Going into Aliens: Fireteam Elite I was sceptical. Not only does the video game series not have the best track record but I also feel as if we have had so many horde-based games in the past few years. World War Z is one of these and not to forget the upcoming Back 4 Blood shooter. There’s also Hood: Outlaws and Legends, Vermintide 2 and Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance. You can sort of see where I am coming from here. How many more of these games do we need?
Thankfully, I had to eat my words after spending countless hours shooting Xenomorphs in the head. Aliens: Fireteam Elite could have turned out to be a generic co-op horde-based shooter. However, it actually surprised me with a decent gear system, some fun and exciting combat and a great selection of stages that throwback to the Aliens franchise.
Watch our Aliens: Fireteam Elite video review down below
For the most part, Aliens: Fireteam Elite doesn’t do much to break away from the traditional co-op shooter mechanics. If you have played any 4-player or 3-player PvE shooter in the past four years, you will be right at home here. Players are thrown into a series of levels that span the Aliens franchise and are tasked to kill everything in sight while completing some mundane objectives. Those of you who are hardcore fans of the series will love these levels as they are layered with Aliens items, lore and took me to cool locations across the series. There’s even a whole chapter dedicated to the Prometheus storyline.
The main objective of each level varies per stage. Levels are divided up into three chapters that take place across one location and in short, you need to get from point A to B while surviving the deadly onslaught of Xenomorphs. Along the way, waves of these crazed aliens came at me and my team and we were forced to go balls to the wall and decimate them all. Every now and then the game would put a stop to our adventure by locking us out of a door or a lift and activating the objective would then summon another massive wave of aliens we had to kill in order to proceed.
If it sounds familiar that is because it is. Aliens: Fireteam Elite doesn’t shy away from copying the most traditional of survival mechanics in the genre. Most of the time these objectives completely blew over my head and I couldn’t care less about what I was doing and why. Thankfully, you don’t need to because the gameplay in Aliens: Fireteam Elite is where the game shines. Sure, waiting for an elevator to arrive for 3 minutes isn’t the most creative objective in gaming but thankfully, the wait was filled with the fantastic moment to moment gunplay that carries the entire experience on its back.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is fun to play and even days after jumping into it, I was still sitting on the edge of my seat mowing down Xenomorphs one by one. Aliens: Fireteam Elite’s fun gameplay is contributed to all the systems that add to the excitement. The game includes a range of classes that each have its own unique playstyle. The Demolitionist carries a heavy weapon and acts as the game’s add clearer. The Technician is all about their sentries and throwable gadgets. The Gunner buffs the team with increased fire rate and damage. There’s also a healer that can drop a field of healing. You also unlock a Recon class after the campaign that highlights enemies in the area and can drop ammo.
Now, while this may sound like your traditional cliche co-op classes, Aliens: Fireteam Elite ups the gameplay thanks to its gear and perk systems. These play a big role in the progression and feel for the experience. Guns level up and gain new perks and attachments come with unique perks like explosive headshot damage. Then we have the skills which are all tweaked in a sort of cartridge system. As you play the game and level up, this cartridge unlocks new slots and perks and I had to insert these perks into the system to gain new enhancements or completely alter a skill to something new.
These perks then piggyback of other perks and before I knew it, I had this massive layout of interconnected mods that granted faster fire rate, quicker cooldowns and more. To make it even better, each class can equip another class’ perks so the freedom to explore new character builds isn’t restricted to the one class you prefer playing. I trust that after I have maxed out all the classes, I will be able to craft something truly unique and piggyback off a Recon’s perks while using a Gunner.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite also manages to deliver classes that feel great to play and important in the later difficulties. It makes investing time in levelling them up worthwhile. The later difficulties also rely on the management of your class to survive as crafting the best build goes a long way. I played through the horde mode and my entire team’s perks came in handy. The Gunner’s increased fire rate, the Demolitionist’s crazy damage on mobs, or the Technician’s Sentry that also acts as a distraction for the Xenomorphs.
The game also relies heavily on its Challenge Card system. This system saw my team and I place down one card before going into a level. Each card was completely different and would apply effects to the stage be them good or bad. One card simply granted 3 times XP gain, another game our screens a strange filter. One card slowed us down by 20% and provided 1.5 times XP and currency after completing the stage. Even after spending days on the game, we were still discovering new cards that provided unique effects on the experience.
Some cards are even out there to make your life hell like the “take no damage” one. However, if you manage to complete the stage, you’ll earn some hefty XP and currency. I loved this system. Not only does it provide some cool ways to replay the levels but the rewards make the whole experience worthwhile. You can even get some loot from the cards too. Given how great the attachments are in Aliens: Fireteam Elite, this is good news.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite provided enough gameplay variety to keep my going and the missions and combat were fun. Enemies range from the fodder Xenomorph to Facehuggers, Pretorians and more. There are even Synthetic armies to fight that completely changed how we approached combat. Instead of standing shooting hundreds of aliens, we had to take cover and avoid their gunfire and grenades. It is good fun.
The 12 campaign levels make you want to reply them with new cards each time on higher difficulties. Besides the last stage which was a complete letdown when it came to the lack of a “finale”, they are great and hold hidden lore to find and a cache that rewarded me with new loot. I loved going back with new guns to level up that all felt completely different and switched up the gameplay.
The same can’t be said for the Horde mode which is sorely lacking excitement. In short, there is only one stage that I had to repeat and repeat over and over again. The game gives you the option to evac after 10 waves and if you continue, enemies get tougher and the XP and currency rewards increase ever so slightly.
We pushed through to wave 40 before leaving bored out of our minds. There has to be something done here to draw players in. You can’t use the Challenge Cards to enhance the mode like the campaign, you can’t move your spawn to another location on the overly-sized map and there is only one map. It is just boring and not even the fun combat and class systems are enough to make this a worthwhile trip. You might as well just increase the difficulty of the campaign and replay those stages. At least you can use those challenge cards. There is no point in the Horde mode at all.
I also need to mention that at the time of this review, Aliens: Fireteam Elite had no in-game purchases live. However, the game is going to include them in some way or another. This is mostly done through Scrip which is used to purchase cosmetic items and Challenge Cards. You can earn Scrip by playing the game but I won’t be surprised if they charge you real money for this. Unfortunately, it also means that Scrip can be used to purchase Challenge Cards. I don’t know how I feel about locking rewards and XP gains behind real-money purchases in a paid game with multiple paid cosmetic season passes too.
You can also earn Scrip and a Challenge Card by completing daily and weekly challenges. However, this can also be a pain depending on what your challenge is. For example, I had one where I had to kill 300 Synthetics. This would be easy if there was a Synthetic Horde Mode map but there isn’t. It means going into one specific campaign stage twice to get those kills.
Cold Iron Studios also promises a load of free content headed our way. All new campaign missions and classes will be free for everyone. It doesn’t make charging money for Challenge Cards right but I kind of can’t wait to see where Aliens: Fireteam Elite goes in the future. It is already rather fantastic so new content and classes can only help make the experience better.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite Review
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a fun shooter and if anything, the gameplay loop is only made better thanks to the Challenge Cards, unique class system and cool gear. I just hope new content comes our way soon, they don’t abuse our wallets with content purchases, and they fix that Horde mode because I really don’t want this to die out just weeks after launch.
This Aliens: Fireteam Elite review was based on a code sent to us by Cold Iron Studios
Available On: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC | Reviewed On: PS5 | Release Date: 24 August 2021 | Price: R629