Earthfall Review: An Enjoyable, Albeit Imperfect, Alien Invasion

by David Sanchez August 2, 2018 @ 6:59 am

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

Earthfall is a fun game. Earthfall is also a flawed game. It conjures up those fun vibes of cooperative games like Killing Floor 2 and Left 4 Dead, where the goal is to squad up with friends and survive against an onslaught of zombies. Well, they’re aliens in Earthfall, but whatever — they might as well be zombies. Fun times notwithstanding, there are moments of frustration in this game, and those moments tend to take over far too often.

You start out by selecting one of four characters. Skins aside, nothing separates these characters or makes any of them unique. Where Killing Floor 2 has multiple skins and classes, Earthfall has four options to choose from that are only cosmetically different. That’s a real bummer, because it would be great to be able to put together a team of characters where each member can bring something useful to the table.

With a game like this, you’re going to want to play with friends. This is a zombie onslaught an alien invasion that’s at its best if you can experience it with three other buddies. At the very least, you’ll want to play with one other person you know. Earthfall just isn’t as fun if you’re playing with randoms online or AI-controlled bots. If you do have to play alone, you can either create or join a game in progress, or go for Solo mode, which gives you three bots as teammates.

There are 10 stages to get through, and before jumping in, you can toggle a couple different settings. You can choose the level of AI-controlled partners, which means you won’t necessarily be stuck with duds, but you also don’t want them doing all the work. You can also set the difficulty. Even at the medium setting, Earthfall is a tough game, which is great, because it makes victory all the more satisfying.

The levels are designed less as arenas and more like traditional FPS stages. Markers indicate where to go next, but more often than not, you’ll find that these areas are locked until you fulfill a certain objective such as getting the power up and running or extracting necessary data. You’ll need to work together with your comrades if you wish to get to the end. If anyone strays too far from the group, they’ll likely be swarmed and killed within moments.

Enemies come in packs, so even if everyone stays close, some players are bound to get taken down. Thankfully, you can revive them, which alleviates some of the pressure. In addition, fallen players can still aim and shoot, so if you’re reviving someone, that player will still be able to fight off approaching creatures.

In Earthfall, your environment can be used as a tool. You can set barricades to hunker down in a garage. You can can move and place gas cans in spots where enemies are bound to walk by and then shoot the gas cans, taking out several baddies with a sick explosion. You can even set up camp in certain spots and pick enemies off one by one via choke points as they funnel into your space. Having the ability to manipulate your environment is easily one of the strongest aspects of the game.

Unfortunately, while the levels and environments are pretty great, the shooting mechanics in Earthfall drag the experience down a lot. One of my favorite things about Killing Floor 2 — and this is something that has me returning to the game regularly after over a year of playing it — is just how good the shooting feels. The same can’t be said about Earthfall as its gunplay is clunky, inaccurate, and unrefined.

Visually, the set pieces in Earthfall are varied and pretty cool. You’ve got post-apocalyptic neighborhoods, big forests, and industrial facilities. The game does a good job of never slowing down even when there are enemies all over the place. Graphically, things could look better, but the game still has a decent style to it.

Characters can be chatty at times, chiming in when someone is hurt or cornered. Their remarks are all very basic, though, and it sounds like the voice actors were reading lines off a sheet of college ruled notebook paper. There’s also almost no music (which is fine), except for high-pressure moments where generic sci-fi movie music plays for about five seconds before fading out again (which is dumb). It’s kind of weird and adds absolutely nothing to the experience.

I enjoyed playing Earthfall and will likely revisit it again here and there. The mission-based structure of the game is fun, and the levels are all solid. Unfortunately, the shooting gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. Most importantly, though, this is a game you need to play with at least one other friend, because otherwise it just isn’t as much fun.

Score: 7 out of 10

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