Updated: 26 September 2013 for Patch 0.7.1710
Firefall’s greatest strength is its open-ended nature, allowing players the freedom to do whatever they like without artificial constraints like levels and gear thresholds. However, if you’re not used to open-world sandbox games like Firefall, it can be a bit daunting to decide what to do next. This guide takes a look at two of the biggest obstacles for new players: what do you do, and how do you improve?
Note that this is a guide to PvE content only. If you’re interested in PvP, there are a number of arena maps with different gameplay modes to enjoy, and open-world PvP to come in the future – but that’s outside the scope of this guide.
What’s the Story?
Firefall is set on Earth in the year 2233, six months after an accidental spaceship crash that tore open a hole in reality, spreading the Melding across huge swathes of the Earth. The Melding is an energy field, inimical to human life, and from within it come the alien Chosen, hostile opponents dedicated to wiping out humanity and claiming Earth for themselves.
You play an ARES operator, a mercenary helping the Accord – the united military force of what remains of Earth – to keep the peace, defeat the Chosen, and help rebuild human civilisation.
A Note on SIN
SIN is the Shared Information Network, to which all ARES operators are connected. SIN shows you active events all over the map, nearby enemies, and so on. To unlock SIN access all over the map, you’ll need to use all the various SIN towers — until you do that, you won’t be able to see map events around you.
There are also some deployables in-game – both battleframe abilities and outpost defenses – that will tag nearby enemies in SIN and increase the damage players do to those targets.
A Note on Getting Around
There are several ways to get around in Firefall:
- Dropships fly between major cities and minor outposts. Check out our dropship route map for more details.
- Glider Pads can be found at cities and towers, and here and there in the wilderness. Run across the pad to spawn wings that will allow you to glide long distances.
- Vehicles exist: there are several models of LGV (Light Ground Vehicle) that you can acquire by various means. Check out our Vehicles Guide for more info.
- Jumpjets are scientifically proven to be the most fun thing in the entire universe.
A Note on Notifications
When there’s a notification waiting for you, you’ll see a badge on the left-hand side of the screen. Hit N and it will show you the notification; then left-click to accept, or right-click to decline. This covers things like squad invites, duel requests, and reward notification windows. If you have multiple items waiting, you can scroll through them with your mouse scrollwheel after you hit N, to select the one you want to deal with. The circular line around the icon is a timer showing you how long until the request or notification expires.
What Do I Do? – Dynamic Events in Firefall
Firefall is an open-world “sandbox”-style game, where you can choose your preferred gameplay instead of being funnelled into preset activities. These activities are generally open to everyone – Firefall uses horizontal rather than vertical progression (more on that below) so players of all experience and gear levels can easily play together.
The main activities at this point are listed below. It’s worth noting that these all appear dynamically, at variable locations. Apart from a few special cases you don’t have to go to a specific spot to do a specific event – just run around and explore, and the world will come to life around you.
(Also, note that you don’t need to be in a squad to share rewards; if you participate in the event, you get the rewards.)
The Chosen Warfront
The Chosen periodically try to claim towns and outposts all over New Eden, the area of Earth where the game is set. There are different levels of Chosen activity suitable for everything from solo players up to multiple groups. Small Chosen patrols will appear and roam the map, while larger Chosen groups strike strategic locations. The Chosen Warfront is a major part of the game’s storyline, so you can expect a lot more episodic Chosen content as time goes on.
Of particular note:
- Chosen Strike Teams will attack player outposts to take them over. If players do not fend them off, that area will come under Chosen control; you’ll no longer get reports of events in that area, and more Chosen will appear to attack other nearby locations. Towers can be defended and reclaimed by players, although it’ll usually take several players to do so successfully.
- Chosen Invasions occur at Thump Dump (and, in the past, Sunken Harbor), when the Chosen set up artillery and fortifications around the city, hammering away at the city’s SIN Tower. If the city falls, the Melding itself will claim the city for several hours. It takes several squads of players to successfully repel a Chosen Invasion.
- Chosen Death Squads target individual players for death – if you’ve been targeted, you’ll see a SIN marker over your head. The death squad will make its way to you – be especially careful of the Chosen Executioner, who can be deadly if you’re not prepared.
Other Dynamic Events
There’s a wide range of other dynamic events that spawn all over the map – look for little purple icons to find events waiting for you. We’ve listed the various mission types below, but you may find it more fun to discover them all for yourself. If you’d like to see the full list of dynamic missions, click the tag below.
