Firefall (video game)

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Firefall logo.png
Developer(s) Red 5 Studios
Publisher(s) Red 5 Studios
Designer(s) Scott Youngblood
Scott Rudi
Writer(s) Scott Burgess
Mark Kern
Orson Scott Card
Tim Macauley
Sean Chapman
James B. Jones
Richard Pearsey
Composer(s) Michael Bross
Boon Sim
Engine Offset Software
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s)
  • WW: July 29, 2014
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Third-person shooter
Mass multiplayer online
Mode(s) Multiplayer

Firefall is a science fiction free-to-play massive multiplayer online open world shooter by Red 5 Studios and released on July 29, 2014.[1] Officially announced September 8, 2010 at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle,[2] the game entered closed beta in 2011[3] and open beta in 2013.[4] It is the first game to be developed by Red 5 Studios,[5] and combines elements from both the shooter genre and some role-playing aspects from the massive multiplayer online genre.[6]



Players wear power armor, called Battleframes, that grants health regeneration, jump jets, and a retractable pair of wings that allows players to glide. Each Battleframe has a unique main weapon, a standard secondary weapon, a set of three unique abilities, and a fourth special ability that charges while the player is in combat. There are five main types of Battleframes:

Area damage raider whose abilities focus on movement and damage as opposed to defense or support.
Combat medic that can use its weapons and abilities to heal friendly players or poison hostile ones.
Heavily armored tank whose main weapon is used to apply suppressive fire and whose abilities are largely defensive.
Combat engineer that can use its abilities to deploy turrets and shields, support friendly players, and hold fixed positions.
Single-target damage sniper whose abilities focus on stealth and support in the form of damage and ammo boosts.

The player begins with the standard issue version of each of the five types of Battleframes, and can change between them freely. Players level up by completing missions and collect equipment from downed enemies to further enhance their Battleframe's attributes or to add entirely new features to their weapons and abilities. Upon fully leveling their Battleframe, the player is awarded a token that allows them to unlock an Advanced Battleframe with additional specialized weapons and abilities.[7]

Game mechanics[edit]

Much of the combat is influenced by Tribes, a game the lead designer worked on previously, and centers around the use of jump jets. This feature adds a third dimension to combat that allows the player remain in the air for long periods of time and to quickly travel to the tops of buildings.[8] A retractable pair of wings further enhances the emphasis on the third-dimension as players are able to dive-bomb enemy positions or quickly escape hazardous situations.[7]

In PvE zones, the player can engage in: dynamically generated missions and events that spawn at fixed locations throughout the open world, procedurally generated encounters that spawn at the player's location, on-demand missions that the player choose when and where to spawn, and world events that bring players together either to fight off the game's antagonist or to participate in group activities. The core goal of these missions is to allow the player to level up and acquire resources and equipment. Friendly fire and PvP combat is disabled by default, but a player can declare a duel with another player and engage in PvP combat.[9]

Once the player has fully leveled their Battleframe, the player can then choose to engage in: an open world PvP zone to collect additional resources, or max-level zones and instanced missions where they bring the fight to the game's main antagonist in large scale battles. These missions also push the game's narrative forward as most of the story is told through instanced missions. At this point, the player's core goal changes from leveling up and acquiring resources and equipment to fighting to keep the player's playable zones from falling to the game's antagonist and acquiring notoriety in the game's competitive leader boards.[9]

The game servers automatically creates or shuts down the number of available shards in order to prevent overcrowding in the game world. The spawn rate of missions is likewise adjusted to scale with the number of players online to prevent the players from getting bored or overwhelmed. Firefall's servers use cloud computing through Amazon Web Services to scale the number of servers to fit demand, automatically acquiring more CPU and memory during peak hours and releasing them when they are no longer needed.[10]


The game server places players on shards where they are most likely to become a part of a online community by prioritizing shards with the player's friends and clanmates. If the player is not a part of a clan or does not have any friends available, the server tries to place the player on the same shard for each of their gameplay sessions in order build familiarity with the other players who happen to share the same play-space. Players can jump between shards by joining squads with friends or clanmates.[9][11]

The game has a player driven economy with features designed to deter gold farming.[12] The game client directly interfaces with Twitch, which allow players to stream their play sessions without requiring a third-party application.[13][14]



