Video gaming

Game preview: Earthfall is a shooter for those who miss Left 4 Dead

Boutique US game developer Holospark is trying to resurrect the four-player cooperative experience with some fresh and exciting additions, including a 3D printer that can craft weapons for player use

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 6:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 6:01pm

Left 4 Dead is a game that should have had more successors. The four-player cooperative experience was a revelation in 2008. It was a title that pushed multiplayer gameplay to new frontiers, but despite its popularity, the franchise didn’t spawn many copycats.

For years, that style of game has lay dormant, but boutique US game developer Holospark is trying to resurrect it with Earthfall. Similar to Left 4 Dead, it puts players in a squad of four. They take on the roles of human survivors who are fighting off the alien invasion on the outskirts of Seattle. Players can choose from five characters. The fifth person is usually the driver or auxiliary member offering backup.

Players can expect the usual array of weapons, which include shotguns, sniper rifles, and a second handgun for duel wielding. All the characters play the same. But where Earthfall tries to be different from Left 4 Dead is in its build mechanics.

Because the shooter is set 15 years in the future, players have some advanced tools such as portable walls that can impede an alien’s path. There are turrets that can be set up nearly anywhere on the map. A high-tech ladder lets players climb to hard-to-reach areas, where they can shoot alien drones from safety. Another element is the 3D printer that can craft grenades and other weapons for player use.

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On the aliens side, players can expect a few different creatures from the standard drones that try to overwhelm players such as zombies. There are gargoyles, which are agile aliens that leap atop team members, essentially incapacitating them. They are the equivalent of Hunters in Left 4 Dead. Meanwhile, Sappers are similar to Boomers except that when they die, they spew a toxic mist blocking an area from players. Lastly, the Beast is a Tank-like monster that can shoot out plasma.

The other major change from Left 4 Dead is the level design of Earthfall, which is more objective based.

Holospark CEO Russell Williams says most levels have a hub and spoke design, where players gather in the centre for supplies before venturing forth. In addition, the four missions in the Early Access game will have some linear point A to point B stages. Those who pick up the game in Early Access in April will also get a second campaign that is coming later on. Any future DLC will cost extra.

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The game will be embraced by players who enjoy cooperative design. It’s old enough to feel nostalgic but the gameplay has enough new wrinkles to feel fresh. Those who miss that experience should check out the upcoming game or wait for it on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.