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I'd heard a lot about Red 5 Studio's Firefall prior to playing it but didn't actually know that much about it. I knew that it was a free-to-play MMO, I knew that it was still in development and I knew that you got to fly around on jetpacks and shoot things. Having played a fair few MMO's in my short-time on this planet, I was intrigued and happily surprised at what I found. Here are a few crumbs of the cookie that is Firefall.

The game is set 200 years in the future on Earth, after an apocalyptic meteor strike left humanity damaged and thinning in numbers. Once we got up and dusted ourselves off, scientists discovered a new element called crystite. This crystal-like element comes in different forms, which can be combined to create equipment for the survivors. Humanity then pulled together, from all over the globe, and created a crystite mining ship called The Arclight. This used teleportation technology in which a wormhole was opened and could be used to move objects across great distances in short amounts of time. On its maiden voyage, The Arclight created a tear in the fabric of the universe and plummeted to Earth. Typical. Through the tear came The Melding, an energy storm that seeped into our universe and settled on Earth, changing the environment and inhabitants. Out of this tear also came The Chosen, your main enemy within Firefall. That's where you come in; you play as a survivor of humanity, fighting to regain power and collect crystite to create greater technology, such as weaponry and battleframe enhancements.

Firefall

A battleframe is essentially a class for your character. Because of this, one character can hold up to five different battleframes and easily switch between them at a Battleframe Station, found in most populated areas. A battleframe comes equipped with a jetpack and two guns and can be upgraded by spending experience (XP) within the tech tree which unlocks new abilities or equipment for that battleframe. You can also craft new equipment which can be attached to the battleframe by utilising crystite in a module printer found in most clusters of civilisation. There are currently five different types of battleframe available: Recon (sniper), Assault, Biotech (medic), Engineer (support) and Dreadnaught (tank) and each have two levels. Once you have unlocked a portion of your tech tree, you can unlock the second level battleframe which then has to be purchased and upgraded separately to the first level.

To gain XP you have a few different choices; you can complete missions, events, grind enemies or enter PvP. Missions are few and far between as that's not Firefall's focus point. These are more just there if you want them and tend to get you to partake in events anyway. They do, however, tell you a bit more about the lore within Firefall and help to expand upon the story.

Firefall

Events are your next choice. These are randomly spawning around the world and if you're in the radius of an event, you will be notified of its presence. Events consist of completing a difficult objective such as closing a rogue Melding Twister, defeating a Chosen drop pod or fixing a downed thumper, and often require a group of players to complete.

Your main objective in the game though, is resource collecting. There is crystite hidden all over the world and it's just waiting for you to find it. You use a Scan Hammer to search your surroundings for any resources, which can be a painstaking task, but pays off in the end. Once you've discovered some beloved crystite in one of its many forms, you use a Thumper - a mining machine - to obtain sifted earth which you will need to put into a module printer to uncover the collected resources. However, the mutated wildlife of Earth doesn't like Thumpers and so will do everything within its power to destroy it and anybody defending it. Because of this, more often than not you'll need a squad by your side to help defend the Thumper.

Firefall

Squads are a requirement if you are hoping to get any sort of enjoyment out of Firefall. I tried to solo for a little bit but quickly got overwhelmed by the mass of enemy units you gather during any event. After I joined a squad, I was able to have a lot more fun and actually get my teeth into the game rather than just my pinky toe. Squads are currently up to five players and have to be found manually. I would quite like to see a system integrated where you can find other players who are looking for a squad but it's hardly a game killer not having it. Your squad can complete events and thumping sessions together no matter what levels you are, but if you're wanting to PvP together, either find a squad of the same level or say goodbye for now.

PvP is the final way of acquiring XP and you can access PvP from any large civilisation. There are half a dozen maps at the moment for players to fight it out on, ranging from 5 v 5 to 15 v 15. Sadly, the only game type at the moment is Team Deathmatch but I would like to see some other game modes coming in the future. Red 5 Studio have expressed a great interest in the eSports scene in terms of PvP and so developed this aspect of the game around that interest including the incorporation of direct broadcasting to TwitchTV.

Firefall

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Firefall will be free-to-play and much like with other free-to-play games, microtransactions are present. I can hear some of you groaning in displeasure and judging the game heavily right now but luckily, there is no paying to win here. The most you can purchase is a temporary XP boost but apart from that it's mainly aesthetics. You can purchase hats, hairstyles, war paint and emblems. You can't buy resources, weapons or equipment so this really isn't a pay-to-win situation. Not only this but it is expensive. No really, you can purchase 40 red beans - the paid currency - for $5. A hat costs about that so don't expect to get a lot for your buck here. Vehicles currently aren't purchasable or craftable but I can see this coming into the store in the future.

Firefall is still finding its legs in my opinion. The game is still in development and still changing due to community demand, so what I have seen may not necessarily be the final product but if it's something close to this, I am very excited for this title to have its full release. The beta is currently closed but there are the occasional open beta weekends, so keep your eyes peeled to join us in the future!

Kaostic | 18th February, 2013

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