Show Dynamic Events
These appear dynamically all over the map, indicated by a purple ARES icon. These missions usually involve destroying enemy fortifications or weapons, or retrieving stolen property from a cave, building or industrial area. You’ll find yourself facing a range of enemies: the Chosen, hostile wildlife, and human bandits.
The frame around the ARES icon will show you how challenging the mission is. The colour of the indicators (and the bar on the right side of the frame) indicates the difficulty level, and a white icon at the top of the frame is present if it’s a group mission or event. These frames also appear around the other event icons, so you’ll get used to them quickly.
These appear all around New Eden, and require you to pick up broken parts of the thumper to reassemble it. The faster you complete the reconstruction, the better your rewards.
These are crashed motorcycles which usually require you to defend a data-gathering drone against waves of bandits. (Sometimes they simply self-destruct instead.) Your rewards have a chance to include a single-use white Cobra LGV bike.
This whirling vortex of melding energy is surrounded by melding shards to shoot down. Once they’re destroyed you can shoot the core, which will destroy the tornado and open a portal to a melding pocket for an extra mini-event with high risk and large rewards.
These start from race terminals in all major cities, and will send you racing on a (free, temporary) bike from one city to another. You can travel all around the map using these bikes, too, although they only last a few minutes. You’ll need to talk to El Terremoto in Sunken Harbor before your first race, though, to get access to the race bikes.
This mission near Sunken Harbor requires you to retrieve stolen equipment from a pirate gang. You can defeat it by killing all the pirates, but if you wait until they’ve placed their Arcporter Pylons first and then kill them, you can use the pylons yourself for a bigger reward.
Portable Antenna Terminal
This is always available near Shanty Town in the south-wast – you’ll run around searching for radio signals, which spawns waves of hostile creatures from which you have to defend yourself. This is an endless mission, and you get rewards after each stage, so you can keep going as long as you like.
Note that this may not be working correctly at the moment. We’ll update when we have more information.
Cerrado Plains Patrol
This is triggered by the Patrol Comm Unit in your Mission Items cooldown list; it can be used every two hours. It’ll send you around to four patrol locations in the Cerrado Plains area. The final patrol location often spawns a new event of some kind, too.
Note that this may not be working correctly at the moment. We’ll update when we have more information.
Baneclaw is a World Boss, summoned using a craftable Melding Anomaly Neutralizer. He appears in the Melding to the north of Northern Shores and Esqueleto Beach – you can push back the Melding using craftable Amplifier Crystite Cores. You’ll need at least 25 people to kill him.
Thumping is a major source of dynamic content, and it’s one of the main ways of getting resources for crafting. There are different thumpers intended for various group sizes, and you use the calldowns menu to bring them down on an underground resource vein. (You can find these veins with a scanhammer.) Thumpers are all craftable items, and everyone in a thumping squad gets a share of the rewards.
The thumper drills resources out of the ground, and it takes five minutes to fill a thumper. The drilling aggravates nearby wildlife, which will come and attack your thumper in waves of increasing difficulty. Send off your thumper when it’s full (or when it’s very damaged and you don’t want to risk it any further) and you’ll get the drilled resources and your thumper will be returned to you. If your thumper blows up due to damage before you send it back, it’s lost forever, along with its cargo.
Different areas of the world will spawn different monsters to attack your thumper, and if you put it down near the Melding it’ll be attacked by Chosen and Melding-mutated wildlife instead.
You can also help other people with their thumpers, even if you’re not in a squad with them, and you’ll get a percentage of their rewards. (This doesn’t cost them any resources; it’s a bonus payment to the helper from the Accord.) This is an excellent way for new players to get used to the way thumping works and to build up some resources before making your own thumpers.
(Note that the introductory mission series after the tutorial area will give you a scanhammer and a basic stock thumper as part of the missions.)
The Melding Pockets and Blackwater Anomaly
The Patch 0.7 Milestone introduced three new Melding Pockets – Diamond Head, Antarctica and Sargasso Sea – and Firefall’s first instance, Blackwater Anomaly. The melding pockets are special areas that can only be accessed using Arcporters in the major cities, and you need to craft a different key to access each one. Each melding pocket has unique geography, creatures and events, and each pocket helps you work towards the key for Blackwater Anomaly.
