Is Firefall, The9’s Free-to-Play FPS Gamble, Any Good?

C. Custer
11:00 am on Dec 11, 2012

I’ve been excited about Firefall for a while now. The game, developed by The9-owned Red Five studios, is a free-to-play shooter the company has big plans for globally, including throughout East and Southeast Asia. Firefall could be The9’s first big international multiplayer hit, and the stakes are pretty high given the company’s dire financial situation.

But is the game itself any good? This past weekend I got the opportunity to participate in a closed beta for the game, which hasn’t officially been released yet. For new players, the game starts with choosing a class and designing a character. I chose the generic assault class and made a few tweaks to my character’s appearance, although there weren’t an awful lot of options. After an oddly long loading time — I’ll write that off as a quirk of the beta — I found myself in what appeared to be some kind of transport spaceship, drifting over an alien planet. Before long, the ship had touched down, and the real game had begun.

Firefall is a massively-multiplayer first-person-shooter (FPS), although it can also be played from a third-person perspective. Players move about an open world competing quests, and although I saw lots of other players in my time with Firefall, I didn’t really interact with any of them. Sometimes we were shooting the same enemies at the same time, but it often felt almost like a single-player game, though I didn’t progress very far and things may change later on.

The best thing that I can say about Firefall is that it feels great. The controls are natural, and the addition of rocket boots that give players — well, at least the assault class — a temporary upward boost really helps make the game feel unique. There are also temporary glider wings that can be picked up and used at specific spots, and gliding around through the game world is smooth and fun. In fact, I enjoyed the gliding enough that I wish it had been made into more of a core mechanic of the game. Think about how the “skis” in Tribes give that game its own totally unique feel; I think there might have been an opportunity to do something similar with the gliders here. As it is, they’re fun, but they’re only available when you happen to run into them.

Visually, the world of Firefall didn’t impress me. That’s not to say that it looks bad; it’s no Crysis but for a free-to-play game the visuals are top notch. The art design is less impressive, and the sci-fi jungle environments I explored didn’t feel particularly special or unique. (That said, I was only able to check out a small area of the map during my time with the game, and it’s possible there are more interesting areas out there). The world also feels pretty chaotic, and with tons of NPCs and other players running around. Everything felt very dense, and not in a good way.

But Firefall’s real failure was in its missions. After an early one required me to blast some enemies, I was given a new mission that entailed mining something or other out of the ground using grenades. I understand that grinding is a part of MMO games, but this is also an FPS, and throwing grenades at the ground isn’t all that fun or compelling. In fact, it’s pretty boring. My boredom was compounded by the fact that the directions for this mission were terrible. I was directed to use “the call-down menu on my nav wheel” to select the grenades, but I never found any such menu and my mouse’s nav wheel did switch between weapons but didn’t seem to allow me to select anything. Ultimately, I figured out how to throw the grenades by accident, but I wasted my first few throws tossing grenades at an objective marker before realizing that the marker wasn’t actually marking the location I needed to mine, it was just placed in the general vicinity of my objectives.

Having finally figured out what I needed to do and how to do it, I mined the ores I needed and took them back to someone, who promptly directed me to use a nearby console to build…something. I didn’t quite catch what he (or maybe she, the characters are very forgettable) said, and when I opened up the console menu I was presented with a staggering array of dozens of options of things to build, and no indication of which one I needed. I messed around with it for a minute or two, but I still couldn’t figure out how to make what I wanted, and I realized I didn’t care. I didn’t feel any connection to any of the NPCs I was talking to, I wasn’t doing any shooting in what was ostensibly supposed to be an FPS game, and I decided I didn’t need to bother with the missions anymore.

Wandering around the game world at random was more enjoyable, and I was able to jump into a few firefights, and even got myself killed once or twice. I also rescued another player who had been knocked down. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had in an FPS, but it was way more interesting that throwing grenades at dirt, and I couldn’t help but wonder why the game didn’t have me doing fun missions like that to learn the ropes instead of wandering around searching for ore markers to throw grenades at.

