This week, we’ll take a look at a mishmash of things in Red 5’s freshman effort: Firefall. If you’ve not been following the “Review in Progress” so far, we’ve covered the basics of how one plays the game, progression, and the ever-important art of thumping and crafting. We’ve still got PVP to work through, but there’s a lesser known part of the game’s PVE I wanted to touch on this week. It’s something I’m actually still working on myself, as the process of unlocking this content is a lengthy one and likely in need of further in-game tutorial and clarification. I learned all I needed to know about Melding Pockets and the Blackwater Anomaly instance from the fan-site Astrek Association.
What are Melding Pockets? Well, if you’ve never played Firefall the term might seem gibberish. The Melding is a sort of noxious gas that renders large portions of Earth inhabitable. It’s also where the Chosen seem to stem from, and was accidentally “invited” to Earth when the Arclight crashed into Fortaleza, Brazil. Walk too far into it and you’re toast. The idea Red 5 has is to let players slowly peel back the Melding through playing the game, unlocking more and more regions of the map (and ergo, more content). But from the start of the game, you can unlock special additional regions of the world (Diamond Head, Saragasso Sea, and Antarctica). Red 5 calls these mini-regions “Melding Pockets”, and not only do they offer up a nice change of pace from the tropical Brazil landscape, but they also have some seriously worthwhile resources, monsters, and items packed inside. At least, that’s what I’m told. I’m still working on unlocking the first one: Diamond Head.
You see, the game has a storyline to follow, it’s just not front and center all the time because to progress its steps you first have to obtain quite a few resources. The tutorial and working with Aero and Oilspill is the beginning of this story, and unlocking each of the three Melding Pockets is the continuation all the way up to the Blackwater Anomaly. And according to the developers, one of the top priorities for the game is continuing to expand on this story, as chronicled in a recent Polygon interview with the “story shepherd” Richard Pearsey. But for now, it’ll likely take many of you a big chunk of hours just to get to the Blackwater Anomaly, so chances are the story will be past that point by the time you get there.
As illustrated in the Astrek Association guide linked above, there’s a lot of resource collection ahead of you to unlock each successive Melding Pocket, and eventually the access to the Blackwater Anomaly. You’re going to need the Copacabana Arcfold Modulator, which requires a good bit of work, just for the Hawaii pocket. And then two other region-specific modulators for the other two. Each one takes quite a bit of harvesting and crafting to complete.
You’ll need 50 of a sort of “token” resource called Copacabana Vouchers which you can obtain by completing open world events. These are then used to purchase an item called the Mid-Pacific Relay (as in Hawaii) from the Copa quartermaster. That’s not really the hard part. The part that will take you a little more time, especially if you’re like me and love to deck out multiple battleframes, is the 4,000 units of four resources: silicate, copper, radine, and xenografts. They can be of any rarity, but they all have to be the same type so you’ll also have to refine them and blend them in the crafting station before using them to make your arcfold modulator.
Overall, once you get a grip on the process, it’s not really that daunting. But just figuring out what you have to do to open these pockets is a mystery. Like I’ve said previously, Firefall doesn’t hold your hand. And I wish I’d not spent all my resources on various battleframe upgrades, as I’d rather have focused on one frame and opening these pockets to give myself more places to explore. The Echoes of Serato quest you’re set on after the tutorial is intentionally vague about what it’s doing, because Red 5 doesn’t seem to want to just tell you what your goal should be. It’d rather you figure things out for yourself, or in my case cheat by reading a website that lays it out for me. And yet what I realized after reading Astrek’s guide is that all of the info on how to make the modulator was right there in the game… it just wasn’t presented very clearly. I needed to learn more about crafting, thumping, events and the lore to figure out just what I was working towards.
And that’s kind of Firefall in a nutshell. This MMO shooter is all about exploration, experimentation, and discovery. I’m still not 100% certain there’s enough content here to keep most gamers happy for months on end, but if Red 5’s vigilant and doesn’t sleep much more content will come and reasons for players like me to stick around will be added in. At this point though, I’m just hoping that the devs will give me more fast-travel options soon. I’d pay plenty of Red Beans to get teleporters to all of the game’s hubs, I’m just saying.
Next week, we’ll take a look at the current state of PVP in Firefall, and the scaling (or lack thereof) when it comes to open world events. Have you unlocked the Melding Pockets of the Blackwater Anomaly yet? If so, let us hear your thoughts!
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy 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.