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Aliens: Fireteam Elite Is Stunted By Its Own Limitations

Courtesy of J&L Game
Aliens: Fireteam Elite Title
Courtesy of Cold Iron Studios

Aliens: Fireteam Elite

Publisher: Cold Iron Studios
Release Date: August 24, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Aliens: Fireteam Elite Is Another Chance For The Wayward Franchise

The Alien franchise has been going strong for over 40 years since its debut in 1979, getting up there in age with its fellow science-fiction franchise brethren set in space, Star Wars. Like the latter, Alien has seen its numerous share of sequels, spin-offs, and video game titles, with their likeliness used in other games as guest characters including Mortal Kombat 10 or Yoda and Darth Vader making an appearance in Soul Calibur 4. Aliens: Fireteam Elite is the first major Alien release that isn’t a VR, arcade, or mobile title since 2014’s Alien: Isolation.

Aliens: Isolation, released not too long after the abysmal Aliens: Colonial Marines, was a survival horror title where players assumed the role of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley, the protagonist of the first three Alien movies. The title was praised for its attention to the source material as well as invoking the terror of handling the Aliens in a survivalist setting. 

aliens: fireteam elite gameplay 1
Aliens: Fireteam Elite - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Another Go At the Xenomorphs, With Friends

The following Aliens game would be on hiatus for almost seven years as the staff who worked on Isolation was no longer with Creative Assembly, the company that worked on the title. As the console Aliens titles went stagnant, another team was tasked to take over the development of the franchise by the name of Cold Iron Studios.

Looking up information about Cold Iron Studios proved to be a challenge and for good reason. The company began in 2015 with, according to their website, “three industry veterans who had a goal of creating games they want to play and building a team they love working with.” The team now has over 40 developers on staff, while also hiring more within remote locations, again according to their website. 

aliens: fireteam elite gameplay 2
Aliens: Fireteam Elite - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

A Fresh Face For A Storied Franchise -- What Can Go Wrong?

Their only title that the company has worked on was Aliens: Fireteam Elite at the time of this writing, though history would state to never judge a book by its cover. Can a newly established development team birthed by “three industry veterans” create an awesome Aliens experience and fill in the shoes left behind by Isolation?

Yes and no, depending on what player expectations are from the moment Fireteam Elite is booted up. Players expecting Aliens: Fireteam Elite to pick up right where Isolation let off should look elsewhere as this game has more of an emphasis on teamwork to clear objectives, usually getting from point A to point B. The game is played with squads of three with different classes including the all-arounder Gunner, the frontlines demolitions Demolisher, the support Technician, and the healer Doc. 

aliens: fireteam elite gameplay 3
Aliens: Fireteam Elite - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Survive Or Perish Together As A “Fireteam”

Occasionally, players will have to fight hordes of xenomorphs with various classes including spitters that produce acid puddles, damaging the player over time. There are larger Warrior-types that can mount the player, forcing them to enter a “quick-time event” where successful inputs can push the aliens off. Like the “crescendo events” in Left 4 Dead, there are moments where the team will have to fight their way through a horde of enemies until a door opens or a situation is resolved after an allotted period of time pass. Players have limited resources available which can be replenished by ammo and supply crates and downed players can be revived by live players.

With all of the details mentioned about how a usual game of Aliens: Fireteam Elite progress, there are many similarities between this game and Left 4 Dead, which means that teamwork is required to overcome tough situations. Over time, the enemies will overwhelm and act as a unit towards the party, which means all bases must be covered. No player can be a hero and move on their own as enemies can spawn behind a player at any point, sneak attack, and quickly overwhelm players who are without backup.

A:FE co-op
Aliens: Fireteam Elite - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Online Co-Op With Randoms -- What Can Go Wrong?

If one player is found not pulling their weight, games can quickly go out of hand as a single experience can shift from a smooth progression to a rough, unrecoverable state. With the limited amount of health resources on hand and crates being few and far between, helping your fellow teammates will trump over being a solo one-man army.

The “character creation” is limited and regulated to several basic options including character faces, hair types and colors, skin color, and voices. Perhaps the most interesting choice when it comes to “character creation” is the naming conventions for genders, calling them “archetypes” instead. 

A:FE Character Creation
Aliens: Fireteam Elite - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

The Online Multiplayer Is Too Linear For Such A Promising Premise

As I play most games that have character creation as a primary focal point, I realize that games are becoming more gender-inclusive even though I never heard of the term “archetype” before Aliens: Fireteam Elite. The terms “masculine” and “feminine” are also used in place of “male” and “female,” which is perfectly fine and a detail that I can hope more developers do in the future.

Overall, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a barebones multiplayer experience that focuses on teamwork and co-op over the story and world-building that the series is known for. Players looking for an immersive experience that fits within the Alien canon will, unfortunately, need to be content with Isolation. As the first Alien game in seven years, Fireteam Elite is a decent enough co-op game that uses the Alien license to rope in fans of the series. For die-hard fans, it may not be enough to keep players interested for long until they ask for a single-player experience.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite is now available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S

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