These areas of the game are by no means off-limits to new players, but unless you’re really motivated, you don’t need to rush towards them. (In particular, you’ll probably want to work on your progression before trying Blackwater Anomaly, as it’s not for the faint of heart! See below for more on how to advance your character.) There’s a mission series called “Echoes From Sertao” that will guide you through the process of gaining access to the Melding Pockets, but you don’t have to complete it until you’re ready. When you’re ready to start checking out the melding pockets and BWA, you can use our guide to accessing the melding pockets to learn how to get your keys.
Self-Improvement: How Progression Works
Firefall works on a system of horizontal progression, so there’s not a huge difference between a new player and one who’s been playing for a while. In games with vertical progression characters gain levels and massively more powerful gear, so that an old/experienced character is way out of the new character’s league, but in games like Firefall the focus is on player skill rather than in-game stat boosts. Earning XP and improving your gear certainly makes a difference, but the biggest improvements come from broadening the options available to your character, and increasing your flexibility.
As you play, you’ll earn experience. You earn it from killing enemies, completing dynamic events – even from thumping. Experience is frame-specific, so the experience you earn while playing in one frame can’t be spent on progressing another.
Experience is spent at the Battleframe Garage. When you open the Garage you’ll see three horizontal progression trees – one for Mass, one for Power and one for CPU. These are constraints, which limit the gear you can equip on your battleframe. The more boxes you unlock for each constraint, the better the gear you can equip. Each constraint also gives your battleframe a bonus once you’ve surpassed the minimum constraints you need for your equipped gear.
Mass is affected by gear that improves your survivability and mobility. Surplus Mass constraints will give you a mobility boost, while insufficient Mass gives you a mobility penalty.
Power relates to the damage output of your battleframe’s weapons and abilities. Surplus Power can be routed into crafted weapons and abilities to give them a raw damage boost.
CPU is related to the computational load your battleframe has. If you’ve got surplus CPU Cores, you can equip crafted gear that costs more cores but less Mass and/or Power – effectively you can trade in surplus CPU Cores to reduce the load on your Mass and Power constraints.
When you equip a new frame for the first time, most of your equipment slots will be locked. You’ll have access to stock versions of most of the equipment in play (except a secondary weapon and an HKM), but you’ll need to spend XP to unlock each slot in order to upgrade the item in that slot. You can unlock the slots in any order you like.
As well as the five Accord battleframes given to you at the start of the game, there are ten specialty frames – two for each frame type. These can be unlocked for 100 Red Beans each, or 10 Pilot Tokens. Red Beans () are a currency purchased with real-world money; Pilot Tokens () are earned by spending XP on other battleframes.
Although acquiring gear isn’t the huge power spike in Firefall that it is in many other games, improving your gear is well worth it.
You don’t have to stick with the gear your frame starts with.
- You can use any of five secondary weapons, not just the one you begin with.
- Each frame type has two alternate ability modules you can use instead of the default loadout. (These modules don’t come in stock form; you’ll have to craft them.)
- Non-Accord frames (those you unlock with pilot tokens or red beans) can equip anything from their related Accord frame, as well as their own gear. For example, a Mammoth frame can equip anything the Accord Dreadnaught can use, instead of any or all of the default Mammoth gear.
Check out our Battleframe Modules Cheat Sheet to see which gear you can use on your frame. Stock versions of most gear can be purchased from the Stock Gear Vendors in major cities, although the alternate ability modules must be crafted.
All those dynamic events score you resources, and you can use those resources to create better gear. You do this at the molecular printer in any major city. Look for the “Battleframe Equipment” category of schematics; you’ll find all your gear upgrades here.
As a general rule, higher-quality resources will make gear with better stats – however, this gear will also have higher Mass, Power and Cores costs, which means that you’ll need to make sure you’re spending your XP to give yourself better constraints. You’ll also need to unlock specific progression boxes as prerequisites for your crafted gear – check our handy Crafted Gear Prerequisites Cheatsheet for the specifics.
Firefall’s crafting system is quite involved and is a major part of the gameplay experience; a detailed look at it is outside the scope of this guide, although we’ll be providing more in-depth crafting guides coming soon.
And with that, welcome to Firefall!
