Firefall (video game)
Official Logo of Firefall
|Developer(s)||Red 5 Studios|
|Publisher(s)||Red 5 Studios
|Writer(s)||Scott Burgess, Mark Kern, Orson Scott Card|
(heavily modified Cel-shaded)
|Genre(s)||First-person shooter, Third-person shooter, Role-Playing Game|
Firefall is a massively multiplayer online team-based action shooter role-playing computer game from Red 5 Studios, a studio founded by Mark Kern. It is currently in its open beta stage and it will attempt to mix elements from the MMORPG and MMOFPS genres when it is released.
Firefall is an event that takes place almost 200 years in the future. An asteroid was predicted to fly right next to Earth and be a near miss. However, the asteroid instead entered the gravity well of the Moon and shattered. Many of these shards began to slam into the Earth while the bulk of the asteroid entered a low, descending orbit around the Earth, pelting it with even more debris that continued to break off of the asteroid. Eventually the asteroid itself crashed into the Earth, and with this event, plummeted mankind into a new dark age known as the Nine Year Winter. Many of the larger governments fragmented during this time, while other nations bound together, forming a strong, unified alliance.
However, during this dark age, scientists in Japan stumbled upon a new element called crystite. What they first observed was not real crystite, but seed crystite. Only later when sifting through the crash site were they able to find this new element, but only a gram or two was actually uncovered through the sifting of the earth. Many of the studies on crystite showed that it turns the known laws of physics on their head, and crystite quickly became a way to generate a massive amount of power with almost unlimited potential. Soon it became the primary power source in the world and a new golden age came to pass. However, crystite is a foreign element that came from the asteroid that impacted into the Earth, and although it is a resource potentially without limits, the world wanted more.
Humanity was able to plot the trajectory of the asteroid and figure out that the asteroid came from the star system of Alpha Centauri. Space-faring ships were then built and sent out on the long journey to discover the source of the original crystite. After four years of space travel, the first colonists arrive and find a world with an abundance of crystite. The first colony was created and established with the name Alpha Prime. As the first massive load of crystite arrived back on earth, seven more ships were created and began to ferry resources between the two star systems.
Despite this new source of energy, the world governments begin to fear that with their reliance on crystite, if there was ever a revolt on Alpha Prime, they could potentially bring Earth to its knees. Fearing this, they began to create and perfect a technology called arcfolding which effectively creates a wormhole capable of transporting matter large distances in a short time. The first tests, however, showed that whatever was moved using arcfolding technology would freeze to almost absolute zero. Eventually, an energy field was created and was able to shield organic life; the first successful test was a mouse sent from Cambridge to San Francisco with only a location deviation of 0.2 millimeters. With this technology, instead of ships taking an eight-year round trip voyage, a ship could do each leg of the journey in as little as eight days.
And so the creation of the Arclight came to pass. With the resources and collaboration of the entire world, the creation of the ship took only a few years from start to finish. A huge ship roughly the size of a small city with two massive crystite reactors to assist with safely arcfolding the crew and all those inside. It was meant to be a symbol of power over Alpha Prime and to serve as a headquarters from which Earth could secure its future. However, something went dreadfully wrong with its maiden launch.
The Arclight attempted its first arcfold from a Lagrange point in its orbit for stability purposes. As the Arclight began to fold space it created what seemed to be a large tear in the fabric of the universe from which The Melding, a giant energy storm, began to pour out of the rift. The Melding itself has now settled in swaths across the Earth, leaving only small pockets of the Earth habitable.
The Melding mutates and transforms all life and even the terrain of the planet. Recently, humanity has come under attack by a race calling themselves The Chosen, who have emerged from The Melding. The player takes on the role of a surviving member of the human race in the fight to push back The Chosen and to rid the Earth of The Melding.
At this point in time it is known that the Arclight itself crashed in Fortaleza, Brazil, but the field the Arclight generates from the seed crystite powering its still active engines has been able to keep The Melding at bay. Engineers are scared to cannibalize the Arclight because the field residue, known as a STIZ bubble, is vital to Fortaleza and doing so would surely jeopardize all those living under its protection.
Much of the game's story pivots around the idea of what crystite is. There are various forms of crystite, but the most valuable of all is known as seed crystite, although there were only grams of the seed crystite found after sifting through multiple crash sites all over Earth.
