Posted Wed, Jul 24, 2013 by Dalmarus
My first impression of Firefall was not the kindest in the world. The sad truth of the matter is that I was actually pretty generous considering the amount of frustration I experienced that weekend. The overall theme of my impression piece was boiled down to one of two questions at any given time while playing the game – “What the hell is going on?” and “How the hell do I do X?” Well, I’ve had a lot more time with the game since then and I’m sad to report that those questions still remain.
What gets me riled up this time is that after spending a lot more time with the game, I can clearly see even more than I did that there is a game here. There really is, and it has a ton of potential. It’s gotten to the point that anytime I have to struggle to figure out how to do something I end up cursing at the screen in pure frustration. The entire situation makes me think of a teacher in a classroom chock full of students that have the capability to create something great, but instead either get obsessed with what they’re doing to the point of ignoring everything else or refuse to learn the material because they think it’s boring.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve played a game where I just want to reach out and slap someone on a regular basis, but that’s exactly how I feel every time I hop into Firefall. Rather than just sit here and rant incoherently for a few pages, let me go over the things that make the game fun and interesting before I move on to thrash the hell out of it.
For starters, the more I play, the more I like the art style. It’s a mixture of funky and cool without trying to be an annoying hipster. One thing I get bored with very quickly in games is scenery that rarely changes. Firefall handles this brilliantly as there is a wide variety of areas you’ll be travelling to, all within the first few hours of your game. It only gets better from there. Each area is locked from view by mountain ridges, buildings, tall forest, etc. While areas may be blocked from view when you’re out running around, you can still get to them easily. It’s like being on a highway, looking at flowing fields, then cresting a small hill to see the beginnings of a forest and stream. It’s extremely effective in keeping each area feeling different, but allowing players to play wherever they want.
While I don’t think I’ve seen it in an MMOFPS yet, Firefall makes great use of the day/night cycle by giving players a flashlight. Sounds dumb in an MMO, but when you’re trying to protect your Thumper in the middle of nowhere during the deepest part of the night, it adds a whole new level to the sense of excitement. Without a doubt, this is one of those little things that had me very excited and quite happy. I stayed in that area dropping thumpers for as long as I could. In fact, after gathering resources at night (try it in the jungle areas!), I’m not sure I’ll ever bother doing it during the daytime again.
Sadly, everything else in the game so far pisses me off just as much as it makes me like it. The dropship system is a perfect example. There are a number of towns in any map. While you can traverse the distance between them by foot (or get a boost from their cool hang glider system), it’s much quicker to hop on a dropship taxi that travels between a number of main areas. As soon as you run up to the ship, it clearly shows you that you need to hit “E” to hop on board. Just like everything else in the game, the team only gives you half of the information you need. After being drug around in the sky by this ship for 15 minutes and through numerous stops, I finally had to ask in chat how the hell I get off of it. Now perhaps I’m just a moron for not trying to use the “E” key to get off the ship since that’s how I got on, but at the same time, there was zero indication to do so. It’s little things like this that irritate the hell out of me with this game.
In the first impressions piece, I gave the development team a pretty good dose of crap because of the blatant sexism of the character creator. As of this moment, that still hasn’t been changed in the game (DO IT NOW, DAMMIT!), but now I want to shift focus to a different kind of extremism that’s completely uncalled for – your dismembered corpse popping up before you respawn in PvP. Seriously? WTF other part of the game would give a parent any indication that this level of gruesome gore would be anywhere in the game? When I’m shooting bugs coming at me or a Thumper, sure there’s some blood, but body parts aren’t flying in a hundred directions, or entrails flowing out of their blown up bodies. Yet when I get in a PvP match, the first thing I see when I respawn is this disgusting partial corpse with bones sticking out from dismembered joints. I swear between this and the female hip-thrusting of the character creator, it’s like there’s a 15 year old boy calling the shots somewhere in the company. It boggles the mind.
Do you know why this aspect of the game’s PvP ticked me off so much and makes me want to throw up my hands in frustration at the company? Because… wait for it… THE PVP IS ACTUALLY FUN! I think the matches are a little longer than they need to be, but the action is pretty steady, the maps make great use of vertical movement, and there are plenty of places to get out of trouble, get the jump on someone, or support your fellow teammates from. Knowing that players are popping in from different places in the game world, the first thing you see when you get transported to the PvP map is a Battle Garage so you can spend your hard earned XP right there. Combine this with players using different battlesuits to fill various roles, and the PvP game is actually a lot of fun… right up until the point I’m staring at a disgusting dismembered corpse.
As I said before, the game has a lot of potential. And that’s why I get so pissed off with it so often. From the word go it does everything it can to frustrate players and make them quit. For those that have the fortitude to keep trudging forward, figure out the crafting system, play with the wide variety of battle suits, gain the experience required to keep improving them, explore the beautiful world, and more, I salute your tenacity. Red Five Studios – you have the makings of a very entertaining title, but it is in desperate need of some changes that need to be completed far sooner than later. Best of luck to you!