Earthfall is the latest entry into the first-person horde mode shooter genre. Developed by Holospark, Earthfall is very similar to a certain decade old zombie shooter, so much so that it’s impossible to describe the game without mentioning the words Left 4 Dead (2008).
Earthfall is a co-op survival shooter set in the aftermath of an alien invasion of earth. Split into two campaigns, you and your team must perform various tasks while shooting your way through incoming hordes of enemies. Luckily Holospark has cited Valve’s Left 4 Dead as inspiration because soon as you enter the world of Earthfall, you immediately spot the undeniable similarities. The mission and character select screens are almost identical and in the way each mission begins, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re actually playing Left 4 Dead. You start each mission with a single pistol that has unlimited ammo and as you make your way through each level, better and more powerful weapons become available. Melee weapons and second pistols are scattered around the map that you can pick up to use as secondary weapons, and as with all shooters, you can fill your inventory with med kits and grenades. Earthfall also lets you pick up a heavy gun to use as an additional weapon until it runs out of ammo.
There are four playable characters in the game, none of whom have any special abilities or any differences for that matter. If you play solo you can choose which character you want to play as and will then be accompanied by the other three characters controlled by the system’s AI. Random online matchmaking means you can play with either friends or random people, and if there are no online players available AI controlled characters will be added into your team. The difficulty of each mission can be changed and if you’re playing solo the AI skill level can also be changed.
Earthfall does have a story but it is not delivered through cut scenes and has the same generic small-band-of-survivors-in-a-post-apocalyptic-world story that Left 4 Dead has. What does set it apart is the idea that you can 3D print your own weapons. A printer can be found in every level and while it is a cool idea, the concept is pretty pointless since no new weapons are offered and gun and ammo stashes can be found all over the map. Shields and barricades can be used to block doorways to help you control the hordes of aliens but when playing solo you do not get to experience the full use of these barricades as your AI team mates will attack any aliens charging at you and will quickly heal or revive you.
The overall game feels too similar to Left 4 Dead with missions and special enemies in particular mimicking those found in the zombie shooter. You will find aliens that spit acid at you, that pounce on you and pin you down, that carry you away from you team, and a huge overpowered alien that will send your team into chaos. The game is very short, it only has 10 levels which can all be completed in about 4 hours, this along with the obvious similarities, makes Earthfall feel more like a mod of Left 4 Dead rather than a standalone title.
Despite Earthfall having very little originality it is still a very fun multiplayer game that those of us desperately wishing for a new Left 4 Dead will enjoy. It is unfortunately being heavily judged for its similarities with Left 4 Dead but if you take those out of the picture, you are left with an entertaining shooter that looks and plays very well.