Scientists were able to discover that if the seed crystite is combined with different elements, the seed crystite can combine that element into something known as a crystite hybrid. Although the seed crystite itself is unaffected by the changes, the element sometimes undergoes a very rapid change into a completely new substance. If left undamaged, seed crystite can always propagate change in these various elements, producing the hybrids without seeming to suffer any loss or degradation of its form. Only certain elements are affected by the seed crystite, so scientists began to research what the seed crystite could be combined with. Any hybrid element created through one of these reactions is denoted with a [cy] superscript (for example, titanium[cy]). These crystite hybrids can have incredible effects when energized, such as generating extreme cold, lightning, and even anti-gravity. Many battleframe abilities (such as cryoshot, shockwave, and repulsor blast) draw upon these forms of hybridized crystite to create these amazing powers.
Seed crystite and the entirety of what its effects are still not fully understood. Various effects from different waveforms, spectrums of light, or various power settings when hit with a laser can either have no effect on crystite or can potentially produce vast amounts of energy. Earth's scientists continue to study it, and are finding new uses for it every year.
After the crash of the Arclight and the arrival of The Melding, crystite is also used in Melding repulsor technology, which allows humanity to create and expand habitable areas within The Melding. One of the main goals for players in the game is the construction and placement of these repulsors, which expand the playable game area and allow access to new environments.
Firefall uses a heavily modified version of the Offset Engine from Offset Software that was sold to Intel in February 2008. The engine was originally built for Offset Software's FPS game Project Offset that was cancelled mid 2010 by Intel. Intel was trying to use the engine to showcase what Larrabee was capable of. The game was under development for over five years until Intel dropped the project due to the failure of Larrabee.
Firefall features both a large, open-world cooperative campaign that can be shared with hundreds of other players as well as a competitive multiplayer component that will incorporate features such as ladders, tournaments, clans and leagues.
Players can gain equipment and level up in order to fight better. According to Mark Kern, the CEO of Red 5, the game tries its best to integrate both vertical and horizontal progression, meaning that at higher levels your character is still able to be threatened by a lower level player, but will still have an advantage in equipment. The guild equivalent that players can join are called armies, which can grant their members certain advantages and abilities. One example, the Thumper, is a mining drill which is dropped from orbit or by a shuttle, and allows a member of an army to gather crystite anywhere in the world. Certain areas appear to be more beneficial for mining than others. When a thumper is deployed it will attract multiple hostile creatures. This was one of a few demonstrated examples of the events or types of gameplay players will experience.
Classes in Firefall are called Battleframes, and in the playable demo at PAX East 2011 there were three available: Assault, Recon and Medic, with Engineer announced but not playable. A fifth Battleframe, the Dreadnaught, was announced on October 17, 2011. It is unknown whether more will be released, but it has been strongly hinted at. A player is not locked to one particular class on character creation; they can switch between Battleframes at certain stations throughout the game world. Another aspect of the game are modules and ability backpacks, which the player can use to customize their weapons and abilities to fit their play style. Each Battleframe must be leveled up separately, however.
Much of the combat centers around using jetboots to add a third dimension to the game, similar to the popular shooter Tribes (Scott Youngblood, the lead designer of Starsiege: Tribes and Tribes 2, is the current lead designer for Red 5 Studios).  For further information see the Firefall site.
Currently there are 5 battleframes that have been announced: Recon, Assault, Biotech, Engineer, and Dreadnaught, each with unique alternate fires and selectable abilities for their respective frames. There are two improved versions to each Battleframe that can be unlocked by improving the existing battleframes.
The "R-5 Accord Recon" Battleframe, a light class focused on using sniper rifles, has the lowest health of the battleframes and the highest jetpack capacity. The improved versions are currently named "Nighthawk" and "Raptor". The recon is notable for its ability to cause extremely large amounts of damage particularly at long range, utilizing headshots. Announced abilities include a long range proximity mine, cryo bullets (slows enemy targets), and an explosive bullet that causes damage to both the target and surrounding players after detonation and a teleportation grenade.
The "A-6 Accord Assault" Battleframe, a heavy class, features the plasma cannon as its main weapon. The improved versions are currently named "Tigerclaw" and "Firecat". Its unique alternate fire options include scattershot: a close range spray, triple shot: a three shot burst and nova: a chargeable shot with a slow but powerful impact. Its unique abilities include shockwave which damages enemies in a cone in front of the assault, crater which drops the assault from the sky onto the ground damaging nearby enemies, overcharge which increases the assault's base damage, and afterburner which gives the assault a speed boost in the direction the assault is facing.