I’m sure there are plenty of far more interesting missions later in the game, but Firefall‘s failure to captivate at the beginning could be a death sentence if it isn’t rectified before the final launch. The game is free, so many players aren’t going to feel obligated to push on and “beat” it the way they might a title they have already spent money on. Instead, they’re just going to do what I did: shut it down, and fire up some other more interesting game (my post-Firefall game of choice was X-COM: Enemy Unknown, which is incredible).

Firefall is also going to face some tough competition in the free-to-play FPS market when it is released. It already has to compete with the excellent Tribes: Ascend, and the free-to-play mech FPS Hawken opens this Wednesday. Firefall is likely to be better marketed and better localized in Asia than either of those games given that The9 is a Chinese company with offices across Asia, but even the best marketing can only get users in the door, and it’s never going to be enough to keep people playing a boring game.

The tragedy here is that I don’t think Firefall necessarily is a boring game. But for me, it made a pretty boring first impression, and for a free-to-play shooter with plenty of excellent competition, that may be all it takes.

  • Zhernebog

    True. The current missions are completely unpolished and it lacks a tutorial. That’s where the game (in its current state) depends upon the community.
    To be fair, the one mission you were thrusted upon is pretty much exactly the same mission that was released with the very release of the PvE environment. Barely some balancing issues added, but that’s it.

    The game isn’t about doing X mission to get Y reward and proceed to Z dungeon. It’s about the open world, and teaming up randomly, and not be constrained by the lack / need of a group.

    If you’re willing to give Firefall another try, try saying in Zone chat “LFG chosen hunting group” to be taken to many-a-corner in New Eden and do so much more than tossing explosives at those poor, defenseless mineral deposits.

  • Jirue

    An interesting article…. You bring up some excellent points about the starting experience not being very engaging and that is something the Developers plan to change in the near future. Whats there right now is mostly just some basics to help teach a bit about the some core game features, but they in no way reflect what the Devs will have near launch as they’re waiting for more development to come down the line so they know for sure what all features they need to teach people through the tutorial and thus don’t want to waste a lot of time on something they’ll likely need to change anyways.

    I’m sorry to hear you had a poor experience with the game visually. I think I can understand why you think that though if you’re approaching the game from a FPS players perspective as currently the start is not very flashy and does not highlight some of the excellent explosions and various other awesome effects within the game. The game does have some great visuals though that I hope you can experience more thoroughly in the future… there’s very little quite as glorious as dodging a hundred Chosen Juggernaut rounds flying at you through the night sky as they explode all around you and a million Chosen Assault rounds whiz by your head.

  • T-

    Check out this article on FireFall ~

  • Gareth Collins

    I think the real problem here, is that the game lacks a New Player Experience (NPE)

    This, is not due to a lack on Red5Studios work, but a lack of maturity of the game.
    Brilliance takes times to develop, and believe me, the brilliance IS being developed.

    I find your article somewhat ignorant of the fact the game is in Beta, and there are constant milestones of patching and activity for the development team. It’s a self admission that the game won’t be ready for ages yet – and with good reason. It’s not ready.
    It won’t be ready soon – and that’s quite the intention.
    They opened into a Closed Beta so they could get input from the community to directly influence the way the game is created and that takes balls. Hats off to them, they’ve – in my opinion – set the standard for a a developer company; If EA, Ubisoft and a bunch of others started to do this, they’d not only maintain their gaming prowess, BUT also cultivate a thriving and well mannered community. The game’s community is it’s best selling point, and while I’m sorry you didn’t get to experience it – I would like to ask whether you once even bothered to pop up on the Forums and ask questions.

