Year of the Gun - Comparing Three Top MMOFPS Contenders

Posted Wed, Jun 27, 2012 by ricoxg

Shooters seem to be roaring into the MMO marketplace. We compared three upcoming contenders--Firefall, DUST 514 and PlanetSide 2--to uncover what they'll bring to the table in this, the Year of the Gun.

This summer is buzzing with something other than the usual flies and irritating insects. News of a series of MMO shooters currently nearing release has been circulating its way about the web. Each title is groundbreaking in its own way, which means this year promises to be a memorable one for the MMOFPS genre.

The genre-defining Planetside gave us a framework on which many of these titles are built, but in the next year several titles hope to push the envelope. Firefall hopes that fast-paced Quake-style action combined with a deep story and staged content will give it the competitive edge. CCP’s new DUST 514 combines an existing space-based MMO with console FPS for an interdependent system the likes of which have only whispered of in the halls of geekdom until now. Lastly, SOE lumbers into the party with their titanic submission, Planetside 2, and hopes that their new Mission System, APIs, and mobile apps will be enough to secure the laurels of victory.

Firefall Screenshot

The Sunken Harbor is one of a few instanced maps for Quake-Style PvP in Firefall.


Thumping their way to the finish-line, Red 5 Studios has a pretty good chance at capturing the hearts of MMOFPS players with Firefall. Our preview of Firefall discussed some of the mechanics that make the game unique, but how do they compare to the other big games of the year? For one, the manga-supported storyline makes it quite a bit deeper than the typical shooter, even of the MMO variety. The story of Firefall was written by sci-fi author Orson Scott Card and plays a central role in the game. Firefall’s PvE plays out in an ever-expanding and changing world, which relies on players to unlock additional story elements as they push back the pervasive melding.

Conversely, while the PvE and storyline of Firefall are a little more eloquent, the PvP is faster-paced and more twitch-based than the game’s contemporaries. The PvP in Firefall will all be instanced, unlike Planetside 2, and will feature tools and robust rankings promoting clan competition. Where other games focus on either PvE or PvP, Firefall takes the unique approach of serving up solid versions of both. One potential problem, however, is that PvP and PvE in Firefall are two completely different and fairly separated games within the bigger game. This leads them to feel a bit disjointed in that the PvE game doesn’t necessarily support the PvP game and vice versa. If Red 5 Studios can find a way to create a more symbiotic relationship between the two, Firefall could stand to make a major mark in the genre.

Firefall Screenshot

PvP in Firefall isn't just run-and-gun. There are also objective-based maps such as this map based around an old Communications Tower.

DUST 514

Next, we have CCP’s entry to the field, DUST 514. This game promises to blend the depth of one of the most celebrated sandbox games of all time with a console shooter for the Playstation 3. Personally, I would have loved to have been in the room when that idea got pitched. Obviously the nut-job that came up with the concept had enough clout to be heard out, and now we have one of the most innovative titles in years coming down the pike. Even better, that title is due to hit the virtual shelves later this year. Interested in proving the lunacy from which their genius stems, CCP is making DUST 514 a free-to-play game. Don’t let the F2P moniker or the insanity of the idea drive you away, though. They’ve got a solid chance of pulling this title off.

DUST 514 Screenshot

Like many modern shooters DUST 514 will involve Combined Arms combat, but some weapons effects inspired by EVE Online are a nice touch.

Our own Sardu had a chance to try the game out at E3 this year, and his report shows solid promise for an ambitious game. Like many of the modern shooters, including Planetside 2, players will be able to run as straight-leg infantry, or climb into anyone of several vehicles to confront the opposing mercenary forces. Based on what we’ve seen, we can expect fast-paced gameplay somewhere between the twitch-based run-and-gun of Firefall’s PvP and what will likely be the comparatively more sedate continental battles of Planetside 2.

So the game has promise, and competitive mechanics, but how does it compare to the other shooters hitting the markets this year? Well, while DUST 514 won’t have quite the polished and professional story that Firefall will have, the eventual tie-in to EVE Online will inject the ever-unfolding drama of inter-corporate struggles of the larger MMO. The stroke of cunning CCP had with DUST 514, is to give the short battles in the console even more meaning by having them affect the control of resources and planets in the MMO.

Planetside 2 is going to be amazing!

9-yr Planetside vet. PS2 will change the way we game. Can't wait!

There will be no competition from Dust 514 and the other two games. Dust 514 will only be on Playstation 3 while Planetside 2 and Firefall will be on PC and that leaves Dust 514 out of the contest.

I concur, but that's not really the point. The point is what does each game do to help re-define the genre. DUST won't be that competitive with PS2, probably. Neither will Firefall, really, but both will introduce some new ideas that could really change the forward progression of the genre.