The "B-2 Accord Biotech" Battleframe, a medium class. The improved versions are currently named "Dragonfly" and "Recluse". It features a bio-needler gun as its main weapon, which is used in a similar fashion to the Blutsauger used by the Medic class in Team Fortress 2, with an alt-fire shotgun blast. Its unique abilities include Healing Wave that heals allies as well as knock back and damage enemies; Triage, which allows the Biotech to rapidly revive allies; Poison Trail, which predictably leaves a cloud of poison behind the Biotech; Creeping Death, which causes the next shot fired from their Bio-Needler to produce a cloud of poison; as well as several other healing and poison abilities.
The "E-10 Accord Engineer" Battleframe, a medium class. The improved versions are currently named "Bastion" and "Electron". It utilizes placed equipment to deal damage and support allies, as well as a repair gun to keep its deployed equipment alive. Currently, the frame has been seen using turrets, a support station that periodically spawns a health and ammo charge, a one-way forcefield, claymore-type mines that root and damage enemies, and a jump pad that launches players into the air who step over it.
The Dreadnaught Battleframe, a heavy class, has the most health of the current battleframes. The improved versions are called "Mammoth" and "Rhino". It is a large, tank-like battleframe, using an immense chain gun. Current abilities of the dreadnaught include turret mode, which plants the frame in a single spot allowing faster and more accurate aiming, a shield to help reduce incoming damage, and repulsor blast which knocks back enemies and cause them damage in an area surrounding the frame.
Currently there are three announced PvP (player vs player) arenas for players to participate in.
Sunken Harbor, the first of the announced areas, is a simple team deathmatch map. Featured at PAX 2011, this map consists of two 5-player teams attempting to kill the enemy players a total of 25 times, while playing over the remains of broken ships and stalagmites. To score a point, an enemy player must first be incapacitated (or "downed"), and then executed. If the downed player is not executed, other players on their team have a set amount of time before the downed player bleeds out and the opposing team scores a point (as if the player had been executed).
Orbital Comm Tower was the second announced arena, which showcased a capture/defend style of gameplay. One team defends three capture points while the other team attacks. If the defenders keep the defense up, until the time runs out, then they receive the win for the round, while the attackers win only by occupying all three stations. After the first round, the teams switch sides. The new attackers must try to beat the completion time of the previous team to win the round.
Blackwater Harvester features capture and hold type gameplay. Two teams attempt to control the three buildings on the map, each of which give points to whichever team controls them over time. The map is in a jungle area. A boost unit will sometimes spawn, which players may take to one of their controlled bases for temporary boost to points (that base produces points faster).
Most recently, a fourth arena has been announced, called Moisture Farm. It is a team death match, similar to that of Sunken harbor, but instead of having fixed spawn placements, the player is spawned in a random position across the map.
Red 5 Studios has already shown off a town called Copacabana located in Brazil, which is where the game is set to first take place. During PAX Prime 2011 players started off in a drop ship about to touch down in Copacabana, where they are set up with a few missions and tasks to complete. Of these tasks given to the player one was a thumper drop where a thumper was placed down in a designated area and the player had to fight off waves of bugs before the thumper lifted off with its payload. The other quests involved killing aranhas (a bug-like creature) near a pipeline, destroying rocks with sonic detonators for resources, and salvaging downed thumper cores.
After a certain amount of time a race called The Chosen would attack the town in a massive dropship where the players either had to hold out against the invasion, or try to destroy the dropship, which only became vulnerable when its shields came down to deploy more smaller drop pods from which The Chosen would spawn. Players had three SIN shields to defend, and if all three points were lost the players would lose the town to The Chosen.
Red 5 Studios has commented that many PvP environments will closely resemble places in the PvE world, but beyond that little else has been shown as to what surrounds the Blackwater Harvester, Orbital Comm Tower, and Sunken Harbor areas.
There have been various trailers showing different landscapes, including deserts, mountains, rain forests, beaches, and jungles. Red 5 Studios has said they hope that by using Brazil as a template, they can create all sorts of various terrain as Brazil itself is said to have one of the most diverse ecosystems in the entire world.
The title has been under development in secret for many years, being announced at the September 2010 Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle. It was available to the public for the first time at PAX East 2011, where Red 5 held a live multiplayer tournament.
As of September 2, 2011 the game has entered its first closed beta.
On March 29, 2012 it was announced that the beta servers would begin 24/7 operation on April 2, and that the beta testing NDA would be dropped on April 6, during the PAX East 2012 show (which it now has).
On April 18, 2013 it was announced that Firefall will go into Open Beta phase on July 9, from this day the game will be available for everyone.
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