Red 5 Post Mid-Beta Development Update

The beta for jetpackin’ online shooter Firefall has been in progress for a while now, and I posted some impressions on it over here. Since then Red 5 have been busy collating feedback from players and are now getting stuck into tweaking and rebalancing the game in light of all the data and suggestions they’ve received from the community. They’re overhauling the development and specialisation of the battleframes, which will have far-reaching consequences for the kinds of choices you’ll have to make as you play, fight, and gather resources. Check that out below.

So that’s what they’re saying, and it sounds positive. As I said in my preview, it’s clear that the crafting and battleframe-tweaking is really the heart of the game, and Red 5 know that they have to get it exactly right if the game is going to be particularly satisfying. And this game clearly still has a long way to go. At the point when I went into the game it felt like an extraordinarily beautiful but ultimately barebones sort of world. As they lay down more and more detail I think we’ll see that come to life, and Firefall could well end up being one of the most important games of 2012. Nor will it be a game that stops when it launches. If this is going to survive as an online experience – and I suspect it will – then it’ll need to evolve, expand and update regularly and rapidly to keep people interested. The execution of that stuff will, I think, be just as important as the state of the game on release.


  1. CaspianRoach says:

    This needs to come out way after or before Borderlands 2. They look very similar and personally I will be playing BL2 if they come out on a same month.

    • Wreckdum says:

      This game is free to download/free to play. Why choose? lol

    • Vorphalack says:

      Looks is about all those two games share though. Seems a bit of an odd reason to impose an either / or decision. By the time this is released the real decision will be between Firefall and Planetside 2.

      • CaspianRoach says:

        I think PvE in Firefall is going to be very similar to Borderlands, with loot swapped to resources (which is used to make loot). Guns, skills, friends, mobs, boss fights, big half-open varied maps and player customization. The only thing the two don’t share is jetpacks.
        I don’t really care about PvP side of things so it doesn’t matter to me.

        Proper PvE is a gamebreaker for me, I’m not interested in Planetside one little bit because it’s Battlefield in space.

        • Ringwraith says:

          If you’re not a fan of PvP, it probably won’t change your perception, although the first Planetside certainly wasn’t Battlefield in space.
          You can do all sorts of things like form a sneaky strike force to wrest control of a point where no-one is and attempt to hold it from the oncoming inevitable reprisal.

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      • tangoliber says:

        PvE really does play a lot like Borderlands. Not as good, but there are some advantages from being an MMO, such as being able to wander the environment and help random squads you come across. It is pretty fun. I’m sticking with Tribes: Ascend for PvP though.

      • wodin says:

        No need for an either or really. By the time you’ve burnt out on one you can go play the other. I burn out on a game after about 3 weeks which id real annoying.

      • ImOnTheRadio says:

        Even though I have been waiting for Firefall since june of last year (and got in on the first beta wave), this would still be a pretty easy choice for me. Planetside 2 just looks that much more fun and better unless they make some quite big changes (even bigger than this) to Firefall during the beta.

    • BroHipster says:

      Firefall plays nothing like Borderlands

  2. Wreckdum says:

    I just got in the first phase of the new beta a couple days before Diablo III came out. I’m loving the game. Very fun and runs ridiculously well on my PC. I am running a pretty beefy setup though so I can’t speak for everyone.

    Can’t wait for release.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I have a 5770 AMD which runs every console port on high and most normal games rather fine.
      Firefall ran terrible compared to literally most everything else at not much high graphic fidelity.
      I don’t bring it up though, because as long as they are in beta I can’t fault them for one of the worst graphic option menues I’ve seen in recent years.
      If they keep this performance and UI in the final release though then good lord.

      • Bungle says:

        You might want to see if you have the latest video driver then. I have an AMD video card and my performance in Firefall is about what I’d expect, especially considering the long draw distance. Remember that MMOs with custom characters do a ton of downloading and uploading in the background when you’re in public areas, so a choppy framerate could be the result of your internet connection sometimes.