The Firefall is an event that takes place in 2178 after an asteroid predicted to be a near miss gets caught by the Moon's gravity and crashes into Earth. The catastrophe plummets mankind into a dark age known as the Nine Year Winter and many large governments, including that of the United States, collapse. During the dark age, scientists discover a new substance called Crystite from the asteroid fragments. Found to be a powerful energy source, Crystite fuels the reconstruction and a new golden age of mankind.[1] Despite the seemingly unlimited potential of Crystite, mankind wanted more and followed the trajectory of the Asteroid to Alpha Prime, a star system in Alpha Centauri. With the first massive loads of Crystite arriving from Alpha Prime, the governments of Earth, unified under The Accord, began construction of the Arclight, a warship that achieves faster-than-light travel by folding space in a process known as Arcfolding. The purpose of the Arclight was to prevent a potential revolt on Alpha Prime that would cripple Earth's economy due to mankind's reliance on Crystite.[1] As the Arclight began its first attempt at faster-than-light travel in 2233, its large engines rips a hole in space that allows the Melding, an extra-dimensional energy storm, to emerge. Unable to complete the Arcfold, the Arclight crashes outside of Fortaleza, Brazil. The Melding engulfs most of Earth with the exception of areas near and surrounding the wreckage of the Arclight, now used as a base by The Accord, with its engines being used to keep the Melding at bay.[1]


The playable story takes place four years after the Arclight's attempt to fold space, known as M-Day. The Melding has transformed Earth, mutating the wildlife and reshaping the landscape. The Melding is lethal to the player, which keeps the player constrained to the playable area. The player assumes the role of a mercenary working for The Accord. Crystite acts as an in-game currency that is rewarded to the player for completing missions.[7]

The main antagonist is the Chosen, who appear to be humans transformed by the Melding. Secondary antagonists include: Bandits, humans who refuse to join the Accord; Aranhas, an invasive spider-like insectoid accidentally brought over from Alpha Prime; and wildlife transformed by the Melding. The players' main objective is to aid in mankind's survival and to ultimately defeat the Chosen and repel the Melding.[1]



Firefall uses a custom server and graphics engine with its renderer based on Offset Engine by Offset Software that was sold to Intel in February 2008. Offset Engine was originally built for Offset Software's first person shooter Project Offset that was cancelled in 2010 by Intel due to the failure of Larrabee.[9] Red 5 Studios relationship with Project Offset gave them full access to source code, which they heavily modified to suit their needs.[15] Modifications to the Offset Engine include a custom texture streaming engine, a character and terrain system designed to handle hundreds of players in a large open world, a vegetation and prop system, custom lighting and FX, and integration of Havok Physics onto the server-side. The server code is built in-house.[16]


See also: Red 5 Studios

Firefall was under development for over five years with its title undergoing several internal name changes before it was officially announced on September 3, 2010 at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle where it received high praise.[2] The game became available to the public for the first time at PAX East 2011 where Red 5 held a live multiplayer tournament.[17] The game entered its first closed beta test on September 2, 2011,[3] and began continuous 24/7 closed beta testing on April 2, 2012 with the NDA being dropped April 6 during PAX East 2012.[18] The game began monetization on August 24, 2012 allowing players to purchase cosmetic items and time compression bonuses that allows players to level up more quickly.[19] A founders pack that allowed players to purchase access to the closed beta was offered on August 28, 2012.[20]

During this time game announced $1 million in prize money for its PvP tournament throughout 2013 in order to stimulate its eSports program.[21] The game entered open beta on July 9, 2013.[4] After meeting limited success with its eSports Program, instanced PvP was removed from the game and none of the previously announced $1 million was paid out to the players.[22] Firefall has made numerous changes to its core systems throughout its beta phase: iterating on different progression systems, trying different economic models, and testing different implementations of its mission types and back-end server technologies.[23] The open beta ended on July 29, 2014 with the game being released on Steam or through an in house installer.[1]

Art style[edit]

The art style in Firefall is primarily inspired by Masamune Shirow's Appleseed, Hayao Miyazaki, and Udon Entertainment's Street Fighter.[24]


The Firefall Original Soundtrack was composed by Michael Bross and Boon Sim during beta with Chris Lord & JJ Lee composing additional soundtracks for the game's release.[1]

