Cold Iron Studios may get some utterly low expectations from players since the Aliens: Colonial Marines debacle in 2013. I can’t blame them. Gearbox Software, headed by the infamous Randy Pitchford, ruined and falsely advertised their Aliens game by showing us trailers that were clearly not an actual representation of the game. Journalists heavily criticized Colonial Marines for its poor level design, unintelligent A.I, massively downgraded visuals compared to what was revealed in the trailers, and a clusterfuck of a co-op experience. Aliens: Colonial Marines did have some good things on its shoulders – the music, sound design (not the voice-acting), and the multiplayer mode but that didn’t save the game from getting killed by a Xenomorph’s headbite.
Here comes Aliens: Fireteam, a third-person co-op survival game. This is Cold Iron Studios’ first project since its formation in 2015 and the recent acquisition of the studio by Daybreak. The studio has some really impressive developers that worked on games like BioShock Infinite, Doom, Borderlands, and even Metroid Prime 3 according to GameIndustry.biz. It’s quite hopeful to see that but that doesn’t mean Aliens: Fireteam is going to be the ultimate Alien game.
Since the official announcement trailer of Aliens: Fireteam, I’ve been following its progress. The pinging of the M314 Motion Tracker, the M41A Pulse Rifle’s sound effects that are heard from the trailer brings back a lot of good memories from James Cameron’s 1986 Alien film. But what made the trailer click with me is the fact that it’s a 3-man fireteam against a boatload of wall-crawling aliens.
Aliens: Fireteam is quite reminiscent of games like Left 4 Dead, and there are some borrowed elements like different types of Xenomorphs and the PvE mechanic that surprisingly fit naturally. In the 25-minute exclusive gameplay reveal played by IGN’s Executive Editor Ryan McCaffrey, Cold Iron Studios’ CEO Craig Zinkievich and CCO Matt Highison, we get to see a mission from one of the 4 campaigns that the game has.
The game’s core level design is fairly similar to games with the same nature as Left 4 Dead. You activate a device or open a gate, hordes of enemies are sent in by waves, and the goal is to survive then progress through the mission. Craig did say that the game is “close to many aspects” but it’s also “different in other ways”. According to the executives, the game has 4 campaigns with 3 missions each. The playtime varies in each mission depending on some aspects like the difficulty and even the missions themselves according to Craig. In each campaign, players will encounter different types of enemies (not just Xenomorphs based on the trailer) and environments and locales (you’re not in a space station all the time). Players can even play the game solo with bots as companions but “it’s recommended to play with friends”, says Craig.
What’s exciting is the 20 different kinds of Xenomorph. In the gameplay video, we’ve seen the Jumper (an Alien that jumps onto a player), the Spitter that obviously spits, the Burster that explodes and damages the player with an acid, and my favorite and iconic and strongest Xenomorph the Warrior. All of which, while they borrow the same gameplay logic in Left 4 Dead’s enemy AIs, fits about right in Aliens: Fireteam. I’m expecting to see a Pred-Alien hybrid in one of those missions. Who knows? We might even see a Predator as an easter egg!
Class Kits offer different tactical abilities useful in combat. Three of these Class Kits were revealed in the gameplay video. You have the Gunner, who’s all about the “firepower”, the Demolisher who can carry heavy weaponry like a flamethrower and the iconic Smart Gun, and the Technician who can deploy shock traps and sentry turrets for defense. There will be a progression system that levels up your kits and unlock perks.
I actually like the idea about the Class Kits as it gives meaningful roles to players in games like these; this direction actually eliminates the issue with overly crowding the games with medics or defensive classes. There’s still a lot to know about these Class Kits, and I’m hoping it’s more than three. It would be disappointing to only have the Demolisher, Gunner, and Technician. It’s nice to have some sort of variety to experiment with different fireteam combinations.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, Aliens: Fireteam is looking like the Aliens game we’ve been waiting for if it’s priced right, no loot boxes, and worthy microtransaction items if ever there is any. I’m excited to see great things in the upcoming months leading to the game’s release this summer of 2021.