Gaming

Fun team-based shooter needs depth

Having whetted gamers' appetite since April last year with a Steam Early Access game, Earthfall was finally launched on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC platforms last month.

A first-person cooperative survival shooter, this game pits a team of four characters against swarms of aggressive aliens. You play as one of four preset characters named Danny, Jonas, Maya and Roy.

They look different but there is no advantage in choosing one over another.

There are 10 episodes in the game and they typically involve your team completing various objectives, fending off attacks along the way and helping one another to stay alive.

Minions known as Drones try to outnumber your team, and bigger critters such as Thrasher, Whiplash and Beast target specific members and try to break your formation.

Despite being a seasoned shooter game player, I found some of the encounters challenging.

  • RATING 

  • 6/10

    PRICE: From S$59.90 (PC, Xbox One, PS4; version tested)

    GENRE: First-person survival shooter

You can play solo alongside artificial intelligence (AI) teammates at the lower difficulty levels.

The AI players are quite competent in staying together as a team, but tend to stand in your way and get hit by friendly fire, triggering screen notifications and making it seem as though you are to blame.

For this reason, it is better to connect online and play with three other players. Note though, that the game lacks a split-screen cooperative mode.

Earthfall is not the first cooperative shooter game (the classic game Left 4 Dead is a prominent example of this genre), but it does try to carve out its own identity.

For example, there are no safe houses or check points available until you reach the end.

Instead, you are given tools to temporarily fortify your stand.

As you come across garages, storage containers and abandoned homes, you will find portable grilled gates and turrets that can be deployed at various points of entry to keep the swarm at bay.

However, these items do not last forever and can be destroyed over time, thus keeping your party of four always on the run for the next cover. You start each round with a decent pistol that has unlimited reloads.

More firepower choices will become available, but ammunition can run out at the wrong time if you do not conserve your shots.

Perhaps the most interesting arsenal is a printer that can generate firearms based on 3D technology. However, getting the printer up and running requires a procedure that is sure to attract attention to your location. Still, the adrenaline rush is much welcomed.

Visually, Earthfall looks less defined on PS4 compared with a PC, especially if you are playing on a big screen.

I found the game enjoyable, but also rather formulaic. It is fun completing the 10 stages and unlocking backstory texts known as lores, but there is no secondary game mode or a way to review your progress.

You can unlock bonus hazmat suits that are bundled with the Deluxe Edition.

Developer Holosparks is planning to introduce more customisation options and cosmetic enhancements in the future, either at no charge or through micro-transactions.

It has also said it will be bringing in additional content, which I hope happens soon. Otherwise, the game may end up being one of those titles that are left to die.

• Verdict: Earthfall has the basic formula of an enjoyable team-based shooter, but needs more work in order to become a fan favourite.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2018, with the headline 'Fun team-based shooter needs depth'. Print Edition | Subscribe