So many big games are getting released every year in unfinished states. Filled with all kinds of issues it’s always nice when you get to play something that only includes intended bugs, and Earth Defense Force 5 has that in spades. Earth Defense Force 5 is the latest in a franchise that began on the PlayStation 2. It tells of a fictional world where the Earth gets overtaken by giant bugs, weird aliens, and more. If you’re afraid of insects of any sort, you might not want to go any further…
Earth Defense Force 5 is a franchise reboot. Taking place in 2022, players will experience a new invasion. Your character starts off as a soldier or mechanic on an army base. Training stops short when a giant ant eats your instructor. After avenging your teacher and fleeing to the surface, you find out that the entire world is under attack. You join the Earth Defense Force, a group who uses superior equipment to take on the alien forces. Each mission in Earth Defense Force 5 follows the continued effort for the human race to survive against this invasion. Throughout the story, you’ll learn about the strange invaders and how to stop them.
As you clear missions, the enemies you face shift from ants the size of humans to full-scale kaiju. The story isn’t just a power fantasy either, as you’ll go back and forth with the enemy forces. This ebb and flow naturally create differences in mission scales. After big defeats, expect smaller scale missions where guerilla tactics may be favored. While on the offensive you could just be one piece in the larger army and not even see half of the combat taking place. You get a blurb about the mission during the initial setup but you’re free to zone out and just kill some big bugs once you get into the battle.
Each of the 110 missions works to slowly move the story forward while ensuring plenty of large-scale battles and tense moments. Earth Defense Force 5 revels in the details of each battle, splitting up multi-part operations to best demonstrate the changes in battle. For someone who likes faster progression, be warned that this may not be the game for you. The story places less emphasis on you as a hero and instead as a cog in the machine. This helps the player invest in the efforts of mankind instead of your nameless character.
Returning to Earth Defense Force 5 are the four playable classes; Ranger, Wing Diver, Air Raider, and Fencer. While you’ll be completing the same tasks with each type of soldier, their play styles vary wildly. The Ranger is the standard infantryman, boots on the ground with some weaponry for long-range attacks. The Wing Diver has less health but she can fly to dodge damage. Her weapons and jetpack share the same energy source, you’ve got to be careful. You can quickly exhaust this meter if you’re not careful.
The Air Raider is a support class that’s able to help other players through the use of summonable vehicles and healing unity. In the description for the Raider, he’s recommended to only be used in multiplayer games. With his abilities he can support not only the other players in the game but can outfit the various NPC soldiers that you may come across. The last class, the Fencer, is wearing an exoskeleton allowing it to carry much larger firepower but is a lot slower to get around. Lancers even have the ability to equip multiple of the same weapon, if you wanna show up to the fight with four chainguns then you’re more than welcome to.
Each of these characters has a radically different style for players to explore. The only character not recommended for immediate play is the Air Raider. This is a support class that is most useful in multiplayer. For those that want a more traditional third-person shooter experience, the Ranger will be your go to. He has a good balance of attacking power as well as health so is a durable character while you’re learning the ropes. The Wing Diver is more suited to guerilla tactics, flying around enemies with hard-hitting close range attacks before retreating.
It was a pretty fast swap for me from Ranger to Wing Diver, with settings including caves and cities verticality is a big focus. Flight allows you to take advantage of the level design and get nice and personal with some of the flying enemies. As you’re downing these enemies you’ll pick up health, armor crates, and new weapons that you can use to customize your character. You can never procure more than one of any item. If you happen to come across a weapon box that would give you a duplicate instead you have a chance of upgrading what you own. Each weapon has a cap of how high it can go so don’t expect to come out of this unstoppable but it will help keep some of your guns relevant.
Across the 4 character classes, Earth Defense Force 5 has over 1200 customizable items. Picking up duplicate items gives you a chance to upgrade what you already have. Here is where the number of items begins to get fudged, from your weapons you might have a version 1 that can only be upgraded to a certain extent, but there might be a V2 that’s better in every way. These could be an increase in stats or include slight variance such as firing a different payload. For the player wanting to find their optimal loadout, this means they can keep refining their selection as they unlock more.