Firefall Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Boon Sim, Michael Bross, Chris Lord, JJ Lee
Released July 14, 2014 (2014-07-14) (Digital)
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 46:01
No. Title Music Length
1. "The Arclight"   Boon Sim 4:07
2. "ARES 35"   Michael Bross 2:27
3. "Elegy"   Boon Sim 2:57
4. "Lost in New Eden"   Boon Sim 3:00
5. "Welcome to Earth"   Michael Bross 4:32
6. "Gear Up"   Boon Sim 0:59
7. "Fight Or Flight"   Michael Bross 3:04
8. "The Devil's Tusk"   Chris Lord & JJ Lee 5:04
9. "Building A World"   Boon Sim 2:56
10. "Coral Forest Burning"   Michael Bross 2:26
11. "Only the Strong"   Boon Sim 2:30
12. "We Are All That Is Left"   Chris Lord & JJ Lee 5:01
13. "Sunken Harbor"   Michael Bross 3:00
14. "The Accord"   Michael Bross 3:21


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PC) 54.80%[25]
Metacritic (PC) 60/100[26]

Firefall launched in 2014 to mixed reviews primarily criticizing the quest design as repetitive and lackluster group play mechanics, as well as slow world-travel between areas. Contrasting this, it has been praised for its friendly player community and visually pleasing panoramic areas.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Firefall Official Website". Red 5 Studios. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Buchanan, Levi (3 September 2010). "Firefall Sets Pax Alight: Red 5 is just giving it away". IGN. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Firefall Beta is Go!". Red 5 Studios. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Firefall opens up on july 9th". Red 5 Studios. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Our Games". Official Red 5 Studios. Red 5 Studios. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  6. ^ VanOrd, Kevin (8 July 2014). "MMO Shooter Firefall is (Finally) Almost Out. Here's What to Expect". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Red 5 Studios (29 July 2014). Firefall. PC. Red 5 Studios, Garena. Scene: New User Introduction. 
  8. ^ Tito, Greg (7 April 2012). "Lead Designer: Firefall Is the Evolution of Tribes". The Escapist. Defy Media. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Firefall Live - Special Tiki Edition". YouTube. Red 5 Studios. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Gazimoff (20 February 2013). "FireFall: From the Clouds". Zam. Zam Network. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Red 5 Studios FireFall Pre-Launch Interview w/ James Macauley". MMOhuts. 12 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  12. ^ Kern, Mark "Grummz" (21 July 2013). "Why Can't We Have P2P Trade?". Firefall Official Forums. Red 5 Studios. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  13. ^ McGrath, Tori (13 February 2014). "Firefall Gets One Click Twitch Streaming". GameBreaker Media Group. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Makuch, Eddie (13 February 2014). "Twitch support coming to Firefall: Video company partners with Red 5 Studios to bring real-time streaming to free-to-play PC MMO shooter". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  15. ^ Macauley, James "Thrasher" (12 September 2010). "Red 5, Why the Game Engine Over Others?". Firefall Official Forums. Red 5 Studios. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Kern, Mark "Grummz" (31 July 2011). "Offset Engine". Firefall Official Forums. Red 5 Studios. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  17. ^ Dee (8 February 2011). "Firefall Multiplayer Demo available at PAX East". Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  18. ^ Dewald, Matt "Phobos" (29 March 2012). "An Open Letter to Our Testers". Red 5 Studios. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "Firefall Patch - Store Launch - v0.5.1432". YouTube. Red 5 Studios. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  20. ^ Reahard, Jef (28 August 2014). "Firefall reveals founder's packages, special deals available at PAX". Massively. AOL. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Martuk (16 August 2012). "Red 5 Supports Firefall eSports in 2013 with $1 Million in Prize Money". Master Games International. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  22. ^ Kern, Mark (12 September 2013). "An Important Letter about PvP". Red 5 Studios. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  23. ^ "Patch Notes". Firefall Official Forums. Red 5 Studios. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  24. ^ Downloadable Firefall Concept Art Booklet. Red 5 Studios. 14 July 2014. p. 2. 
  25. ^ "Firefall for PC". Game Rankings. Retrieved 2016-01-24. 
  26. ^ "Firefall for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2016-01-24. 

External links[edit]