You know the drill, assholes and elbows… and xenomorphs. Aliens: Fireteam Elite is the latest venture into the dark and mysterious world of the Alien franchise. The game leans heavily on the ever-popular colonial marines on what seems to be a routine bug-hunt.
In this multiplayer third-person shooter from Cold Iron Studios, you play as a colonial marine that you are given the welcome opportunity to customise with a set amount of simple faces and hairstyles. This customisation, while minimal, is very much welcomed—especially later on in the game where you can buy custom skins for your guns. So naturally, I had an entirely pink load-out.
From the get-go, it is apparent that the marines onboard the USS Endeavour are well-versed in all things xenomorph, which was a refreshing way to enter into this particular story. It does get a bit tired after consuming so much material from this universe in which the protagonists have never seen such a sophisticated and terrifying creature before. In Fireteam, while the mystery is present in the story, these marines have definitely made a career out of culling xenomorphs and the game really benefits from this little plot detail.
Fireteam Elite consists of four missions, each with three separate parts that you can replay at your leisure in order to build up your combat rating. The missions follow a linear narrative, which was surprisingly engaging, especially if you are a gigantic fan of this particular universe. However, one thing worth mentioning is that when playing with friends in online multiplayer, it is hard to get to grips with the story when you are chatting away; so, as much as there are benefits to multiplayer (which I will explore later), it might be worth doing the missions solo first to get the full grasp of the story.
In each mission, you are primarily shooting enemies while trying to complete simple tasks, which usually involve turning on various systems to help you progress further in the game. This inevitably attracts hoards of enemies to your location, which gives you plenty of shooting practice. In terms of enemies, Fireteam has a surprising range on offer.
Throughout the game, you encounter xenomorphs, androids, infected people, and various mutated xeno forms. On top of this, each type of enemy has a range of classes, from you generic drones to the harder warrior types and, in the xenomorphs’ case, ones that spit acid at you. All of these types of enemies come with their challenges and you soon work out the best ways to tackle them. Some are genuinely very difficult, while others are downright annoying—but all add to the already overwhelming challenge that this game presents.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is hard. For full transparency, I played on the lowest difficulty level, “Casual,” purely because I didn’t have time to do each level all over again each time I died. But if I am being perfectly honest, I will continue to play on this level after this review is done. No matter how prepared you make yourself for each battle, with sentry guns and mines, there comes a point (mostly at the end levels) where it gets too overwhelming, and I found this more apparent when I was playing it alone.
When you are playing solo, you are burdened with doing the tasks by yourself while fighting, which makes it harder to keep track of enemies and do what you need to do to progress. It definitely feels a bit more relaxed when you know your friends on the other end of the headset are also completing the objectives. To add to the frustrations of playing alone, the AI is very accurate and there were times when I was getting the most damage out of my team but the least amount of kills, leaving me feeling like I was doing most of the heavy lifting without getting the credit.
However, this does show one of Fireteam’s biggest strengths: it can be played in so many different ways to suit whoever is playing it. For instance, there are definitely people more patient than me who will replay the levels over and over to make the later missions a bit easier to handle; or there’s me, who will just barrel through the game, on my own, desperate to see how the story plays out and make it very hectic and stressful but satisfying.
I was very pleased with how the game felt fresh with each mission—as mentioned the range of enemies helped—but I was also surprised at the diversity in setting, going from a very familiar company ship to an ancient planet filled with ruins from a sophisticated civilisation. It really covers every aspect of the Alien universe but still manages to feel like its own unique entity.
In terms of the gameplay, in comparison to the only other Alien game I have played, Alien: Isolation (which was one of the most terrifying experiences I think I have had with a video game), Fireteam is actually a lot of fun, but still intense—just in a different way. There are a range of different classes you can play as, including gunner, technician, and others. There are benefits to building a solid team on multiplayer, as each class has their own set of unique abilities that are extremely helpful when a hoard of xenomorphs is coming after you at a relentless pace.
One thing that is worth mentioning is the sound effects on the guns. The rifle has the most satisfying sound design, which has been taken straight out of Aliens, really making the game feel authentic and adding to the immersion. But as much as the rifle sounds were perfect, there is one item that truly has my heart… once I got the flamethrower, I was a god. Is the flamethrower OP? Yes. Am I mad about it? Absolutely not.
One thing I was a bit mad about, however, was the game’s performance on the PS4. The load times are occasionally painfully long and there was a point where I had to stop playing halfway through because the audio began to lag—then the gameplay started to lag with it and it was unplayable. Aside from this during the end of my playthrough, it worked fine, with a few minor glitches that were just aesthetic rather than game-breaking.
Overall, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a solid multiplayer shooter that has a good range of ways to play. I would have liked it to have more missions, but it does have a good amount of replayability, especially if playing online with friends—and there have already been promises of more content on the way. With some performance issues on the PS4, however, it might be one to get on the new generation of consoles to get a better experience.