Aliens: Fireteam Eliteis developer Cold Iron Studios’ latest installment in the long-running Alien franchise. As opposed to scrambling about in fear of the series’ legendary predator, the Xenomorph, Fireteam Elite instead replicates many of features of its predecessor Colonial Marines. You’ll do this by taking control of the titular fireteam, a group of colonial marines who are tasked with all manner of critical objectives such as rescuing individuals of interest, defeating Xenomorph hordes, gathering intel and much more.
As a multiplayer shooter, players will have the option to either play alongside two friends or play missions with bots. Campaign missions play out in a pretty straightforward manner. Players will be given a direct task and will then arrive at the mission’s location, where they’ll be almost immediately confronted by hordes of Xenomorphs. Players will then move from one objective to the next, while being told what to do through comms dialogue. It’s at the finale of the mission that they’ll encounter one final terrible horde of various Xenomorphs. It’s worth noting that while not very intricate or complicated, these missions are pretty long. This is primarily due to the sheer volume of aliens you’ll be pumping lead into.
The game includes multiple Xenomorph variants aside the smaller grunts that only serve as cannon fodder. All of whom have fun and creative ways of murdering you. One such is the Xenomorph Spitter, which as the name suggests, spits acid on your face. The Xenomorph Prowler sneaks up on you and invades your personal space. There’s even the Chestbursters, which never gets old, and the several huge aliens that torment you with their size. All these variants have their own unique patterns. Some will sneak up behind you, drop from vents and ceilings, and some will straight up just tackle you.
I found the detailed pattern designs for these enemies to be highly impressive. Unfortunately, as you continue to progress, you’ll grow accustomed to these designs and they’ll begin to feel predictable and repetitive. The aliens don’t switch up these patterns or do anything new, so what you see is really what you get.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite really shines best when playing with friends. The missions are much more enjoyable with a well-organized team. You won’t have to bother too much about the objectives while mowing down aggressive Xenomorphs. The inclusion of classes makes coordination much easier as each member of the team serves a role. There’s the standard Gunner, who uses your average machine guns and shotguns. The heavy weapon-wielding Demolisher uses flamethrowers and rocket launchers while blowing up the hordes. Docs can heal and revive the team with healing circles and combat stims for support. Then there’s the Technician, bringing sentry turrets to backup the team. Finally, upon finishing the campaign, you’ll unlock the Recon class, which is great for sniping and surveying maps. I found that these classes surprisingly add a lot to the co-op experience, as they provide means for more tactical freedom.
That aside, it’s hard not to mention the overwhelming difficulty spikes in the second half of the campaign missions. Regardless of how prepared you may be, each mission, despite being long enough, will bombard you with waves of enemies. This quickly became tiring and less engaging, especially in higher-difficulty settings or playing with AI bots.
Speaking of difficulty, Aliens: Fireteam Elite also offers an extra challenge for those who seek it via Challenge Cards. These give seasoned players a handicap in battle while earning them more rewards, XP, and currency. These cards include challenges such as reduced weapon damage, halved health, and more. While I found some of them rather brutal, most turned out to be really rewarding.
Story & Visuals
As for the narrative, I find Fireteam Elite’s method of storytelling to be highly underwhelming. Any piece of lore or narrative is provided by bland, static NPCs via snappy voiced dialogue. Due to this, any portion of said dialogue by the characters feels like an excuse to move from point A to B and nothing else.
When it comes to the visuals, I’d say it looks pretty good for a game of its caliber. It has solid visual effects and detailed lighting, and while the environments don’t go beyond your usual sci-fi aesthetic, they’re designed well enough to be engaging and immersive. The game runs well and performs between just under 60 fps on next-gen platforms. Unfortunately, those playing on last-gen systems will occasionally run into some frame rate drops, especially when playing with friends.
All in all, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a bit of a mixed bag. While it does provide a lot of exciting and action-packed fun, especially for fans, it still boils down to being a generic third-person shooter that’s mostly enjoyable when playing with friends. If you’re looking for something to kill time until the next big thing, this could scratch the itch. Just don’t expect it to be something noteworthy.
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