Firefall is a science fiction themed MMO Shooter developed by Red 5 Studios. Combining elements of FPS games and RPG's, Firefall delivers a blend of both genres that sees players shooting and using skills to defeat enemies.
|Publisher: Red 5 Studios
Type: MMO Shooter
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Closure Date: July 7, 2017
Pros: +Persistent world. +Ability to switch character's class from town. +Extensive voice-acting. +Combines RPG and FPS elements.
Cons: -Repetitive quests. -Lacking end-game content. -Clunky AI.
Firefall is a futuristic themed MMO FPS that incorporates elements of RPG's to deliver fast-paced combat in a post-apocalyptic world. Developed by Red 5 Studios, Firefall was released on July 29, 2014. A hole in space is ripped open by faster-than-light travel technology and brings an extra-dimensional energy storm to Earth called the Melding that renders much of the planet inhospitable. As a mercenary, you must choose from five battleframes—assault, biotech, dreadnaught, engineer, or recon—and fight against the enemies of humanity. FPS gameplay is fast-paced, pitting players against numerous enemies. Leveling bestows new RPG skills, such as cloaking, that add a tactical element to combat. As you progress, the world responds to your accomplishments—towns are raided by enemies and NPC's begin to recognize your character's accomplishments. If your battleframe doesn't suit your playstyle you can choose a new one anytime and experience the game fully.
- Fast-Paced Gameplay – combat waves of enemies.
- Combines FPS and RPG Elements – use guns, grenades and RPG skills to defeat enemies.
- Play Any Class Anytime – switch between battleframes from town to play as any class on the same character.
- Dynamically Generated Missions – zone events occur in reaction to player's quest progression.
- Skill Drops – new skills drop from enemies that can be immediately equipped and used.
- Health Regeneration – health regenerates while in combat so long as damage is not taken.
Firefall Featured Video
- Assault - utilizing plasma cannons, Assault-class battleframes are balanced for both offense and defense. They thrive by being maneuverable on the battlefield to deliver firepower directly to their enemies. Their plasma cannon explodes with overwhelming force, ripping enemies to shreds.
- Biotech - serving as the medics on the battlefield, the Biotech battleframe is great at hit-and-run—quickly moving through enemies and toppling them before retreating without taking damage. They are more durable than Recon's and are able to heal allies while using the same abilities to damage enemies. Their use of poisons allows the Biotech to slow and damage clusters of enemies.
- Dreadnaught - as the tanks on the battlefield, the Dreadnaught battleframe can withstand serious damage. Despite their sturdiness, they deliver the same punch to enemies with overwhelming firepower. They are slow-moving but don't need to move to decimate.
- Engineer - using turrets and shields, the Engineer battleframe provides extensive support on the battlefield. Resourceful in their tactics, the Engineer is able to seal enemies off and suppress enemy fire to allow teammates to finish them.
- Recon - experts at moving around the battlefield, the Recon battleframe is proficient at dispatching enemies from afar. Their higher-than-average movement speed makes them the fastest battleframe, but they also have the lowest health. Their proficiency with scoped weapons means no enemy is safe.
By Sean Sullivan
In Firefall, players are dropped in the remnants of Copacobana, Brazil where they are initiated into an elite squad charged with saving humanity. You must choose between one of five battleframes—power armors with unique weapons and abilities. Dreadnought, biotech, engineer, and recon were all tempting but I elected to choose assault.
You can change battleframes (classes) at any time from a "Battleframe Garage." Each of them level independently, so you can’t start as Recon, hit level 5, and then start playing as a Dreadnought. I wanted to run and gun my way to victory without worrying too much and assault seemed to fit my requirements. After customizing my supreme warrior, I entered the 22nd century.
