Come for the free-to-play, stay for the content.
In recent years, I have delved more into the Massive Multiplayer Online experiences that the video game industry has to offer, and while not all of them were my cup of tea, I did find a few standouts that I genuinely enjoyed, and it just so happens Firefall is one of those standouts. Granted, to begin with, it wasn’t grabbing me, but after putting some time into it I see how much fun I really had with it, and at the cost of free, there really is nothing to lose.
Firefall takes the traditional MMO and changes things up a bit. This is first and foremost a first person shooter. Players will aim a firearm at an enemy and shoot them. With a Borderlands feel to it, it has many RPG elements.
MSPR: Free to play/Red Beans are 40 for $5.00
Price I’d pay: It’s free.
Multiplayer: MMO live world and groups
The first thing players will be able to do is choose a Battle Frame. These are essentially the character class. They can range from the heavy tank class to the healing type class. The big difference is, players are never stuck with one class. When at a terminal, they can change their Battle Frame and try out a different set. The Battle Frames themselves are what level up, not the character, so trying out new frames mean players will start over at level one, but Firefall isn’t really about power leveling.
Content grows with time.
Players take on story quests, side quests via the job boards, area events, and small instanced missions. Most are pretty standard with many feeling like fetch quests or kill quests. This is why the game didn’t grab me for the first few hours, because it seemed like all I was doing was going into a certain area, killing or gathering a certain number of things and bringing them back to the quest giver, but when jumping more into the special events and instanced content, I started seeing more variety. The first instance was actually pretty fun and offered up a decent challenge in a different area than I had been in before.
The combat is hit or miss. Yes, the shooting works and the different types of weapons are all different and varied, but the shots feel like there’s no impact to them. I would compare it to the Resistance series on PS3. There’s just no “oomph” to the shots being fired. It’s hard to explain, but once someone plays it and feels it for themselves, they’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Up here, morons.
Another thing about the combat is that almost all my skirmishes, especially boss fights, revolved around me strafing to the side or jumping and using my jetpack to stay out of the way of enemies while I rained down bullets onto their heads. It was the best strategy for almost every fight I got into, and while it is fun to use the jetpack, the AI was the real problem here. It seemed like they were either too dumb to understand they were getting shot, or they were relentlessly advancing to me even though their target is blasting them in the face with a machine gun. That’s just the shooting. Each class has its own abilities that can be used to both hinder/damage the enemy as well as help allies. These are learned at certain levels and are actually an equippable item, so they can become more powerful as well.
Another thing I have to mention is the traversal in the game, namely the glider pad. Players can walk up to numerous pads in towns and bases and be thrust into the air with a pair of holographic wings on their backs. Much like Super Mario World’s cape, players must tilt up and down to travel the most distance, but what this really does besides get me to where I need to be faster is show off some of the great looking vistas in the game while giving this “larger than life” feel.
Thumping my way to victory.
The crafting and resource gathering is rather unique as well. Players will obtain a “thumper” early on that will allow them to mine for materials using a large machine that pounds the ground. During this time, enemies will become attracted to the thumper and rush it. The owner, along with other players, must protect it in order to get the materials. It’s an interesting mechanic. Crafting is done using in-game currency as well as research points that are given to the player when they salvage items in their inventory. It’s all pretty standard stuff. The big difference is it takes time to research things, create items and equipment, and refine materials. Some can take a few minutes while other can take an hour. This time can be sped up instantly by using the Red Bean currency, which is basically the real money currency in the game.
Since this is a free to play MMO, players will have to expect some form of money transactions embedded in the game. Like I just stated, speeding up crafting is one use for it, while most of the others are for cosmetic things or boosters for more XP or in-game currency for an allotted time.
Visually, it has its moments of beauty. Looking at distant vistas and lush environments are a pretty spectacle to see, but then there are times, particularly character models and looking at things close up, where Firefall looks like a game from 2005. I do, however, really enjoy the colorful look and aesthetic to it all. I really enjoyed the art style.
Firefall has its problems. There’s no denying that, but after spending a little time with it, I found myself having a pretty decent time. Sure, it does feel wonky at times, but I couldn’t help but keep playing. The encounters started to vary the more I played, and the story and instance missions really changed it up a bit. It’s free to play so there’s nothing to lose on this deal. Of course, if you wanted to spend a little money for VIP perks, that would be up to how much you enjoy what you have played. So I guess my review boils down to is Firefall worth your time and hard drive space? Yes. If you stick with it for a couple of hours, you may come away somewhat impressed.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.