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Firefall PAX Prime 2011 Hands-On

Posted on Tuesday, September 6 @ 16:39:32 PST by

I've been pretty up front with you dear readers. At least, I think to think that I've been as honest as possible. I'm not an MMO guy. If you want an MMO guy, you're better off reading Josh's work. Hell, I'm more the blockbuster action shooter, adventure game, handheld portable gamer. While Josh is busy raiding in World of Warcraft, I'm chainsawing the Locsusts to death in Gears of War.

Of course, Josh wasn't at PAX and I was, so here I am writing about Firefall, one of the few MMOs I could see myself participating in beyond the beta phase. Red 5 Studios made sure PAX-goers knew about their game well up front, even offering an ARG for people more interested in running around the convention earning swag than waiting... and waiting... and waiting in line.

OK, so Firefall is a big deal, it's got the attention of gamers not typically interested in MMOs, and it's coming from Red 5 Studios, a development house that happens to have been started by Mark Kern, team lead for World of Warcraft's development in 2005. What whole story?

Firefall takes place on Earth, although you might not recognize it's power-suited inhabitants, or the resource they're battling over. Crystite became the leading source of energy shortly after its discovery, but the overuse of Crystite has led to an energy storm called The Melding. Sh**.

To complicate matters, an alien race called The Chosen have emerged from The Melding and decided to mess with those pitiful humans! Hey! We can't let them get away with that! What are you going to do about it?

Players will choose from four Battleframes, which are essentially classes that will play key roles in combat. Assault soldiers can take a ton of damage, but they can also deal out plenty of hurt with their Quake-esque rocket launchers. Recon soldiers move faster and more agilely, but less health. Medics and Engineers do... pretty much what you'd expect them to do.

All of these soldiers come with jetpacks for verticality in their navigation. Wanna grab that ledge and snipe a few baddies? Done. Want to hover above your foes to avoid your rocket's splash damage? Done? Want to heal your teammates but don't want to hide behind them and want to get up in the air so the enemy can kill you easily? Wow, you're a stupid medic.

A jetpack sounds like Tribes, right? Lead Designer Scott Youngblood who walked me through the PAX demo also developed the original Tribes game. That's the kind of pedigree I want in my Massively Multiplayer Online game. Never mind that the shooting was fast and frantic, I had a jetpack on!

The demo concluded with a persistent event in which The Chosen take over a hub world. Players gathered together to defend the city with massive turrets capable of firing on the mothership and the enemy pods it was dropping. While we successfully defended from the attack, Youngblood told me that if we had failed players would have to take the city back at a later time.

Firefall is accepting Beta registration right now, so you'd better head over and get a spot in to try the game before it launches. Of course, whether you get into the beta or not, Firefall will always be at your fingertips. It joins the Free-to-Play market as one of the best looking persistently massive shooters on the PC. There's far too much to like in Firefall to believe it's free-to-play.
Related Games:   Firefall
Tags:   PAX, firefall, Red 5
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