Review

Firefall Review

  • Game release: July 29, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Grunt work.

I know that Firefall is a massively multiplayer online game, because my first steps in it are dogged by another human player who deliberately places himself--for the better part of an hour--directly in front of my face any time I stand still. I know that Firefall is also a shooter, because any screen space not immediately occupied by this most ancient of trolling rituals is devoted to a very large gun, and this gun is the sole consignee of that all-important left mouse click. And I know that Firefall is a role-playing game, because my quests involve traveling to far-flung fields and perforating ten of whatever I find there.

That's a bit glib, I know. But would that I could leave it at that. Because while it's true Firefall doesn't outright botch its social scene, shooting, or role-playing elements, each is marked by that perfunctory sort of execution that always defies criticism. There's nothing fun or thought-provoking about designating these things "standard," so let's table them for the moment and instead talk about the thing I prefer to spend most of my time in Firefall doing: climbing.

Firefall's colorful environment manages to override most fatigue with its lush battlefields.

Climbing won't make any back-of-the-box features list, and not just because the free-to-play Firefall is only distributed digitally. Here, the action has that unrehearsed, clumsy manner of games where climbing is included but not quite "designed," like in Borderlands with its trash heap jungle gyms, or Skyrim's mountainsides that have to be scaled with a sort of zigzag humping motion. Like the former game, Firefall confers a floaty, powerful jump (here bolstered with a jetpack), and like the latter, it offers plenty of alluring heights to test it against. Looming crags, giant coral formations, and neo-futurist superstructures litter the horizon, practically begging to be scaled. Of course, Skyrim and Borderlands nestled Easter eggs in the promontories and nooks of their open worlds, items and secrets that acted as an assenting nod to the player's vagabond explorations. By contrast, if you reach the top of a giant mountain in Firefall, or the depths of some strange and glimmering cave, you might find at best a few cast-away assets: a desk, or maybe a crate. As developer nods go, that's almost imperceptible.

But at such heights, you can get a good view of "The Melding," a towering, weirdly inert cloud wall that fences in the playing populace, and the Arclight, the giant, crashed spaceship that serves as the other grand monument to Firefall's stillborn lore. You and the rest of the protagonists are on Earth, ostensibly, though creative license has run roughshod over the topography and filled the beaches and jungles of Brazil with bulbous, otherworldly rock formations and oversized nautilus shells. The planet's been ravaged by meteors and aliens in turn, and the last dregs of humanity are staking out a milito-corporate lifestyle in the fringes of the tropical wilds--Borderlands again, by way of Halo.

The action has that unrehearsed, clumsy manner of games where climbing is included but not quite "designed."

From the cel-shaded, intermittently quirky cast of quest-givers and their predilection towards remote communication (even when standing next to you), to the lazy twang of the ambient soundtrack, Gearbox's shooter feels just a bit too present. Even the game's mission-giving job board--one of the basest, most ham-handed conventions to be found in modern video games--makes an appearance, playing its usual role of making saving the world feel like punching in at an assembly line job. Grab a ticket, kill [number] of [bandits/wildlife/aliens], report to [location], click on [object], collect [rewards].

Other than shooting, of course, the particulars of your job are dependent upon your selection of battleframe (mechanical exoskeletons are the new future's flying cars), which serves as your traditional MMOG class. I picked the Dreadnaught, the game's euphemism for "tank," but the decision really only amounts to a bit of garnish on the shooting drill all classes partake in: line up the enemy in your crosshairs and press the mouse button until the red bar symbolizing its joie de vivre wanes. Each class gets a smattering of more specific hotkey abilities, but I found myself employing those more out of desire to speed things along than to save my hide. Forget a need to group with other players--there simply isn't enough risk in the greater part of Firefall to warrant it. Most enemies aren't equipped with the smarts to step away from incoming gunfire, let alone process your ability to jetpack to high ground or a few hundred feet away. Even if you manage to die, the only consequence is the long jog back to the battlefield.

Hop onto a nearby ledge, and you've effectively won most battles against the inept AI.

If you can't entertain yourself by clambering around the environment to line up a nice screenshot, then this remediation of rates becomes the salient feature of Firefall. The game is a cold war against the extra seconds, minutes, and hours that are cast in front of you to turn the eye towards the real-money marketplace. If you want to craft items, you need to pay your tithe in either time or dollars, but the more efficient player sees that mission rewards supersede anything you could create anyway. Even savvier players might eschew the missions entirely, to better focus on the pop-up side-quests that can be turned in a bit quicker, without any of that tedious exposition.

