The votes are in. The people have spoken. Now, it's time to play. Last week'sChoose My Adventure column, the first one centered on Firefall, presented a couple of choices related to the very basics of creating our character and giving him or her reason to fight. Voters enthusiastically chose a beaten-down man with one hope for redemption -- and unwittingly fulfilled my personal fantasy to create a game hero based on Nicolas Cage's character in Con Air.
Voters also chose from among Firefall's five battleframes, with the jack-of-all-trades Assault frame beating out the smash-it-in-the-face Dreadnaught frame by just 26 votes. So, to recap: We have created a character who's an ex-con with no reason to live, handed him an assault rifle, and dropped him into a violent world where pretty much anything goes.
This is getting good.
As I noted in the very first CMA post in this series, I have played Firefall before. But the last time I visited the game, it was a very different beast. Since my hands-on in March, Red 5 has added quite a few new features to the game, including a basic tutorial that goes a long way toward explaining who you are, what you're doing, and how you should go about doing it.
My first order of business was creating the character. Since the community picked The Convict, I simply recreated his look using my archived screenshots. To anyone who voted: Yes, that is the very same mustachioed gentleman for whom you so enthusiastically cast your ballots. Don't you recognize the pain in his eyes? Oh, and side note: His name is TheConvict. Add him in-game and let's all hang out.
Anyway, once the character was ready to roll, I tapped the "Play" button and was launched through the opening cinematic and into the game world.
Learning the ropes
Upon loading into the training facility, I was approached by a woman named Aero. She was assigned to help me learn the basics of becoming an Ares operator, which includes the essential learning to walk, learning to shoot a gun, learning to jump on things, and learning what my keyboard buttons do. The tutorial was slick and simple and didn't take up too much of my precious gamer time.
Here's a quick video (15 minutes or so) that shows character creation and the full set of initial training missions:
If you don't have time to watch, here's the summary: The tutorial took me from a baby character with no idea what to do to a baby character with no idea what to do plus rocket boots and a massive gun.
Once the basics were out of the way, I hopped into a dropship and was transported to my sunny new home, Copacabana. Here Aero (and her less-couth associate, Oilspill) offered me a couple of other tutorial-type missions to help me understand the essentials of life in Firefall: how to follow nav beacons, how to interact with items, how to craft things, and how to pick up Ares missions on the fly. I was even introduced to thumping, which is a Firefall staple that involves a massive machine bashing the ground for resources while I fight off angry fauna. At the end of the chain, I was named a certified Ares operator and sent out into the world.
I'm still unclear on a few things. I don't yet understand the thumping beacons on my map or whether other people thumping near me awards me resources, and I don't really get how Ares fits into the overall narrative of humanity fighting against the Chosen. I also can't understand even a tiny portion of the crafting system or battleframe upgrade mechanics because both are very dense and technical and not super new-player friendly. I'm sure I'll get a better handle on all of those things as we move forward, but if anyone wants to take a moment to break it down for me, I'm all ears.
Eyes on the future
We've chosen a game. We've built a character. I've even shot a few monsters. But that was just the basic stuff, just the required CMA checklist that allows us to even get started with a game and submerge ourselves in its world. Now it is time to get into the real meat of Firefall and find out what really lies below its ultra-pretty surface. So let's talk about this week's polls.
First, we need to establish what our primary activity for the next week is going to be. Activities in Firefall land in three primary categories: PvE, which involves participating in dynamic events and running missions; PvP, which centers on the aggressive removal of other players from our screen; and crafting, which involves farming resources and committing time to learning the intricacies of Firefall's deep manufacturing system.
Next, we'll need to come up with a player profile for our character. Left to my own devices, I have a specific way in which I generally play an MMO. But this isn't about me; it's about all of us creating an experience together. Use your voting power to select the play style I'll follow for the rest of this CMA.
Should l I be a Lone Wolf player soloing content and avoiding interaction, a Mercenary-type who solos some content but steps into group content occasionally when the reward looks good, or a dedicated Soldier who fights with his in-game army and prefers the comfort of a familiar squad?
Finally, our battleframe needs a paintjob. And since Red 5 was courteous enough to include some free battleframe color customization options, I'm leaving the final decision up to you. Except the blue sunglasses. I'm keeping those.
That's it for this week! Stay tuned for next week's installment of Choose My Adventure, and don't forget to tune in to tonight's livestream of the game (at 7 p.m. EDT) so you can help me be less of an incompetent fool.
Mike Foster is leaving everything up to you in Choose My Adventure, the Massively column in which you make the rules (and hopefully take the blame). Swing by every Wednesday to help guide Mike along this fantastical internet-ready series and to read up on his latest triumphs and gaffes in the game you demanded he play.