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Firefall Column: A PVE Fan’s MMOFPS

By William Murphy on November 08, 2012

With Planetside 2 getting much of the ballyhoo lately (and deservedly so), it’s easy to forget that it’s not the only major MMOFPS on the horizon.  Red 5’s Firefall is taking aim of its own (pardon the pun) to become one of 2012 (or 2013’s) best new entries into the crowded MMO market.  Yes, Firefall definitely has its eyes set on the competitive and eSports scene as well with their instanced match-made content. Meanwhile where the open world of a game like Planetside is all about the PVP, Firefall’s world is much more about the exploration and cooperative PVE play.  The question is: is that what an FPS player wants? Or is it more about providing an FPS for the PVE MMO gamer?

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Why Firefall Works for Me

I enjoy my time in both PS2 and Firefall, but one easily draws me back more often than the other… and it’s not the revered sequel.  Firefall’s mix of “when you want to PVP” and open world exploration-based PVE are much more up my alley.  One day, if we’re lucky, Mark Kern and friends will add in some sort of open-world PVP option and I’ll never play another shooter.  But for now, I find that my tastes are far more suited to the occasional competitive FPS than the full-on always dog-eat-dog FPS that is Planetside 2.  You can call me a carebear, and I might very well be one at times, but I like MMOs that mix the competitive side of things with the cooperative and that’s what Firefall does when Planetside 2 doesn’t. 

I also really enjoy the games renewed character progression, which has players spending XP earned from playing the game in upgrades to their battleframes.  It’s not a class-less system, but rather one that strips away levels and instead puts all progression in the form of massive talent trees and the gear you craft to improve your frames.  Furthermore, with the game still in beta, it’s undergoing significant upgrades to the PVE experience even now, with more focus on random enemy incursion and (buzzword ahoy) “Dynamic Content”, which to me is far more preferable to the theme-park standard of quest hubs. 

All of this, plus the notion that players’ exploration and achievements will guide the uncovering of the world via the SIN Towers is quite appealing.  What players do in the world will peel back the mystery of the game lore and the Chosen Incursion, not just the developers’ timeline.  I like this… it means I feel like I have control of the world’s shaping, even if it’s only in the most rudimentary form. 

But will it work for everyone?

Beta access is still slowly gaining steam, as Red 5 is taking Valve’s Dota 2 approach and slowly metering and ramping up player concurrency until one day they just say: “Hey!  The game’s launched!” But they’re taking money from folks now, so I suppose we have to say it’s “Pay-for-beta” and wait for the good word to come out of Red 5 that they consider the game feature-complete.  My main concern is that I wonder if MMO gamers who also like shooters are looking for an FPS that focuses more on the PVE than the constant PVP shooters are associated with.  And with Defiance due out from Trion worlds in 2013, is there room for two of them?

Additionally, aside from the tried and true mechanics of blowing stuff up, it's true that Firefall has a bit of a learning curve to its systems. Nothing a seasoned MMO gamer couldn't grasp, but it's there. Now, I also can speak from firsthand experience that the learning curve is there in PS2 as well, so perhaps it's just par for the course.  With the NDA down now… what do you lot say? Have you played Firefall? What do you think of the questions posed here? If you haven’t played the game, are you looking forward to giving it a try? Let us know in the comments!


William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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