    Like I say; It’s Beta- It’s almost mandatory that you pop onto the forums and ask questions, instigate debates and act for change. If you found it boring, it’s your responsibility as a Beta tester, (not as a journalist/columnist writing a piece on an “Early access” as you would have your readers believe,) to get on the forums and explain in as much detail as possible, the reasons WHY you found it boring, so it can be rectified and improved.

    If you haven’t already seen, the CEO of Red5Studios, Mark Kern has posted about your article, and asked the community what it thinks of it. Personally? I feel insulted by your lack of indulgence in all the games aspects, including the community. You’ve let yourself down as a journalist for failing to do so, in my opinion.

    If you would like to be inducted properly, and given that opportunity to ask the silly questions that make you feel stupid for asking – then ask them. We won’t ridicule you, and those that do often get outcast and internalise themselves. We want to get your feedback to make this game as wonderful as possible, and minimize the time it’s going to take to push for release.

    If you ever want to try the game, and get into it – head on into the general discussion or Army discussion, and we’ll get you sorted!

    Question; Have you ever Thumped or raced an LGV?

  • Zhernebog

    Oooh… LGV racing. I’ll take you up on that.

  • Hotel6

    I think you’re missing the point, the purpose of the current Firefall is just for stress test, finding bugs and balancing.
    And yes, the community has spoke, the first mission was lame, and you’re right about Firefall is missing infomation.
    But it’s have the BETA tag, so you can’t say it’s boring (ever play some BETA game that keep you playing forever ?).
    And Firefall don’t have any “launch” or “release, you keep playing, monthly contest keep put into the game, fixes…And the real deal is the User’s Voice. Red5 want to hear what you want, then they will sit down, discuss you idea, and make it become an in-game feature.

  • GlennAd

    Good article :)

    The beginner mission can be real boring right now, and will hopefully get a totall rework before teh launch.
    Shame that you didn’t finish them, so you could do the cool stuff like thumping and trying the LGV (Light Ground Vechile).
    Didn’t seem like you played enough to get a real sense of the Chosen warfront either :/

  • terricon4

    I do fully see where you are coming from with your article. Though like many other commenting here, the intro quests (and the rest of them for that matter) aren’t really representative of the actual game. Pretty much all the quests were added a long time back, as much as a way too test out the tools of building quests than to really be proper intro quests. The result is that those are rather boring, and don’t highlight a lot of the game, especially since incursion chosen, and 80% of the map was added after those were.

    The best way to play Firefall, is by participating in the dynamic events, something that aren’t even brought up in the intro missions currently. They will be replacing those to better show people how Firefall works in the future, but no specific date has been set. My preferred dynamic events are retaking chosen watchtowers, destroying incursion, and advanced thumping with a sufficiently large squad so as to not all die instantly.

    Your comments on the visuals I will agree with, some parts are nice and unique here and there, but a lot of the games terrain and plants just lack real feeling to them. I believe this is in large part do to the lack of normal and specular maps used in game though, so objects just don’t pop and seem too flat for my preferences. However, if you haven’t try playing on all max settings, it does look a lot better that way.

    And lastly, I’m curious if you tried out pvp, while sadly there are issues getting a large enough queue for certain maps, tdm is readily available and quite enjoyable once you learn the basics of fighting,

    If you would like to give Firefall another chance, then just ask and I’ll send you a beta key so you can try it out again, though if not I’ll fully understand if you’d rather wait till it’s “released” before checking in on it again.

  • Bazaba

    Yep, you a right about the beginner missions. The developement team is aware of this issue and a lot of ppl working on it.
    But I have to completely disagree about your opinion that this game is boring. Sure there are not many quests but pls aware that the PvE content is not even close to being complete. It is implemented in stages and every stage contains new quests. And never forget the game is not about quests alone like the usual fantasy mmo, it’s about a war between the Chosen invaders and the last humans who survived the Firefall.
    Once the whole war is implemented you can go and fight the bad guys at an actual and real warfront to push back the melding and take back the earth.
    Just wait 2 or 3 months, come back and you will find a complete different game with a lot of action going on.