Absolutely amazing site. I work on this game, but have never seen it’s content so well organized and explained so concisely. Thank you =)
Thankyou so much ;) We both really enjoy this kind of stuff, and it’s very good to know that people like it. (Especially the people that make the game!)
how come i cant make an ACOUNT on fire fall it is making me crazy have a game i can play on my computer
I’d suggest you open a support ticket. The Red5 support staff are excellent, and I’m sure they can help you. You can open a ticket at the Firefall support site.
I rarely leave comments due to the intense dislike of giving my email address to anything other than trusted websites.
However, having been in the Firefall beta for what seems like ages (easily many months) and never really getting anywhere, I had stopped playing and only just returned. I was again beginning to become frustrated because of a distinct lack of information about what I should be doing and how I should progress.
This guide changed everything. Everything. The game now makes sense, for the most part, and I don’t feel frustrated any longer. So I would just like to say, thank you!
The concise information and explanations you provided have changed an irritating and what I thought to be, directionless, game, into something I have sunk 30+ hours into over the past week!
Amazing. Thank you again!
Awesome, I’m really glad it helped. I’ve found that the more open a game is, the easier it is to feel absolutely lost if you don’t have a direction or goal in mind, so I entirely sympathise. Glad you’re enjoying your Firefall experience now! ;)
Concerning the quests about the radio transmission thing do you have to craft it first to be able to get them? also in the plains how do you come about getting the patrol comm unit?
You do have to craft the antenna now, yes. You can find it under Mission Items in the printer.
Regarding the Cerrado Plains Patrol mission, you should have the radio in your calldowns list; using that near Cerrado Plains should kick it off. If you don’t, drop a comment here and I’ll see if I can find out what’s changed now about how you start it.
So really it is the antenna then use it in the plains? Be ause I was using the antenna south of shanty town and couldn’t get anything to pop up.
So the comm event in the plains is activated by the antenna as well or something different entirely ? And is the antenna a use once thing then have to craft again or is it like a thumper ?
okay so to i wasnt really all that descriptive on my last reply since i answered from my phone.
Okay regarding Shanty Town now do you need the antenna there or is it just a unit in the SW of shanty town. If so do I use the antenna outside around the Southwest.?
As for the cerrado Plains I dont have a comm patrol unit. Never had a quest to receive one or was ever told of this either. So I would like some more information in obtaining these.
As for the ARES events are fun but sometimes I would like a change of pace and I see these 2 events helping with that.
Great information on this site as well. If you feel like contacting me in-game my name here is my game name so either type of response would be greatly appreciated.
Alrighty – I’m away from my computer at the moment, at PAX Australia, but as soon as I get home on Monday I’ll check it out and try and get some answers for you. :)
Didnt know you were going there! Hope you are having a stellar time and catching up on alot of new stuff going on, Thanks though i appreciate the answer stating that you were doing something. I have asked multiple times in game and all they say is use it by shanty town and i cant miss it but I really do keep missing it!. I asked about the patrol comm unit as well and people just look cock-eyed and say wha?
Wow amazing guide! Very well thought-out and easy to read. I wish I had played during the closed beta. Had a key but had too many other games to really get into it. Until I started playing open. WOW was it better than I had imagined. By leaps and bounds! Just have to say this guide REALLY helps. Hard to take in everything. Playing for about 3 days now and understood more in the 5-10min of reading this than those first 20 hours of play!
Thank you for taking the time to make this guide. I’ll be sure to link it to anyone else I know that starts the game and will be coming back to this frequently!
Sorry you missed out on closed beta, and it’s great you’re loving it now. :) Glad you’ve found the guides useful, too!
I just want to say well done I too joined right b4 open beta but I was so lost that I got discouraged and because it is so new of a game I couldn’t really find anything telling me how to get stronger and better. I do have a few questions or requests I guess
1. I would like to see video on the game maybe just someone showing how to craft weapons youtube is lacking that
2. Do you have to build up each suit or can you just focus on one given the open game feel I guess you can “do what you want” but what would you suggest
3. I love the engineer class and want to know all there is about it any in depth advice you can give is welcomed
@The noobiest noob
I was in exactly the same position, and I thought I’d just tell you what I’ve learned since making the switch from frustration to enjoyment:
1. Weapon crafting, like all other crafting, is basically the same thing. You have to research the item you want to make, so say Heavy Machine Gun 1, go research that for 1k Crystite, then you make the individual components, then you make the HMG1 itself.
