by Derk Bil
previewed on PC
Taking her for a spin
One of the multiplayer maps we played featured a scenario where a red team had to face off against a yellow team for domination over some research/communication facility. The match consisted of two parts. The first is to capture and hold a number of key locations within the facility, the second is where you have to prevent the other team from doing so. Whichever side is most successful overall is declared winner. Another multiplayer mode is PVP. In player versus player scenarios, there will often be a battle front somewhere, and managing to toss a teleportation beacon behind enemy lines and spray-paint them after materializing behind them 6 seconds later, can really push the odds in your team’s favor and give much cause for gloating.
Having impressive multiplayer features is one thing, but with this being a skill-based shooter, actual gameplay is everything. Even in Red 5’s development studio 150 milliseconds of lag is simulated to ensure that the speed of broadband connections isn’t the sole deciding factor for who ends up on top of the scoreboards. Even with the 150 milliseconds lag, gameplay was amazingly twitchy and fluid, making it very pleasant to play.
On top of that, the controls are amazingly intuitive. Using mouse and the WASD and nearby keys on the keyboard anyone remotely familiar with first person shooters can dive straight into the action. Switching between weapons and making skillful use of your battleframe’s native abilities, which will come more natural to you the more you play, will push your performance forward. The game is aesthetically pleasing too. Graphically, the game is quite vibrant and the cellshading is applied with some restraint so you don’t have the feeling you’re taking part in a cartoon of sorts. Most of the time I was playing from a third person perspective, but some weapons feature a scope or a switch to first-play view in another way. This is done in quite a natural way though where I totally didn’t experience the switch as being jarring or distracting in any way.
I started off by mentioning how FireFall is going to be free-to-play, and that always involves micro-transactions of some sort. Because FireFall has a heavy emphasis on actually being a skill-based shooter, there’s no way that the guy (or girl) with the fattest wallet will have the biggest advantage in combat. You can’t buy power. You can buy things and features that will help your character stand out more uniquely from the rest like moustaches, haircuts, decals and such. On top of that, there are going to be things that make your non-competitive gaming experience a little easier, such as features that will cause you to gather resources a little quicker. So if you lack the time or will to log in every day and gather resources to fuel your character optimally, you can circumvent it by spending a little cash. Through micro transactions, you may also provide yourself with the means to switch weapon enhancement modules from one weapon to another. Otherwise it’ll just be stuck in that particular weapon, and if you want that module that increases your rate of fire slightly or gives you more splash damage in another weapon, you don’t have to pursue it the hard way and just buy yourself a shortcut. Either way, spending cash will not turn your bullets into little homing missiles or make you more lethal on the battlefield either way.
The ideas Red 5 has for FireFall are many. Later in the life cycle of FireFall, the number of multiplayer game modes, quests and battleframes may be expanded. Even vehicle based combat is one of the considerations, but at least for release they’re putting all their energy into providing the best possible, balanced, experience for the players that will make up the FireFall community. You can already sign up for the open beta and, with some luck, start playing. In December 201,1 the item stores will be opened and there will be a character wipe so everyone will start the ‘official’ version fresh.