Firefall: I Have Jetboots, Your Argument is Irrelevant
I would be a liar if I said that Red 5 Studio’s new venture into the free-to-play MMO market, Firefall, wasn’t one of my most anticipated games of 2011, attempting to blend first and third-person shooting with a persistent online world and with a gorgeous cell-shaded art style. Did I mention the bit about it being free-to-play? To say Firefall is ambitious would be a tad of an understatement. And, it’s all wasted if the game doesn’t play well. Does Firefall play well? Based on my time with the PVP portion of the game at PAX East, I feel I can answer that question. (Spoiler alert: it’s good.)
After settling in at one of Red 5′s PAX booth PC’s, I found myself right at home. The game was setup in an arena mode on a map that appeared to be ripped right out of a Caribbean coast, complete with crashing surf and shipwreck.
Here, Firefall was demonstrating one of its instanced PVP modes, a Deathmatch. Two teams set against each other, each player on a team able to use one of the three available Battleframes, the class-archetypes that Firefall uses to define roles, that were being shown at PAX East. Recon, Assault, and Medic, all playing as you might expect. The Recon snipes, the Assault has a particularly satisfying plasma cannon/launcher, and the medic has a healing-beam that heals teammates. In addition to the main weapons, each Battleframe had a handy-dandy submachine gun as a backup that could be switched to with a quick tap of the Q key.
Topping off each “frame” was a set of abilities that could be accessed with the number keys. Of all of these, my most memorable was the Crater skill, which sends your Assault Battleframe up into the air for a brief instant, before you execute a particularly satisfying ground-stomp on all those underneath. Death from above indeed.
Gameplay-wise, I immediately felt right at home with Firefall‘s controls. It handles much like any modern day PC shooter. The aforementioned skills are well placed and easily accessed. Oh and there are jetpacks, too. A simple jump in the air and holding of the spacebar activates your jets and sends you skyward.
After dropping a few of my fellow convention goers, I was told by a Red 5 staffer that I wasn’t actually killing them. Which was surprising because I was under the assumption that bullets and plasma did a fair bit of damage/maiming. But no, I had merely downed my opponents putting them into a state awaiting a revival from a friendly medic. I was told I could finish them off for good by giving them a coup de grace in the form of jetboot to the head. All of this combined ends up to being a great shooting experience and after about three rounds, I was pretty hooked.
From my short amount of time with it at PAX East, I am incredibly excited for Firefall, as even in its current pre-alpha form it’s a complete blast to play and incredibly easy to pick up. Here’s hoping that the game’s massive world and RPG aspects hold up just as well.