Firefall Review in Progress: Grinding it out

Sections: 3D, Exclusives, FPS, Genres, MMO, Online, PCs, Reviews

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Price: Free with in-game purchases
System(s): PC
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher (Developer): Red 5 Studios (Red 5 Studios)
ESRB Rating: Rating Pending

In part one of the Firefall review in progress, I described myself as being intrigued by Firefall’s potential. As my time in Firefall continues, I find it more difficult to carry on for a variety of reasons. It is hard to stay invested in a game that forces me to grind out my existence instead of giving me a reason to come back daily like a good massively multiplayer online game should.

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Fetch me something before apocalypse

I understand this game is free-to-play, but Red 5 Studios should be playing that up. It should not be an excuse for a game. Firefall doesn’t take full advantage of its F2P model because it can’t capitalize on being consistently fun. The game feels more like a job which is not a good sign for any game, let alone an MMO. Constantly running back and forth, doing errands for non-player characters that don’t seem all that concerned that they’re what’s left of mankind is annoying.

Despite the frail premise, the actual story missions are the best part of the game. They’re instanced so I get matched with other players on the same mission. We don’t have to be in a group to actually complete the missions though players can group up if they want to. Mission 5, Proving Grounds, is the high point thus far. A meetup to deliver an item to the Devilhawks goes bad as the Blood Kings show up and a tussle ensues. No, this isn’t a 1950s gang street fight. It is a fun shootout where Blood Kings keep invading as I work with other players to clear out bases and turn on defense systems to shoot down their dropships. If only the rest of the game were as polished.

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This game needs more cowbell

As I mentioned in the first part of this review in progress, there are world missions that you can do on the side. They’re great for obtaining crafting resources, but they don’t offer much in the way of experience making for slow leveling. That pretty much leaves nothing else to do on the side in the earlier stages of the game. Crafting and research amounts to you telling a computer what to research or make and it tells you that it will take 20 minutes or you can pay to make it happen right away, just like many F2P mobile games. So far, my research and crafting has amounted to making items and weapons that are way too low level for me to be using.

This is where I really began to run into problems. I was dying a lot. The gear I was finding out in the wild or obtaining through missions was severely below my Battleframe level to be useful. That’s surprising to me because so many MMOs cater the gear that players earn with their levels until they get to a point where raiding is required. This where I had to dig deeper into the market to acquire more level appropriate gear and gain a better understanding of the currency system, though I’m not entirely sure why it exists in its current form. You earn Crystite through missions and killing enemies. You can turn that into Credits to buy items on the market. You can turn Credits into Red Beans (why Red Beans?) to purchase special unlockable items. Red Beans can also be purchased with real money (the premium pay model portion of the game).

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I struggled a bit as I hit a rough stretch. What made it worse was when missions objectives wouldn’t update, leaving me in limbo because taking on another mission at the job board cancels out my current mission. Apathy has begun to settle in and that’s a problem as I fail to see how Firefall will retain players in the long haul. There’s no incentive to try other Battleframe (classes) because you start at level one and can’t repeat any of the story missions until you’ve met the appropriate level again. My curiosity to see what Firefall offers for endgame is the only thing driving me and I’m losing fuel fast.

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