While gamers at PAX were eagerly waiting in line for Guild Wars 2, Portal 2 and the plethora of other hot titles, a few previously unheard of gems were also getting some major attention, one of which being Firefall.
The game is being developed by Red 5 Studios, you likely haven’t heard of them because Firefall is their first major title. The company was formed by Mike Kern, former team lead for World of Warcraft, and in fact the company has a rather high number of ex-Blizzard employees; it becomes more apparent as you look at the game.
Firefall is a game in a very rare genre, MMOFPS, though the official description of the game is “team-based action shooter”. The creators are quick to point out that unlike many MMO’s there is no dice rolling system and the game depends heavily on skill, rather than character level. That said, it does posses key features of an MMOG (massive multiplayer online game;) such as the persistent world with a large number of simultaneous players – they claim hundreds -loot drops and world economy.
The game has a Sci-Fi theme; set 200 years in Earth’s future, humans must fight for survival after the Crystite War leads to the disastrous arrival of the Melding, a hostile energy storm that destroys much of the planet. Earth’s surviving humans must band together in the eye of the Melding storm to survive. Unfortunately, the bloodthirsty Chosen, an insectoid alien race, emerges and threatens humanity’s survival.
The game is said to use the Offset Engine, which was previously owned by Intel until earlier this year. What’s unique about the game graphics, is it use of the cel-shaded art style in its design, a style recently made popular by Gearbox’s Borderlands (though Gearbox maintains theirs is called the Concept Art System).
Unlike Borderlands however, Firefall is full of colour. The various forms of alien weapons spew green goop, shot bright blue electricity beams and feel a little like something out of Unreal Tournament. In fact, after watching the super jump abilities of the character, that feels like the most appropriate game to liken it to, and that is one huge compliment.
Gameplay is fast paced, with aliens swarming from every direction and pushing them back is very much a co-operative effort, there is definitely a heavy focus on the team aspect. We were unable to find out how the leveling, or character advancement system worked or if there will be a single player aspect.
As shown in the gameplay demo, you can enter back into common town areas to upgrade armour, buy weapons, trade and we surmise, find groups for missions.
And likely some great news for gamers already strapped for cash by the rest of the titles expect in 2011, Firefall with be free to play! Free to download, free to create a character and no monthly fees.
Red 5 is opting to generate revenue through micro-transaction outside of the game, an idea gaining more ground and popular in games like League of Legends and Battlefield Heroes. They do promise however, it will not compromise the skill-based aspect of the game; likely meaning it will be character visual enhancements only.
Unfortunately, the game isn’t expected to launch until late 2011. You can sign up for a BETA invite at the games website http://www.firefallthegame.com/
Gameplay Demo (Skip to Minute 2 for Action)