  3. Dominic White says:

    I really dig what Red 5 are doing. They’re treating open beta as a major development phase, rather than a ‘throw people at it in the last month of development’ type deal. Their willingness to overhaul massive areas of the design is refreshing, too.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      yea, it’a a proper beta, not a demo released a week before the game and called “beta”.

    • PodX140 says:

      Damn, I wish I could be part of it, it sounds interesting. It’s kind of why I like the Dota 2 beta, I’ve never played the first so ever new hero is kind of a new minor upset, trying to figure out combos and anti-picks and whatnot.

    • ThTa says:

      It seems that’s somehow correlated with having jetpacks in your game. The same happened with Natural Selection 2 and Tribes: Ascend.
      This requires further research, but I’m all for more jetpacks in games if it means better beta development, and hey, jetpacks!

      • tangoliber says:

        T:A and NS2 have spoiled me when it comes to developer attention to player feedback… A year ago, I would have been really impressed by Firefall’s beta…but now I hardly notice.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Caveat: Have yet to try the latest update.

      I agree that that is really a pretty cool thing to do, but on the flipside it all feels a bit like “Okay, we kindasorta got this ramshackle thing together up to this point, but we don’t really know what to do with it, so we’re kinda hoping you guys might tell us..?”

      And that’s not the kind of spirit great/deep/excellent games are made of, usually. And in my opinion this lacking is tangible here.

      • Dominic White says:

        You’d flip if you found out the kind of major changes that happen during a lot of games’ development cycles. Try reading some postmortems over at Gamasutra and you’ll find some interesting stories.

  4. Biscuitry says:

    I like the way Firefall is shaping up, but it’s always going to be competing with Planetside 2 for space in my head, and I’m not sure that’s a fight it can win.

  5. Shortwave says:

    I kept trying to install the initial beta like six times the first week.
    Each time it’d make it to 100% then crash and have to start over.. Ha.
    I gave up. Perhaps the next version will yield better results for me.

    But the game looks neat..
    Keep in mind theres some hefty free fps on the scene this year!

    • RegisteredUser says:

      The download or the install? Have you tried getting the .7z big pack and unpacking that locally, then using that setup to install?
      It might also require an outgoing connection during installation already.

  6. UnravThreads says:

    Does this game have anything going for it?

    Crap graphics (going by above screenshot),
    Orson Scott Card on writing team.

    Um… they do want people to play this, right?

    • PodX140 says:

      Cell shaded is bad? I would much prefer cell shaded to gritty realism that doesn’t look believable.

      And that screenshot looks pretty fine to me, maybe a bit too much bloom, but it doesn’t look bad or crap, that’s for sure.

    • felisc says:

      oh come on mr grumpy. jim’s preview was pretty positive and I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one who wants to play it once it’s out of the beta.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      I think the graphics are excellent. And Orson Scott Card may be a twat, but he’s a great writer.

      • jp0249107 says:

        At least he’s not as bad as Stephen King. I would rather take Card over that stuck up liberal airhead. His rants make less sense than his shallow and self-aware stories.

    • wodin says:

      Crap graphics??? I really like the graphic style we’ve been shown so far. Really like it. I also like Borderlands style aswell. Sometimes photo realistic, well actually alot of the time, gets boring real fast and really the WOW factor is going when it comes to graphics these days. So I applaud games that look different to the vast majority.

      I liked The Walking Dead graphics recently as it really did feel like the graphic novel. The game played like an interactive graphic novel aswell, however I didn’t really mind it, though if I wasn’t keen on the series or had never watched it or read one of the graphic novels I certainly wouldn’t have liked the game.

  7. aliksy says:

    Yay getting rid of levels.

    Do they have dynamic grouping yet? I hate the whole “dude showed up next to me and killed stuff, now I get nothing” thing from MMOs.

