Whenever a movie makes a huge cultural impact, it’s normal for people to try and recreate it in other media. When Alien first appeared in 1979, it exploded in popularity due to its visual style and horrifying antagonist. It helped shape the Sci-Fi genre and to this day, both films and games continue to be made in an attempt to catch the magic of the first film. Many of them have received a mixed response and now it’s Aliens: Fireteam Elite’s turn to take a shot. None of us would want to be caught alone facing the alien swarm and Cold Iron Studios made this co-op title to try and give us a fighting chance.
A Story About Aliens
The very first film involved a bunch of humans being trapped on a ship with a never-before-seen killing machine. It combined horror and survival elements in a terrifying plot. Since then, the media has continued the tradition of trapping humans together with the Aliens while changing some things around. They introduced Marines to fight back as well as new variations of Alien to threaten them and potentially all of humanity. In Aliens: Fireteam Elite, the scenario is pretty much the same. You play as a Marine who has specifically been trained to hunt down the aliens wherever they might pose a threat. You can be with teammates or AI Bots, but it’s always you against the hive. There's no real story per se, but rather a framework: You are a part of a team of Marines knowledgeable on Aliens and therefore the best suited to tackle any Alien-related problems from rescue missions to eliminations.
When it comes to basing something on an established universe, it makes sense to maintain the foundation while adding your own twists to it. Aliens: Fireteam Elite definitely applies some creative tactics to their part of this universe. The first is their depiction of the aliens. This is a horde game so there are going to be tons of different variants coming at you. While there are some familiar breeds, there are also a few new types created for the game such as Spitters shooting acid from a range or Drones using hit-and-run tactics to pin and slash your team to pieces. They add a new flavor to the Alien recipe.
Then there’s the functionality of the game. It’s a team-based game that pits you and other marines (or bots) against a seemingly endless onslaught of aliens. The third-person perspective offers a greater field of vision to take in your surroundings. The gameplay is reliable and aiming is sharp so you can land hits during the more chaotic encounters. There are four classes to pick with their own weapons, abilities, and appearances to add variety to the missions. Each class is inspired from memorable roles in the Aliens universe such as the damage-dealing Demolisher based on Private Vasquez and the versatile Gunner based on Dwayne Hicks. Each role has their own firearms and special abilities that need to be used effectively to ensure they last you until you reach the end such as rationing the Doc's Trauma Station and timing Stim-packs whenever you're getting overwhelmed by swarms or special Aliens.
Lastly, there has to be a mention of the aesthetics. H.R. Geiger created an unusual and haunting world with a distinct look to the sci-fi elements. This can be felt and seen in the character models, backgrounds, and Aliens themselves. The core of the original art-style is still here with basic structure of the first Alien serving as the foundation for the new Aliens. While they may have more vibrant colors than what was first depicted, they never feel too alien from their predecessors. The whole game could find a comfortable place in the extended universe.
Anyone familiar with Alien-based scenarios would know that you can’t afford to make mistakes. However, we are human as are those responsible for Aliens: Fireteam Elite. The first one that needs to be corrected is the connection strength. This game is on the highway to co-op town and so will need to boost their servers to support all the online play. Currently, when things get too busy, guests are at risk of running in place to get mauled by the swarm.
Then there’s the issue of single vs. multiplayer. This is a game that requires you to play with other people. If you don’t, you’ll be stuck with two synthetic partners who are decent at shooting but not much else. This creates the problem that you must take the support role or become untouchable. You can only carry one med-kit at a time and they’re not common so you better bring some acid-resistant vests… that don't exist.
There’s also some issue with the lore. What made the Aliens so dangerous is the fact that trying to kill them was in itself dangerous. The humans couldn’t do anything because its acid blood would’ve eaten through their ship. Even when they fought them on solid ground, they were still at risk of getting their bones melted with every single shot. This has been ignored for this game’s setup and considering that Aliens pop up so frequently now, all sense of fear is pretty much gone too.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a co-op third-person that has you mowing down the entire Alien population. It plays well with nice visuals and new Alien-types to encounter but needs work on connectivity, single-player balancing, and lore accuracy. Just remember that in space, no one can hear you scream… because of all the gunfire.
TechRaptor reviewed Aliens: Fireteam Elite on PC with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
- A Variety of New Aliens to Encounter
- Solid Third-Person Gameplay and Co-op Focus
- Respectful Depiction of Traditional Alien Aesthetics
- Game Lags During Big Fights
- Imbalance with Certain Features Discourages Single-Player Play
- Issues With the Lore and Lack of Horror Elements