  • edge

    Really wanted to hear more about brontos and lgv and melding and stuff but you didnt mention any of those:( (read these stuff in the firefall website)
    Also heard that in this game you can fight tornadoes is it true? Did you try pvp?
    Wanted to know more about these stuff but your review doesnt mention any of these:(

  • FreeFury

    Yeah, the missions are indeed a bit wonky right now. But 1 thing i don’t really agree with you in is the chaotic part. Ofcourse the world is chaotic, a spaceship has crashed, A LOT of people have died, mutated creatures came from nowhere and are killing everyone etc… It actually makes sense that their is chaos.

  • naTural

    I’ll save myself from typing a wall of text as much of what I have to say has been said by previous posters and fellow beta testers. However, I will say this to you and anyone else who reads the article, and that is that this game deserves much more attention then what you described in your first experience. There is so much more to offer than what you mentioned and if I had to guess I’d say only about 25% of the content is currently in game. I personally have not been able to stop playing it and for a game that is as incomplete as it is to keep people engaged is really saying something. I look forward to what Red5 has in store for us in future updates.

    So please, give it another shot. I as well as most of the previous posters used our in game names in commenting and we would be more than happy to show you the rest of what the game has to offer so far.

  • Voice of Majority

    – I find the core gameplay fun. It is very easy to pick up, but has depth due to the possibility of endlessly tinkering with your frames balance. It is never very serious, though.
    – The world generally feels like a place. Some of the environments have a very special feeling to them. Try fighting the chosen close to melding in northern shores. The melding tornado is the first time I’ve experienced a proper storm in a computer game. The verticality of it all.
    – The game is built around dynamic events not quests. Some of them are on demand some not. Most of the events require at least a small squad to succeed. People like to brag about being able to solo this or that event, but more often than not there are many people working together to take back a tower or push the chosen incursion back. What may be an issue is to know where everybody else is. There is an indication of fighting on the map, but these tend to be fairly quick affairs and it could be over before you make it there.

  • Bill Jamison

    It depends on what your looking for.

    If your looking for PvP then obviously running through the starter missions is not going to be your cup of tea.

    Personally I found them to be pretty good at explaining exactly what you can do, how to use call down items, and how to gather resources.

    While I’ve been playing Firefall less than a week I am almost ready to move up to a T2 recon suit. Starting to play some with Assault chassis.

    There is in my opinion so much that Firefall does right, that I would hate to criticize them too severely at this point.

  • S

    I find that actually looking at keybinds, reading mission text, and paying a bit of attention helps me get a lot more out of games than just blitzing in and expecting the game to parade monsters in front of me to shoot.

    What other options *are* there, anyway? The game doesn’t throw the player at the hard stuff right off, but that’s GOOD, since new players would just get shredded. In that case, the reviewer would likely be complaining about too much difficulty, instead a lack of challenge. Fighting Chosen solo generally ends poorly, and the same goes for the bigger thumpers. …The reviewer *did* deploy at least a stock thumper, right?

    I’m not sure how somebody can expect a game to immerse them if they decide to ignore all the lead-up missions that introduce the mechanics.

  • anubis4567

    They’re working on the tutorial, but many things haven’t been implemented yet and some of the things that have may be scrapped. So it’d be pointless to make a tutorial since they’d have to change it almost constantly. Use the players as your tutorial and you’ll have a much better time. I’d say come back around the end of January and you’ll see a hell of a lot more content than there was before.

    The name I’m using here is my in-game, if you want to dive in again feel free to hit me up there and I’ll help you learn the game.

  • Illian.Amerond

    One thing I felt that should be pointed out is that this game is being built up by the community. The development team listens to the users of the game to manufacture and modify the exsisting content to provide the best content for all the community as a whole.

