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My First Night On Firefall | Feedback
April 10, 2012Posted by on
While I know one night is nowhere near enough for a full picture or thoughtful review process of a game as massive as Firefall, I do believe there is an invaluable merit to first impressions. Here’s mine. Oh, and I’m not a professional games reviewer, so I adhere to no review standards – full disclaimer .
What I Loved:
I loved the universe you’re set in. As an RPG FPS, a level of depth and complexity to the world is paramount. Red 5 Studios hit the nail on the head in this regard. I’m also a big fan of crafting in my RPG’s, and it’s clear Red 5 is as well!! I like that the classes you play are all well defined, and in order to be an effective squad roaming the open world, it’s important to have teammates who know their roll – all solid elements that comprise a great RPG FPS.
The game is incredibly beautiful for a Free-to-Play game. In terms of visual appeal, you would think this game had a monthly subscription, or cost $60. It’s clear the team handled “Free-to-Play” properly, and didn’t read it as “skimp on quality since we’re giving it away for free.”
In short, my first night was incredibly fun! Despite the natural learning curve inherent in all new games – especially environment-driven RPG’s – I never had a dull moment in Firefall.
What I’d Love:
Bear in mind, this is an early beta build of the game I am playing. Invite only, in-fact. This means there are a ton of things the developers have restricted (made impossible to unlock or experience), as well as a ton of bugs. I won’t focus on a bug intentionally here – and it’s very well possible some of the things listed below are in the final game. They were not, however, in my first Beta experience:
- Fast recalling back to town. Since there is no apparent penalty to dying, I found myself just committing suicide rather than trekking all the way back across the world. Might as well just have a mechanism to get me back to town that doesn’t involve me kamikaze-ing to my demise.
- Faster leveling (which perhaps would require a higher level cap). It’s such a long road between any given levels – even Level 2 and Level 3 – that it felt like I wasn’t really getting much of any reward. We mined for a good 40 minutes without leveling up at some points (felt like an eternity). Especially since my next ability unlock wasn’t until Level 4, this was excruciating. After playing for about 7 hours, for example, I was only Level 5.
- More glider launchpads. Gliders are what allow you to move the fastest through the world, and are a ton of fun. I’d like to see them in more places, or even as an item or ability!
- Scaling difficulties around your Thumper. Your Thumper is a device that mines resources from the planet. These resources are how you craft new items, abilities, and upgrades. You call in a Thumper when you discover a rich mining vein in the ground, and then the noise the Thumper generates pulls waves and waves of creatures to the surface for you to fend off until the mining process is complete (generally takes 5 minutes for each Thumper you call down). The only problem is, these waves were a piece of cake (and as a result, started feeling tedious after a few hours of gameplay) once my whole team was Level 5 or higher. Granted, we only had a Light Thumper – a Heavy Thumper I suspect would mine a lot more resources, but also draw in fiercer enemies. Nonetheless, if we call in, say, 5 Thumpers in a row in the same general vicinity, it would be nice if the game knew we were on a streak, and ratcheted up the difficulty of subsequent waves accordingly. And perhaps the XP reward could also increase accordingly. Instead, we always knew what types of enemies were coming every time, and it got a little on the repetitive side.
- Nametags on the mineral readouts when you are using your Hammer! The way you discover rich mineral veins in the ground is by smacking it with a giant mallet in your inventory. A readout placard will appear on your squad’s screens indicating the % of each resource in that area. The only problem is, with 4 or 5 squad members all checking different spots for plentiful veins, and the way the placards are delayed in appearing (and can queue up so a few will appear in a row, like the notifications on Xbox LIVE), it becomes difficult to tell whose hit yielded the highest readout. If each placard just had the name of who hit the spot, it would make this process much more streamlined and less frustrating.
If I Had To Pick Just One…
If I could change only one thing about the game, it would be the scaling difficulty around your Thumper. Since it would seem most of your time will be spent using this device to mine resources, and also to attract hordes of enemies to harvest XP for leveling up, it is imperative this experience is the most fun experience in the game. Right now, there’s some room for improvement.
I can’t describe how much fun it was to see our Thumper get down to 20% health, and still have a lot more mining capacity. That real-time worry of: “Should we recall it now, and miss out on all these minerals???” – because if the enemies destroy it, you lose ALL the minerals it had mined (not to mention your Thumper!) This fear really makes you put your skills to the test. You feel this heightened level of excitement, which just makes you feel like more of a badass when you successfully fend off that last horde while your Thumper fills to apcity, ending at 8% health.
The only problem is, this happened to us maybe 3 times the entire evening. The rest of the engagements we fended off with our Thumper never reaching below 50% health. Meaning, the rest of the engagements (probably close to 100), were relatively forgetful. Of course you don’t want every encounter to be super intense, or it would de-value the excitement level and make the game too frustrating – but that’s why I think scaling these Thumper encounters is crucial.
This way, if we call in 3 or 4 Thumpers in a row, and feel we’re getting a little outmatched at that point, we will be more inclined to return to town, purchase new upgrades, etc. Or, at least we will relocate to a new mineral vein, and thus be exploring new parts of the world in the process.
The Single Most Fun Moment:
This was my fondest memory of the evening. I absolutely LOVED The Chosen invasions. Now I’m not steeped in the lore of Firefall yet, so to me, The Chosen are this class of very powerful enemy NPC’s that wreak havoc on various cities in the world of Firefall. They stage invasions on towns, as well as your mining sites. Anytime they are near, your squad is issued a side-quest to push them back. At first these were just like normal, slightly more challenging random encounters. But at the tail end of last night, one battle stood apart from the rest…
We discovered a Chosen ship flying 50 meters above the ground right on the beachfront of our home town, dropping more and more Juggernaut Chosen and Grenadiers to flank their standard unit. This shielded ship offered an entirely new challenge. I said over Skype to my squadmates: “Whoa, I’ve never seen this before…” and they paused and went “Uhhh… Me either!” So we had to quickly react, simultaneously investigating it and assaulting it Battle L.A. style – without fully understanding what it was!
The ship was shielded, offering a level of uncertainty. We had no idea how to penetrate the ship’s shield. So our only choice was to gradually push their front line back until we could get closer to explore it. Even now, we are not positive how we defeated it – which is cool I think! After 20 or so minutes of fighting, we finally disabled the shields – again, not fully understanding *how* is sort of cool in my mind. With the shields down, it allowed us to eventually destroy the ship, completing our mission, bringing with it a huge gamer-high and feeling of great accomplishment.
Despite how quickly as I was able to describe it here, it was so much fun playing out in person! From discovering this brand new *thing*, to having to react on-the-fly to their presence and immediately organize and stage a successful assault was the most amount of fun I have had in a video game in a long time. To top it off, I had a full squad of teammates playing their roles perfectly – the Medic was healing us, the Mechanic was repairing the Turrets and Healing stations – and we were all fighting as a single unit.
I’ll be playing the game again tonight . And tomorrow night. And probably over the weekend as well!