we’re super excited about it! Apart from the setting though, who knows if there’s really a comparison there between the two? Fallen Earth is the sum of its mechanics, not the result of its setting. And with Fallen Earth going Free2Play, there’s absolutely no reason why the two can’t exist side by side. More post-apocalyptic goodness is better for everyone – and honestly, if we do end up in direct competition with each other that’s cool too, because competition strengthens everyone involved. 

How will the transition to a microtransaction system affect the crafting system in the game, since previously that was such a focus?

The only direct impacts I can think of would be the fact that the crafting speed increases with the different tiers of subscription packages, and that free accounts have an 8 hour per day crafting limit (which we’ll eventually support the removal of with a micro-transaction item). We expressly allowed free accounts to trade and use the auction house—two systems that are traditionally restricted from free players in other games—in order to continue to promote Fallen Earth’s crafting system. You won’t be able to buy your way to a fully crafted item. You’re going to have to play the game.

Are you making any changes to the core structure of the game to update it for today's market in addition to adding F2P elements?

Joseph Willmon: We’ve actually done that a couple patches back, prepping the game by streamlining the new user experience, gently introducing new players to the idea that this is a massive, open world with a lot of stuff to do, and you’re not just given everything on a silver platter. We’re also leaning towards more sandbox oriented design. Instead of releasing a new content expansion every year or so, what we’re do is adding in systems that players can use all the time as dynamic content. To that end, we’re introducing the new World Events system with the Free2Play patch, and later, the new Faction Territory Control system. We haven’t released our post Faction Territory Control plans yet, but expect more sandbox and less theme park.

Will development continue on Fallen Earth after launch, and when can players expect new content rollouts?

Marie Croall: Right now we are working on Territory Control, after that we have a few major system we’ve been planning on for a while that are just a bit far out to divulge any info on, but it’s all things we are very excited about.

In short, why should players try Fallen Earth F2P?

Joseph Willmon: To play something utterly unlike any MMO you’ve yet experienced. There’s something magical about scouring the wasteland for parts and then crafting your first ATV. It blows everything else out of the water.

Marie Croall: Joe pretty much nailed it. There aren’t a lot of games like Fallen Earth out there. If you’re looking for a game with a robust crafting system, various PvE and PvP options and objectives, deep engrossing lore all on one seamless server, you should join the wastelands. 


3 Comments for this post.
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Fallout is a big post apocalyptic title, I haven't played it but my friends have told me it is amazing. This game also follows the post apocalyptic theme. I am not really drawn in by these games because of the inhumane feeling they give to the player. That's cool that Joseph Willmon acknowledges how similar but different Fallen Earth and Fallout are. I most likely won't pick this game up. What are your peoples ideas?

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Nice, who doesn't like an f2p mmo :) I'm a huge fan of the fallout series. I've logged wayyyyy  too many hours into Fallout 3, I think I ended up somewhere around 180, lol. But if this is anywhere remotely near the quality of game fallout is I would love to give it a try, I think I'm gonna DL it a little later today actually.

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Mmmm.... and MMO with a motorcycle.... I'm in.

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