Sunday, July 26, 2009

It's still The End of the World

Ok, part deux of my little post-apoc roundup. Yesterday saw me give the treatment to Fallout 3, Borderlands, Rage and Earthrise (see below for details). First on the list for today's installment is...

Fallen Earth. This is another post-apoc MMO and comes to us from Fallen Earth LLC and Icarus Studios LLC. The game is set in the near future after both a virus and a nuclear holocaust have devastated the globe, resulting in the annihilation of more than 99% of the world's population. One of the last major outposts of human civilisation is the Grand Canyon Province, an area that managed to avoid the worst of the cataclysm thanks to the intervention of an industrial tycoon who wished to turn the Grand Canyon into his own protectorate.

As with Earthrise the developers have chosen to go the classless route, instead constructing a skill-based game where you essentially define your own class as you decide exactly which skills to work with. There will also be what are termed "mutations", these being superhuman powers which developed in the human race as a result of the virus or radiation or possibly both. Available mutations include: the ability to radiate extreme heat or extreme cold to others; the ability to infect others with diseases and radiation; even the ability to drain the health of others and to restore the dead to life. The cool thing is that each of these mutations are favoured by 1-2 factions in the game, who will assist you in learning them and who will help you to develop your skills. There are 6 factions in the game whom you can choose to align yourself with. These include Enforcers (representing Order), Chota (representing Chaos) and Light Bearers (representing Society).

The complete list of factions can be found here and interestingly this wheel helps show you your friends and enemies. Suppose you choose to dedicate yourself to the Light Bearers, your allies would be those factions immediately adjacent to you (in this case Enforcers and Vistas), your arch-enemy would be the polar opposite (in this case the Travelers) and your enemies would be the Techs and Chota ("Children of the Apocalypse"). It is possible to change factions but depending on your current faction you may have to work around the wheel somewhat in order to be able to change to your newly-desired faction. It does add an original twist to the gameplay though, and will make you think twice before you dedicate yourself to any Tom, Dick or Harry who asks for your help.

Fallen Earth is currently in closed beta testing with a projected release date of 9th September in North America. An open beta is expected to be available sometime before this date but as of the time of writing no details are yet available regarding this, so keep checking their site if this is something that you want to test-drive before retail.

Chance of greatness: 60%
(some highly interesting gameplay choices and a unique faction system seem to indicate that the developers have put a lot of work into this, but can it defeat the elephant that Blizzard keeps in the corner of the room? That's a tough sell for anyone.)

Next up I'm cheating a little since I'm not sure this game truly qualifies as post-apocalyptic, but I'm going to go with Brink. Coming from developers Splash Damage who got their start making PC mods before taking things retail, this is an FPS which aims to blur the line between single-player and multiplayer gaming. You will begin the game playing solo, but at any point people on your friends list (or indeed people anywhere, if you wish it) can join your game, replacing one of the computer AI allies you have with a real person. Or you could choose to join their games in the same way. Therefore there will be no specialist "multiplayer" mode, it will simply be a slightly modified version of the main game. If this works as well as they say it does then it could well revolutionize what we come to think of when we consider the word "multiplayer."

As with Rage, the game will run (and be released) on the PC, 360 and PS3 since it runs on the id tech 4 engine that was previously utilised by such titles as Doom 3, Quake 4 and Prey.

The game is set in the near future aboard a floating city known as The Ark following an unspecified disaster on Earth. There are two factions, the Resistance (fighting to take over The Ark) and Security (fighting to keep it). Whichever faction you choose to play as will change the storyline, meaning you may need to play through it completely as both sides in order to fully explore the available narrative. Other details are thin on the ground so far, but it has already been announced that we should be seeing Brink in Spring 2010.

Chance of greatness: 70%
(some attractive screenshots and a unique spin on multiplayer make this a game worth watching to see if the developers can keep their promises. If they can, expect to see this game possibly change the way other games do multiplayer.)

And for now that's all she wrote. No doubt there are other post-apocalyptic games in development but I feel these are today's major players.

For tomorrow's...who knows?

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