"At the Copa (Copa!), Copacaban (Copabana)"
I've never been to Brazil but Firefall's rendition of Copacabana makes me want to book a flight. For a free-to-play game, Firefall has AAA graphics. You'll need a powerful computer to be able to fully appreciate every detail. Future earth has been injected with color like the white walls of a four-year-old’s bedroom. It is pretty and pleasing to the eyes. As the sun sets over the ocean I couldn't help but stare at the dusk-blanketed ocean, while listening to my graphics card heave. The cartoonish presentation is reminiscent of Borderlands and the comparison doesn't end there. But enough sightseeing, I was here to complete quests.
Cleaning Up The Wasteland
So you want to quest? Well, run up to a job board like a College graduate on craigslist and pick a quest. Any quest. It doesn’t matter, they’re all the same. In typical MMORPG fashion, quests are broken into three broad categories: kill, collect, or escort—with slight variations on the themes. Every now and then you’ll pick up scattered items to fix another object, or you’ll talk to somebody. It doesn’t matter. Everything regresses to running and shooting. I picked an objective without reading the title, and off I went.
Quests are dished out in voice-over-dialogues that play as you run to your next objective. There’s no paragraph of text to ignore. Just start running your way to the next point as a voice-over narrates the context of whatever it is you're about to kill, collect, or escort. I jetpacked my way to the next objective without hesitation, holding spacebar until my charge ran out. Then, I waited momentarily before recharging and keeping the jetpack going. Finally, I arrive to mow down enemies until another voice-over interaction indicated “Mission Accomplished.” I have to digress momentarily. Why is it that in every futuristic sci-fi setting, the Russian accent somehow manages to survive while six billion people are killed? Back to the program.
You can’t accept more than one quest at once. A somewhat ridiculous barrier. But the world is dynamic and depending on which quest you accept the environment molds itself to suit the required objectives. Plus, you couldn't have three voice-over-interactions happening all at once. Ludicrous. It's a bit disappointing and a paint. You end up running so deep into the environment that most of your time is spent backtracking after a quest is finished. I had to rent a vehicle to tolerate some of the distances between the job boards and the quest. Otherwise, I would have "Alt + F4'd" without hesitation.
Run, Shoot, Dodge!
Despite the travel time, the combat is fun and makes mind-numbing travel bearable. It’s fast-paced and exhilarating. Its like being a marine from Starship Troopers spattering Copacobana with insect guts. Swarms of enemies will surround you begging to be splattered with bullets. As you level, new skills will bestow abilities that decimate hordes of enemies. They add to the tactical element of the game.
There's not much to worry about when it comes to health or ammo. They both drop from slaughtered enemies and facility raiding is littered with terminals that replenish both. Also, as long as you're not taking damage your health will auto-regen. That doesn't mean the game is easy. When there are herds of enemies or one powerful boss-mob, you can easily be overtaken. You must play to your battleframe's advantages.
Each battleframe is designed to play a certain way. Dreadnaught's are meant to be tanks applying suppressive fire while Engineers use turrets and shields to act as support class. The classes quickly meld into one another as you play through them. Every class has a gun and a small selection of abilities that can only be used a few times while engaged. Running and shooting is the guiding principle no matter what class you play. Even Recon's sniper rifle works best as an assault rifle. Sniping doesn't work when twenty enemies are charging you making it irrelevant as to what class you choose. Still, combat is fun.
Switching from first-person to third-person and vice versa proves useful depending on the environment you find yourself in. It's helpful when entering tight hallways and your own body obscures your view. The game feels immersive from both perspectives; one is not superior to the other. Most combat takes place in the open world and choosing between first-person and third-person becomes a matter of preference.
The game's bugs show their faces when fighting swarms of enemies. Sometimes enemies run up to you as they're firing and then they keep running. Running like Forest Gump. They don't look for cover, they just like to run until they leave your field of view. One enemy ran past me and kept swinging as if he was next to me as he moved down a ramp and off into the sunset. When you do shoot enemies, they side-step you like they're learning to dance. At the end of my confusing encounter, my character seemed to be grabbed and hurtled towards a "glider" panel in an epileptic cutscene. Everybody was taking dance lessons in that engagement.
