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'Firefall' MMO shooter review

Firefall

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A unique MMO Shooter, Red 5 Studio’s “Firefall” is out of Beta and ready to play. This sci-fi, team-based adventure takes place in a post-apocalyptic Earth. Humans eck out a living on pockets of protected land after the Crystite Wars. They fight to take back what was once there’s against a formidable foe, The Melding which threatens to corrupt all of Earth.

Players start out as an ARES Pilot, an initiative assembled to battle the melding army of deadly Chosen. Equipped with powerful battleframes, players can customize their skill set and get shooting.

Perhaps the best feature of “Firefall” is the class mechanic. Unlike a traditional MMORPG in true FPS style there are no races to choose from but only different “classes” which are defined by weapon proficiency and skill set. In “Firefall” a player’s class is chosen by the battleframe they choose to don.

There are five basic battleframes to choose from that range from utility based engineer’s to heavy hitting dreadnaughts. Battling while wearing a specif battleframe will help level it up with you and ARES pilots can upgrade their battleframe with skill points and mods.

If a player would like to try out a different class or thinks a different skill set would best help their team they can just switch their battleframe. No new character slot or account. No losing your hard earned inventory.

The game does a good job of translating the feel of a shooter to the MMO genre. Players can switch between first and third person views. The scroll wheel can be used to switch between a primary and secondary weapon. Number keys will activate special abilities which can be earned with levels and modded to upgrade.

For those that aren’t very familiar with shooters and MMO’s the barrier to entry for “Firefall” may be a little high. To start there are multiple stations players need to learn how to use from a ‘New You’ station where avatar’s purely cosmetic appearance and voice are customized to the ‘Battleframe Garage’ where battleframes can be upgraded and modded.

The menu’s also are a bit complicated and hard to get used to at first. When it comes to crafting the game has a lot of variety. Collected resources can be used to research new upgrades and create new items but discovering all the things one can craft and how to do so can be a bit daunting when presented with the myriad of options.

While the game may not be noob friendly, the community is. “Firefall” still has a fairly small community and fellow players tend to be friendly and helpful. There’s normally enough people on at any given time to assemble a team (which is really what most missions are designed for) yet servers are never over-crowded.

The biggest issue with “Firefall” is that players have to put in a lot of effort for small rewards. Whether it’s gaining XP or collecting resources players will have to spend a lot of time completing missions and ‘thumping’ (the games main way of collecting resources) in order to achieve their own personal goals. If players want to switch battleframes they will have to put in more time with that equipment to level it up as well.

Missions are primarily a combination of ‘kill X amount of enemies’ or ‘collect X amount of resources’ framed in the context of ‘discover what happened to this person’. The lack of mission variety can get a little tedious. This is especially true because farming non-mission spawned enemies isn’t very efficient either because of low drop rates or low spawn rates.

The campaign revolves around ARES Pilots minimizing the Melding from taking over more of the Earth and discovering more about the Chosen army. PVP play is fun on the Broken Peninsula yet the content for the campaign seems a little sparse. A unique element of the game however, are dynamic events which appear throughout the open world.

Dynamic events include Crystite meteor showers, Chosen incursions and Melding Tornados. ‘Nados’ as players call the occurrence of Melding Tornadoes are among the most popular as they allow teams a chance to get large rewards for neutralizing them and stopping the melding from spreading to that part of the world. They can even open exciting portals to explore.

These dynamic events have been the cause of a lot of bugs in the game however, instances of such issues have been minimal since the game’s official launch. Overall “Firefall” is stronger in it’s shooter elements than in it’s MMO ones. This game is a good fit for shooting gamer’s looking for a small friendly community to log on and shoot bugs and aliens with every day.

“Firefall” isn’t exactly unique in it’s story but does have interesting elements with it’s mechanics. Hopefully in time some of the kinks and complications will be simplified and straightened out making it a top team-based MMO shooter. The game is free-to-play with microtransactions that range from vehicles to advanced battleframes, payed for with the in-game currency called red beans.

Learn more about the game here. Strap on a battleframe and give Red 5 Studio’s “Firefall” a try.