    No other game development project on our planet, least of all in the history of game development, has any one ever worked so close with the players to deliver the content and experience they would like to see more of. This coupled wit the amazing staff and writers for the game, creates that mysterious element we seen in T.V. shows like the LOST and wonderful science fantasy as in Orson Scott Card’s: Enders Game.

    Being apart of a living and continuously changing process is far greater than diving into a fully polished AAA title any day.

  • Syndaphex

    The one glaring shard of truth within this article is the “commentary” made on new player experience. Its been well known (and documented on forums) that it has not been immerisive and flat. Since Red 5 has taken steps to work on a tutorial and player immersion into its lore. Missions/tutorials have not been fully implemented with beta,and ones that are available are sparse at best. To your credit the first couple hours there is a sense of a lost feeling and lack of direction… but there is an open world to explore.

    Dynamic events such as Tornado’s, Chosen Incursion’s and drop pods are well worth doing. Thumping (Mining),Crashed Thumper and Crashed LGV, Holmgang Tech events are great also Even just hunting chosen on taken over areas of the map are chaotic but its leaves me wanting to play more.

    Your article seems as if you played maybe 30-60 minutes then uninstalled.Then prefaced your comments with The9’s financial status. The lack of objectivity in your article is seen, but there are better ways on making a case against Firefall than just basing it on limited gameplay.

  • C. Custer

    Wow. Well, I’m glad to see that Firefall has such a supportive user community. A few comments:

    1) Of course this article isn’t objective; it’s an impressions piece. They are subjective by nature.

    2) Yes, I am aware the game is in beta; it’s mentioned several times in the article and it’s the reason I say at the end that I think the opening section needs to be fixed before the game is released.

    3) I am sure there are plenty of aspects of the game I didn’t try. This article isn’t a review — it would be stupid to spend the hours and hours it would take to review a beta that’s going to change before release anyway — it’s just an impressions piece about how I think the game as it exists right now (i.e. in beta) is failing to captivate new players (or at least me) in the early going. I’m not trying to “build a case against Firefall” and as I said in the introduction; I really have been excited about it, as evidenced by the numerous posts I’ve made about it despite its pretty thin connection to the theme of our site. (Normally, the fact that a game developer is owned by an Asia-based company wouldn’t really be enough of a reason to write about it).

    4) Yes, I understand the early missions are just there to introduce the game mechanics; my point is that they do it poorly and in a way that is not particularly interesting, and that with this being a free-to-play game, some players are never going to move beyond that. It sounds like many of you have been participating in the development process and are pretty emotionally invested in the game, but remember, when it launches, most new players aren’t going to be that invested. In fact, they’re not going to be invested AT ALL, they’re just going to be people who heard about the game, read a review, or otherwise just stumbled across it and decided to try it out.

    And, whether this is fair or not, people’s standards for free games are different. When you buy a $60 game, you’ll probably keep playing it for at least a little while even if the tutorial missions suck because you’ve already put 60 bucks into it. But when you download a free game for your phone and it isn’t fun, how long do you generally spend playing before deleting it? Free smartphone games have about 30 seconds to 1 minute of time to hook the user before they get deleted. And while a big free PC game like Firefall is going to have more leeway than a casual mobile game, I don’t think many people are going to spend more than 15-30 minutes playing a game that doesn’t capture their interest.

    Again, the reason I’m saying this is because the game is still in beta and there is time to fix it.

    5) For whatever it’s worth, I may give the beta another shot personally, but I won’t be writing about the game again until it has been officially released, or at least is in open beta (which, let’s face it, is kind of the same thing). I don’t think this article was even all that harsh (among other things, I said the game feels great and that the visuals were “top notch”); it’s just that people aren’t used to reading pre-release impressions pieces that have any real negative points in them.

  • RainDreamer

    Hey there, this article has been commented on by the CEO of Red 5 Studio, Mark Kern (Grummz on forum):

    To quote him: “Pretty harsh article, but I take the feedback to heart. We have to hook players in the beginning and teach them to play the game. That’s what we’re working on right now…I don’t think he ever did a thumper or fought the Chosen. Maybe you guys could offer to show him around.”

