It’s tempting to capture the aliens of 2014: the isolation that all alien games should measure-the intelligent, fallen horror where the cold of a space station, the germ-free order is shattered by the horrors of the body and the unknown initial threat hidden in it the wall. In reality, the series has been in the same proportions as the original films for over 40 years. You won’t enjoy the next alien movie as fast as the first without thinking about the masterful isolation. Can.
With the right mindset, Aliens: Fireteam Elite can be dumb, explosive fun. It’s a swarm-based action game that is a mix of Left 4 Dead and Gears of War. But it has a few unique touches. It’s a competent, mid-budget game that is becoming more and more recognizable as Focus Home’s house style. This is refreshing for a series that has been so wasteful in its past. It’s minimalistic and has very little dialogue. NPCs talk in a style that is not ethereal and can’t be explained as ‘artsy’.
Importantly, it’s very co-op dependent, and whether you have a good time will be determined by whether you play with real people or the grey, voiceless bots that stand up for them. It makes all the difference.
Throughout four chapters of each of the three missions, the Fireteam Campaign is a slideshow of an ‘alien’ environment with a steam metal corridor with emergency lighting, a base buried under a thin alien beehive and a temple of ancient cosmic civilization. Sometimes there is the beautiful Vista, but your journey through these places is primarily flat and non-interactive, which does not create the most exciting level design even in keeping with the claustrophobic feeling of the film. You pull a few switches, hold a lot of corporate lore, but most of the time, you blast hundreds of aliens that come out of every environmental roof.
However, these claustrophobic levels do have a function: heighten the balls-to-the-wall intensity as the walls and ceiling turn black with Xenos. They come down to you in swarms of angry ants with a great big ass that sinks carelessly into their home. They will stumble and fall when you shoot in the dark but continue your charge with bee-mind violence. Even after the standard difficulty, you can finish the ammunition quite efficiently or be overwhelmed so that the instantaneous feeling you feel is well reasoned.
The corridor is moving, and endless alien harassment can be tiring, so it’s a welcome change in speed when you reach the wave survival parts of each level. Here you have time to assemble yourself, prepare your defences with turrets, mines and crowd-control gadgets, then trigger encounters when you’re ready.
Set up your defences well, let your friends cover different entry points, and it becomes a thrilling survival experience. When you inevitably violate, however, the mechanics can be a bit annoying. There are no assault attacks, you can intentionally jump over some waist-high walls but not others, and the stop-and-pop cover system is only helpful on the rare occasion that you fight armed enemies. This is a game that plays the longest distance.
The enemies are talking. Who knew that there is so much diversity in the Xeno species? In addition to the classic Dark Alien, your camouflage spitters, iridescent-brained bursters, and red Prowlers who wait around the corner to give you cheap jumpsuits and QTE events if they catch you. Gun-powered synths appear at one stage, giving you an excuse to use those cover mechanics and even Alien’s fantastic working joss: isolation creates an appearance. It’s undoubtedly idiotic, and I’m not sure many of these creatures would turn it into a cannon, but it does do the job of mixing threats and keeping you on your toes.
Make sure you have a strong defence and let your friends defend different points. It became an exciting survival experience.
There are many classes to choose from. Although there are many similarities in the weapons and perks of each type, each one has its abilities. The Demolisher can fire micro-rockets with the iconic weapons of the series, such as the flamethrower and smart gun. The Doc can drop healing turrets while the Gunner has an overload ability which speeds up everyone’s firing speed. In the case of more severe difficulties, I especially appreciate the more subtle skill of the technician, who has a coil charge to slow down enemies, as well as a deployable turret that both shoots the enemy and improves your defences when you stand near it.
Combining parks and stacking abilities can give you a lot of depth. This allows you to maximize your build and get more buffs. You can use most of the guns obtained from secret crates or armoury in between missions. The attachments that you get to stick to the weapon instead of the class. This means you don’t have to assemble and reconfigure them for different load-outs.
(Image credit: Focus Home Interactive)
One of my favourite quirks in Fireteam is the Challenge Cards, which you can play before a mission to make it more challenging in exchange for more money and XP. You can also add VHS-like scanlines, which will block your visibility, disable consumables and even summon an alien drone to follow you through the whole mission. Each player has one Challenge Card permission. You can stack them to create chaos and reward. This allows you to have fun with the different difficulty settings before moving on to the next.
However, all of the above comes with one caveat: the human element. Without people to interact with, your bots will make Working Joes seem like charming, gregarious dinner hosts. The spectacle, tactical depth, and cooperation are all lost.
It isn’t very pleasing that the robots accompanying you cannot speak in a world where androids are the most compelling characters. While there is some good slang banter over the radio from HQ and some NPC chats between missions, it’s very lacking in personality when you’re out on the field.
(Image credit: Focus Home Interactive)
It is also disappointing that the bots do poorly. I found myself pulling them along the last part of the campaign, even on the standard difficulty. To top it all, the online matchmaking system can be incredibly frustrating, as it only matches players who are in the same mission on the identical difficulty as you.
It is not possible to invite friends on missions they haven’t reached in their campaign. While this might be for spoiler purposes, it does give too much credit and a dull story that you can easily ignore. Horde mode can also not be played until you have completed the campaign. Because the matchmaking is not ready at this stage, it needs to be opened in an early update.
Fireteam’s most severe problems may be solved with patches (and some friends). While it does play into the trashy, not the artful side, Fireteam embraces them and does a better work of capturing that action-movie energy than other past attempts.