THE ALIEN BREED We play slick co-op shooter Earthfall.
A co-op shooter that wears its influences with pride
IT’S A GAME ABOUT SHOOTING THINGS IN THE FACE.
There are few games we glance over at a rival console and wish we had, but Left 4 Dead has always been the one game PS4 could do with. While Evolve nudged its way into our library, it failed to grab our attention like Valve’s shooter. So with a healthy chu-chink of a shotgun reload, we welcome triple-A indie dev Holospark to our hearts. The dev is open about its love for Left 4 Dead as Earthfall, its co-op shooter, replaces zombies with aliens.
“It’s a game about shooting things in the face with shotguns,” says Russell Williams, CEO of the Seattle-based developer, as we settle down for an exclusive play of the R&D ‘warehouse’ mission.
This is one of ten story missions releasing day one for the game, and played in four-player co-op it comes early in the campaign. The aliens have landed, and we’re sent to a train yard to snatch a briefcase containing vital DNA data to take the fight to the slimy invaders.
“There’s reactive AI in the game,” comments Williams, as he reveals the alien horde will adapt to our actions, with later missions adding evolved creatures.
It’s hard to believe Earthfall is being made by a team of 29. The map is large and maze-like; we run down dead ends, cornering ourselves, but careful reading of the world reveals hints at how to escape and discover secret areas.
The shotgun, a base weapon, packs a punch. The combat is quick and twitchy, like a marriage of Call Of Duty and Valve’s not-on-PS4 survival shooter. It’s when we discover the M16, and later dual-wield pistols, that the action really heats up and we get to surge freely through the alien horde. It’s also at this moment we see the AI react, calling on a ‘Blackout’ boss that teleports into the map and demands we work with our team mates to defeat it.
Like the AI, the objectives evolve as we play, culminating in a ‘defend the position’ setup as a climax to our mission. Here we see two of Earthfall’s biggest ideas play out. First we find a 3D printer that can create random weapons to help our
cause – handily, the first off the spool is an alien-tech-based cannon called the Valkyrie, which fires green, glowing explosive shots that set the world alight (and tests this early build’s VFX capabilities). Even with dozens of aliens on fire, electrical sparks, and fireballs lighting the world in blue, green, and red hues, the framerate holds firm.
Then we discover the placeable barriers. Like a streamlined Fortnite, you can erect barricades to hold back the horde, or use them to create choke points and killzones. Attaching gas canisters and arc grenades sets these fences on fire or electrifies them. These additions alone suggest Earthfall could be more than a me-too Left 4 Dead. Welcome to PS4.
Earthfall is due for release this Autumn. Tweet us with your thoughts @opm_uk.
Earthfall will feature 4K and HDR on PS4 Pro, 60fps is to be confirmed.