    Since I believe due to the new player experience in the beta testing stage has pushed you away from the other content that also deserve a look at, may I offer you assistance through your first stages of the game in place of a tutorial (that is still in the working)?

    The beta community is mostly friendly, and will help you along the way to enjoy what this game has to offer.

  • Dharak

    As Gareth said, you bring up some good points about the the New Player Experience, yet you also clearly failed to partake in a vast majority of what Firefall has to offer, and of what the developers have currently been focusing on. Firefall isn’t about short linear quests, but rather about dynamic events, and you don’t mention a single one, leading me to believe that you never even got past the the first (extremely short) quest chain and out into the open world.

    What about:
    Melding Tornadoes?
    Defeating the BaneClaw?
    Attacking Watchtowers?
    Defending Watchtowers?
    Racing LGVs?
    Saving Crashed Thumpers?
    Saving Crashed LGVs?
    Racing Crashed LGVs?

    Future readers should know that this author clearly does not bother to do adequate research before writing his articles. What he discusses above consumes the first hour (if that) of game play. This would be like writing a review for World of Warcraft but failing to even get out of the tutorial. Its silly, and although what he writes could be used as feedback to improve Firefall (Which is in closed, invite only beta until things like the NPE are implemented) playing the first two short quests in the game and then writing a review like this, completely negligent on what Firefall actually is, is is just insulting.

  • jimbo

    i do appreciate the author standing by his work and being honest about his impressions upon playing, the thing i find a bit hard to understand is that, one of your complaints is about the tutorial well that tutorial has been there a long time and the plan is not to finish it until pve is either done or much further along, to expect a tutorial when a lot of pve content is not even in game yet, is like asking for instructions to a vehicle that is not even built yet.

    Also, there will never be an open beta there has been a sticky on the website for years about that

    When you call the battleframes classes you might wanna mention that a person can change them at a batttleframe station, so one character can play all frames or classes ( some people might call that innovative even though i remember doing something similar back in FFXI)

    I went in with the first beta wave , we did nothing but test instanced pvp/esports for months, because of this a huge amount of pve content is just getting implemented.

    Also, did you mention thumping once ? cause that is the primary means of resource extraction for crafting. I been playing online games since 2004 and this is by far the best community i have ever been around i don’t know too many companies where the CEO posts on a regular is not daily basis. They dropped the NDA months ago because they wanna be a transparent company

  • Rutaic

    I can’t help but disagree with your conclusions. I think that in light of the fact that little time was spent on your in game time, and chat was not used that you can’t help but come away from your experience with a negative outlook.

    The game is not polished, and if that’s your criteria, you won’t find it here for a bit yet. The more pertinent question revolves around what the game IS. It’s very strongly community based, so if you do decide to try it again come get in with an army. There is an ever expanding list of them.

    There are also four climate zones, many dynamic events, as well as on demand dynamic events different from the one you evaluated the game on. To say that the scenery, visuals or the art are not up to par without actually spending the time checking it out is to look at the jacket of the cliffnotes and prosthelytize against it.

  • KyoKuro

    I’ve read your two cents, now I’m going to give you mine.

    As of right now, it seems that most of what you wrote (mostly on the missions part) is “accurate”. The missions aren’t in depth right now, sure, but you have to realize these facts: It’s in BETA. This is usually a time for working out kinks in stuff, which is exactly what Red5 is doing.

    Sure, the missions aren’t full fledged and comply ironed out. I don’t know of any BETA game (and I’ve been in a lot of them) that doesn’t have a broken mission stream. Look at WoW’s launch of new expansions. Blizzard is a massive, multi-billion dollar company, with tons of programmers, coders, linker’s, etc… Every single expansion they have – they always have mission work problems. It’s a common part of game making and breaking. Oh did I happen to mention that Grummz (aka Mark Kern) was on the team for vanilla?

