Game Review: Aliens: Fireteam Elite

Release date: 2021
Version played: Xbox Series X in 2022

Set in the same world as the classic (and MoshFish highly recommended) Alien series of sci-fi/horror films, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a third person, squad based shooter with very minor RPG elements. Taking control of a new recruit marine aboard the UAS Endeavor, players initially investigate the a distress call and attempt to locate a missing scientist, facing off with waves of Xenomorphs of numerous varieties, as well as several other adversarial creations. The game is developed by Cold Iron Studios, in their first major development.

+ very basic but effective combat. Essentially something like World War Z meets Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, there are multiple classes with their own abilities to mow down endless hordes. The varied enemies do keep things interesting, though they are all in the same vein as those Left 4 Dead/World War Z style squad shooters — there is a tank with armour and extra health; there is a sneaky one that retreats to ambush you; there is one that explodes to deal damage to an area, etc. These are surrounded by the common dog-xenos from Alien3, which act as the basic grunts.
+ each story mission has a small number of randomised elements (such as a room being filled with either land mines or defensive turrets) and sometimes-necessary optional objectives of the ‘go to this adjacent room to get item XYZ’ variety. These never feel unfair when you are expecting an alternative
+ the whole game has great sound design, beginning with things like steam pipes and general spaceship rumblings, soon giving way to the Xenomorph hisses and screeches in combat. Your player character will mutter to themselves when a stealthy enemy is camouflaged somewhere nearby, but it’s up to you to spot it before it spots you. Hearing the callout over the radio of ‘Warrior bug, incoming! Concentrate fire!’ can really add to the stress of an intense firefight

– each of the four campaigns consists of three missions, which can be completed in approximately 20-40 minutes. I find that to be an odd length for each mission; they are too long to ‘smash out’ on a lunch break or before heading out somewhere, but they are not quite long enough to organise your mates to get online after dinner and play through any small number of them. Maybe doubling the number of missions, but making them each shorter might benefit
– the missions themselves are incredibly repetitive, meaning between campaigns, between each campaign mission to the next, and even in the individual mission itself. Every single encounter is ‘do something which will bring the swarm to you’ with linear pathways between. These never quite play out exactly the same way, but there are only so many ways to defend a circular platform with three openings
– the story to the missions is completely forgettable, and if you asked me any of the characters’ names I wouldn’t be able to tell you (ironically, the only name I can recall is that of a special enemy you encounter in one level). The backstory seems to try and further blend the Alien/Aliens/Alien3 world with that of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, which for my money is not a great idea to begin with — I say I’m a big fan of Alien, not so much the lukewarm prequels. Note that I have not mentioned Alien Resurrection once until now, because it’s not great either
– much like the aforementioned World War Z and others of this same genre, this game is designed to be played with three human controller soldiers, and also much like those previous games mentioned, there is no split screen. But why? That’s rhetorical — of course I know why: to get more money out of people buying the game — but there is nothing here that would prohibit even just two human players on the same screen

> My initial hopes were that this would be more Earth Defence Force than Left 4 Dead, but I was mistaken. I’m just jonesing for a new EDF game, apparently

Should you play this game: As part of Xbox Game Pass, this was a great way to spend my time for the first playthrough. After that initial joy wore off, which was unfortunately soon, this was more of a ‘put a podcast or Netflix on and ignore the game audio’ sort of game, which is certainly not what this should be. Play this while it’s on Game Pass, or if it’s ever under 20 bucks, but otherwise don’t bother.

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