I just lost three hours of my day.
I don't know where they went, those hours. Not precisely. I was wandering through a gorgeous, colorful landscape. Taking in the sights and marveling at the distance my jetpack can cover in one leap. Then darkness fell and I switched on a flashlight. Strange, alien creatures rushed at me in the dark and I took them down with something that seems a cross between a laser blaster and a shotgun. My tour of this new South America was so far a smooth one.
Then I stumbled upon a Thumper. Apparently this is some sort of Dune-esque resource mining/gathering apparatus. Over a short period of time it mines the land for alien resources. But the strange creatures that plague this alien version of South America don't appreciate the Thumper. Given sufficient time and left to their own devices, they will destroy one before the resources can be gathered and the thumper launched and returned to base.
But we weren't going to let that happen. We blasted and strafed and called in health and ammo drops and guarded the Thumper until the job was done. Then we called in a second Thumper some small distance away and stood our ground while that one got the job done, too. Finally, exhausted from the fight, we returned to town to spend our newly earned experience, check our loadouts and upgrades and even, perhaps, marvel at the sheer, colorful spectacle of this new world.
Or tried to.
That's when the Tornado set down. A whirling, churning mass of unholy, extraterrestrial darkness vomited enemies onto the landscape. Spinning, whirling, moving our direction. The tornado. And the enemies using it as their nest. We drove them back, breaking only to call in ammo and health drops. Others joined our struggle. They were strangers, each one drawn by the promise of challenge and the struggle of their comrades to survive this mysterious onslaught. Or maybe just good old fashioned curiosity. Either way they came, and we fought side by side through waves of alien life forms until the storm subsided.
This is Firefall. Colorful. Fast-paced. Full of random events, wholly unscripted group activities and a pleasant assortment of classes, any of which can be switched out at appropriate locations, such as towns and bases. I've played only 3+ hours of the game so far, and that's enough to know both that I like it, and that I will be back when the game goes live. Me - the person who, after bouncing off of WoW, Rift and Vindictus, swore off MMO's pretty well for life.
Can I see the potential for repetitive, even monotonous actions in Firefall? Sure I can. I can see a day when all of this gets old. When I burn out, or need a long break. I can also see that Firefall is free to play. That I won't feel like I am wasting on investment when I take that break.
More important than those things, however, is that I see a world full of color, vibrantly eschewing the belief that video games only come in browns and grays. A World where I can be any class I feel like playing, on any given day of the week, and where I can change my play style when I change my mood - and as often. And I can see all of this for free.
What's not to like. Come on out and give it a try. The Open Beta just started. And who knows, you just might like it. Or get swallowed by an alien tornado. Either way, you get to see something genuinely different from the MMO space, for once.