Earthfall is very likely to split the crowd. This is a game that channels that Left 4 Dead-esque vibe and depending on what you want from your everyday shooter, will determine whether or not this game is for you. The premise is relatively simple to soak up. Aliens have invaded the Earth off the back of a devastating meteor strike and now roam the landscape at every turn. If you take a few elements of Left 4 Dead and sprinkle in some aspects of Starship Troopers, you’re about halfway through understanding what Earthfall will ultimately deliver.
Taking on the role of everyday folks that are forced to unite and fight back, players will tackle this horrifying threat head-on. Earthfall, much like its inspiration, is a four player cooperative first-person shooter in which you and up to three buddies (or bots if playing solo) will take to the fields of play via a selection of different missions and maps. By and large, the core gameplay loop is, again, fairly inline with Left 4 Dead. Now, I don’t want to write this off a mere clone of a much loved formula because in fairness, it’s quite distinct.
Sure, similarities such as the aspects outlined above are hard to avoid, but I’ve grown rather fond of its setup and its theme. Each campaign within tells its own light story as progression is made and thankfully, even when playing alone, the AI is robust enough to back you up with firepower and support in most situations. This is always something I look out for the most in games of this type, so it was welcoming to see that my bot companions has what it takes to get the job done, rather than sitting and watching me do the legwork.
This is especially important because the enemies within are very aggressive. I dare say that they show more character and personality when it comes to their attack patterns and general behavior than most of Earthfall’s peers. Still, I find myself drawn back to Left 4 Dead. There’s enemies that will rob your team mates from you, enemies that will hold you down and hammer you, enemies that will explode and a bunch of other challenging types. Its lack of originality isn’t so much of an issue for me because for the most part, I had huge a blast.
I have to say that I appreciated its simplicity above all else. I mean, the game isn’t easy, far from it, Earthfall presents one hell of a difficult experience throughout the entirety of play if you let your guard down for even a second, but it’s very fluid to get to grips with. This not only makes Earthfall largely accessible, but it bolsters the replay value to some degree. It made revisiting each of the diverse maps all that more enticing, and when I group this with how well structured the game is designed to be, I cant say that I’ll put Earthfall down soon.
I do have a few gripes with the game, mind. The missions are far too basic for my liking. Left 4 Dead is a product of its era and looking back to that now, it’s easy to forgive that game for its linear over-arching path. Fast-forward several years later, in a time in which technology and expectations have drastically advanced, and it’s hard to forgive Earthfall for this bare design choice. I think if the developer spent more time on the drawing board to allow for some truly unique ideas and concepts, it would have done Earthfall some absolute justice.
The mission structure typically relies on moving from one point of the map to the next, fortifying locations to create choke-points, and occasionally interacting with objects and the environments to see your team through to the end-game. It’s straightforward to say the least, which I’ll reiterate, will excite or bore you depending on how in-depth you enjoy your shooters to be. What I will say as someone who plugged in countless hours in Left 4 Dead and its sequel is that Earthfall’s thin-ish backbone did enough justice to keep me engaged.
That being said I do wish that Earthfall offered more randomized concepts. The enemies, from what I could tell, spawn in at different frequencies and at altering locations, but I really would have enjoyed seeing this sort of design spread over the whole game; altering pathways, weapon placement and so forth, to name a couple. Randomized enemy spawns can, at times, present a bit of a problem. Especially when your ammo’s low and you’re pit against some of the nastiest of foes, but in my time with the game, this didn’t occur much.
The weaponry within is plentiful and there’s always something new to try out before you’ve spent a few hours with the game and seen it all. This ranges from melee weapons such as machetes, right up to the more power-ridden weaponry; shotguns, snipers and so on. Health, weapon and ammo stations are sprinkled throughout the course of each map, and accessing these are as simple as can be. Again, this isn’t at all a tough game to get into and if you’ve been looking for something to fill the boots of the absent Left 4 Dead 3, this will do.
I cant say that I noticed that many technical issues either, save the occasional alien getting stuck in the environment or some networking problems here and there. Earthfall is a very competent experience that holds its own quite well. When all is said and done, the gameplay is serviceable enough to warrant a recommendation. It’s not mind blowing going from current-gen standards, but it does indeed pack the tension, the thrills and enough personality nevertheless. I have to commend the visuals and the general diversity here too.
Each of the game’s maps take place in distinct locations, all of which are well detailed and stand out in their own way. There’s a few texture issues here and there, but this is forgivable in the face of everything that Earthfall gets right. I also share praise for the audio cues too; gunfire sounds great, enemies sound horrifying and everything in between is equally as such. Earthfall makes a valiant effort to bring back that classic team-shooter vibe, and if you can overlook some of its poor design choices and issues, you’re in for a treat.
If the absence of Left 4 Dead 3 has you itching for something alike, Earthfall will just about do the trick. It’s a shame that the game doesn’t do much to innovate, and repetition will indeed sink in once you’ve plugged in a few hours, but with that said, the core structure and its gameplay loop is compelling enough to justify a recommendation. Basic it may well be, but it’s fairly action-packed and exciting nevertheless.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.