    On to the second part.

    It seems to me that you never really took the time to try anything else. You ran around like a chicken with your head cut off. That’s alright though, it’s all a part of the new game experience :)

    Jump in game again, and look past the missions this time. Try talking in the zone chat to see what the skinny is on things, ask around, see if anyone wants to try running some groups/squads. That’s where all the real fun is for sure.
    You need to go back and try some of the following:
    *Interact with the community. This involves going to the forums and finding out what people are up to.
    *Press the ‘Enter’ key on your keyboard. Now type a nice sentence. Press ‘Enter’ again. Wait for reply.
    *Talk to some people. Start running around with them.
    *Squad up with those peeps. Look at that, you’re now a pea in their pod.
    *Run Thumping with said squad
    *Try it in a wide variety of locations
    *Press the ‘M’ key on your keyboard.
    *Look in awe at the massive size of this map (Lots to load = longer loading time)
    *See those white tower shaped points around the map? That’s a watch tower.
    *See those watch towers on your map? Defend one.
    *See those red watch towers on your map? Attack one. (pref. with a squad)
    *See all of the different Purple markers? Set a way point to one to find out what it is.
    *Try the PVP. (Be ready to have your face rolled over and melted. It’s a common occurrence)
    *Explore, Explore, Explore. Oh and did I mention Explore? Take more time to run around and look at things instead of a five minute debacle in the edge of Copacabana.
    *I cannot stress enough the fact that you actually have to spend more than an hour on the game. (which is exactly what it sounds like you spent on it.)

    My last thing to say is this.

    Give it more time before writing something degrading about it.
    If you ever want to try the game again, (with people that could run you through some pretty interesting situations) come check out the forums. Look under the ARMY Discussion Section and see what people have going on group wise.

    At any rate, I hope this is a bit more of an encouragement to get you back into the game. It might be a work in process, but it’s one that is definitely going in the right direction.

    Have a good day sir, and take care.
    KyoKuro, Kyo in game.
    One year of FF and loving it.

  • DarkByke

    I sort of think you missed the point of a beta completely….

    The game isn’t hooking people at the start, that’s why you lose them immediately. The lack of tutorial, or explanation on how to do anything involving the navwheel is just overwhelming for them.

    I knew what I was getting into, I was smart about it. I knew that it was a REAL BETA, meaning not everything was complete. That’s where I think people fail. They can’t see that it’s a work in progress, things aren’t always complete or work as they should.

    Half the fun is figuring things out on your own! Or asking people in chat! Or watching others thump/play….

    It’s a fine line between hand-holding players hands, and letting them figure it out on their own.

  • Nocens

    I dont think I can disagree with many things stated by the writer. I just happen to think that he went on the game with a totally incorrect mindset, and this review is poorly timed.

    see, C. Custer…the problem is that you may be submitting your first impressions on a bta game, when you probably are used by now to game sin beta being “mostly functionally complete”.

    Im seeing a trend for the last 5 years, where most companies use the beta tag as a replacement of “glorified marketing campaign”.

    In those you are given the chance to experience the game just to check how shiny it is, and please tell your friends it was shiny. Sure, you can point to the occasional bug or glitch, or even offer some input on why X class needs to be tweaked…and with MANY luck your post will be noticed, and they will bother to fix it before launch…most likely not…

    so in that respect i can see how you have been “spoiled” so to speak, and your

    FireFall beta functionally acts as an alpha. The company has no problem admitting the game isnt fully done, maybe not even half-done…but they tell you their plans for the future and you can add your input on them, maybe even shift the dirction they take completly.
    Not only that, the other half is already done, you can also

    let me give you two examples that will probably cast more light on the dimension of things we are talking here:

    1) FF at first had your typical MMO “levels”. Many people agreed that system didnt really work well for the game and proposed a tiered unlock system ala “World of Tanks”.

    lo and behold, Red5 heard them and actually scrapped their entire leveling system and did the tiered system so we all could test that. Whats even better is that if the tiered system doesnt work, red5 wont
    have any problem in trying yet another aproach to the leveling

    2) likewise, FF also had your typical “kill mob – drops random loot” system, which again most of the playerbase felt it didnt have a point in a shooter game.

