Be a part of a guild and rule the nation! Band together with your allies and take control of the castle! Join an alliance and dominate the world! Gaming, especially social gaming (as would be expected) is so absolutely inundated with this message. You know why? Because you can’t take over the world alone, or with one or two or five friends. Look at any empire-building game, any MMORPG, and even some first-person shooters. “You’re not good enough, so get your friends to play so that you are stronger!”
As a to-the-bone introvert, I find this extremely disheartening. It’s not as if I lack people to play my favorite games with. On the contrary. I have several partners I love playing Guild Wars 2 with and I have a ranked 5v5 team in LoL. It’s that I don’t desire a legion of players at my command, and being part of a big, fat machine just doesn’t appeal to me. I end up just sitting back in reluctant acceptance that the world will never be mine.
Enter Firefall, the still-in-closed-beta MMOFPS that has very nearly stolen my heart. You can’t even own territories in Firefall. There is no player housing, no guild claiming of any sort, no player versus player faction warfare – the closest the game gets to any sort of official mechanic like that is the battle you fight against the NPC faction, the Chosen, as they take over watchtowers and allied settlements. Of course, you can charge in with a friend or two and take them back. Yippee.
Yet, I simply can’t keep myself off of New Eden. It’s magical in the most behind-the-scenes sense of the word.
I’ve spent my fair share of time farming experience in locations where thumpers (resource-gathering drills that attract massive hordes of enemies) aren’t under much threat. Yeah, it’s fun jetpacking around and blasting hundreds of bugs to smithereens with grenades, and it progresses me through the game faster than anything, but so what? Most of my time has been spent running off to do events on a whim, scaling the highest mountains and mesas only to deploy a glider pad and soar off, taking my locust chopper off of sweet jumps, etc. Yes, I, the paragon of productivity, am being terribly unproductive.
I can’t help but get this feeling that I am one of the most powerful forces on the planet, and one day, on a whim, it will be mine. Have you ever felt that way about a game before? I play Firefall with friends most of the time, but that feeling doesn’t leave when I play by myself. Maybe it’s the fact that I tend to be a scumball with my thumping, throwing down a thumper immediately after someone else’s takes off and therefore stealing their spot for myself. Maybe it’s the fact that I can single-handedly conquer a vicious melding tornado and the waves of bugs it launches at me. Maybe it’s the freedom and mobility my jetpack, glider pad, and motorcycle grant me. Maybe it’s all of the above. In any case, it’s emotional. I get a rush just knowing what I’m capable of, yet knowing that I cannot yet overcome all challenges. It’s awesome just racing across the landscape and seeing how far I can glide by chaining glider pads together or attempting to kill enemies by splattering them beneath my wheels. It’s wonderful seeing a watchtower currently held by the chosen, and thinking, “I can take this.”
For a game that’s still only in closed beta, I am absolutely thrilled to know that Red 5 is nowhere near ready to release Firefall yet. It’s already giving me some of the most intense gaming experiences of my life, and one day, I -will- conquer it all.