previews\ Aug 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm

PAX Prime 2011: Firefall Aims To Take Free-To-Play Gaming To The Next Level


If you haven’t heard by now, Firefall is kind of a big deal. Go big or go home; that is exactly what Red 5 Studios did at PAX this year. With the PAX halls decked out in Firefall banners and the streets lined with Firefall flags, the free to play open-world shooter made quite the statement.

Firefall is a mmo shooter set in a science fiction world that depicts Earth 200 year in the future, devastated by the disastrous arrival of the Melding, a hostile energy storm that engulfs most of the planet. As the surviving humans band together to save the human species, they are met with a new danger known as The Chosen. In Firefall, players must work together to fend off the invading bloodthirsty race that threatens humanity’s survival.

Already intrigued by numerous trailers released, I finally got a chance to get a hands-on demo at PAX. After stepping up to one of the numerous PCs located around the epic Firefall booth, I entered the massive world. While Firefall does offer competitive e-sports PVP, my demo focused on the massive open world co-op gameplay.

Check out this Firefall 'Gameplay' Trailer

Showing off the dynamic world events in Firefall, I started off in the resort area known as Copa Cabana, one of the last few surviving cities. After completing some of the beginning tutorial quests, The Chosen began to attack the city in what is called a dynamic world invasion. Peering up into the sky I saw The Chosen drop ship launching drop-pods into the city. My goal was to defend the three generators protecting the SIN Tower (Information network) from the invaders and destroy the drop ship.

I loved the quickly paced, chaotic combat. The intensity of battle was heightened by the massive amounts of players fighting with me to bring down the drop ship. This sucker was strong and although there were turrets to man, I found myself constantly jet packing across the map (yes, you can fly in this game!) to defend the three generators. Usually, a battle of such massiveness could leave you feeling useless, like your actions won’t really affect the outcome. Well, with the sheer number of invaders, every person counted. Throw in the fact that these drop ships will appear at all points of interest around the world, and the human race will need all the help they can get.

The battle raged on for several minutes as wave after wave appeared. Eventually we destroyed the dropship, but unfortunately my character didn’t quite make it as I died at the very last second. Luckily, I was still rewarded with a blue item which I could equip and use to PVP with.

I found it interesting that while Firefall is a class-based shooter, these classes are determined by the equipment you wear rather than selecting your permanent role at the character creation. Aside from wielding weapons, each character dons a custom mechanized suit known as a Battleframe. These Battleframes may be swapped in and out, and depending on which you equip, your play style and experience will change. As you level up the Battleframe, you can unlock access to additional abilities and modifications to customize your play experience with that specific Battleframe. The different Battleframes that have been “revealed” so far include Medic, Assault, Recon, and Engineer.

For those more interested in the aesthetics of the game, Firefall offers stylized, cartoonish graphics. The vibrant and varied colors of the world make the environment visually pleasing to the eye. Don’t expect realistic graphics, but rather graphics that work in harmony with the gameplay.

Firefall PAX Prime preview

Personally, I think Red 5 Studios is giving us gamers a steal by offering Firefall as a completely free-to-download, free-to-play game. This is a game I would have no problem parting with $60 for. It’s that good! It’s not your typical free-to-play game either. You won’t be constrained to a limited gameplay timer, or restricted access to areas. You won’t miss out on any content or “epic” items by not paying. You could potentially play the entire game without spending a dime. So how does Red 5 Studios plan to make money off of Firefall? They are counting on players purchase option aesthetic enhancements for their characters. Keep in mind, these enhancements will have no effect on in-game stats. It’s strictly appearance related. With that being said, who wouldn’t want to purchase a mustache for their character?

Firefall is going to take F2P gaming to the next level by offering a richer, deeper gaming experience that has yet to be seen in any other free-to-play title!

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