Monday, July 29, 2013

Have Jetpack, Will Travel: Firefall

Last night I went exploring in New Eden. Okay, that's confusing already. Why did Red5 choose the same name for the setting of Firefall that CCP have been using for the EVE universe for the last decade and more? Beats me. Anyway, it was Firefall I was playing. Internet spaceships don't really do it for me.

TWOC that sucker to death
Internet jet-packs, however, have been one of my favorite things since I first crash-landed on a treetop in Endless Ages back at the start of the twenty-first century. Internet motorbikes aren't too shabby either. Firefall has both.

It also has what must be one of the longest day/night cycles I've ever seen in an MMO and nighttime gets really dark. Pitch, if you happen to be in jungle, of which there is plenty. There's also a severe shortage of roads, and my bike is a loaner, which makes hopping across the landscape like a broken-winged sparrow in a hurricane my preferred method of transport for now.
It gets darker.

Firefall exemplifies much of what's needed to satisfy the explorer archetype. The world is extensive, geographically complex, rich and detailed in both sight and sound and sufficiently intriguing to invite and reward investigation for it's own sake.
I was thinking more along the lines of a
custom paint job.

The controls for movement are fluid and intuitive, very easy to learn while requiring a satisfying degree of attention to use effectively.If you can see something you can get to it. There are few if any invisible walls or barriers.
Things don't constantly try to kill you as you explore but there are dangerous areas and hazards to surprise you and keep you alert.
It's the little things...
There's just about enough information in the rather good tutorial to prevent frustration but after that it's mostly down to you. Progress by experimentation, trial and error or blind luck as you prefer.
For a couple of hours I jetpacked around with no better plan than to open up the map. Firefall has a very slick map interface and it uses that system that I love in MMOs, where you have a large, blacked-out map that fills in only as you travel. You also get an NPC partner who makes brief suggestions in delightfully accented tones across a crackly coms-link, something I found remarkably involving. At her mild urging I made it a priority to sync with each SIN uplink tower as it came in range.

Why? Not quite sure. I think it's the equivalent of biding to an Aetheryte in FFXIV, maybe.

Comes with a prize!

Anyway, I'm sure there's some good reason for it. Not knowing what that reason is, well, that's kind of the point. Right now it's more about pure research than practical application and in these early stages of exploration there's just so much to discover.

Some highlights from last night's session:

  • A brief glimpse of a Melding Tornado. Arrived right at the end, just in time to loose off a few shots for whatever good that might do - bullets into a whirlwind.
  • Found and explored Sunken Harbor, a larger and more impressive settlement than Copacabana. Took many screenshots.
    Armorments. That's a word now?

  • Got challenged to a race by some wannabe Mexican wrestler by the name of El Terremoto, who lent me an LGV that took me about twenty minutes to figure out how to use. Once I worked it out I ignored his challenge and went exploring at high speed until it he lost patience and exploded the bike underneath me. Fun times!
    He's all talk. I think...
  • Fell down a hole and landed behind a waterfall. Spent a while trying to jetpack out but didn't have enough ooomph. Was wondering whether going through the waterfall would kill me (deep water is instant death in a Battleframe, which makes sense) when I spotted an odd, square panel jutting out of the water. Landing on it boosted me high into the air and, after a couple of wild, flailing, failed attempts, onto a rock high enough to jetpack out.
    OK, this time...
  • Picked up something off the ground that turned out to be an audio log. Simple idea, very atmospheric. First indication that Firefall has a collect mechanic for Lore similar to The Secret World.
  • Found and explored Shanty Town. Creepy. Very creepy. Especially in the dark, seen by the light of the flashlight that I somehow turned on without ever finding out how I'd done it.
Nooo! Don't go in the cellar!

This can't go on forever. The more I explore, the more I'll find, the more I find, the more I'll know, the more I know, the more I'll understand. Eventually balance will tip from discovery to use, from how to do things to how to do things better. At that point it may begin to become clear whether Firefall is fun because it's fun or just fun because it's fresh. I note it has all the usual MMO baggage in place and waiting. I found the Achievement panel last night. And the Dailies.

But for now, it is fresh, none of the problematic stuff is foregrounded and it feels like a world worth exploring. So that's what I'm going to do. That and take a ridiculous amount of screenshots, because, hey, I've been there!


  1. Yes, why did they do that! I still get confused sometimes when writing thinking, hang on that can't be right then googling it.

    I do love that feeling of whimsy exploration in Firefall gives me where you're guided by your senses more than a quest log. I spent days exploring originally and taking Soo many pictures. There are a lot of older fully listen hidden areas, a lot which are used for Ares missions but many that are still left hauntingly vacant.

    Amazingly I'm still finding these places, or obscured details in the land. I'm still seeing mountains and such and think "let's climb that today".. The exploration never really ends too as I always seem to be scouting for nice nodes to thump. Admitting I'm more crazy for that activity then most but it's still a great way to get people using the entire world.

    I'm know a lot more than I started but there still seems like a lot I don't know. It's mostly research and trial and error like you said, and I kind of think it was the best way. It has and will turn away a lot of people but I think if you removed the mystery of it then it wouldn't be as exciting.

    FYI connecting to those sin Towers reveals a portion of the map showing any events in the area and resources nearby with tab. Connect to all for a free permanent glider pad.

  2. Well, New Eden has been used to name dystopian future Earth style colonies e.t.c. in Sci-fi for over a century now. If memory serves, Runai-Ka has an outpost called New Eden too. So just imagine how pople feel who had to get used to that upstart CCP using that name, then now Red5 comes along and does it again.

  3. The only other name you could possibly give your future colony to make sure it'll end up as a pile of slag is of course New Hope


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