Updated info by Speaknoevil:
I typed this up as a general overview of the game to try to get my WoW guildmates interested - reposting here because I think it turned out quite nicely and there doesn't appear to currently be a discussion going on firefall. This is basically an "initial impressions" as I've only been playing the game for a couple days, and represents just about all I know at this time. If others have questions, comments or complaints I'll address them as best I'm able - and I'm sure others will know much more than I do.
Without further ado:
Firefall is an MMOFPS. Put simply, that means its a shooter in a persistent online world. The FPS component of the game is very solid. As a shooter its pvp is very solid, and its observer mode is outstanding. However, this review is more concerned with the systems and 'MMO' portion of the experience.
With everything cranked up to ultra (which actually still plays decently on my laptop nevermind my PC) the game is fucking incredible looking. At night if the moon isn't out its nearly pitch-black and you have to run around with a flashlight. The bloom from the fire of your jumpjets is so bright in the darkness that its almost even harder to see.
To give you an idea of how the customization works - once you've unlocked a "license" for a given part for your tier 2 battleframe (battleframe is basically your class, tier 1 has some customization but you dont actually create your own parts until tier 2) you can then craft your own versions of that part. So, you unlock t2, you unlock a boot upgrade that gives you +10% run speed. That then gives you the "plans" to create your own boot upgrades that can have different stats based on the materials you use on it. The crafting materials in the game are basically isotopes with varying degrees of six different qualities (density, malleability, etc) so certain types of different characteristics, and then rarer isotopes have 'better' stats. So - you go to make your own boot upgrade, and you can make it out of one material that gives you +11% run speed OR you can use a different material that will give it increased jump height instead of speed. That's a simplification but hopefully you get the idea. This extends to all the different parts of your suit including your jumpjets, guns/ammo, various utility abilities, armor plating etc. So that its not about "grind until you have the best possible stuff then everyone's the same" (which is an issue with some sandbox games) Each battleframe has a max load and CPU strength that will eventually limit what upgrades you can use. This forces you to decide at some point what playstyle you want to go for, as all the upgrades to all your parts will be more than your suit can hold.
If you look at the full-size pic you can see what crafting some new jumpjets looks like. That ferrite isotope has great conductivity which is a factor in thrust and recharge, although it has low reactivity so its energy cost won't be that good. The amount of materials it takes is somewhat significant, so deciding on a particular item and material represents an investment - I mention this because I really appreciate when games make it feel like your decisions matter. Similarly with the battleframes, yes you can play them all, but getting the XP and materials to upgrade it is a huge investment, so your decision really does matter.
In a sense, there is a strong pve (and group-oriented) element to the game, as all of the 'best' materials are found out in the melding which means you have to have the materials to power the machines that allow you to get there, then have a decent group to defend the resource-gathering machines (thumpers) that pull minerals out of the ground for you. These "meld thump groups" are also a good source of exp, which you need in order to unlock the aforementioned parts and battleframe licenses to progress your character.
Chosen are a big part of the story and a very present force that you need to combat. They'll try to stop you pretty much no matter where they find you, including while you're thumping. They also will come down in drop pods and assault various things, including the towns, which they can take over. I've been killed a couple times by being afk in a building and the chosen took over and blasted me to pieces. They have the potential to play a large role in the "endgame" pve content as they can be quite hard to kill. In the above screenshot I'm at half health from fighting a couple of them, and then I come across their drop pod where there's a party waiting.
For those of you who care about story and atmosphere, Orson Scott Card (the writer of Ender's Game) had a big hand in the story, and his influence is clearly apparent. I don't know the story well enough to describe it well, but its quite good from what I've seen. The story also provides the framework for the physical territory available which is something I appreciate - there are no random zone walls or barriers. The available territory consists of a "safe zone" around a downed space ship whose warp drives are holding back the melding. You can then use generators to push back the melding further, but theres only so much you can do - even these small incursions are very time-limited. In the future, I expect the safe area to expand as we learn more about what the melding is, what's inside it, and how to combat it.
As a side note, water kills you almost instantly (I believe the story reason is that it fucks up your suit and kills you) but I believe they've mentioned that at a future date you'll be able to upgrade your suit to function in the water. Currently, once you leave the shallows, the water is deadly, and empty.
You can find out more about the story here.
