It would be putting it lightly to say that the Alien series’ foray into action games hasn’t had the best track record in recent memory.
Of course, the franchise hasn’t been without bright spots: Alien: Isolation, a tense, first-person horror title set between the first and second movies, captured the terror of the series perfectly and proved the franchise could transition to games comfortably.
But in terms of action-oriented games? The infamously problematic Aliens: Colonial Marines is a stain on the franchise’s legacy that’s hard to forget.
It was, in truth, a mishandled mess of a game, and far from the action title that fans of the franchise had hoped for. In fact, years after its release, players are still finding ways in which it could have been fixed, with one even discovering the Xenomorph AI could be dramatically improved by fixing a single coding typo.
All this is good reason to be excited for the recently revealed Aliens: Fireteam, developed by Cold Iron Studios.
Not only is it a boon that development has actually gone ahead despite years of the studio having been shuffled around between publishers, but the game itself looks very promising, indeed.
Based on a recent gameplay demonstration, from its presentation and aesthetic to its gameplay, Fireteam appears to be created around a commitment to honoring many of the franchise’s beloved features. The iconic sound effects of portable radars pinging, rifles blasting, and Xenomorphs screeching sound absolutely spot on.
The sheen of light reflecting off of surfaces covered in Facehugger eggs and nesting materials create a sense of unease, too, and the chaos of marines blasting away at swarms of enemies looks graphically impressive from shot to shot.
And yet, despite all of this promise, it’s hard not to remember how good Aliens: Colonial Marines looked prior to release – how good its first few trailers looked, and how excited people were. This was before the truth came crashing down that hidden behind its appearance was a poor final product.
So where does that leave Aliens: Fireteam? Can it finally move the fanbase past Colonial Marines? Is it worth it to get excited about the game, and believe that it’ll properly capture the series’ more action-heavy elements without reservations?
Well, by all indications, the answer seems to be yes, and that’s thanks in big part to the game’s intended design.
Based on what has been shown, Aliens: Fireteam is honed and focus in its third-person, PvE multiplayer action elements.
The point isn’t to slowly and methodically make your way through cramped hallways and rooms, and try and unravel the true intentions of other survivors, like in Alien: Isolation. Likewise, it doesn’t try to juggle an intricate plot about corporate plots with set pieces and Xenomorph attacks like in Aliens: Colonial Marines.
It’s about grouping up with friends and blasting away different Xenomorphs with a variety of weapons; unlocking new weapons and skills to play around with as different classes; and rinsing and repeating the process.
What we’ve seen is what we’ll get. Even if it’s simpler than what some fans might have hoped for, it at least offers the hope that the game was designed with this focus in mind.
Likewise, there’s the prospect of post-launch support that’s so common for multiplayer games these days. Cold Iron has already pledged a commitment to building on its early foundation to offer new content moving forward.
That would be a great thing for Aliens: Fireteam; through continued updates and support, I’m sure it’ll be molded into the best version of itself, continually drawing on the input of player feedback to hone the game into an ever-improving experience.
Granted, this is all speculation, and if Colonial Marines taught Aliens fans anything, it’s that one should be skeptical of what a game offers until it’s in their hands.
Still, though, Aliens: Fireteam offers fans of the franchise’s action elements a sense of hope they haven’t experienced in a while — a hope that they’ll finally get a game that nails the adrenaline-inducing battles between humans and aliens, and that a core element of the series can be brought to the gaming medium.
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