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.