FireFall is a game that tries to struggle out of the conventional MMO straightjacket in every way possible. Californian developer Red 5 Studios threw out the traditional MMORPG model, instead opting for dynamic, action oriented FPS combat. Where you’d normally expect rigid character class restrictions, instead you’re invited to play whatever way you’re in the mood for.
But how do you get that unique game feel and identity? For FireFall, its latest mega-patch seemed to be a strong push toward that identity. With an emphasis on improving the fluidity and flexibility of combat systems, the team added a range of customization options that are likely to keep players testing and tweaking for months if not years. It’s all been about raising the bar so that player skill, rather than character gear, is what counts.
I recently had the chance to meet with David Williams, Lead Class Designer on FireFall, for an early morning play-through at Gamescom. Our giant interview is so big we’ve had to break it up into two parts! In this section we cover how the team raised the skill cap, revamped the classes and built an eSports toolkit. Part two looks at how Williams tackled class balance, building world lore and the team’s approach to beta and free-to-play.