Red 5’s upcoming MMO free-to-play third-person shooter has impressed ever since it debuted at PAX in 2010, but the example of live events the studio gave us at Gamescom could take Firefall to another level.

One of the most basic gameplay loops in Firefall is “thumping” for resources. You scan the wilderness for resources, then call in a thumper to dig them out. This angers the local wildlife, though, and progressively tougher monsters come charging in to destroy the offending machine. The resources it digs up get better and better as well, so the risk/reward continually climbs until you send the thumper off to drop off its resources at the central Thump Dump or the monsters blow it up and you have to build another one.

The Earth in Firefall is under siege, though, and not just by mutated fauna. The alien menace invades from time to time, establishing bases and sending out patrols to find weak points to continue their conquest. Players can take out those scouts to blind and delay the invasion, but at some point every server will have to deal with larger alien incursions.

The Thump Dump that dispatches thumpers and stores all their resources can be captured by the enemy, which disables all thumping across the whole server. The only way to get your needed thumpability back online is to band together with other players into a huge army and kick the bad guys out.

I absolutely adore this idea. Static content and player isolation are the two biggest problems in MMOs; though both have their places when used in moderation, relying too heavily on them is a good way to have a dying game within a year as players burn through your carefully crafted content faster than you can make it and quit playing because they have no social ties to keep them around. Live events like an alien takeover of the Thump Dump are the antitheses of both of those problems.

Firefall’s moment-to-moment gameplay is as tightly executed as any shooter fan can ask. Its cooperative focus is ambitious and unique. Its competitive gameplay aims just as high – Red 5 showed off a best-in-class spectator mode at Gamescom, and is committed to the top-notch balancing and gameplay necessary to be a serious e-sport. I have extremely high hopes for Firefall. A more definitive verdict should be coming in the next few months, as the beta is already done with character wipes – meaning all progress carries over to the live game – and Red 5 hopes to have the cash shop online by PAX next week and to open the gates to all players shortly thereafter.