  8. Hendar23 says:

    What follows is all just my opinion, but I would disagree that the heart of the game has anything to do with battleframe thingies. It’s a shooter. The heart of the game is shooting guns at things, over and over for hours. The gunplay has to be rock solid. It’s not something you talk about much, because when it just works you don’t notice it. I talk about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for example, all the time. I have never, ever mentioned the gunplay until now, but I can tell you no matter how good the rest of the game is, if the guns didn’t feel right I wouldn’t have put more than a few hours into it. It’s the fundamental flaw I found in Borderlands, the guns lacked bite.
    Similar to ARPGs really, three friends and I sat down to play Titan Quest. After an hour we all quietly agreed that clicking on the badguys just didn’t feel right, it wasn’t satisfying, so we stopped playing.

  9. RegisteredUser says:

    The problem with the game is: There is nothing to do.

    You do the tutorial and maybe go out thumping with a couple of guys and do 1-2 chance encounters. That is it.

    They need another year or two to actually make it have a point, do proper faction wars, sieges, defense of the citadel kind of stuff, etc.

    Also they need to make gliders ubiquituos, because getting around quickly needs to be solved ASAP.

    Its all very nice in theory, but execution runs into a wall in a jiffy. Which is a shame, because it feels like there’s quite a bit of potential underneath all the cluelessness and lack of direction and purpose.

    Kind of like they only had one spark of an idea and some basic concepts, but nobody with a major, all-engrossing vision and plan.

    Sad, in a way.

    (I mean, I don’t expect GW2 or WOW dimensions in a F2P, but there is so much you COULD flesh out which just isn’t there – the alien menace, the drones or what those dudes are, factions – that I don’t see this being anything truly fascinating in a good while. Or, if they think they are actually doing well, ever, because that just means they really don’t know what they truly lack)

    It also doesn’t help that you can play more classic deathmatch / seperate arena matches for more, quicker XP than the actual PvE game. Quite frankly, they maybe should have just not put any energy into that and used it to make more of the actual main game.
    Or the other way around. Sad as it is, the versus mode kinda feels more entertaining at times than the nothing-really-left-to-do-but-go-thumping main game.

    I will check out this update, but I heard exactly 0 new things of stuff to do, point to the actual game, just more PvP and customization of a player with no purpose ideas.

    • Dominic White says:

      You do realize that the current beta contains a single, very much unfinished zone, right? Look at the full map and there’s room for a dozen or so more. There’s not much to do because the current build has a tiny fraction of the planned content.

    • Bassem says:

      Why is it “sad, really” and a shame and etc? Right now they are focusing on two areas: server capacity & stability, and a balanced player system.

      What part of “early beta” do you not understand?

    • Josh W says:

      Getting a solid base for PVP is vital; they have to make sure these player abilities work in a fun way against each other, then they can work on PVE content based on complementing that. Working the other way around is just a dependency loop nightmare.

      It’d probably be better if you just lend your beta key to someone else for the duration of the early beta, and give it another look when they’ve got the PVP core stable and in place and can actually start fleshing things out.

  10. mnnzcxivn says:
    I will check out this update, but I heard exactly 0 new things of stuff to do, point to the actual game, just more PvP and customization of a player with no purpose ideas.

  11. killmachine says:

    i’m in this beta since they started to sent out closed beta invites. this still is closed beta but nda is lifted btw.

    they really have to do something quick or this game will die. the development was a very bumpy road until now and now they completely change how their leveling system works. we still have only 4 multiplayer maps. we only have 5 battleframes and just a few weapons and abilities. i think i said this before but nothing really changed content wise. also, a lot of the stuff is just a placeholder.

    now they start asking people if they are interested if the developer starts a similar kickstarter approach but exclusively for their game. selling beta keys+ingame bonus items, physical merchandise lies on the table now. nothing final though, they just asked the community.

  12. Promethean says:

    I’ve not played FF in a couple of weeks, the PvP doesn’t do much for me and I joined the beta for the open world play to begin with… but there really isn’t much to do beyond thumping and grinder (ooer Mrs). It was great to begin with, everything was new and exciting but doing the same thing over and over has gotten very repetitive. I’m hoping there’s more missions added soon.