Firefall Preview at Gamescom 2012

For whatever reason, we weren’t able to get into any of the previous Firefall beta events. They said something about not letting the press in, and we sort of zoned out a bit, imagining that the game was so bad that they wanted to keep it hidden. Being the bitter bastard that I am, I was really hoping that’d be the case. Sadly, it wasn’t. I’ve only played for a couple of hours, but I can you already: Firefall rocks.

First, for those not privy to the specifics, Firefall is an upcoming Free to Play MMORPG with an FPS/TPS skew. Basically, you play it like you would World of Warcraft – collecting quests, killin’ monsters and queuing for PvP – but instead of a sword and bar full of hotkeys, you’ve got a gun and arsenal full of gadgets that, more often than not, blow things up. Oh, and you’ve got a Jetpack – so basically, you’re Iron Man, and there isn’t a single thing wrong with that.

Weapons take a traditional First-Person/Third-Person approach – left-click fires, right-click activates secondary functions like zoom. You can switch between first and third person on the fly, too, which is a fundamentally awesome inclusion that we just don’t see enough.

The character models and environments are overflowing with cel-shaded goodness, making the entire world an absolute delight to roam. And the day/night cycle is one of the best I’ve ever seen – daytime really does feel a lot like WoW with guns and jetpacks and significantly more awesome combat scenarios and quests, but come nightfall, everything changes. It’s hard to see, and only some weapons have torches, so chances are your accuracy is going to take a massive hit, and your pants are going to need changing on a fairly regular basis. It’s scary out there in the desert.

Beginning anew, there are 5 classes to choose from – all of them typical shooter fare. I chose to play as the Recon – a Sniper with a set of badarse Long-Range Satchel Charges that quite literally allowed me to shoot a bomb at an enemy’s head by pressing 1, and detonate it again by doing the same. Jetpack + Sticky Bomb + Detonation = Win. I’m really looking forward to trying out the others.

Full customisation is in effect, with multiple talent trees and individual limb and weapon customisation available. Add to that a robust (and epic) crafting system and you’ve got a recipe for complete identity and gameplay control, completely removing that all-too-familiar feeling that you’ve seen yourself before. A lot.

All-in-all there’s not a lot more I can say about Firefall yet – I haven’t had a good enough chance to play it – but so far, so very, very good. Here’s hoping the world PvP lives up to expectations, because if it does, this one’s going to be big. Real big.

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