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.
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!