PAX East 2012: Developer Preview - Firefall

At PAX East 2012, we had the chance to meet with Firefall’s Lead Designer Scott Youngblood who gave us a walkthrough on some of the game’s battleframes, combat, construction, gear upgrading as well as some of Red 5′s plans for the future with Firefall.

Firefall puts players in the role of various battle-equipped classes in this MMOFPS game, with different roles that accommodate players of different playstyles with each battleframe - all of which can be swapped out at special stations throughout the game - sorted by ‘twitch’, a rating of player’s reaction time. The Assault battleframe, for example, is a high-twitch battleframe, meaning that players that have experience in FPS titles and are skilled at snap targetting and firing will be very effective at this battleframe. On the other end of the spectrum is the Engineer, a battleframe designed around building gadgets and deploying automated weaponry in place of that standard aggressive gunplay.

While the main focus of the game will be on the PVP combat, Firefall also offers a robust PVE experience, including dynamic quest events that are actually updated and reported on by players using something called the SIN - Shared Intelligence Network. When you start in Firefall, reaching the first SIN tower can update your minimap with enemy sightings and other dynamic quest events occuring in the world. In this walkthrough, we were given a brief tour of one of the major game locations Copacabana. Youngblood told us how even this central questing location can even be overtaken by the enemy, known as the Chosen, which can effectively shut the area down until players retake it, a mechanic very similar to Rift.

Youngblood took us through the the process of gear evolution and how players can construct new upgrades for their battleframes. With crafted items called Modules, players can upgrade not only the functionality of their gear and unlock additional abilities, they also change the physical appearance of the gear. Another interesting item is the “Crit Percentage” associated with crafting. When a player creates an item, each recipe has a certain percentage in which it can crit, or produce a higher-quality result. For example, some Uncommon (Green) quality recipes could have an 18% chance to produce a Rare (Blue) quality upgrades.

Since Firefall is a Free-to-Play title, we talked briefly about not only the plans for the game’s future but also what kind of monetization plans Red 5 has for the game. Firstly, Youngblood made it perfectly clear - you cannot buy power. “I would never play a game where you could buy power,” he told us. To this end, most of the purchasable items will be along the lines of experience boosts, mineral gain boosts, aesthetic changes, vehicles, and more. In other words, you can reach certain power levels faster, but all players can reach the same end regardless of whether they purchase anything or not.

For the future, Youngblood showed off the massive world available to them. Currently, the massive in-game map is bordered by the Melding, but as the game expands, the company has plans to introduce world events where players finally push back the borders of the Melding to unlock new areas. For now, the focus is on the upcoming release. Firefall is currently in invite-only beta with an estimated release at some time later this year. Expect more from Firefall here as we explore the beta!

Check out the opening trailer revealed at PAX East 2012 below!

About Steve Perry

The owner of GKick Network, co-host of the GKick and Bottom Line Live podcasts, and hero to millions worldwide.