World Size & Travel
The world is fairly large (~6 square kilometers by my estimation) and there are no flight paths or teleports. There are vehicles - essentially motorcycles - but I don't know how to get one yet. It doesnt feel TOO bad going from place to place, but it can be quite a trek. If where you're going is downhill from where you are, you can use a glider! There are gliders in each town and SIN tower, and for some red beans (real money) you can get the ability to drop down a glider point on a few minute cooldown. You can also craft usable glider points if you don't have/want to buy red beans. In all honesty using the glider isnt THAT much faster than running unless you can go significantly downhill (glider physics are somewhat realistic, you can glide long-distance but its slow, or plummet like a fucking eagle)
Here's a glider point I dropped up on a rock, which got me maybe 2-300 meters of gliding since it's not very high up.
Their business model, as far as I can tell, is completely cosmetic purchases, with a few quality of life items like the glider drops. At the "new you" stations you can change any aspect of your character. Here you can find hairstyles that weren't available at character creation as well as a variety of vanity items, generally masks and eyewear. I imagine there will be a lot more here in the future, though what is currently in is well done. There's even a "tech reindeer antlers" item that puts holographic antlers on you.
I already have the goggles, the mask looks sweet with them huh?
The Bad (if you can call it that)
- The PvE content is still being tested
- No guarantee of a pve raid-style "endgame"
- Open world PvP isnt in yet
- Menus and systems aren't super-intuitive
This is a beta and the game will be released when its done, but its really outstanding so far. I haven't experienced a bug yet, unless you count mammoth-monsters getting stuck on something that's too small for them to be standing on.
How to Get In
There are two ways to get beta access:
- register and hope (hint: you won't get in- too many people want it)
- pay $20 ($15 for the holidays) for founder's access which grants you an immediate invite into the beta.
Go here to see a bit more about the game. The link for the founder's pack is in the top right of the page, or click here if I've already convinced you.
All props to HBpapa for putting together all this info.
What is Firefall?
Firefall is an upcoming free-to-play TPS/FPS MMO from Red5 Studios featuring open world PvE and competitive PvP.
The story so far...(abridged)
In 2177 a large asteroid is caught in the moon's gravity well and broken apart, sending the fractured asteroid into Earth's orbit before raining down on the planet. Smaller pieces hitting Earth take out towns and cities while larger pieces take out entire countries and cause giant tsunamis that ravage coastlines. The devastation caused by the asteroid would come to be known as Firefall.
A new mineral, called Crystite, is discovered in the asteroid fragments. The mineral is safe and non-toxic all the while having enormous potential energy output. Crystite is soon put into use in powering everything from power plants all the way down to personal electronics. Because Crystite is a finite resource, the asteroid’s travel through space is retraced and its origin is found near Alpha Centauri along with a near endless supply of the mineral.
Humans build ships capable of traveling to Alpha Centauri to mine Crystite. As a result, the first interstellar colony is established on a planet called Alpha Prime and quickly grows in population, power, and influence.
The CMS Arclight, as much battleship as transport, was commissioned and born out of the fear that Alpha Prime would declare sovereignty and create restrictions on the transport of Crystite to Earth. It is the first faster-than-light ship and capable of making the trip to Alpha Prime in just eight days instead of taking several several years.
On the Arclight’s maiden voyage in 2232 something goes horribly wrong. The jump fails and the Arclight crashes into the city of Fortaleza, Brazil. For reasons unknown, the crash of the Archlight opens a rift that consumes most of the Earth in a cloud known as the ‘Melding’. The only thing protecting Fortaleza from the Melding is the still functioning force field from the crashed Arclight.
Not much is known about the Melding but the cloud wipes out humans and mutates certain species of animal overtaken by the mysterious cloud. From the Melding emerges beings who call themselves the ‘Chosen’. Although their motivations are largely unknown, they are hell-bent on eradicating the last of humanity from the planet with only the Accord and mercenary groups holding back the advancement.
Battleframes, Player Progression, and Gameplay:
Players in Firefall, known as 'operators', can own multiple battleframes and can switch them out at any battleframe station. These stations are located throughout the world (at watchtowers) and at the spawn location of each PvP map. Players select their first battleframe at the start of Firefall but can purchase two additional battleframes for 1,000 Crystite each. Additional battleframes can be purchased through the in-game cash shop.
