Firefall Beta Impressions: Soaring Above Expectations

That’s where Firefall’s progression jumps in. Making a battleframe stronger is a dual process, and is tied into a stunning crafting system.

The first step any battleframe soldier must take to improve their strength is to gather and spend XP to increase three different attributes: mass, power, and CPU. Mass is the total allotment of mass given to your battleframe; if you use significantly less than the max capacity, you get a speed bonus. Likewise, power functions much the same way, except that having extra power above capacity increases your overall damage. CPU is a bit different; you get no bonus for having unused CPU cores, as they are instead used for the strongest equipment you can create. Once you have your battleframes attributes upgraded enough to handle the new gear, it’s time to start crafting.

Crafting in Firefall looks complicated, but is actually quite simple. Each subcomponent of an object has a quality that is affected by the material used in the component. If you use worse materials, the subcomponent – and thus the overall item – will not be as good. It’s a crafting system I absolutely adore, as it allows for players to determine their own item quality rather than being forced to produce items with predetermined stats. The better materials you put in, the better items you get out. It makes even players with everything unlocked eager to continue playing. After all, the weapons they have were crafted by them using skills they learned at the very start of the game.

Unfortunately, the crafting interface is labyrinthine and esoteric. It has improved a lot through each major crafting change – it is actually understandable now – but it still has a steep learning curve. It feels like a system which demands a tiered, tree-style organizational system, but it’s all organized by expansive category instead. Thankfully, Red 5 has been changing this interface fairly regularly – it is their end-game, after all – with each patch, so there’s a good chance it’ll be something truly great come launch time. As is, it’s serviceable. Not great, but not completely horrific.

The primary way you’ll get materials for crafting is through missions. Missions are generally divided into two groups: thumpers and events.

Thumpers are the most common way to gain materials, as they are the only way a player can choose what material to gather. Thumpers are large resource gatherers that, when placed, harvest materials found by a scan hammer. However, harvesting these materials is extremely dangerous, as the thumper stirs the local wildlife into a frenzy. The end result is a wave-based defense mission that rewards all participating players with resources based on the vein the thumper was placed on. It’s a great system when you are working with friends – placing down a heavy thumper and getting your friends to help guard it is the quickest way to farm materials – but it’s a bit difficult to go alone. Thumper missions are always visible on the map, though, so you can help (or request help) quite easily. You don’t need to be in a party, but it’s easier.

Events range from the simple crash missions (repair a thumper or scan a downed motorcycle) to the zone-altering invasions. These missions don’t tell the player the resource rewards, but they have a few advantages over thumping. First, they are far more lucrative when it comes to XP-over-time ratio. Doing missions gives you tons of XP. Second, they always award Accord Merit Points (AMPs) and Crystite Resonators, which are both essential to progression. Third, they break up the monotony of playing a wave defense mode over and over. Finally, they often offer mineral qualities above what players are used to, making them great places to expand your collection of high-end materials. Of course, you can’t actually tell what type or quality of material you’ll get by the mission, although some missions (harder ARES missions, Melding tornadoes) give out rare materials like candy.

Best of all, both mission types can be done by any players, from a newbie with stock gear to a vet in all purples. Being new does not exclude you from thumping for materials or wailing on some Chosen. While the stock gear isn’t especially great, it’s not terrible either, and a fresh player can do quite well if they know how to play.

Firefall also incorporates a PvP mode, but it’s not that great. Firefall’s strengths are in its open-world atmosphere and collaborative, freeform mission structure. While PvP is serviceable – go ahead, kill some dudes, it feels fine – there’s nothing especially fantastic about it. Firefall almost demands player-controlled territories to fight over for PvP, especially given the open-world nature of normal play. As is, it’s a nice distraction, but that’s it. A distraction.

What Red 5 has built in Firefall is the right combination of addicting and engaging. There are plenty of rough edges, but they are overshadowed by how brightly the open-world design shines. With continued work and revisions – of which Red 5 is not scared; progression has been completely reworked three times, which is stunning given the typical stubbornness of MMO developers – Firefall will be a real gem of a shooter.

