Aliens: Fireteam Elite
Aliens: Fireteam Elite takes place twenty-three years after the original Alien trilogy. Your ship, the USS Endeavor, was rerouted to an outer colony after a strange distress call was picked up. Upon arrival, it is immediately apparent that something is horribly wrong. Your team is dispatched to retrieve a survivor and, upon landing, you find an overwhelming Xenomorphic threat. But that’s not the only thing you have to worry about, company Secrets, Alien hordes, and ancient ruins lurk around every corner.
There is a great story mode that can be played by one person with bots to help or you can find up to two friends to join you in fighting the Xenomorphs. As soon as the first mission loaded up, I felt the cramped dinginess of the Alien world. The corridors are narrow and there are air vents everywhere. In the first mission they let the tension build for a little bit. Every vent cover that is missing or side corridor is checked and cautiously approached. The anxiety was really ramped up and then when it finally happens and Xenomorphs pour out of everywhere that anxiety pays off. That first firefight is a frantic one, especially because you aren’t used to the controls, abilities, and are unsure how strong the surging creatures are.
Once you are in the sh**, Aliens: Fireteam Elite, doesn’t let you go. All three of us were constantly on high alert for anything. There are some Xeno’s, prowlers, that like to hide in the dark or side corridors to take down any unsuspecting Marine. For whatever reason, the prowlers would always go after one of our team members specifically. Moose was always getting singled out. I would merrily pass by the dark recesses and then bam one would just tackle Moose to the ground. It was hilarious and I am sure, for him, frustrating. I am not sure if they made the Xenomorphs smart enough to focus on the character who does the most damage, if they did that is why he kept getting taken down.
Moose was playing as the Demolisher, a heavy infantry unit with the massive armature gun. The armature gun is so huge that it has to be attached to the person’s body as a sort of exoskeleton so the person can carry it. It puts out massive damage and can be upgraded in a number of ways. The other classes are Gunner, Technician, Doc, Recon, and Phalanx (a new addition). Each have their advantages and disadvantages. The Gunner is a jack of all trades while the Doc and Technician are weaker characters that buff other players and their abilities. Each of the classes levels up only when you play as that class. This can be kind of a pain but it does add replay-ability. What I enjoyed the most about the different classes is that each of them can be played at any time by any player. So, if you started as Doc and don’t really like the play style or the mission seems to call for more firepower you can easily switch over to a Gunner or Demolisher.
They didn’t just add different classes of Colonial Marines though. There are a ton of different types of Xenomorphs. We ran into all of them and the most irritating ones are the spitters and bursters. They are essentially exact opposites. The bursters rush in and explode, spraying acid everywhere. It can quickly bring your group down in a coordinated attack. The spitters, on the other hand, hide far back and launch little acid balls at you. These don’t do a ton of damage on their own but make your character stumble, allowing other Xenos to rush in. Then, of course, there are the massive Xenomorphs that you have to deal with. Praetorians and warriors wreak havoc by bashing their way into a battle inflicting massive damage and causing players to stumble or get knocked down. Generally, they will coordinate their attack in conjunction with spitters and bursters to really bring the hammer down on the Colonial Marines. It makes for some truly tense moments that are very memorable.
I think that one of the short comings for some people would be the shortness of the story mode. There are four missions and they have three objectives in each. So, there are essentially twelve levels that you play through. Some are longer than others and a few of them get insanely difficult. I thought the story arc was good and never really tried to do too much and they made sure to tell a full story. You will have to fight your way through spacecraft, ruins, and a hive before your campaign is over. They also, added in all sorts of extras that fill in a little more of the Alien world. You learn about the outer territory wars, new experiments with Xenomorphs, and some of the tie ins to Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Each of the NPCs on the USS Endeavor have rich backstories and are helpful in filling in more of the picture of what Weyland-Yutani is willing to do and what it has hidden. It also shows how the Colonial Marines were formed and how they limit work to limit the corporations influence on their use.
