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The Firing Line: Gravity-defying gameplay edition

Jef Reahard

Hullo shooter fans, and welcome back to Massively's weekly dose of pew pew news and views. The past seven days were quiet ones for three of the The Firing Line's "big four" MMO shooters, as newsmakers on the PlanetSide 2, Global Agenda, and Firefall dev teams were all silent.

Thankfully there were a couple of cool DUST 514 tidbits to chew on, but before we get to those, I'd like to call your attention to some interesting Tribes: Ascend, APB: Reloaded, and CrimeCraft news that you may have missed.

Tribes: Ascend - first person gun view
Tribes: Ascend
Tribes: Ascend made a bit of a splash with a slick new gameplay trailer that showcased the title's gravity-defying gameplay and a variety of slo-mo stylized montages. Hi-Rez Studios was hoping to draw a little attention to the fact that Ascend is officially entering the e-sport ranks thanks to its selection as a promotional title for the third season of the North American Star League.

Hi-Rez also released a pretty big patch to the game's closed beta client on December 1st. How big, you ask? Well, the game now boasts a team deathmatch mode (in addition to the traditional capture-the-flag and rabbit types) as well as a bunch of class balance tweaks and a new orbital strike call-in ability.

Speaking of classes, I should report that the biggest piece of news for this patch was Hi-Rez's decision to lower the token costs required to unlock the game's classes. Tokens are earned (slowly) via gameplay or by purchasing them outright from the company's cash shop, and I think I speak for everyone when I say hooray for cheaper class content going forward.

That's not all, either, as Hi-Rez is planning to implement spectator mode, demo mode, and vote-kicking functionally in short order, along with the usual anti-cheat considerations. "We continue to strengthen and improve our anti-cheat mechanisms each week -- and utilize a variety of techniques, not just one, to help identify and eliminate cheaters," said Hi-Rez's Stew Chisam on the official boards.

APB: Reloaded
APB: Reloaded is a curious game, and not just because of expensive live-action trailers and the bizarre "everything should be free" culture that permeates parent company GamersFirst. Massively's been on board the APB train for a good while now, but this week marked our first official return to San Paro since a lukewarm first impressions piece during the run-up to the original game's 2010 launch.

This time around, Massively editor-in-chief Shawn Schuster shared his thoughts on the game and ultimately concluded that it's well worth your time. And hey, since it's free to try and now available on Steam, what have you got to lose, amirite?

On the topic of gritty, urban crime MMOs with shooter mechanics, Vogster's CrimeCraft elbowed its way to the front of the line this week thanks to a new expansion pack (the game's second). Like APB, CrimeCraft has a presence on the Steam platform, but unlike the former, Vogster's title has quite a few Steam-only bells and whistles. The Steam version of the GangWars xpac comes loaded with exclusive Steam Punk gear (yes, I groaned too), gold bars for use in the game's cash shop, bonus XP, and Steamroll items (groan again) that increase both damage and damage resistance.

The GangWars expansion adds more of an MMO feel to CrimeCraft, primarily through conquerable persistent territory that expands the game beyond its lobby shooter roots. There's also a new quickplay option that lets you bypass RPG gameplay in favor of pure shooting action, and of course the entire package is wrapped in a slick Unreal-powered exterior that rivals APB in terms of visual pizazz. To be honest, I'm asking myself why I haven't tried this game as of yet, so look for a full report coming to The Firing Line in the very near future.

DUST 514
And with that, we're back to CCP's DUST 514. Yeah, I'm a fanboy; I'll go ahead and admit that now. Platform exclusivity issues aside, I love the sheer ballsiness on display in terms of integrating two separate titles set in the same game world, and the sandbox fan in me drools at the thought of the potential interactions between EVE Online capsuleers and DUST mercs.

Anyway, this week's DUST news came from both official and unofficial sources, with the former coming courtesy of a dev diary (complete with spiffy images) and the latter showing up on a fansite (and also featuring some nifty accompanying pics). Both entries focused on DUST's vehicles, and CCP says that mobile craft will play a substantial role in the game's ground battles. How substantial? Well, we don't rightly know as of yet, but hey, at least it wasn't a lore update!

It was also nice to get to get a glimpse of the game's interface, and we now have a better understanding of how vehicle fitting works, as well as how similar it appears to mechanics that EVE veterans know and (mostly) love.

Finally, CCP gave us a good look at infantry weapons courtesy of a PlayStation blog entry that showed up yesterday. As with the earlier vehicle update, we got to see several factional variants as well as a few text teasers in terms of class roles and functionality.

That's all I've got for you at present. I'm off to make more puppy-dog eyes at Red 5 (nope, writing for Massively apparently doesn't get you into the Firefall beta). See you next week.

The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.

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