The sheer number of options is both awesome and daunting, you’re going to have to commit to finding yourself a favorite loadout or hope that you stumble upon one. Without knowledge of the level, you’re about to head into you might also handicap yourself bringing a weapon without enough range. It’s pretty frustrating to get into a 15-20 minute mission fighting waves of ground forces only to have UFOs descend from the sky. There’s a fair balance to whether you go in specializing in one type of weapon or if you choose to diversify. There’s never any penalty for retreat so you can always peek at a level and come back properly equipped.
At the start of each mission, you’ll spawn in one of the large battlefields. Some of these locations include busy cities, vast plains, and deep caves. Enemies appear in waves, forcing you to adapt as a new wave approaches. You’ll find that you’re in the clear one moment and running for your life the next. The different enemies will also gang up and swarm you if they get the chance. By the endgame, you’ll be picking through ants like they were fodder in a Musou title.
The only time that this changes are for some missions where you’re escorting a team of soldiers and need to stay close. Not only does this escort slow down the entire process but they’ll stop for enemies. In one of Earth Defense Force 5‘s later levels, a friendly squad stopped short and focussed in on single ants appearing on the ceiling. After giving up on my team and continuing forward, hoping that they would wise up, I found the ant spawner responsible for my dead progress. Unless you know to move ahead without your team, that situation could take hours. Thankfully these types of missions are few and far between so it doesn’t ruin the overall experience.
For those wanting to get in of the bug killing action with a friend, there’s local co-op for two players and online lobbies. In the couch co-op mode, you and your friend will have access to everything that you’ve already unlocked through the main campaign. Playing with a friend also gives you the chance to pick up your friend when they run out of health so you can play a bit riskier. This allows anyone to hop in anywhere in the story and still stand a good chance. For battles that end up getting long and tedious, having a second player can immediately make the experience more enjoyable as you can plot out focused attacks, or just see how many aliens you can tear through together. There are even some cases where characters like the Lancer have attacks that can only be launched if they have an Air Raider assisting.
Visually, Earth Defense Force 5 isn’t much to look at. The graphics are pretty normal and don’t look all too different to Earth Defence Force 2025 that was released back in 2013 for the Xbox 360 and PS3. That being said, the graphical trade-off is worth it considering the large-scale destructible environments and the number of enemies and explosions on screen. While the engine does its best to keep up with so much happening but still will encounter frame rate issues, during some of the bigger battles the entire game will slow down. Out of the 100+ missions of the game, this slowdown was surprisingly rare for how much could be happening on screen. While avoiding it entirely would have been amazing minimizing it this much was still a welcome surprise.
What could be a positive or a negative for many people is the sound design and voice acting in the game. It’s bad, bordering on parody bad, which for the first couple of hours gives an opportunity for some great lines but will only make you chuckle for so long. Past that, the repetitive cliche lines begin to grate. With so much happening on screen, there’s also an issue of balance between the different audio happening.
The bugs all make realistic sounds as they move about. Your weapons make equally satisfying noises. Sadly, it’s all fighting for the spotlight when it mixes together. This even drowns out orders you hear from the radio or other humans around you. The simple fix is changing the audio levels but while you can reduce background and SFX noises the voices channel includes radio broadcasts and messages from your commander that you’d like to hear, but also any noise that a human would make. If you want to be able to turn up orders from your commander you also get to hear any grunts from sprinting, screaming from damage, and any civilians nearby that are screaming as they run away from the aliens.
Earth Defense Force 5 pairs together an enjoyable gameplay experience with a macro level story about human resistance. While it tries its best to hold its own against the graphical demand of the large-scale battles it’s still in graphics and sound design that it has let itself down. This game is a grind, from the long and slow missions to any dream you have of collecting every piece of equipment this will be a game you can pick up and play for hours and hours on end. If you’re not into long grinds of games or don’t have friends to enhance the experience with then this might be a title better avoided.
TechRaptor reviewed Earth Defense Force 5 on the PlayStation 4 using a code provided by the developer.More About This Game
Earth Defense Force 5 takes what the previous games in the series were known for; Classes with huge customization, large-scale battles, and a story about mankind defeating enemy forces. If you're looking for a third person shooter that you can keep coming back to for different experiences, EDF 5 will keep you entertained for hours.
- Four Different Classes
- Almost Too Many Items
- Bugs, But The Good Kind
- Couch Co-op
- Big Battle Slowdowns
- Wooden Voice Acting
- Artificial Lengtheners
- Sound Controls