I rarely seek out third person shooter MMOs however my recent foray into Firefall has reminded me of why Defiance had been such a welcome distraction last year, only failing to stay on my radar because of the dismal setting and the repetitive use of the same three enemy models. The gameplay itself I enjoyed which is why I’m glad to have found another shooter MMO even more to my liking. I’ve had my eye on Firefall for awhile but kept it on the back burner until last week.
Firefall concerns me though. There’s been a lot of uncertainty lately as to whether the title has had enough success to survive, especially after a round of layoffs last November. The studio of course is claiming otherwise but the world feels devoid of players and apparently a recent patch (1.6) broke much of the game in a way that drove off many of the game’s fans. There is supposedly another patch scheduled to drop soon that will correct many of the issues from 1.6 but whether or not this brings the player base back is yet to be seen.
All that speculation aside, entering New Eden for the first time is breathtaking. The world feels both alien and familiar as well it should; it takes place on an earth altered by an alien presence. The color palette is vibrant and the character models and NPCs have a comic book aesthetic which I really appreciate. Character creation options were limited but I was able to work with the one beard available to come up with something I really liked.
Class choices include what you would expect them to— a tank, healer, support, and two damage dealers. I chose one of the damage dealers, the Recon frame, to start out with as I plan to play solo and love sniping in this type of game. Place me on hill out of harms way and I will take pot shots at unsuspecting victims all day long. In addition to the sniper rifle and secondary weapon I was given at the start, by level 10 I also had four additional abilities. For the Recon class that included a teleport, a freezing grenade that functioned as a root, a timed mine, and the class’s ultimate ability, an aerial strike.
As for the controls, they worked really well; they are responsive and similar enough to other games to feel intuitive. Right away the game hurtles you through a tutorial that teaches all the basics including jet jumps, gliding, and weapon usage. Before long you’re working your way through your first mission which ends in a boss fight that I found to be challenging. The boss itself was simple but I was nearly overrun by the adds, in part because I kept forgetting to use some of the new abilities I was given. Once I did get use to utilizing my entire toolkit, combat became really fun. I could root enemies, teleport to higher ground, switch in and out of sniper mode, and clear entire packs with a well placed mine explosion.
One of the quests I received lead me to an area of the map that triggered an instanced engagement. The goal was to defend a central point by placing several different types of turrets and preventing the enemies from breaking through. At first they came from one position but by the third wave they were coming from multiple points. As a sniper I could use my jet boosts and teleport to reach higher ground and take them down one by one. To have such a unique quest type early on was really exciting and I’m hopeful for future missions along the same lines.
I’ve heard the game is really buggy but so far I haven’t experienced any. It sounds like they can be game breaking though, like NPCs not showing up that are necessary to complete a quest and progress further. However if the gameplay continues to be as good as it has been in the first couple of hours and I don’t run into any major bugs, this could be a really fun title to play every once in a while. I’m sure there are better third person shooters out there, two in particular come to mind, but I like the art style and gameplay of this one, don’t own a console for Destiny, and won’t be shelling out $60 for The Division anytime soon. And that’s fine by me, Firefall is more than enough for satisfyig that itch for a fast paced third person shooter MMO.
4 thoughts on “We Didn’t Start the Firefall”
Oh, you found this weird zombie? I’ve been there several years ago, and i am astonished that it’s still around, considering how much effort was put into this game to dispose of the playerbase again and again.
I still agree that it was really beautiful, frames played nicely and at that time even bugs were not that many. What people generally asked for was to enlarge the game world, as there was only New Eden as big zone, half dozen other smaller zones and a few instanced team challenges.
Interestingly enough, what happened while i played or shortly afterwards:
– Some of the additional zones outside of New Eden were closed down. No new zones came into existance a rework of the closed down zones was promised, but at least during the time i played it did not happen.
– The crafting and equipment system, along with the ressource system, was changed three times. Every single one of them was workable, nobody of us players ever understood why it would have to be reworked again and again, but the permanent focus on reworking this part of the game made sure that other aspects did not progress.
– The old “open form” advancement system was replaced with a level based system. Of course, once again all equipment, ressources and crafting also was reworked. As bonus, the formerly all open map, where events of different difficulty spawned all over the map, was broken down into level bound segments.
So instead of enlarging the world by making new zones, they stuck to the one existing zone and broke it down into small pieces, making you slowly crawl your way up. No matter which level you were, only a tiny fraction of the map still was relevant to you, everything else was of too high or too low level and you were not supposed to be there.
– Bonus points: the Arsenal, one of my favourite Battleframes, was removed. I mean yes, i was one of the crazies who paid money to buy Battleframes, so i should be thankful that it was removed without compensation?
It was a nice game at that time and if the developers would have spent half as much effort in building new content as they were in removing content without any apparent reason, reworking working systems and deleting stuff, the game would be awesome by now. But it has a long and wide history of missmangagement and i am astonished that a game which is being handled this badly is still around.
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I heard a lot of those same complaints from other players as well and supposedly 1.6 patch made it even more broken. There’s a new patch coming out tomorrow but who knows what all it will change.
Since writing this, I’ve played one additional time and I did run into a pretty problematic bug. After a 10 minute defense point quest I failed the mission and had to start over because the final boss was trapped inside a spaceship- not the kind you could go in, the decorative kind- and was therefore untargetable. And since he had to be defeated within a time limit to succeed, I failed and would have had to start all over again. Instead I just logged out.
I’ve heard there are many other bugs in the game that impede progress. It’s too bad really, it could have been a good game if it had some decisive leadership.
I think the problem was bot the lack of decisive leadership. Decissions were made, and plenty of them.
The problem rather was that there was infighting inside the development team, fighting between developers and publishers, the project leader and lead designer being fired during the “beta”, which actually was already a life game considering how much monetization already was done and the course of the game being drastically changed several times.
So a decisive leadership was present all of the time, actually more than was good for the game. The problem was not that decisions were made, but that the course was drastically changed on rather short intervals. They did huge changes on the games concept. Sometimes complete reworks of the concept were announced before the previous implementation was complete yet. So what the game actually suffered from was too frequent changes of direction. If you change the direction too often, you are unlikely to ever arrive at your destination.
Unfortunately I think that the game won’t be able to ever fully recover from that. There’s too many players like me, who liked the game, but are burnt. The irony is that I am rather sure, I would have enjoyed either variant of the game they wanted to do. But the much too frequent course changes, along with the (uncompensated) removal of content I paid money for (Arsenal), results in me never giving it another chance, and I think that this is true for a huge part of the playerbase they once had but burnt.
Ack. Stupid typo right in the first sentence, I should crossread better. The supposed word is “not”. (“bot” makes absolutely no sense. )