If I asked for a hand count out there of people who had high confidence that Firefall will live to see 2017 as a live operating game, I have a feeling it would be pretty sparse. It’s been a dour year for this sci-fi shooter MMO, and so I thought it might be a good idea to check it out now… before it was too late.
Welcome to Try-It Tuesday, Firefall!
Installation and account setup went very smoothly, and we were into character creation before we knew it. “We” being me and my son, who called the shots on what my character would look like. Dark skin and a turquoise mustache? Done! I thought it was a nice touch to allow a choice of voice types, something not many MMOs do at all.
When Corporal Blue Hair phased in to the tutorial zone, I got a mail message saying that the studio was sorry for some foul-up or another and why don’t I accept these half-dozen free items? Being sorely inconvenienced ever since starting my Firefall career six minutes prior, I accepted them gladly.
The tutorial is brief and probably necessary to quickly lay out Firefall’s controls. It’s a much more mobile game than your traditional tab-target MMO, with a character that has rocket boots and a cyborg frame fused with his spine.
I had just NO idea what was going on, story-wise, when I got into the first zone, but I think it boiled down to “follow the waypoints and shoot the bad guys.” Sure. Fine. I can do that.
While I wasn’t surprised by Firefall’s lush, bright visuals (although they were certainly delightful and a welcome change to most gritty metal grey sci-fi games, I wasn’t quite expecting the character to handle as nicely as he did. There’s a great sense of movement and response as you dash about, jumping incredible distances with the rocket boots, and attacking on the fly. Felt like I was a frantic, skilled soldier at some points, and the momentum of that first mission was thrilling. Thrillhouse, even.
I might not have been tracking the story, but I certainly didn’t feel lost or clueless about what to do. Firefall’s very good at keeping you pointed in the right direction and helping you figure out its interface in this opening hour.
As my class, I went with an Engineer — which is video game lingo for “likes to throw down turrets.” And so it was here. Loved my heavy turret, which I nicknamed “Bob.” Go get ’em, Bob!
If jump jets weren’t fun enough, Firefall also has long-distance gliding. I don’t glide a lot in MMOs, so I can’t say with authority that this is the most enjoyable gliding system out there, but it is (again) very smooth, responsive, and a blast to experience. Go through the rings, Superman!
The opening area, if not the entire planet, has a warm tropical resort feel, which I have to put as one of my all-time favorite biomes. This atmosphere was helped by part of the first area actually being some sort of resort town with people in hawaiian shirts wandering around, sipping on drinks while this battle-suited maniac came barreling through at 75 mph.
“So… uh… coffee, huh? You… like it hot? With artificial sweeteners? Me too!”
Dang, this is one pretty game. Those beach water effects emit a real vibe, stylized though they are.
Bored already with running, superjumping, gliding, and blasting bad guys? Here’s a jet motorcycle. VROOOOOOOOM.
Let me tell you, some of these battles can get pretty crazy pretty fast. Making sure you resupply with health and ammo via drops and conveniently located pads makes the difference between winning and looking like a chump. I looked like a chump in the middle of this fight but eventually persevered.
All in all from what I saw, Firefall is actually a pretty fun game. Maybe it has larger issues with content offering, the business model, and a lack of population, but the core gameplay is fairly solid and a lot more intuitive than some other games I could mention. I might just keep this game around on my hard drive for a little while… while it lasts, at least.