FireFall Stress Test Beta Impressions
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor) OnRPG Journalist
For quite some time now this new innovative title has been available behind closed doors for many lucky players that managed to snatch or receive a key. I’ve been among this lucky few for some time now, popping in now and then to see how things are progressing. You may have seen their strange bus touring around the states already advertising this great upcoming title that has been in the making for several years now. If you have been to any game convention in the last two years, you might also have noticed the cosplayers the team behind FireFall hired purely for the advertising wow factor. Yet recently things have gone dark in the review industry so I’m here to fill in people as to why FireFall is not to be underestimated and not to be missed.
Now before I tell you more about the game itself I do want to note that this game is still in the closed beta phase and everything that I have seen, and what I will tell or what you will see in the screenshots might be changed in the full release version of the game or even as soon as open beta. As I have experienced over the months and weeks that I have played is that the game can have a completely different interface with a lot of changes in the game itself as well. This is normal for any MMO or game in general that is in the testing phase, although I must say, Red 5 Studios takes feedback from the community to heart more than just about any developer I’ve had experience with prior. Unlike many other MMORPGs where the developers purely test the game on bugs and whatnot, this closed beta exists to gather our opinion as they openly express what ideas the community has offered to push the game’s development forward. As such it’s also one of the longest betas I have ever seen as the MMO community is quite outspoken and never is fully satisfied with what they are currently playing.
Now on to the game itself! FireFall is a team-based shooter mashed up with MMORPG’s key elements creating a truly innovative title that’s difficult to compare to anything that’s come prior. When you first start the game, you will learn that the game is mainly played in the third person view, but for people with a background in the FPS genre like me you are also able to swap camera types. Personally I found first-person a lot more useful for FireFall’s PvP aspects. This game has a way of dynamically creating epic tales from each arena match, which is what originally had me hyped to play prior to getting beta access.
As for my mention of MMORPG key elements? Don’t come into this Sci-Fi shooter expecting a normal role playing game that is focused on leveling your virtual character. No FireFall considers the archaic character leveling systems blasphemy. Why create the boring content of leveling your character when you can simply ‘upgrade’ it? Instead of gaining levels you spend experience like a secondary currency to unlock new features such as better weapons, armor modules and abilities that will help you out more on the battlefield or against the PvE factions like The Chosen and other alien mutations.
Besides slaughtering mutations, evil beings and the Chosen for experience and helping out the residents of Copacabana where FireFall takes place, those with a taste for adventure will find much more to do in this world. Collecting resources to unlock the full potential of your class will be a primary drive in your character’s evolution. These resources can be found by whacking your hammer on the ground and finding the perfect spot for a thumper to fall out of the sky to start mining the precious minerals that are beneath you. These precious resources can then be used to craft you some useful items to get you even better resources, upgrades, consumables like medic packs and other useful materials that you need to craft other items with. Just be prepared that the local wildlife doesn’t appreciate your noisy thumper and will make sure you’re aware of it.
While half of the game revolves around gathering resources, you’ll also spend much time testing out various playstyles to see what suits you. Now this can be done by finding the best likeable class, but when you have chosen a class it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re trapped on rails. Each class has a tech tree that players can branch down that lets you specialize in multiple different ways to build your class. Beyond just simple skills, each branch of the tech tree will unlock new tech to completely change the feel of your class. This greatly increases your utility in battle while giving you unexpected advantages that can throw opponents off balance in PvP. And since there are five different Battleframes, which are basically the classes of FireFall, there will always be a play style to match the personality of anyone playing.
The five Battleframes that are in the game are the following:
The Recon Battleframe is the light class in FireFall who focuses on the use of sniper rifles. Their extra jetpack capacity allows them to claim hard to reach crows nests that most foes would never expect a surprise attack to come from. Their lighter frames of course require that they use the element of surprise to take out their foes prior to being spotted and cornered.
The Assault Battleframe is probably the most iconic class in FireFall and was the first I gave a try as a result. They wield a might plasma cannon that deals some heavy damage but does has some disadvantages such as some serious recoil and a slower firing rate.
The BioTech Battleframe is the healing type of class in FireFall; this nifty class has a bio-needler gun as its primary main weapon with the abilities to heal yourself and allies as well as a knock back damaging weapon to keep foes off your trail.
The Enginer Battleframe almost doesn’t need an introduction since it is basically the same as any other game. This class uses special made mechanical equipment to indirectly support their allies from the sidelines. But don’t underestimate this battleframe at all since it is capable of dealing some heavy damage when coordinated with allies for a proper ambush.
Last but not least is the Dreadnaught Battleframe which is the meatiest of the current battleframes. This big heavy battleframe uses the big chain gun that only the strongest men out there are able to handle. This class obviously sounds like a beast on the battlefield, but since this tank-like battleframe can only be played by strong men, it also has less mobility than any other classes.
FireFall’s innovative gameplay is top tier but it offers a well-rounded package with mind-blowing graphics. The landscapes of Brazil are absolutely beautiful looking and all the little towns and cities that I have seen and walked through are stunningly beautiful and yet have a feeling of realism to them. Since this game is still in its testing phase I am afraid to actually tell you some information regarding the system requirements since all the kinks and engine bugs are still being discovered and removed.
But I can tell you this, I ran this game perfectly fine on multiple systems that all differ from each other. While talking graphics it would be a shame to skimp over how well the UI is put together (who would have thought that following player feedback would create an ideal UI?). In most MMORPGs you basically interact with the game through menu’s that you can open up with a simple hotkey or click on a button. FireFall however has a different set-up to navigate your way through the world and interact with everthing; with the use of scroll type menu’s you only use a couple of buttons to do basically every interaction in the game. As a big fanatic of RPG’s this was really something to get used to, but after a few days playing I really got the hang of it and I actually enjoy it more since it really speeds up the process of accessing your tools without breaking the frantic gameplay.
Some might see Red 5 Studio’s over the top marketing campaign as excessive. I see it as a sign of confidence that these guys really have the ability to build the sci-fi MMORPG that can stand the test of time. From the graphics all the way to the gameplay, everything looks extremely well done and thought through. Everything is so innovative and well-polished that I personally am looking forward for this free-to-play game, with hopefully a bright competitive future in eSports. My only fear is financial burdens resulting in a pay to win payment scheme. Thankfully so far only cosmetic items and crafting boosters exist within the cash shop.