PAX 2011: Hands-On Preview of Firefall Co-op Mode
A bold project with the potential to be the one of the most innovative shooters of all time, Firefall debuted it’s co-op mode at PAX 2011. How many times have you been playing Team Fortress and thought to yourself: “You know what this game needs? Jetpacks! And insect aliens! And massive space ships!” What? You never think these things? Why the hell not? Well the creators of Firefall had the vision and sheer audacity to think these things and the world is a better place for it. Let me tell you about my experience with Firefall.
Firefall takes place in the year 2233, after a disaster called “The Melding” rendered most of the Earth uninhabitable by humans. The parts of Earth that are still inhabitable are under constant attack by a humanoid race known as “The Chosen,” who were created by The Melding. In co-op mode, you fight alongside other players in an attempt to drive back the Chosen and eventually reverse the Melding.
Scott Youngblood walked me through the world of Firefall and I must admit, I was thoroughly impressed. Despite being set after an apocalyptic catastrophe the world of Firefall is lush and bright with alien foliage creeping across the land. I happened to join the world just as a Chosen dropship began an attack on the human settlement of New Eden. These types of attacks can happen at anytime and players of all skill levels have to join in to drive back the attackers. After a quick look at my class options, I selected the assault class and charged into the battle.
I could see at least eight other players, running around New Eden and engaging various enemies. Unfortunately for me, I ran smack into a Dreadnaught, a big Chosen with a lot of health and a bad temperment. On Scott’s advice I initiated my jetpack and jumped over a hut to take me out of his range, while my more experienced teammates hammered him with plasma fire. Meanwhile, I busied, myself killing some of the bloodthirsty insect enemies that had spawned. Apparently the Melding was also responsible for these abominations and the Chosen had somehow learned to control them. A brief burst from my jetpack sent me into the air and my special ability brought me crashing back to earth like a meteor, smashing the pesky attackers. I mentioned that the creatures reminded me of the bugs in the movie Starship Troopers and Scott said that the movie was definitely an inspiration.
The dropship that was spawning the Chosen let down it’s shields as unleashed another round of drop pods. As the dropship became vulnerable, everyone in the area had to concentrate their fire on the ship before the shields returned. This type of event can end one of three ways. If we did enough damage to the ship we could destroy it. If we killed all the drop pods but not the ship, the Chosen would leave. The third possibility is that the Chosen would take the town, making it impossible for players to spawn there and rendering the quest givers useless until the town was taken back. As it happened we were able to defeat all the drop pods but not the massive ship.
After the invasion was over, I got down to the bulk of the game. I made my way over to the first quest giver and got my assignment to locate a water valve. My jetpack made getting there an enjoyable experience but when I arrived I found myself faced with more insect creatures. With no teammates in the immediate vicinity Scott advised me to use the F key to mark the locations of the creatures. With the creatures marked, other players are informed of their locations on the map. Moments later, help arrived in the form of an engineer, who set up a turret and a force field to help me squash the bugs. With these obstacles removed I was able to complete my first quest.
Other quests involve harvesting Crystite, a rare mineral that can be used to purchase upgrades and equipment for you various classes. You can also gain access to new upgrades by leveling up. Of course being a F2P game there will be micro transactions that will allow a player to purchase gear with real money but Scott assured me that these items would not tip the scales in PvP battles. He said that you could use real money to purchase upgrades that would make Crystite harvesting go faster or other time savers. This put my mind at ease as I always fear games like this might allow the player with the biggest wallet to possess the biggest gun.
Alright, so I’ve only been at PAX one day but so far, this the game I enjoyed playing most. It has jet packs, Starship Trooper inspired enemies, class based team combat and no subscription fee. That right there is a recipe for awesome.