The Rise and Fall, Fall, Fall of Firefall
That jarring juxtaposition of trying to create a normal, logical game from this point forward, and the existence of legacy players and designs appears to be the hallmark of the current state of Firefall. It seems like there’s two different ages of the game going on here at the same time. One is the legacy game with all of it’s original promises and conceits like the terrain, the battleframes, the Melding, and the Chosen, and the other is trying to correct the mistakes that had been made throughout the years in some of the mechanics and presentation. It’s like building a skyscraper around an ancient cathedral, where the mandate is to not wreck the beautiful work that’s already been done, but which also needs to upgrade the space for the modern era. These two states are co-existing, but are not always complimentary, and sometimes unintended consequences arise like missing voice overs and strange camera glitches that should have been (and were) fixed years ago, in addition to a number of bugs that are simply unavoidable in software development.
Red 5 has a deal to bring Firefall to China, and as always I hope it pans out for them in many ways. I still really like the game, and had played for a few hours this weekend. I really enjoyed the new mission arc that I’ve been plowing through, even though I’m way overpowered for it (they now have a zone down-level feature, although you still get to use your up-leveled arms and armors). But every now and then I ran into some baffling situations that were so incongruous that they couldn’t be anything other than bugs. This is taking its toll on the existing community, as you’d expect. I watched one player scream at a community manager in general chat about the litany of sins that Red 5 had committed with this game’s muddled mission-statement and the company’s attitude towards the player-base over the years, and while I certainly would never condone the kind of behavior that player was displaying (double especially when directed at someone who has no decision making power and whose job it is to willfully interface with the community), I can appreciate that his frustration was the end result of years of apparent indecision and bad management of a game which really has a whole lot of potential, even to this day. It seems that for every step forward that Firefall makes, it always manages to fall back on it’s ass somehow.
There’s not too many games like Firefall out there or planned at the moment from what I can tell, and I think we’d be poorer for not having it around. Had it all gone swimmingly from day one, I think Firefall would be a game that people would be talking about in positive tones as something special that stands out as a welcome hybrid among the fantasy MMOs and testosterone-laced military shooters. It has an interesting story, great community-goal mechanics, and a solid feel to it’s gameplay. Everything wrong with the game doesn’t seem to be with the game directly, but with the decisions and the directions made about the game and their implementation, and I’m worried that it’s gotten itself so tied up in knots at this point that it won’t be able to un-knot itself to realize it’s potential. At any rate, it’s damaged goods in the eyes of many gamers, and if history is any indication, there’s no way even the best case scenario could redeem it going forward. That’s why I hope it does well in China, that it brings in new money, and allows the game to get itself back on the track that I think the game deserves.