There is literally no better way to describe this other than: Earthfall is like a somewhat buggy spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead with aliens instead of zombies. It feel like an uninspired phrase to coin in on but it has never been more true, never have I felt the mechanics of Valve’s first-person zombie masterclass recreated so well. It feels more like homage than replication.
Earthfall was developed by Holospark, a team made of people that have had their fingers in many pies over the years. People who’ve had a hand in Destiny, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, No One Lives Forever 2,,Call of Duty 3, F.E.A.R, Bioshock Infinite, Dawn of War III & inFamous 2 to just name a few. It’s safe to say the team carries some hefty calibre.
It scratches that itch, the itch I’ve not been allowed to touch for years. Can you believe that it will be 10 years in November, nearly a decade since the launch of Left 4 Dead 2 and Earthfall is like the cooling balm needed, because that itch has been turning into something I caught once… we won’t go into detail.
Four survivors (players or A.I) fight their way through hordes of aliens on a mission to exterminate the invaders. It’s set some years after invasion and seems mid way through terra-forming – there is alien fauna mixed with our own across the landscape. Our four heroes are searching for the hive, to take out the menace at the source.
Maybe it’s the fact that I had overplayed the hell out of L4D2 but I find Earthfall’s protagonists much more engaging. Their backstories and portrayal feels much less “b-movie” than I had expected. Voice acting is great and thankfully keeps the game “cheese-free” due to zero cringeworthy lines of dialogue.
Visually it meets the mark, volumetric lighting a standout for me. Running the game on maximum settings with a constant 115 frames per second was pleasing to say the least. It’s attainable due to the nature of the game. L4D2 ran perfectly well when it launched back in the day and other similar games managed to do so – Vermintide springs to mind, that and its recent sequel manages to amaze in its optimisation. Earthfall is no different.
Akin to the above mentioned titles, Earthfall is not short of enemy variants. Light and heavy infantry, ones that run up and grab you by the head before running away, ones that pounce on you and keep you pinned, some explode and others spit at you. Then you have the heavy-weights, a futuristic energy shielded squid-like thing that causes an E.M.P on arrival and the massive brute similar to the Tank from L4D but this time totes a massive laser cannon in its mouth.
Gadgets and weaponry are just cool, although being able to use a 3D printer to print an infinite amount of firepower may be making things a little too easy. Three versions of an mp5, two versions of an AK47, a few shotguns, a sniper, couple pistols and a heavy Gatling gun or flame thrower… standard fair for this type of shooter. The plasma rifle is my favourite by far. The barricade gadget is one of the most welcome items I’ve come across in gaming for ages, forming a mesh-fence barricade with automatic door to block access from the waves of aliens and you can upgrade them with an Arc grenade to give them an electrified effect.
Where the game falls short is in its length (at least for now), it has just 2 campaigns – each five missions long and maintaining the usual linear paths of hold/defence of the genre. A.I on both sides – the aliens and your companions – needs some refinement. Such as one of my guys refusing to pick up a weapon or the grabby-alien not really running away when he gets hold of you. The balancing of the aliens also needs to be questioned, the Thresher (pouncer) for example carries far to much health and deals too much damage for my tastes and the biggest guy, you know, laser-cannon mouth, is not fast enough to catch you unless you have lost a serious chunk of health yourself.
Even on the games easiest setting it can still be quite unforgiving. However this is made easier by the fact you can revive players on the spot. Like L4D you get knocked down and can still fire you pistol for a time or until you get incapacitated. After which you must then search for the last survivor in cupboards or rooms along the route to recover the team to its full. Earthfall lets you revive them there an then, unless you’re being battered and have to leg it.
And as I mentioned earlier, the fact you can print endless weaponry offers the player too much power, a hold-out mission at a church stands out in particular because you can print infinite Arc grenades and the better of the AK47’s. As long as those playing understand the very basics of the game it becomes very difficult to lose the battle. Shoutout to Rhys for being awarded the Friendly-Fire King of Earthfall 2018.
This was genuinely hard to write about. The gameplay is great and it all looks sexeh, aside from a few niggles, bugs and some needed tweaking I can see Earthfall being a title I return to for years. Adding a few more campaigns would be number one on my to-do list. If you love the L4D format, love aliens or just solid shooters you can’t go wrong here.
OVERALL: 7.4/10 – GOOD
Written by Michael Jones.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Earthfall, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)