HMG2 would cost 5k Crystite to research, and then crafting the components gets harder, as for all level 2 items, you need DNA/Chosen Tech etc. So crafting becomes a HEAP more tactical, it can take a while to farm 50 Hisser DNA/50 Stolen Chosen Tech etc. and you cant buy them on the marketplace, so you HAVE to farm them.
2. You can focus on one, or many frames, I love the Engi class too ;) Playing a Bastion at the moment (I’m a Founder so I have all classes unlocked) but before that I got a Rhino to 6/7/6 frame upgrades.
Focusing on one is the best idea, since the XP and resource requirements become quite high after the 6th round of Mass/Power/CPU upgrades.
But the XP you earn on one frame does NOT transfer to another, however the resource pool (crystite, carbon, regeneics etc.) does. If you are looking to unlock one of the Red Bean/Pilot Token frames, then your best idea is to level up each frame to level 6 I think, that way you end up with 9 tokens, and then you just need one more to unlock a locked frame; Bastion / Firecat / Electron / Rhino etc.
3. Engi is a great farming class, Thumping etc. and the turrets are really your main focus, with the Bastion you become a turret-gineer with 3x mini-multi turrets (you’ve prob seen them around game world, there are a ridiculous amount of Bastions) and a possible 2 other turrets, or one Heavy Turret and a Restock Station.
Your best bet for in-depth Engi class info and playstyles etc. is Youtube or the Firefall Forums.
Hope I’ve been of some help!
See you in the Melding.
Hope your PAX Visit was fun, heard rumors the antenna thing was broken etc. would be nice to see how it works and the type of rewards you tend to get anyhow hope to hear some info cause i still cant seem to get it to work.
A couple updates to this would be nice.
1) Spending XP to unlock the various slots on the frames (Primary, Secondary, each Ability, servos, jets, etc.)
2) The Arsenal, all that stuff.
3) Nost Stock Secondary Weapons are issued upon acquiring a frame (or starting a new character) and must now be independently purchased for each frame you wish to have simultaneously equipped with them.
Good call :) I’m working on a more specific guide that covers that stuff, but thankyou for the reminder to update this, too!
Good guide, thank you. I would like to point out one minor correction though; Firefall isn’t really a “sandbox” mmo. A sandbox MMO let’s you alter the world, build, destroy, etc… Building a house for example, planting a forest then chopping it down to build a ship that you then use to attack an enemy town. The term is used loosely in some circles to mean “game environment” but that’s too vague and would apply to every video game out there which would make the term redundant. To compare to a sandbox MMO, look at Darkfall or ArcheAge online as examples.
If we could build our own towns and the buildings within it then Firefall could be a sandbox game. But we can’t do that and the world is quite small to allow for something like that.
That’s a fair point. On the other hand, being able to alter the world isn’t necessarily the only criterion for sandbox MMOs – for some gamers it’s the most important one, though. Equally, it’s certainly not a themepark, since (with the exception of the new player experience) it’s definitely not on rails in the way that a themepark is. It’s safe to say, I think, that there are a range of factors that separate sandboxes and themepark MMOs, and Firefall falls at different points along each scale, averaging out somewhere in between. Exactly where that falls varies for each player, depending on how important they think each differentiating factor is, but I felt it was important to stress that this isn’t a typical hand-holding quest-based themepark-style MMO.
Hi Siha & Kristakis! I just noticed this guide is now outdated by several patches. I don’t recall how much of this may have changed, but I’m bumping the post that mentions this guide and the war paints guide in the FF forums so that newer players get directed to your FABULOUS site/guides and I thought I’d post a note here so you could check for any updates needed. ^_^
You guys are AWESOME as always! :)
Thanks Faeryl! We’ve got a lot of updating to do, given all the changes in the new milestone due out shortly; hopefully we can get this up to date sooner rather than later.
I just wanted to point out that despite the game description found on this page, nothing about this game is “sandbox”. It literally does not have a single sandbox feature. Perhaps you have mistaken all MMO’s as sandbox?
Hardly! Perhaps you have mistaken this guide as being current? This guide was originally published in June 2013 and updated in September 2013, as you can see at the top of the post. At the time, Firefall did have some sandbox elements and a near-total absence of themepark elements. Obviously, Firefall has changed a lot since this guide was written, as is evident from the guide itself.