While there isn't anything inherently wrong with a free-to-play model, it does stretch what would otherwise be a once-a-month decision to re-up a subscription into a perpetual state of cost-benefit evaluation. It's hard to invest in lore that's so inextricably tied to the grind of missions or side-quests, hard to suspend your awareness of that grind when you're awash in constant pitches for boosters and special unlocks. A purchasable vehicle might mitigate the dreary 1,200m hike between mission markers, but a better game wouldn't have the dreary hike in the first place. I could avoid all that for a time, and maybe do some climbing, but you always have to come down eventually. In Firefall, there isn't much waiting for you when you do.

The Good
Dramatic heights are fun to scale, and offer great views of the open world
Grouping up to take on an impromptu horde of aliens in a dynamic event is easy and enjoyable
The Bad
Microtransaction system and by-the-books quest structure make for drudgery
Neither the lore nor the combat are interesting enough to draw you in
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Nick Capozzoli doesn't have as much time for MMORPGs as he did when he could devote months at a time to turning iron ingots into iron daggers or thinning a virtual world's rat population. He devoted the better part of three weeks to Firefall.

Discussion

28 comments
GreySeven
GreySeven

I totally agree with this review.  IT's a really "meh" MMO. 

lorider25
lorider25

firefall was ok, but shooting at AI drones bores the heck out of me. Didn't really get past anything else


There was no pvp, and I hate arena style which is what they were going to implement I hear.


Romi001
Romi001

Jesus Christ!!.. Was that really a review!?
Modern age shakespeare are you?

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

Well I must say I disagree with the score and this is a good reason why I ignore reviews to determine if I will play them or not. I completely disagree with the complaints in this review  first- 


"Even the game's mission-giving job board--one of the basest, most ham-handed conventions to be found in modern video games--makes an appearance, playing its usual role of making saving the world feel like punching in at an assembly line job. Grab a ticket, kill [number] of [bandits/wildlife/aliens], report to [location], click on [object], collect [rewards]."  - This is not a bad thing. It worked well in Borderlands and works well here.  His opinion of enemies I think is just wrong. I think they are very challenging. They  can and do follow you even when you move to higher ground.  I think the reviewer misses this whole point of this game. This game at its heart is a shooter. In that regard it does well. You get lots of enemies to kill. You can hop in to the game and play for 15 or 20 minutes and enjoy yourself. That is not the case in a lot of games. If you want to hop in and shoot up a bunch of enemies its very easy to do.  Next The scenery is beautiful.  I also like the lore of the game. 

My advice , ignore opinions from reviewers on this site. Only use the reviews to learn the basic  idea of the game. This goes for all reviews. If you take their opinions seriously you will miss out on a lot of games. 

mr_nee
mr_nee

I feel sorry for devs and investors. It is mediocore same as Neverwinter, Rift or many other f2p MMO's out there. It's not worse than defiance. So in between AAA titles when you're wondering what to play - give it a try

hitomo
hitomo

I am so glad Kevin didnt made this Review ... the best of the game is, that after u climbed something, it reminds u if what a console cant produce, even after years of development


this game has good coop factor but it is also abig mess on its own, it was developed as Sub MMO but the design never reached an acceptable state ... so before droping the Project entirley it was tranformed into a free to Play game ... and this was two years ago



leikeylosh
leikeylosh

Nick Capozzoli and his epic first paragraphs!! I was afraid we wouldn't see any more of your reviews! You deserve all the praise, my friend, you're one hell of a reviewer and a humble person. Keep up the good work and I hope Gamespot realizes you're one of the best!

chano880
chano880

Nick you are super good looking on that photo, how the fudge did you manage such thing ? I am extremely jelly !

Anyhow, awkwardness aside, this game has been on development for a long long time, last time I played I found it to be very mediocre. It was fun but there wasn't much to do.  PvP, albeit fun, was nothing mind blowing either. I'm not surprised that after all this time changing the game back and forth it came out pretty average.

Too bad, when it was announced there was a good hype around it and I for one was also looking forward to it. Now ? I'm just disappointed given the time they spent on the game, heh :/ .

ArchoNils2
ArchoNils2

Pretty much the impression I had while playing the Beta

Tiwill44
Tiwill44

Yeah... the game's world is fun to explore for a little while, but there simply isn't much to do in it. You go from one place to another, kill a few waves of enemies... and that's about all there is to it. If this game had a better loot and class system, varied, engaging quests and interesting lore, it would've been like a Borderlands MMO. Sadly, it's just another MMORPG with repetitive fetch quests and dull content.

tom_cat_01
tom_cat_01

Hahahahaha, awesome review,  very funny introduction. 

mayankgaur
mayankgaur

@Romi001 You'r right that review suck.. i don't thing so that i am sitting in my English Call Room. if it's worthy then my feedback is please wright easy to read review.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@spartanx169x 

Yet I would say here that the risk of missing out is not as worrisome as the risk of regret.

