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Firefall Preview [PAX East 2011]

Anyone who knows me personally has on more than one occasion asked me to "shut the hell up" about Firefall at least once. Since I saw Red5's world premier video at PAX Prime last year I have been eagerly anticipating my chance to get my hands on the game. Well, Boston made that happen. I got a ton of playtime in with the game and chatted with a few of the folks over at Red5 while doing so.

First, the what: Firefall is an action packed first (or third) person competitive shooter that also ties in RPG elements. At PAX they were showcasing some 5v5 player vs. player play, since at launch they hope to have a very competitive environment. Being how this was the first time the game was publicly playable I was able to learn a ton of new information about it.

In the demo they were showcasing three of their classes: Assault, Recon and Medic. The three of those should be fairly self-explanatory. I decided to give the Assault a whirl since it would be the most "in your face" allowing me to really experience the game from the forefront. One of the first things I was introduced to was the execute system. When an enemy player goes down they don't immediately die, you can either: continue to shoot them or walk up and hold the E key; doing so will "execute" the player, which truly gains you a kill. The reason for this is the opposite side of the same coin, reviving. All players can revive a downed teammate and a medic can do so instantly. Otherwise the game plays like a normal FPS would with the addition of a jetpack and skills. The skills I had were simple:

  1. My character would launch himself into the air and then quickly slam the ground in front of him causing huge area of effect damage.
  2. My character would boost in whatever direction I was moving (which included boosting higher with your jetpack to cause my #1 skill to hit for even more)
  3. My character would gain a temporary damage boost, helping in mowing down targets.

Although all of the skills were powerful they had long cool-downs, which meant that nothing was able to be spammed and you had to strategically use them to maximize effectiveness. What I learned from the Red5 folks was that you gained these abilities based on what armor you were wearing. Also what I thought was amazing is that you can actually change your class on the fly! Meaning I could be an Assault to mow down some enemies and then see a friend in trouble and switch over to the medic. All of these classes are levelled and geared separately out of combat. This is cool because it allows you to make one character, yet that one character can be everything!

This one-character approach is also enhanced by the way the games PvE (player vs. environment) content will work. Aside from just running around and killing things the game has something which they call "dynamic event." These are very similar to what is often called a public quest in other MMOs. Basically you show up to an area and there will be an event going on, such as defending a location or killing a boss that spawned and players can just jump right in and join the group.

Players will be able to not only gear up but also gain experience from both PvP and PvE which means you can kind of play the game your way. The game will be completely free to both download and play; this is likely to be sustained by micro-transactions although they were unwilling to talk more about it at this time. The game is slated for a 2011 release but nothing more is known beyond that. This game was one of the highlights of the entire show for me; the game is very polished considering how far it could still be from launch. Not only that but it has the potential to be a really solid title!