Earthfall (PlayStation 4) Review

By Michael Keener 26.07.2018

Review for Earthfall on PlayStation 4

There's a certain genre out there known as the "Left 4 Dead" genre. Of course, that's an unofficial title. It's actually the name of the game that set the bar for co-op action roughly 10 years ago and featured enemy-swarming gameplay. Earthfall goes for an alien invasion approach as opposed to the arguably over used but never annoying zombie outbreak scenario. For the most part, it delivers on a remarkable solo and co-op experience. It's almost cinematic in story and setting, and it's for certain chaotic thanks to grating shooting mechanics, guns, and a fairly lengthy campaign. Oh, and it's half the price of AAA games.

Life has changed dramatically since the alien invasion; the human race has dwindled in population to almost nothing, and the ones that are still alive (in this case the four playable heroes) band together to prolong the seemingly inevitable. The four heroes are a weird bunch but offer a variety to choose from. There's Danny the Asian guy, with the cool athletic fashion; Jonas the big and hefty powerhouse of a fighter; Maya the token female character; and Roy, who strongly resembles Tyreese from The Walking Dead. They never really have their back-stories told, and instead players see them already banded together ready to set off on a grand adventure. The occasional banter between them is comical and, at times, they sound fittingly scared for the upcoming events, but outside of this it is hard to bond with them.

The overarching story of the invasion and resistance is essentially all there is to unravel. The story itself, though, sees them travelling from neighbourhood to hive. That is not a spoiler as the chapters are titled and unlocked from the very beginning. They will make several stops along the way in the 10-chapter long campaign, each with a revelation about the aliens and how to hopefully stop them, or a swift escape from death. The chapters play out in very similar fashion; progress the team through a large number of aliens hellbent on killing humans, find required parts to start a vehicle, or find the power switches for a number of reasons, survive swarms of oncoming enemies, almost if not completely get obliterated by one of the two boss types, and make an escape.

Screenshot for Earthfall on PlayStation 4

The two bosses included are called Beasts and Blackouts. There is more than one of each and most likely the band of gun-wielding survivors will run into one of each in every level. The Beast can be thought of as a Tank; a massive alien full of muscle and presumably steroids. The Blackouts are the hardest to fight as they can teleport around and have an orbiting shield that must be destroyed every time before damage can be dealt.

Neither of them is fought by themselves, as swarms of the basic aliens will flood the scene, too. There's an emphasis on randomisation in regards to all enemy encounters. This will mostly be visible in the boss fights because the levels always feel full of swarms as linear level progression occurs. One level play through will have the small rebellion fight a Beast early and a Blackout mid-level, while another run of the same level will see them fighting the Blackout mid-level and the Beast towards the end. The location and determination of which one it will be makes each replay exciting.

Fans of Left 4 Dead will recognise some similarities in the special alien types that occasionally make their presence known. Similar to the bloaters are the sappers who will blow up, spewing poisonous vial everywhere. Threshers are similar to Hunters in the way they will hunt the player down and pounce on top, delivering fatal swipes until a teammate shoots it or pushes it off. Whiplashes are the funniest of them all and will be similar to Jockeys; they are giraffe-like aliens that run up, bite the player's head, and run away with them dealing continuous damage. They have no fear to run through an entire house or blockade while blood baths are given out to the entire room just to nab and run. The basic aliens are known as drones and they can all be boosted if an Enrager is on scene. Enragers are easy to kill and do no true damage themselves.

Screenshot for Earthfall on PlayStation 4

If playing solo, the repetition may become noticeable early on, leading to limited sessions. Players will not be at the mercy of unintelligent computer teammates controlling the other three characters as they can have their skill level increased or decreased. Likewise, the enemies and game mechanics have the typical difficulty options, so playing with the combinations will help find the perfect middle for everyone. For younger players, an easy difficulty with high computer teammate skill will be helpful, and the very skilled players can truly test themselves by setting the game on the hardest difficulty and the computer teammates to walking potatoes (almost). Multiplayer can see up to four friends or strangers playing together.

Playing with friends will surely have everyone freaking out and laughing a lot, and perhaps maybe some online hop-in matchmaking will find some decent people, too. Hopping in and out is effortless and is far from an invasive action. There is a certain skill level required to beat everything on a hard difficulty as health is lost pretty quickly if the player is not paying attention to their 360 degree surrounding. There is never complete death for any of the players, either; everyone can be revived after being knocked down. Shooting the side arm is still possible when down, but if knocked down for too long the player will lose this opportunity and the revive will take twice as long to perform.

Screenshot for Earthfall on PlayStation 4

The shooting system is set up extremely well. There are about a dozen weapons in the game and they include variations of assault rifles, burst rifles, and shotguns. There is also a large mag sniper rifle, but because there is no bloom for any gun, the sniper is a fairly ineffective option. This is especially so if players can swap their glock style side arm for a low recoil, one shot capable, Desert Eagle. Side arm ammo is unlimited, but swapping this out entirely for a melee weapon like a fire axe is an option (although it is strongly recommended to not do so). Several times in the stages players will come across weapon printers. They will have an option of two different guns that can be printed along with max ammo. This is less of a gun locker and more of an ammo crate. Printing each gun takes only a few seconds and there is no limit to the number of prints, so feel free to pile them all up on the floor to have near infinite ammo.

The biggest problem is that so many people will compare Earthfall to the genre greatest of all time, Left 4 Dead. It was compared within this review, but a direct contrast was intentionally avoided. Of course, it is hard not to connect the obvious similarities, but players and critics will be doing a major injustice to bash it for not being exactly like the L4D games. The aliens are fun to fight and although they are not zombies, the setting feels amazing. Post alien invasions have always had almost as much craze as infectious outbreaks. The science fiction vibe that is reinforced with weapon printers, alien hives, and hidden lore competes with hit sci-fi shows like Falling Skies. Not to say Falling Skies has all of those things; just that it truly feels like the last of humanity fighting off the end of times.

Screenshot for Earthfall on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Overall, this is a great product with a low price tag and high replay value, and deserves attention. Some more bosses and maybe a mode where aliens are playable would really go a long way for the longevity, though. The lack of any character progression means if the gameplay alone is not enticing enough for some, replaying will not be a worthwhile experience. Earthfall could have taken a couple of notes from Killing Floor 2 in many aspects of prolonging gameplay via progression in a repetitive system, but what it strives for in the "Left 4 Dead" genre, it nails really well. It's exciting to see what the developer does next with content and updates.

Developer

Holospark

Publisher

Holospark

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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