First Impression: Firefall (Beta)

Downloaded the Firefall open beta client yesterday because, you know, Press™.

For those not keeping track at home, Firefall is… well, hell if I actually know. Without looking it up, I’m assuming it’s a F2P MMO set in an open-world, over-the-shoulder Borderlands 2 with bugs taking the place of bandits. After looking it up, it seems the devs want to emphasize the fact that it is a skill-based action shooter with sandbox MMO elements. Apparently the world is a not level-restricted, but the highest-ranked “dungeons” will need full groups with crafted gear. Which sounds like roundabout levels to me, but let’s play along.

One of my biggest fears with new MMOs – or any game which expects me to be playing for 50+ hours – is losing on the character select screen. How am I supposed to know which class will be the most fun months from now? And even if I luck into the best class for me, how will I know it won’t radically change (or get nerfed) years later? So, right away, Firefall got some major brownie points with me once I understood that a “class” means a Battleframe, which you can swap out at pretty much any time. Need a healer? Jump into your healer suit and go play.

In the future, even clothes are rationed.

In a twist, the Assault and Engineer classes have less armor than the healer and rogue.

Loincloth starting armor tropes aside, I think the whole Battleframe direction is pretty clever. Not only are you allowing people to play whatever role is necessary at the time, having independent frames means a player has to “level-up” multiple times while still allowing for quick catch-up. In other words, it’s horizontal progression. PlanetSide 2 has this same sort of thing, where you might have to purchase various levels of Flak Armor for each class (which is expensive with Certs), or you can just focus on playing Light Assault or Medic and save your currency.

In any case, from the extremely limited amount of time I spent playing, things seem fun enough. They certainly looked good, at any rate.

Borderlands 2 with an actual color palate.

Borderlands 2 with an actual color palate.

Some people might not like the sort of cel-shaded motif here, but this sort of thing has never bothered me. If the game runs better and has more options for crazy effects, then I will “sacrifice” ultra-realistic graphics any day. Plus: everyone has jetpacks, right from the start.

I can’t give much more of an impression beyond the above, as I was unable to progress past the second “quest.” The first quest was to follow a waypoint, and the second was to kill some bugs and then return to purchase your sidearm from a vendor. Unfortunately, either I am completely oblivious (possible) or the the game was bugging out for me (likely) seeing as how no menu would appear after interacting with said vendor:

How about you give me a gun and I don't shoot your face off?

How about you give me a gun and I don’t shoot your face off?

Since the mouse controls your aim, I know that I successfully clicked ‘E’ on the vendor because the crosshair disappeared and an actual mouse pointer appeared. But no menu. I tried highlighting the guns in the background, clicking on every on-screen icon-looking thing, reloading the client, and finally restarting my computer. Open beta is open beta, but I was left feeling pretty disappointed all the same. Hell, I couldn’t even submit a ticket because that interface wasn’t showing up either. I could probably submit a bug report on the forums… or I could go play some other game that works instead.

While I was clicking around, I did notice something particularly interesting:

Customizable interface right out of the box?!

Customizable interface right out of the box?!

That’s right, you can move shit around your screen and I think resize elements right from the start. It might seem like a small thing, and it arguably is small, but it begs the question of why some MMOs *cough* require you to download 432 mods to do the same sort of things. Artistic restrictions? General laziness? More of this sort of thing, please.

I might check back in on Firefall later to see if the problem resolves itself, or I might simply wait until release. Until then, feel free to try it out yourself.

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Posted on July 10, 2013, in Impressions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I think you can’t get away from at least some minimal form of levels in MMOs after all we want a sense of progress and without levels (or gating) that is not possible. What would be the best option I can think of is just saying you can go anywhere and enter each and every dungeon (barring attunements if needed) from the get go. Just do not expect to survive easily or have an easy time getting there. Some things should be literally impossible to do at certain ponts in the game because what is the point of having a world when I can jump to the raids from the very first second I enter it?
    Sure let me walk to the raid and enter it, that’s cool and then let me die horrbly and realise I better get some better gear.

    Another note of interest is that even other games without levels (like TSW) quickly had a level system enforced by the players similar to gearscore or how many skillpoints you had. Players will always do this because they want to make sure when they do group content that they can be assured that they should succeed in it

    And yes I too liked SWTOR’s fully customizeable UI after the Legacy patch.

    • This is pretty much how it is in Firefall right now. You can do whatever content you want in stock gear it will just be hard. As long as you have friends hoping you along its all doable and if you play defensively you can still contribute.

      They are bringing in harder dungeons but I think it’s still going to be the same thing, as long as someone in the group has crafted the key to the dungeon it’s ok.

  2. I’ve been in the closed beta a while and; while I have been enjoying the game a great deal and I play it with friends frequently, there are some “bubble burst” aspects I should point out.

    You start with the 5 “Accord” (read: Newbie) frames. There are 10 more, 2 of each type, and they act as specialists. In fact, anything an Accord Frame can do (or equip) the specialist frames can too. So the natural progression will push you towards those, but it costs 10 pilot tokens to unlock each.

    Supposedly the world is going to get HUGE in the future as we push the Melding (those big purple walls) back and reclaim the world, which might open up higher level areas, but that was intentionally disabled during closed beta.

    Still, I enjoy the gameplay which is a nice change compared to other games I’ve played lately where once my “goal” is achieved I tend to lose interest; in the case of Firefall I have just logged into jump around and shoot things as various frames (I love Assault simply for its mobility).

    As for bugs…it’s some devious combination of their engine and their servers because it’s been an issue since I began playing last…I wanna say November. Frequently you’ll run into “Sin Interface Failure” and such…which they are working on, but the bugs definitely plague the non-world interfaces, and this often includes vendor windows not popping up or lagging. (Some people on the same quest you were also got a bug where buying that secondary weapon wouldn’t actually complete the quest…but thankfully the quests are really a glorified tutorial, once you’re in the world you can ignore the “main” quest and go do whatever).

    • I just tried again yesterday, after rolling back a video card driver update that was causing me problems out of game… and it still doesn’t work. I know that the “questing” is more free-form than regular MMOs, but this is literally preventing me from acquiring a side-arm. Maybe those aren’t as important as I’m making them out to be, but something is clearly amiss on my end.

      I’ll keep an eye out, but for now, I might wait for release and hope things are fixed by then.

  3. Well for me.I got past the acquiring a side-arm quest after about 5 relogs and 3 client restarts and 2 more relogs.
    And this quest isnt the only one that is like this,there are other ones that are just as buggy as well.
    My inventory doesnt appear more half of the times when i try to open it.(relog several times)
    Same thing goes when i try to open the battleframe garage,storevendors and crafting station.
    When i finally get the screens open after several relog/client restarts it wont let me equip,buy or craft my items.
    Relog/restart several times more and i finally got my stuff bought,crafted and equipped.
    There is a command that are supposed to do an ingame relog or something (/rui) never worked for me.
    After much hassle with trying to change my battleframe and ending up with same problems with the garage again i finally gaved up trying to play anymore.Its horrible,wery horrible.
    Over the time i “tryed” playing this game i probably made a total of 8-10 restarts and god knows how many relogs,all this under the time of maybe 3-4h.
    i allso saw other ppl in chat with same problems.A few of my friends allso had same problems.
    And no!Im not exaggerating In my oppinion this game shouldnt be in Ob just yet.

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