What I think a lot of people like, especially my group, was the customization. You can choose so many different options and make your character your own from choosing sex and features to outfits and decals on your weapons. In some of the images you can see my characters look and decals. I really liked the Dry Heat logo with a bright paint and Moose really loved putting the googly eyes on his massive armature gun. It not only helps differentiate characters but adds a little bit of ownership into the mix. Some of the add-ons like hats, uniforms, or decals have to be found in random goodie boxes scattered throughout the missions. Others can be purchased and some you just unlock as you progress. You also unlock upgrades to your character in the form of modifications. It becomes a game of Tetris when you try and jam in as many upgrades into the small grid. As you level you open more of the grid but it’s still limited. You can upgrade your ability to use weapons, increase duration of abilities and so much more. The emotes are pretty funny to, you can unlock the finger, laughing, and a bunch more. Like I said before, they really allowed you to create a character that you can feel attached to.
Playing through on normal difficulty we only had a team wipe twice. Once on an escort mission, which I generally hate but this one wasn’t bad until the escape. Once more when we were fighting in the hive. Aliens: Fireteam Elite does offer a challenge on normal, if you are smart, there isn’t too much fear of wiping. On insane however, expect to get downed, die, or team wipe much more often. We were unprepared for the a** whooping we took when we went back and played through. There definitely needs to be tighter gameplay and you have to be willing to push forward faster or you are going to get overwhelmed. On the higher difficulties they turn on team damage, ya know just for the fun of it. Insane made me feel like I was in an Aliens movie. We were doing everything right and still getting our butts kicked. It took some serious strategy to get through just one of the ruins missions, call outs become a must. The androids on both normal and insane are the most difficult thing to fight. They have shields and guns so it’s much easier for them to hide and pick you off or get in real tight and cause mayhem. One of the biggest problems with the higher difficulties and the team damage is that you can’t really use the flame throwers. They become a hazard to everyone. I know that this is how it would be in real life but it sucks because it’s one of the most fun things to use and is good crowd control. However, igniting a monster that is attacking your team is a bad idea when they jump onto said people.
Once you are done with the story you can play through on horde mode and you face waves and waves of Xenomorphs or Androids. These missions are fun and are well designed. It reminded me a lot of Gears of War. They even allow you to use cover and blind fire so it for sure gave me the Gears vibe. I am not a huge fan of horde mode in Gears or Zombies in Call of Duty but I actually had quite a bit of fun playing horde mode in Aliens: Fireteam Elite. This might be because I am bias towards the Aliens world, it is one of my favorite universes.
I almost forgot to mention one of my favorite things about Fireteam Elite, the sound design. It, in combination with the stellar graphics/setting, makes the environment come to life. The Xenomorphs make the correct sounds and the pulse rifle sounds amazing. The scrabbling around in the vents made it feel a bit like Dead Space especially when you mix in the dingy corridors and dark corners. It makes for a tense trip. I also really liked that each weapon sounded different enough so you could tell what was/is shooting. The music is also great and adds to the ambiance all around the sound design and level design was fantastic.
Overall, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a blast and is exactly what twelve-year-old me wanted in an Aliens game. It has very few bugs, in fact, the only one that I ran into was a few aliens getting stuck to walls or other obstacles. Honestly, that is fine by me because it stopped one more alien from charging me. The variation from face huggers to androids to Praetorians made the game continually enjoyable. You were never sure what you were up against. The different classes of characters and their customization was great and offered you to cater to your playstyle. Mine is support so I ended up playing a lot of Doc. The campaign was left open enough that the team could easily add more missions into the game as time goes on. I would love there to be more content and it would definitely keep me around. I have suggested checking this out to basically anyone I know who’s interested in shooters. At forty bucks, it might be a little steep but honestly, I have purchased way worse games for the same price. I have played almost 15 hours and haven’t collected half of the goodies and haven’t fully unlocked the characters, weapons, or modifications. If you end up picking Aliens: Fireteam Elite up, good luck on your bug hunt.