To say Firefall has had a long and controversy-filled history would probably be an understatement. There was a time when developer Red 5 Studios seemed destined for a fate similar to that of Flagship Studios. But problem child founder Mark Kern was ousted, Chinese company The9 invested 20 million dollars, and perhaps most telling... Chris Whiteside was brought on to lead the studio and future development of Firefall.
As we reported a while back, Chris brings with him a wealth of experience, most notably from his time with ArenaNet and the Guild Wars franchise. Just recently at ChinaJoy, Red 5 revealed at the Sony press conference that Firefall is making its way to the Playstation 4. We caught up with Chris last week, after giving him some time to recover from the jet lag, to chat about all things Firefall and just what players can look forward to in the coming weeks and months.
First up on the chat docket was the impending PS4 version. There's no official launch date in mind yet, but they hope to even make it so that PS4 and PC players are on the same servers. It really depends on a lot of things, but they hope they can make it happen. It will definitely make use of the controller's 6-Axis tech, vibration, and touchpad controls though. Will it be on the Playstation VR (formerly Morpheus)? That's one Chris couldn't comment on quite yet.
Moving on from the PS4 chat, since it's still a ways away, we started talking about all of the big changes and additions coming to Firefall in the next several months. Chris and Red 5 feel that, even before Chris joined, the team has figured out exactly what they want Firefall to be: an MMO first, a shooter second, with a focus on exploration, story, and crafting. What that did was give them a clear mission and path towards making Firefall the fully-featured world it was always meant to be.
With that in mind, Chris was super excited to tell us that Army versus Army PVP, Corps versus Corps massive scale territory control is very nearly ready for primetime. These open PVP zones will be huge persistent territories with forts, structures to build and upgrade, and will present players with the sort of futuristic siege warfare they've been craving since FF was in alpha. Along with the warzones, there will be player contracts to let players work for hire in armies, armies will have their own looks to put on weapons and frames, there will be progression within armies, you'll be able to own siege weapons, new kinds of mechs and of course frame upgrades.
Polishing is the name of the game right now when it comes to live and future Firefall updates. They've been fine-tuning the leveling experience, adding new missions, massive new raids, and so on and so forth. Red 5 is happy now to have that core game in place as they start serious work on the next evolution of Firefall. First is the army versus army PVP stuff we've long been waiting for, but after that? How about a big continuation of the main storyline? It'll bring us to a whole new place on earth as the Melding is pushed back even further.
What kind of place? That's the fun part. We're finally going to a city, folks! For the past several years we've been in lush jungles, frozen wastelands, volcanic landscapes and so forth. But Red 5's newly energized staff has been working hard on some serious urban landscapes. Think of the kind of vertical level design that can allow with Firefall's trademark jetpacks. Stadiums, skyscrapers, subways, sewers... a city (Chris wouldn't say which city) simply makes a lot of sense in the sort of science fiction setting Firefall employs. It's about time we took the fight against the Chosen there.
Speaking of taking the fight to the Chosen, Chris also let slip that sometime in the next year we just might be going off-world to quite literally take the fight to the Chosen directly. But there wasn't much more to say on that topic just yet.
That's not all that's coming to Firefall soon though. PVP is finally making its long-awaited return, this time without the forced emphasis on eSports. As Chris put it, “If eSports happens organically, it happens. Our main goal is to provide the tools in the game for the players that want it.” With that in mind, with three different PVP modes and maps are coming back for starters. PVP will have its own progression system, its own leaderboards, ranking system, and more. There will, of course, be rewards for those who partake as well.
A new raid is coming in the near future too, and with that will come frame upgrades, and legendary weapons that players will have to craft with components found from around the world. That's one thing Chris helped the team focus on when he joined: the loot side of Firefall. There is a much larger emphasis on loot, finding it, and crafting it these days than there was just a year ago. Chris believes that one of the best parts of MMO gaming is finding new items, and Firefall is now flush with loads of them to uncover.
It may seem like Firefall's been quiet since officially launching. But that's part of the plan. Red 5 and Chris know that Firefall's been a laborious game to make. But it's also been a labor of love for a lot of the people who've been there since the beginning. For a long time, Firefall had trouble figuring out what kind of game it wanted to be.
That time is over. Firefall is an MMO. Red 5 believes in the MMO, they see the genre as the ultimate potential for what a videogame can be: a virtual world where fantasies come to life. Firefall is Red 5's own brand of science fiction fantasy epic, and they can't wait to show us all what's next in the game's long-awaited content updates. As always, we'll be watching and waiting, and playing when the time comes.