Are we there yet?
Combat is fun but points out Firefall's bigger issues. Everything else besides combat is boring and serves as filler in between battles. I don't want to waste time running back and forth, back and forth. The world is empty. I don't care about this alternative universe. I just want to watch bugs explode. I don't care about the trials and tribulations of the NPC's. I just want new abilities. It's a bore that quickly tests your patience no matter how beautiful and high-res the textures. If it wasn't for vehicles and devices that enable faster travel, I would have never made it as far as I did.
"There's a story?"
Firefall’s plot is lost. It’s presented through heavy dialogue narratives that fail to convey any sense of urgency or grand design. At first, all I was able to learn was that the Earth is in trouble and I’m part of the only military group that can hope to save it. The opening trailer does nothing to elaborate on the story, in case you were wondering. It made me believe Firefall was going to be a planet-hopping bug-shooter—not on a beach in Brazil. There's no immersion beyond my desire to fire.
Once you've hit max level, there's not much to do beyond leveling another battleframe. If you want to do that, you better enjoy the combat immensely. You should also go back to those beginning areas and start the grind again. Quests can be replayed as many times as you like so leveling other battleframes does not become monotonous chore of hunting down enemies. Nevertheless, it does become repetitive to do the same quests over and over. Additionally, every battleframe looks the same. The only noticeable difference is how many layers of padding each one has, with Recon having the least and Dreadnought the most.
After you have sunk some time into the game you reach the end, you'll find a depressing conclusion. It’s dead. There is nothing to do after investing hours of your time into Firefall. While the journey was somewhat entertaining and pretty to look at, it falls flat.
Final Verdict: Good
Firefall is an innovative MMO Shooter that moves in the right direction by incorporating RPG elements but soon falls flat due to its own barriers. Combat is fluid and engaging. There is no dull moment as you run through waves of enemies and shoot them into oblivion and use well-animated abilities to eliminate hordes in an instant. However, the game trudges as soon as combat ends and its time to return. Beautifully rendered zones can only entertain the eye so much before they become resented for not having much else beyond good-looks. Looks fade, and Firefall shows it. Even with its faults, Firefall is a superb game. It is a free-to-play game that plays like a AAA title, and the developers clearly put effort into the project. It's worth a play for anyone interested in MMO Shooters that incorporate RPG skills.
Operating System: Windows XP SP3
CPU: AMD Dual Core @ 2.6GHz; Intel Dual Core @ 2.2GHz
RAM: 4 GB RAM
Video Card: Nvidia 8600 or ATI 4xxx with 1GB of VRAM
Hard Disk Space: 20 GB available space
Firefall Music & Soundtrack
Firefall Additional Information
Developer: Red 5 Studios
Publisher(s): Red 5 Studios, Garena
Game Engine: Offset
Game Deisgner(s): Scott Youngblood, Scott Rudi
Game Writer(s): Mark Kern, Orson Scott Card
Composer(s): Michael Bross, Boon Sim
Closed Beta Date: September 2, 2011
Open Beta Date: July 9, 2013
Launch Date: July 29, 2014
Steam Release Date: July 29, 2014
Closure Date: July 7, 2017
Development History / Background:
Firefall was developed by Red 5 Studios—a company renowned for its prior high ratio of former Blizzard employees. The MMO FPS uses the Offset Engine that was originally built for Offset Software's cancelled FPS Project Offset. Development of Firefall took place over five years until its official announcement at the Penny Arcade Expo in 2010. It was not until 2011, at PAX East, that Red 5 let convention-goers play the game. Firefall's unique art style was noted and game designers said they were primarily influenced by Masamune Shirow's Appleseed, Hayao Miyazaki, and Steet Fighter. On September 2, 2011 Firefall entered its first closed beta test before moving to open beta on July 9, 2013. It was released officially and made available on Steam on July 29, 2014. Firefall officially shut down on July 7, 2017.