(note: loot no longer drops from mobs and is instead gained from certifications)
Players start with an Accord (Tier 1) battleframe and use XP to purchase certifications that unlock different weapons, abilities, and upgrades to suit their preferred playstyle. As these are unlocked it progresses the character toward the ability to purchase (with Crystite) Tier 2 battleframes which are more powerful and specialized than their Tier 1 counterparts. There are five basic battleframes and within each of these are multiple abilities and weapons that can be unlocked allowing a player to choose a play style that best suits them. Tier 2 battleframes expand on Tier 1 allowing players more specialized game play. Additional tiers (Tier 3 and beyond) will be added to the game but the date of implementation is not yet known. Current battleframes include:
Dreadnaught- Defense and close range damage.
Biotech- Healing and AoE/DoT effects.
Engineer- Damage, control, and deployables.
Recon- High damage at long range.
Assault- Medium range sustained damage.
The video below gives a great introduction into the finer points of gathering and even crafting for Tier 1:
Tier 2 crafting makes use of nanoprints which enable players to alter the stats of a crafted weapon or component by building it with different combinations and qualities of Crystite hybrids.
Red5 is currently working on implementing the ‘Army Tech Tree’ which is similar to battleframe tech trees and allows players to contribute to unlocking special abilities and craftable items. Red5 Studios has hinted that the larger Thumpers as well as vehicles will be unlocked through the Army Tech Tree.
Firefall features both static questing as well as dynamic events in an open world PvE environment. Static quests in Firefall are similar to other MMOs and serve as an introduction to the game, the story, and how to use various skills and abilities.
Dynamic events range in size and difficulty and can be broken down into global or local dynamic events. The war with the Chosen is a large scale global dynamic event. Chosen will lay down ‘drop pods’ and enemy soldiers will emerge. If left uncontested these soldiers can form patrols that may take out friendly locations and remove the availability for players to access battleframe stations/garages, respawn points, health/ammo resupplies, crafting stations, and locations available for Thumping. Incursions are similar to the drop pods, but are larger in scale and a decent size group is needed to breech the Chosen’s fortifications and take down their ship. The world available to players also changes depending on player activity as the Melding is pushed back or surges forward to reclaim areas. Participation in local/global dynamic events push the Melding back and in turn makes more areas of the map playable. Players choosing to avoid the Chosen’s advancement in human territory can cause the Melding to reclaim portions of the map.
According to Clancy Powell, a designer for Red5 Studios:
Localized dynamic events are player driven and happen when players call down Thumpers or when a player comes across a crashed Thumper and chooses to activate it....The Chosen will rarely try to employ the same battle strategy twice, with each war plan varying in its execution. Each war plan the Chosen implements requires different needs, and incorporates different strategies and tactics – not unlike choosing a build order in a RTS to progress on an overarching strategy that you would want to use against your enemy.
...Players who confront the Chosen by destroying enemy thumpers or eliminating a patrol of Chosen soldiers actually weaken the Chosen by depleting their manpower and weakening their economy, which in turn hinders their ability to build up their forces. If a player or a group of players are able to take back a watchtower from Chosen control, the Accord grows stronger while players both remove a Chosen spawn area and unlock access to a new spawn area of their own.
There are currently four team-based PvP maps and Red5 Studios has stated intentions to make PvP an e-sport. Three of the maps are 5v5 with another supporting 15v15 game play. PvP matches feature dynamic objectives and players are awarded XP and resources for competing.
Since many people have differing opinions as to what actually qualifies as pay-to-win I have decided to give a list of items available in the cash shop so that individuals can make informed decisions in that regard. As of right now, the cash shop includes:
20% XP bonuses. These are available for different durations depending on how much you spend.
Cosmetic gear. (no stats)
Extra battleframe slots.
Extra manufacturing slots. Not in beta yet.
There are a few ways to go about getting a beta key. The first and most obvious method is to sign up for beta at the official site. Another method is to sign up with the key exchange. People with extra keys can submit them to the website which are then distributed on a fist come, first serve basis to anyone requesting them. Lastly, there is the option of buying a Founder's Pack. All of the different packages give a permanent XP boost (different percentage depending on the package), cosmetic items, and immediate access to beta. The purchase also gives in-game currency for use in the cash shop.
Firefall is in beta...a true beta...not a long-term demo of the game before release. For those of you who are able to obtain beta keys please go out of your way to submit bugs you find so the game can continue to improve. If you have an idea you think should be implemented in the game please submit it on the official forums as the devs do listen and respond to the players.