What other FPS/MMO crossovers could we see now that DUST shows it's possible, and even worth looking into?

One of the interesting things about the gaming industry isn't just how fun the game is, but how innovative it is, and what it might signify for the future of gaming. That's when you really get into some cool stuff, I think. But then I'm biased. =)

well said.

PS2 will rule all. Firefall is already over before it begins. And Dust 514? Please. A console shooter and only for one console at that? Pfft. And it ties in with the smallest niche game there is filled with the biggest griefers and cheaters - including CCP - around. So yeah thinking that Dust 514 is any kind of competition is laughable at best. The ony thing everyone is waiting or - and I do mean everyone on the planet - is Planetside 2.

Dust 514 will most likely have poor revenue, simply because it is restricted to only PS3, even though it's F2P. It's an extremely odd decision at best. The most dedicated EvE players probably don't have a PS3, the market for shooters on PS3 is vastly smaller than 360, and the tolerance and understanding for F2P games can only be found on PC.

Firefall is starting off with completely the wrong focus. MMO shouldn't focus on story. We've seen SWTOR try that and things didn't work out so well - story offers little replay-ability except for rolling alts. In a MMOFPS people will care even less about story. Firefall also offers a third-person mode, which appears to offer significant tactical advantage than FPS.

PlanetSide 2 is the only worthwhile MMOFPS for now, and it's the only one that's expected to survive long into the coming years. It has its focus right - large-scaled non-instanced combat. What Dust 514 and Firefall offer are mostly gimmicks, while PlanetSide 2 is introducing a completely new genre of gaming into this generation. It will improve upon the MMOFPS of old with newer tech and even larger scale thanks to a vastly higher population cap.

I agree with GhoXen. I really ponder at the decision to put Dust 514 on ps3. Sometimes I think CCP did it just to say they're the first to cross plateforms like this. I tried to get into Eve but didn't have the time to commit, but I would definitely have played Dust if it was on PC. I have a ps3 but...I've always believed that the best shooters are played with mouse and keyboard (opinionated).

As to Firefall, it could prove to be interesting in terms of PvP, however shooters are rarely defined by their story lines. I'll still give it a shot with an open mind.

Personally, I'm over hyped for Planetside 2. Have my beta key and all. The idea of truly persistent territory control brings a new depth (for me at least) to the whole fps genre. They also seem to have a role for just about anyone. I got an old MMORPG buddy hype because he loves to heal, a Battlefield friend hype because of the engineer, and even an old Tribes player hype because of the Light Assault. I, myself, can't wait to take to the skies in my Mosquito.

I don't disagree that Firefall won't be the game of the year like PS2 is likely to be, I think you guys are missing a pretty critical difference between Firefall and games like SWTOR. SWTOR took the WoW approach, which was to make a simple game that was intuitive enough for anyone to pick up and play. On top of that, Bioware is one of the kings of storytelling, so they did what they do best. Unfortunately, they ended up with a themepark MMO, just as Blizzard did, and that's where they failed. They assumed that pretty colors and an interesting story were all you need to make an MMO.

Firefall is doing something hardly any MMOs do anymore. It's going to give you ownership over the world, and give you a sense of global progression. SWTOR, the story was about you, but in FF, the story is about the WORLD, and that's the critical difference. With their staged-content approach in FF, the players will get a continuously emerging story of the world around them, while directly involving themselves in that progression.

Of course, I'm a huge PS fan, and I've been playing since alpha of the first one, but though our teeth are itching to bite into the new PS2 beta/release, I still think there are other games that deserve a serious look. Firefall and DUST are just a couple that have some really cool ideas in them that could really help move the genre to the next level. As good as it'll likely be, PS2 is really just the original, but updated with cool new toys. What's the next MMOFPS that creates it's own standard going to look like? The first PS was absolutely nothing like anything else out there at the time. We're due for another game like that, and I really wonder what it'll be, and which of these really cool new ideas will inspire it.

But then, I'm a geek and the mechanics wind me up as much as playing the games themselves. =)

Dust514 has Keyboard and mouse controls confirmed.

^ Wait, Im a bit confused. I thought that Dust514 was for PS3 only?

PS2 and GW2...both faction vs faction games are at the top of my list.

planetside 2 is the next step in first person shooters its yhe future and raises the bar greatly

One huge difference between Firefall and Planetside 2 will be the PvE side of Firefall and this will attract more people to that game. However, can Firefall keep players with the gamble of mixing PvP and PvE in a MMOFPS?

Really awesome Game graphics i have play this and i enjoyed very well i appreciate this keep it high thanks for sharing.

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