If you would have told me two years ago that a triple AAA MMORPG was going to go through a revamp which included a temporary suspension of service while it executed that redesign and it would have come out of that revamp more successful that the developer dreamed I would have called you nuts! I would have told you that we as players have long memories and are not that forgiving. As Final Fantasy XIV ARR recently proved I would have been very wrong. It has been a while since I have played Firefall but from what I can remember it was an interesting premise with a failed execution. It was a game that languished in beta purgatory and most people probably assumed that the game was already released. In fact it was one of the first games on this site that we started holding developers to task and giving review scores to games that were in Beta. Our reasoning being if developers are taking a consumers money they are selling the consumer a product and we are going to put a score on it to let the gamer know what we think about the developer’s product.
Ever since I played Viewtiful Joe for the Nintendo Gamecube I have had a thing for cell-shaded graphics. Heck I even liked that Keanu Reeves movie A Scanner Darkly that had Robert Downey Jr in it, before the world accepted him as Tony Stark. To me Firefall has always had a good look to it. What I found lacking, however, was a focus. This is a game that had no idea what it wanted to be and it showed. With grand desires of becoming an e-Sport legend it promised high dollar purses and never delivered. They even had an episode on West Coast Customs with an insane bus they commissioned. Poor business decisions and design decisions had seemingly doomed this game into beta purgatory. It appears, however, that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.
Hopping back into Firefall I noticed right away that they added a new tutorial. This one shows off and explains some of the various suits and then thrusts you into your first combat mission. This mission starts you off slow enough that you should get a good feel of how to maneuver your character and aim effectively. It won’t take long but it is only here to teach you the basics before you are tasked with some more advanced missions. Slowly nudging you to start the campaign.
One of my chief complaints with the early beta version of Firefall is that there was not enough to do. You could do a few missions that were in the game and then spend the rest of your time responding to the limited dynamic events or farming thumpers. You could also participate in some instanced PvP. For those of you that haven’t tried Firefall yet, or for those of you that somehow forgot, thumpers are storage units you call down to extract minerals from the Earth’s crust. Thumpers are not only effective as miners, they also serve as giant beacons for every hostile in the area to come attack you. Whether that is animal, insect, or humanoid just depends on what is running around. Thumping is what most people spent their time doing. It got old fast. Unless you liked it, and then according to Red 5 people would spend hundreds of hours doing this.
As you can see in the picture below, thumping is still around and it is still an important part of the resource gathering game but it is no longer the only thing left to do. Firefall now has a Job Board. You can select from 4 jobs that are presented to you at a time and if you complete a job you will be rewarded for your efforts. Large chunks of experience, in game currencies, and crafting materials seem to be the most common. The first mission I took part in I had to track down an AWOL doctor and uncover some SIN Hacks. Truly shady stuff.
It is this obvious increase in PvE content that gives me hope that Firefall might have what it takes to get people to stick around. It appears that the game finally knows what exactly it wants to be. While I have always liked the games presentation now I’m beginning to like the rest of what the game has to offer. I’m looking forward to completing my campaign missions and seeing just what is the story in Firefall. While the background story always been there it used to be hidden in some manga but was never really discovered in the game. Am I alone in thinking that Firefall may have finally discovered itself or do the rest of you still think it is half baked? Let me know in the comments below.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time checking out the latest games and technology. Feel free to hunt him down on twitter @Grakulen
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