Firefall: A Free-to-Play MMO version of Borderlands [PAX 2010 Impressions]

By Alexander Bevier
Friday, September 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm
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Firefall
is Red 5's debut game. The game's two lead designers are Mark Kern and Scott Youngblood. Kern was the team lead on World of Warcraft and Youngblood was the lead designer on Tribes 1 and 2. Firefall seems like an uncanny union of those two games, and it looks amazing.

Visually, the game looks like the cell-shaded grit of Gearbox's Borderlands mixed with the steam-powered Tabletop game Warmachine. Not so much in the mechs, but in the generator-style backpacks and armor the game's characters wear. The color scheme also seems to look like Warmachine's hand-painted models; except the models look like Gears of War characters.
FireFall is a shooter. It can be played from either a first or third person perspective. Players will spend most of their time shooting bugs Starship Troopers-style. Like Borderlands, it blends the skill of a shooter with the advancement of an RPG. It's approach to role-playing elements seems to be much more streamlined. Unlike Borderlands, the game is set in a persistent world (like most modern MMOs).

Instead of character advancement, leveling grants access to newer and better armor. This armor enables players to use new skills. The demo showed the playable character using a jumping slam attack. 

The game's world is bright and surprisingly cheery. The opening cinematic did little to showcase the vibrant color-scheme. 

Gameplay could probably explain the game better than what I could, but it's can't be said enough that Firefall is going to be free-to-play. The game will be using a freemium model; meaning that players can purchase items in order to improve their character. At PAX, Mark Kern assured me that these items will not provide any advantages that skill can't overcome.

Firefall is coming out in the latter part of next year, but it looks great so far. Be sure to check back here with more news about the game as it nears its release date.

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