You can say all that you have said, but if someone follows your recommendation and finds that his/her time and/or money have been wasted, you are the one that they are going to blame.

blockbuster
blockbuster

@mr_nee Rift may be looked on as "WoW lite" but Firefall falls way below any decent MMO shooter and even falls short of being called "Lite" anything. So comparing a game like Firefall and Rift is very inaccurate. ESPECIALLY since games like Rift have had decent reviews and have continued to get better and improved its core gameplay and continue to grow.


Trust me, I REALLY liked Firefall.. I thought it would be my new MMO.. But after a while, you start noticing that it's not changing and you are doing the same thing. It's like having only fireball and icebolt as a mage and that's it.

nick_capozzoli
nick_capozzoli staff

@leikeylosh Thanks so much, as always! No worries, I didn't go anywhere--these MMOs just take a while to get through, is all. I'll be around : )

nick_capozzoli
nick_capozzoli staff

@chano880 Haha, thanks! Totally not awkward. It's actually one of my wedding photos, cropped and with the background deleted.


I'll probably still be using it looooooong after it ceases to be an accurate portrait.

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

@Gelugon_baat @spartanx169x IF somebody is stupid enough to buy every game they come across That their own fault. In case it was not obvious, the point I was making was these reviewers are just normal people like everybody else. Its all objective. What you like I might not like, what I like you might not. A review is good for learning what a game is about, but thats about all. I have read a lot of reviews on this site and 95% of the complaints by these so called reviewers are not issues for me. AS one example, When they reviewed KZ:SF, one of the complaints by the reviewer was that the game was too easy, yet he played it on the easiest difficulty. I played the game and found it to be a lot more fun than what the reviewer had made it seem. The game got a score of 7 here when I think it is a solid 8.5. As another example they RAVED about TitanFall. and gave it a 9. I have it and its barely an 8 and to be honest I would give it a 7.8. But I did know what the game was about and I knew I would enjoy it. Its fun, but its nothing special. Its COD with Mechs, which is what I said from the time I started learning about it. AS another example This site gave Defiance a score of 7.4.  And I can tell you first hand that Firefall has a lot more to offer a player than Defiance does. Anywhere you go in Defiance the environment looks the same throughout the entire map.That is the completely opposite of Firefall. Firefall 's maps are varied in all kinds of ways. And there is simply more to do in Firefall than Defiance. Thats not my opinion thats a fact. I could go on and on.   Unless you come across a reviewer that exactly matches your tastes, you are going to be consistently misinformed. IF that is your primary way of determining if you should buy a game or not you deserve what you get. The reviewers on this site have no clue how to review a game from a neutral point of  view. And they are suppose to be professionals. 

chevydorado
chevydorado

@blockbuster Firefall's steadily getting more support day by day. I have high hopes moreso now than it was in the beta. While I won't argue that it came out a bit flat on launch, the devs are at least being industrious about content improvement.

chano880
chano880

@nick_capozzoli @chano880 You should, you are totally rocking that white background man :) !

Just wanted to let you know that I do enjoy your reviews, a *LOT* (And no, it's not only because of that awesome-packed photo). I hope to see more of them :)

chevydorado
chevydorado

@spartanx169x @Gelugon_baat Opinionated-ness aside, I do believe Firefall can deserve even a bit better than 5/10. Nick did take good scenic screenshots too. Graphics look good at the very least, and traversing said graphics is kinda worth even just the download, IMHO.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@spartanx169x 

Oh, careful there with that remark about reviewers having no clue on how to be "neutral" (as if this ideal could ever happen in real life).

You are already spouting a lot of opinionated remarks on games. I suppose that you somehow think that the reviewers have some additional undefined rules that they have to follow.

Yet really, I would tell you this: you can write a review yourself and submit them to gaming sites. You can practically take the jobs of these reviewers, assuming that your writing can impress the editors.

nick_capozzoli
nick_capozzoli staff

@chano880 @nick_capozzoli Thanks kindly, that's incredibly nice of ya.

As things stand right now, it's looking like I'll be a bit more active in the review scene here going forward, so yay!

Firefall More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    Firefall is a free-to-play, open world PC action shooter developed by Red 5 Studios.
    5.9
    Average User RatingOut of 16 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Firefall
    Developed by:
    Red 5 Studios
    Published by:
    Webzen, Garena, Red 5 Studios
    Genres:
    Third-Person, Action, Shooter, 3D, Team-Based