At the end of October 2017, at the height of the popularity of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Garena announced the Free Fire Battlegrounds shareware royal battle (later the shooter lost the last word in the name). It soon became one of the most popular mobile battle royals. Now, a few years later, Garena has released an enhanced version of Free Fire – Free Fire MAX. Will it help attract even more players? Do not know. But it was thanks to the update that I turned my attention to the project. And I didn’t regret it.
When the student has surpassed the teacher
Free Fire is a shareware first-person multiplayer shooter that belongs to the battle royale subgenre. Up to 50 soldiers are landed on a large-scale map with parachutes, who are forced to fight each other for the sake of survival. For more effective combat in houses and tents, guests of the island will find helmets and body armor, as well as items such as first aid kits, weapons, grenades and ammunition. In addition, there is transport (car, motorcycle and hoverboard) on the island.
The safe area of the map in Free Fire shrinks over time, prompting players to collide. This is where transport is needed, especially if you are far from the safe zone. Over time, the accessible part of the island becomes so small that the participants in the match come out on top of each other literally face to face. The surviving player or team wins. The average duration of a match is 15 minutes.
At first glance, Free Fire does resemble PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, but this is only the surface. It is worth going a little deeper, as the shooter opens from a completely unexpected side.
Going into Free Fire, the player immediately sees a variety of banners and menus, in which you can unnoticeably get lost for a couple of hours. One of the tabs is especially important – “Characters”. Free Fire offers dozens of characters with unique skills: increased health points, increased shooting accuracy while running, and other interesting and useful properties.
Access to new characters is opened for in-game currency. Sometimes it can also be obtained through special offers in the store, for example, when replenishing the account balance.
Yes, Free Fire can be played for free, but at the initial stage there is a risk of being noticeably weaker than the rest. Each character, in addition to his own skill, has three slots that can be filled with the upgradable skills of other heroes. And instead of long and hard earning credits, you can upgrade your character instantly – you just have to pay a certain amount of real money to buy heroes and improve their skills.
But characters are not all that affect the gameplay. At some point, you can get a pet with unique passive bonuses. For the most part, our lesser friends look very cute, which definitely does not leave the players indifferent. In addition to this, the bonuses are very useful in combat.
For example, the Otter gives energy (armor) when a player is healed with a first aid kit or a healing pistol. And Shiba Inu marks one of the mushrooms on the map every 180 seconds. You can upgrade your pet (and with it its skill) with the help of special food. It is also purchased for real money. Maybe experience is given for the matches played, but this, unfortunately, is completely unclear.
The aforementioned elements make Free Fire a pretty deep game. Once you have enough characters and pets, it can take hours to find the best skill combination for your playstyle. And you will have to adapt to different needs, because the shooter offers not only the battle royale mode.
In the Squad Battle mode, skirmishes take place in a 4v4 format on small maps representing individual locations of the island from the battle royale. The territories are small, the battles on them are extremely dynamic and fierce. Pets are also available here. Victory requires the cohesion of a team of random people, as well as a quick response to the surrounding events. Players accustomed to battle royale often behave in a “Squad Clash” and do not even look in the direction of their comrades. If a commanding leader does not appear among the “random”, who will lead everyone from the very first round, the team is most likely doomed to lose. Of course, everything changes dramatically when people already know each other and know each other’s playing style.
Free Fire MAX adds to this a mode called “Private Island”. This is a section with a map editor, in which the user can independently create his own island with buildings and other objects. You can share your creativity with other players and arrange matches on these maps.
The original Free Fire has always been famous for its low requirements for smartphone stuffing. The shooter works great even on older devices, which allowed it to gain popularity with a large audience. However, there is a layer of fans that has quite powerful devices. For them, Garena has released Free Fire MAX – a version of the royal battle, which offers significantly improved and new graphical elements. It is fully compatible with existing servers and the classic Free Fire client.
Free Fire MAX contains many changes that any player will be happy with. The shooter has improved the quality of the graphics, and the islands have become more realistic. The animations for running and interacting with objects (mushrooms, tool boxes and barrels) have also been updated. In addition, the appearance of the sprint with a katana and a scythe in hands has changed. The new M1887 shotgun reload animation deserves special attention – it cannot be called anything other than cool.
The effect of a grenade explosion has become more high quality and realistic. When driving on vehicles, dust appears from under the wheels, and braking leaves tire marks. Trees with a lush crown have appeared, and foliage now reacts to hits on it. In addition, the bushes began to move from touch. The scout drone’s design has been updated, as has its light beam effect.
Finally, bullet holes began to appear in the walls – however, they dissolve after a second. So, unfortunately, for strategic purposes (for example, to understand if there was a skirmish here before you came), do not use this function.
Another major innovation in Free Fire MAX is the Bermuda MAX map, available in Squad Battle. The locations “Factory” and “Clock Tower” have become more detailed compared to the original ones.
Small but nice change: the backpack in Free Fire MAX shows weapon skins. The sound when driving a car is better. And you can see in detail the benefits of the updated lobby in the official video from Garena below.
Overall, Free Fire MAX left a good impression. This is an entertaining battle royale with interesting innovations in the genre, an active community and beautiful cosmetic elements. The graphics have been updated, but the priority of high frame rates has not gone anywhere – even the Samsung A51, the bouncy mid-range 2020, does it just fine.
It is a quality alternative to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite that offers unique mechanics. The emphasis on donation (at least at the initial stage, while there are few heroes) can be confusing, but it does not interfere with enjoying the gameplay, because in the end, personal skill is still in the first place. According to data from analyst firm Sensor Tower for August 2021, Free Fire bypassed by revenue, all games on Google Play. And, given the actively growing popularity of the project, Garena probably has a lot of new content hidden away.