Posted Wed, Jun 27, 2012 by ricoxg
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.
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.
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.
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.