Available On: Xbox One, PC, Playstation 4.
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Release Date: July 13th, 2018
Reviewed On: Xbox One X
Price: $29.99 USD
Earthfall is developed by Holospark Studios and was touted by the developers as the next Left 4 Dead. A very lofty goal which, unfortunately, the game does not deliver on in several aspects. Let’s dive into this game and talk about the good and the bad of Earthfall.
While I have several complaints in regards to gameplay aspects of the game, I am going to start off with some of the few positives. The gunplay is very tight, with quick and responsive controls that make dispatching aliens feel easy with the right weapons. There is a sufficient variety of weapons for all situations you might find yourself in, the most enjoyable of which is a minigun which makes dispatching the large Beast enemy variants a lot easier.
Four-player co-op with your friends is great in this game, or AI bots to fill for players if you are looking to play this game solo. In a unique move that the developers deserve kudos for, is that you can et the difficulty level for the bots. If you so choose, you can have super intelligent bots that will help carry you through the game. Alternatively, you can set them to a lower setting so that you can increase the difficulty of the game. One major complaint in the difficulty settings in this game was the difference between playing on hard and normal. There was no change in how enemies attacked you, the enemies just appear to absorb more bullets, with the large Beast enemy taking upwards of a minigun and a full team unloading all their ammo to bring it down. This may not bother some people but I prefer to deal with more intelligent enemy AI that does more damage then deal with highly bullet absorbant enemies.
Level design can be summarized in one very descriptive word. Mediocre. I never walked away from a map ever feeling like it was memorable. All the levels just blended together in a very forgettable campaign. Nothing at any point felt original some maps even felt like they had just copy and pasted from the Left 4 Dead series. This made the six or so hours me and my co-op partner played of this game to beat it very forgettable. The biggest disappointment was in the fact there was a really good basis for defensive waves, as well as a good style horde defense within the missions. Yet, with only barricades to put up in entrances and windows, it felt poorly executed, with defenses often feeling pointless. This was disappointing because this was one of the key features that would have separated this game from continuous Left 4 Dead comparison.
The story in this game is nothing groundbreaking, which to its credit, in this genre storytelling isn’t as important. Earthfall follows a stereotypical plot in which aliens have taken over the Earth and we need to find out the source of where they are coming from. Often times in this kind of game, they make up lack story with very memorable characters. Unfortunately, Earthfall is not one of these games. The characters are very bland and forgettable and besides the occasional one-liner between characters, there is no personality at all to the characters you play. This makes playing the game solo feel longer then it should with any small attempt at humor coming up short or just coming off cheesy.
Earthfall runs at 4K and 30fps on both Xbox One X and PS4 Pro with HDR on the Xbox One X. Unfortunately, this game is not a visual showcase by any means. The game often has frame rate drops in very intense moments when there are a lot of aliens on screen. Which during the later levels becomes quite jarring and annoying. The game looks and feels like a last generation game, with texture pops, frame rate drops, and glitches galore. Keep in mind the developers are consistently updating the game, so hopefully these performance issues will be resolved soon.
The sound design was average, with the gunfire being a highlight of the sound design of this game. A majority of the guns sounded great and realistic, which really helped to immerse you in the game. The one major downside is that “special” alien enemy variants all made very similar noises, so unless one of the AI characters specifically said which alien they visually saw, it was a guessing game. In other games of this genre, all the special enemies had very distinct noises so you could plan your strategy, which became hugely important on higher difficulty settings.
All in all, I could not recommend picking up Earthfall at this time, with performance issues galore, mediocre gameplay, and forgettable characters. There is no reason in my mind that people should purchase this game at full price. Waiting for a sale is a great option, as Holospark has promised free DLC and performance patches are on there way. Keep an eye down the road for this one but for right now save your money and skip it.