Firefall Preview – First Impressions

Firefall is a Sci-fi FPS MMO with an RPG style that was released into Open Beta on the 9th of July 2013. Firefall is impressively the first online PC release developed by Red5 Studios.

To set this game up, you basically start right off in a training facility located in Brazil. As you begin your adventure, your official Firefall guide, Aero, promptly guides you through a mini tutorial. She has a thick Portuguese-ish accent, which is heavily debated on the Firefall forums – but we won’t be opening that can of worms in this Firefall preview. I found her mostly annoying throughout my time playing the game only because she never ceases to give you advice: very redundant, very annoying advice. Her accent is actually somewhat entertaining though; I’d say that it’s probably her most interesting characteristic. Now this may be a gamer faux pas, but I would say that she could be compared to the Navi of the sci-fi FPS genre. She’ll guide you through the tutorial and then she’ll guide you through everything else that follows it. You have no choice on the matter, unfortunately. After you learn a bit about the game you are shipped off to the town of Copacabana, where you will then carry on visiting other major hubs and enemy bases.

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I do not believe the storyline is an important point to touch on for this review, as it has been written about tirelessly, and to be fairly honest, is an insignificant element to this game. This may come off as a very harsh statement, but what I really mean by this is that the storyline simply does not contribute to the real appeal of this game. And let me tell you it does have a certain appeal (and attracts a certain kind of gamer might I add).

As a player who considers storyline a make it or break it point for any kind of RPG game, I was definitely disappointed with this story. For the record, you can read on the storyline via a whole bunch of sources including the official Firefall website, Wikipedia, or any dedicated fan site. To me, the story was more of a context for the game to take place in, where you mostly just dive right into the action. Don’t get me wrong – the storyline is actually fairly complex and detailed, but it acts as a set-up to the game rather than a driving element for its gameplay. I focus on this point because I do strongly hope they refine the story elements of this game in the future, but it is clear that currently their focus is on cleaning up game mechanics and adding features to the game.

Firefall Preview

The mechanics of this game function similarly to an FPS, only in this game you get a fancy little jet-pack, which is both extremely useful and extremely fun to use. Without a jet-pack I would not have enjoyed this game even half as much as I did. The jet-pack is KEY. You also get access to a variety of skills based on a class that you choose to play. The class you choose gains experience as you complete missions and kill mobs, but the great thing about this system is that you can switch your class at will. There are five main classes, which are called battleframes, to choose from when you begin the game, and then you can pay real money to access a slew of others.

  • The Recon is an assassin type character that has skills that promote stealth. Assaults also have the ability to snipe enemies from a safe distance.
  • The Dreadnaught has both great defense and offence but lacks in maneuverability. They are essentially powerhouses.
  • The Assault has great offence (close-mid range) and good defense. It is a standard warrior type class that also has access to cannons.
  • The Biotech is the support/healing class that also uses poisons to defeat swarms of enemies.
  • The Engineer summons different turrets and supplier units that both support a team and pack a punch. They’re a great character to play solo because of their versatility.

The battleframes that can be purchased for real money include many different variations of the original five, ranging from Firecat to Recluse. As you gain experience in the game, you can upgrade your abilities, which ultimately enable you to access new skills and weapons. The only setback about being able to switch your class at will is that your experience doesn’t carry over for each class (but remains at the level you left it at). I wouldn’t even label that as an issue, rather just something to take note of. For someone who has severe anxiety over choosing one ultimate path, this was perfect for me and allowed me to test out each class before deciding what was right for me. In case you were interested the Recon was my favorite to use, though there were a few others I had my eye on to purchase that seemed really fun as well… *ahem* Firecat.

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Firefall is absolutely packed with action, and requires some level of skill to properly play and to enjoy to its fullest. My personal experience with FPS is quite limited, but I still enjoyed this game a lot for what it was worth as a quick to start up action game that I could enjoy for a little while and then quit without having to commit too much. As a pretty busy person currently studying and working on my thesis, this is the kind of game I gravitate to during stressful times where I just need a quick break.

Crafting is a time consuming process in Firefall, where you need to gather a variety of resources to create sub parts to then create usable parts for your character, which do improve your ability significantly, making it an important feature of the game. Gathering resources by digging into the soil (and attracting tons of monsters in the process) is really fun, but can get repetitive really fast. It is a great way to gain experience, crystite (the currency of the game), and resources all at once. Plus, it’s nice that you can just join a player that is already digging for materials to earn some for yourself once the digging is complete (provided that you lend a hand defeating the mobs).

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With what space I have left with this article, I want to fire a list of some features that really caught my eye, whether they were positive or negative.

  • Something that I found really great was the fact that you can switch not only your character’s overall look but also their gender at will. It brings a particularly inclusive vibe to the game, which is both refreshing and progressive.
  • However, the genders are both overly masculine and overly feminine. I mean it looks ridiculous. Seriously?
  • The overall aesthetic of this game is great – it reminded me of the Borderlands cell-shaded style which I really love. The progression in this game is wonderful and really feels fluid and has appropriate milestones when it comes to skill improvement.
  • The crafting system, though it takes a while to get into, is great for the most part. My problem with crafting is that if you pay money (which will earn you Red Beans, the in game cash shop currency), you will have a significant advantage over others. This sort of brings on a pay2win issue, but they do need to make money somehow!
  • The UI leaves a lot to be desired, especially with the mini map and overall clunkiness of the design and navigation (which is surprising considering Red 5 Studios lovely website designs).
  • The content is slightly lacking at this point, and does need some serious thought.
  • Lastly, it is so easy to get lost so be weary! Take it from someone who has experienced it first hand.

In closing, this review has barely scratched the surface of this game, and I can assure you that this game will grow a great deal. While it may not be the perfect game, it is improving by each update. This game truly has a dedicated team that want this game to see more and more success. Red 5 Studios has handled their closed and open beta periods so well, despite having released a little early in development in my opinion, and have been extremely responsive to their player base and have directly addressed their concerns and comments. Currently, PvP has been turned off due to a serious imbalance and will be re introduced as soon as it’s all fixed up and ready to be tested again. To me this is a great sign that Firefall has a bright future full of potential. You will surely notice that this game is evolving constantly if you just give it a try. I am positive you’ll be seeing a lot more of it on the MMO scene in the future. Be on the lookout, because Firefall is here to stay.

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