    Red5 once again heard the feedback, scrapped the entire drop system and instead pushed forward a far more complex crafting system tied to the tiered unlocks. now the game is more about crafting your gear and custom-tailor for your needs.

    can you imagine any other MMO, past present or future, that would have dared to change such core mechanics of their games during a beta just because their playerbase reacted negatively to them?

    you are given the chance to shape the game during an “alpha” stage. you just have to come into terms with the fact that red5 hasnt make this exclusive to a selected few, like an “alpha” usually hints . They want to be as open as possible so they allowed tons of people in their game to recieve as much feedback as possible.

  • Jirue

    I think the biggest issue people have with yer article mate is that you posted it on a public sight other then the Forums as a first impressions take for a game still mid development. The people on the forums wouldn’t have made such a fuss over it if this had been posted on the Forums as a form of feedback for the game, but since it’s been posted on an outside source of game information the people expect a more in depth analysis of the game showing every aspect of the game and what it has to offer or improve on. The reason for this is you are making the first impression of the game for a lot of new and interested people, so there’s a expectation for your impression to show a more broad and fair view on multiple fronts of the game in order to highlight more then just the starting experience.

    Basically, because the games in development still and has hardly been tweeked for the new player experience so far… having it be discussed right now in such a way is like peeking at the bride before the wedding when she’s still in street clothes without makeup and then telling the people in the church about how she’s not that pretty. She’s not quite ready for the attention such articles may bring to her is all.

  • Dalos

    I think the article is fair as a first impression. The beginners experience is unfinished in the current beta build and most of the current quality gameplay is in the meat and potatoes of the game. It is a pretty daunting experience starting out and you need to put in some time before you get to the current cool stuff of stomping some chosen and doing meld thumping etc. For people greatly interested in the game and keeping up with the firefall live events with the devs and such this is far more obvious than to players with a more casual interest.

    So I think what would help the most is to give some basic details to the author and other people reading. The battleframe (class) system is still up in the air. They might be fixing/balancing the skills and mostly keeping what they got. They might overhaul the leveling system. It is still undecided. The newbie experience takes place 6 months before present time that helps introduce how your character works and includes the storyline elements of the ship crashing etc. Until they are 100% sure on how the class system is going to turn out they are not implementing that tutorial introduction as otherwise they would have to update it every time there may be a radical class change.

    For instance the biotech class used to be the medic class and have a healing gun. The engineer use to have autoaim projectiles but they got some heavy changes so they would have to completely alter the tutorial along with changing over the classes. I hope that gives a rough idea why it is a rough starting experience at the current time.

  • Bashrag

    Good article.

    I agree with you about the new player experience being difficult. The controls are a mile away from what I was used to using and I’m a veteran of both the MMO and FPS worlds, and the tutorial isn’t really great. The PVE is also somewhat grindy if you stick around Copacabana. There is very little lore and it’s somewhat baffling at first to determine what’s going on and where you need to go.

    HOWEVER. It’s also a game that really rewards exploration. I’ve run into some of the most amazing sights and crazy situations I’ve ever dealt with in a video game just by trying to get somewhere. Red5 have done a great job of creating a living breathing world to get into, and if you continue to dig, you will continue to find.

    Honestly their new player experience is about a million times better than Planetside 2’s, and the controls are more intuitive. I think they need to do is pull their writers off of the comic book and have them write some tutorials that give you some history, and a solid reason to care about all this stuff.

  • Peter

    What does this have to do with the title of the article? This didn’t answer the financial question.

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