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8 Comments on Firefall Beta Impressions: Soaring Above Expectations

Derek

On July 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I have one expectation from all MMO games. When a game goes live, all players start from the beginning, clean slate. Firefall fails in this regard.

When you start playing, you should know that you’re on the same server as players who’ve been progressing for years. This is exactly why my friends and I never got into Firefall after we received beta invites. When we started, everyone was at endgame. We inquired, and were told that Red 5 had no intentions of a reset after beta. A “staggered” launch they called it.

While not a direct comparison to games like WoW or Planetside 2, how would you feel if on launch day of those games there were max level players with maxed tradeskills and lots of gold, or very high battle rank and all weapon upgrades unlocked?

Sqaure acknowledged this complaint with the FFXIV ARR relaunch , which is why their servers will be segregated between new characters and legacy character servers.

Now, if Firefall had the equivalent of a “new players only server” go go along with launch, then I would start playing immediately, because the game is awesome.

Fred

On July 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm

If the game is awesome (and it is) then why wouldn’t you play it? what you are complaining about doesn’t really effect anything in terms of teh experience

Nos7

On July 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm

wrong, research tech was reset bit over week before open beta, thus nobody has access to the good stuff.
Some hardcores may have maxed their favorite frame, out of all the 15 available.

Not that it matters because missions are not tied to equipment, for starter it might take longer due low dmg output but still doable, and you can group with veteran guys no problem.

yes, old beta testers have advantage over resources but you will soon notice you have a stockpiles of that stuff to.

Kairotic

On July 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Derek, you obviously have no idea how progression works in Firefall or what “end game” is. I encourage you to go back and see for yourself. Old players will have no obvious advantages outside of extra options when attacking the exact same content you will be attacking.

anubis4567

On July 8, 2013 at 8:21 pm

” Of course, you can’t actually tell what type or quality of material you’ll get by the mission”

You can tell the quality. Here’s a quote from one of the Developers on the Firefall forums:

“There are global pools of resources that are available. These pools are time limited and resource limited. For instance…

Raw Regenics[CY-645] Default 34866668 46688651 June 13th, 2013 16:53 June 20th, 2013 16:52

There is a pool of Regenics645 that spawned into the default pool (missions, thumpers, watchtowers, etc) on June 13th with 46688651 total resources. 34866668 of those resources have been harvested already. The pool will go away on June 20th at 16:52 server time if the pool is not harvested out first.

When a new vein is created, it pulls X amount of resources out of the pool and puts it into the vein. That vein sticks around until harvested or the global pool times out.

There are multiple global pools; default pool, melding pool (for veins near the melding), new melding pocket pools, PvP pool. Each has different resources at different quality levels.”

Here’s the thread I pulled it from:

http://forums.firefallthegame.com/community/threads/do-ares-rewards-remove-resources-from-the-universal-pool.649041/

The quote is from Phobos, our CM. One of the Developers, Virgil, gets more in-depth in the thread in case anyone is interested.

That Guy

On July 8, 2013 at 8:27 pm

You’re an idiot Derek.

Also, Firefall sucks.

Dillon

On July 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Firefall is awful. There’s an extremely limited amount of content, and you’re made to grind that content over and over again. There are better options available for MMOs that give you far more content and polish for the value (ie: the FFXIV reboot which is awesome).

Crow

On July 8, 2013 at 10:59 pm

@Derek

I’ve been in closed beta for around 6 months. Everything got wiped and changed with 6.0, so we started over from there basically. Now, yes we have a small advantage starting off earlier, however it won’t really effect your gameplay. PvP has its own set of rules, you have stock loadouts so everyone is on the same playing field power wise.

PvE yes we have a small advantage, however that wont effect you. We had to earn everything, we didn’t simply get given stuff. The game is built so that you can do pretty much everything we can. We simply have a small amount more power in our frames, its not a HUGE difference honestly. Skill more then makes up for any power differences. I can do better in a stock frame then some can in a fully maxed frame. All depends on the player.