Homefront: The Revolution Closed Beta on Xbox One
Homefront: The Revolution gave players a taste of the Resistance this past weekend. Players were able to jump into the guerrilla combat and hi-tech shenanigans that had been teased for so long, and it was the time to for Dambuster Studios to put its best foot forward, one that would set Homefront apart from the abundance of first-person shooters out there. It’s too bad that with the beta’s technical issues, the game tripped quite heavily in its first steps.
It’s important to note that the developers have made it clear that this beta was an old build of the game from before Christmas, and say that many graphical and animation issues have been corrected since. Unfortunately, however, Homefront: The Revolution Closed Beta’s issues ran deeper than just poor visuals.
“Visual polish comes in rather late when the primary focus is on polishing gameplay, and that level of visual polish is not in this Closed Beta.”
Homefront: The Revolution’s beta offered the multiplayer Resistance mode, and you need at least two people in your party to start any round. After waiting for Homefront: The Revoultion to find a match, you may enter a game already in session, but this usually starts with you frozen in place as you wait for the world to unceremoniously pop in all around you.
Luckily, I never once spawned into the middle of a firefight. Homefront: The Revolution manages to put you out of harm’s way when you first enter, but after that the game does too good a job at confusing and killing you.
Resistance mode wants you to work with others in order to complete your goals. This means scoping out areas, figuring out where enemies are, and choosing the best approach to take them out. Flanking is a big deal, so enemy placement and calling those locations out is of the utmost important.
Strategy is fairly simple when you first discover an enemy encampment: you see them, you tell your teammates, then you move in for the kill. As you’re fighting, though, the enemy forces will call in for reinforcements. Nothing wrong with that, except that the opposition tends to just magically appear in various places, completely breaking any hope at strategy. You’ll find yourself in cover, picking off a charging group, only to have two shotgunners teleport in behind you. It throws off the entire team dynamic and lessens what could’ve been one of the most rewarding aspects of the gameplay.
The controls are a whole separate issue. Gameplay feels incredibly stiff, from running, to aiming, to shooting. Sprinting isn’t exactly speedy, and vaulting slows you down more than it should. It’s not unlikely to find yourself walking in the Beta much more than you’ll ever shoot, often spawning into missions and sent on a hike hundreds of yards away. When you add these mobility issues to the large, uninhabited distances between objective points, the missions begin to feel like a chore.
When you finally do get into a firefight, the clunkiness of the shooting mechanics sap any of the reward from the encounter. Aiming is slow, and with the jumpy visuals, will often lead to more missed shots than you’d care to make. Hit markers seemed to be off at times as well. Dumping a whole clip at point blank range into enemies sometimes caused no effect for myself or any of my ill-fated compatriots.
Homefront: The Revolution ends up feeling way too by the numbers as you continue. Go here, shoot this, now move to the next area and do the same. It’s a formula used by many major titles, but the difference between those others and Homefront: The Revolution is that the former include some pretty magnificent set-pieces to break up the flow. These typically come in the form of cutscenes, vehicle sections, or even interesting boss encounters. The Homefront beta had nothing of the sort.
One way in which the Beta did try to throw in some flavor was with customization. Cash earned during missions could be used to purchase equipment cases in the Armory. These cases offered loot ranging from extra ammunition, to weapons, to armor. The major downside to these cases was that their rewards were all completely random. You could open 10 cases in a row and not get anything that you either want or need, at least not in the beta. This stripped the player of all control in how they wanted to outfit their character. You may have wanted a particular build, but you’d have to fight through RNG to get the components necessary.
The overall feel of the beta lacked that excitement that players would expect from a modern shooter, especially a team-based one. Games like Rainbow Six Siege, Destiny, and even Call of Duty keep you in the action with established mechanics and enjoyable action. Homefront: The Revolution’s long distances, stiff controls, and weird enemy spawning belies that effort.
This is a beta, though, and with over two months until the game’s release, there is time to fix the technical issues at the very least. But, after playing this weekend, it seems as if there is a lot more work to be done on the core of the game itself. Homefront: The Revolution has a good premise, tasking players with taking back their home, but the execution thus far is not an experience worth revisiting.