Jumping in it Firefall again has been rather illuminating. I keep wondering around the mmo landscape searching for that mmo home, a place to settle down in and maybe become a part of it. Firefall, and New Eden feels like it could be that place. Before the update I felt this way as well, there was just something about the game that really entranced me.
Inventory Full talks about this same feeling in Guild Wars 2, an indescribable feeling of getting that foundational feeling right for the person. For me that’s having a sense of freedom in my play; the ability to go wherever, whenever, to do whatever I might feel like. I don’t need as much direction, I don’t want the restrictions of story and such and I don’t want to worry about running a gauntlet of tightly controlled instances. I just want an open world to explore and engage in and this is what Firefall gets right for me.
I finally got in from a long day of play yesterday and I was once again greeted by a world and that “go do stuff” attitude. During my play I ran around the Coral Forest zone getting used to the combat and my Dragonfly frame once more. I explored the zone, jumping and gliding around. I did a few of the more dynamic Ares missions. Then I thought to try out the new tutorial which seems better now that it’s actually in the world and it does a decent job of showing the basics.
I stopped this for a bit to check out the new crafting and research system and progressed through a few of those lines. I then thought to go explore the new zone so I drove over there and in the process of unlocking the map view I fell into a group for some thumping. This then led to chasing tornadoes with the group and a few Ares mission. Another few people joined our group and someone left and we continued on. While running around a large event happened to protect one of the town’s so we started doing that adn it was an amazing new zone event.
I even got to check out the old Diamonhead zone, now Devil’s Tusk to join those on the chosen warfront and trying as a community to claim more land on this content and that was amazing to be a part of this large communal goal. Just this morning they seem to have accomplished the first step too and a step that wasn’t timed or forced but one enacted by its players.
Thus sort of process went on for hours where I’d go in and out of groups, trying a range of different pieces of content and just being in that flow of play. I wasn’t stuck to some prescribed path or filling out a checklist of daily tasks or achievements.. I was just playing this game. I seriously love that, more than I could possibly express.
Jumping onto one of my alts was still a pretty similar experience. I was still just exploring around and doing a range of content, I jumped back into the higher zone for a bit more to explore around again, falling into a few more groups that really didn’t mind this level 16 frame being a part of their group. Levels just don’t matter that much and there’s always an advantage in having another.
Even before there where technically levels, it was that weird hidden from view progression mechanic that involved unlocking constraints and such to allow better gear, now it’s just more visible. The new and old zones do take this into account and display level ranges for the spaces but it’s really not a restriction on play, more a recommendation… A difficulty index. The new zones are available as are the new instances and if you are skilled enough or have a higher level friend for support its easy enough to just go wherever, whenever to do whatever
As you level up and attain better gear it does make a difference. You gain power and health and from where I am now close to cap at level 34 it seems to be a bit over double. Some things really don’t grow much at all over the levels but are just nice improvements. There is also no hidden stat to decide whether you’ve hit something or not, or whether critical damage happens, it’s a shooter after all and that’s rather refreshing. I could just start a new frame and play with my friend in the higher zone while still contributing damage healing and killing potential… Seriously, how often does that ever happen and it’s a feature I’ve been longing for.
What this adds up to is an experience that feels more open and more social. There are minimal restrictions on play so everyone can just join together. There’s no item level so you can’t do an instance, no requirement to gathering higher level materials and no silly quest that get in the way of playing with someone. Playing above your level or below is equally interesting as well, the rewards are still there from resources and experience and the gameplay is enjoyable.
If Firefall had actually been updating at a decent pace it could have still been my main game as it’s an mmo that’s tried to be an mmo first and not a single player game with mmo annoyances. The more modern mmo elements they gave added like the levels, job board story and instanced are more a guide on play rather than a rigidly defined path to power which will be nice for those that need structure without ruining the experience for people like me. That’s a huge difference and a change I wonder why we don’t see more often. It’s the type of game I can really settle into and want more of, now the wait to see if they can keep the world growing.
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