When I asked my dance teacher (he is a zealous Firefall player, to put things mildly) from New York if there were any questions he wanted me to ask Red 5 Studios, he replied with a novella-length series of questions. Several weeks before I departed for Germany, he informed me that most of his answers had been answered, that he was pleased-as-punch and that life was once again all sunshine and rainbows. I hadn't had the time to check out the newly-resurrected servers then so I remember leaving for Germany thoroughly perplexed.
Needless to say, after my meeting with Red 5 Studios, I now completely understand what he meant.
The guys responsible for Firefall didn't just make a few alterations. They sort of reassembled certain components from scratch. Heck, they even removed an entire class. The Medic's been removed in favor of the Bio-Tech. According to what we heard at Gamescom, the Bio-Tech battleframe will still permit you to heal. However, it will also make healing considerably more tactical. Why the shift? One of the biggest reasons is because Red 5 is attempting to make Firefall a little more eSports-friendly. It seems like one of the biggest problems was the fact that there was little that distinguished a great player from an average player.
Of course, this isn't necessarily a bad thing because the Bio-Tech looks absolutely rad. Asides from being able to help their mates recuperate from any damage taken, the Bio-Tech is also capable of doing things like leaving a poison trail to obfuscate, slow and damage.
The Medic wasn't the only thing that Red 5 trashed. Levels are gone too. Instead of simply advancing from one tier to another once you've accumulated enough experience, you're going to find yourself spending that experience points on upgrades and the all-important tech tree.
Yes, folks. There will be a tech tree. In fact, there will be plenty of tech trees.
Moving on, let's talk about tiers. At tier 1, you'll only get two ability slots. However, the number of ability slots will increase along with the complexity of the abilities as you progress towards the higher tiers. Specializations happen in the upper levels as well. For example, the Bio-Tech can eventually branch out and become a Scarab (they're all about heavy-duty healing) or transform into a poisonous Widow that, well - you get the picture.
So, what happens after you've unlocked various components? You go into the Garage and equip it. This, in turn, entails enjoying a three-dimensional look at your character and a chance to min-max to your heart's delight. You heard me. Gone are the days of simply selecting a weapon. Now, you can choose to either pick a battleframe and play or work on squeezing every last drop of power possible from your new toys.
If you've played any amount of Eve Online, chances are you're going to be very familiar with what follows. In this new and improved version of Firefall, players will have to work around three primary constraints: weight, power and CPU. Everything you equip, everything you do - they're all going to be dependent on these three elements. If you want the best possible build, you're going to have to figure out how to rig your battle frames for optimal efficiency.
What makes this even more awesome is the fact that the crafting system is going to be reflective of this shiny new change. These days, every piece of material that you find will come with its own unique set of characteristics. For example, Brimstone 66 has a conductivity rating of 28, a density of 588, a malleability of 100, reactivity of 630 and a resistance of 416. If you use it to create a jump jet, you'll get something immensely powerful. Unfortunately, you'll also something that will devour your CPU capacity.
On the other hand, if you were to make something of out of the bargain-bit rating, you would probably get something immensely heavy, largely impotent but amazingly easy on the CPU. If you're playing a Recon, you'll probably find the trade-off rather useless. However, for the dreadnaught, this may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Speaking of jump jets, they're different as well. With the new jump jets, you'll be able to go for greater distances. There's a down side. If you want to move forward or to the side while mid-air, you're going to have compromise your vertical acceleration.
There are a lot more improvements but there's one new feature that delights me more than any other. It's how Red 5 has chosen to deal with game replays. According to what I learned at Gamescom, they flew in some of the brightest minds in shout-casting and asked them a simple question, 'What do you want?' After getting an entire to-do list, Red 5 then set off and made what has to be, hands down, the best 'game replay' feature I've seen yet.
It's a little bit of awesome, really. After you've selected the game you want to watch, you'll be able to dive straight in. From there, you'll be able to do a whole gamut of stuff. Want to quickly shift through the players? You can use the number keys to do that. Want to switch between first and third-person view? That's achievable as well. Want to check the scores? Pull up tabs? It's all do-able. Heck, ever wanted a hands-free, top-down view of the map, one that has the ability to automatically move to where the action is? They've done it.
Best of all, you can even choose to rewind, fast forward, go into slow-mo and even switch to free-cam mode in the middle of a slow-motion vignette.