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‘Aliens: Fireteam Elite’ is an arcade shooter for the online era

Image Credit: 20th Century Studios

Fireteam Elite fails to build tension. With such a transparent gameplay structure, any feeling of pressure or horror has to come from the xenomorphs themselves, and frankly, they’re often not smart enough to make this happen. The swarms rarely feel unmanageable and the specialized xenomorphs, like spitters or jumpers, routinely behave in non-threatening ways. This unpredictability ends up being more adorable than scary. Plus, I have to note that my game crashed three times in about seven hours of play.

That’s not to say the AI is trash altogether. Cold Iron says it’s already resolved some of the movement issues the xenomorphs were experiencing in the preview build, and it really is impressive to see dozens of inky black aliens bounding down the hallway, each on its own path but out for blood, and the game is built around these moments. The xenos stumble around corners like dogs on a tile floor, and details like this add much-needed personality to the waves.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite

20th Century Studios

The game’s most exciting moments come at the end of each mission, during the final swarm. These are long standoffs with waves of xenomorphs, including spitters, prowlers, bursters and giants that hunt down a single crew member at a time. I’ve found the technician and doc to be particularly useful in these moments — the technician has a turret that recharges after it’s been destroyed and shock grenades to keep the xenomorphs at bay, while the doc has an incredibly handy healing circle.

This is where the most strategizing takes place, even if it is mostly just turret talk. There are chests containing consumable weapons, health and on-demand ammo refills at each final battle, meaning your whole team will start off well-equipped and they’re free to spray and pray. This is good, considering the reticles on most of the weapons are generous, and crowd control is the name of the game, not accuracy. 

Aliens: Fireteam Elite

20th Century Studios

There are a few bright spots in Aliens: Fireteam Elite. The soundtrack is a James Horner-inspired orchestral situation and it’s a constant reminder of the game’s cinematic 1980s roots; it does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to setting the mood. Plus, the game’s RPG elements — including character, loadout and weapon customization, and challenge cards — add a necessary layer of depth to otherwise straightforward missions.

I wasn’t expecting Fireteam Elite to be as narrative-driven as the films or as moody as Alien: Isolation, but I had hoped for something like Left 4 Dead meets Dead Space, and this ain’t that. Instead, Aliens: Fireteam Elite feels like a theme park ride in video game form. The monsters aren’t really threatening, but the crowds certainly are. And, of course, it’s more fun with friends.

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Co-op shooter ‘Aliens: Fireteam Elite’ heads to consoles and PC on August 24th

After nearly six years in development, Aliens: Fireteam finally has a release date. Now known as Aliens: Fireteam Elite, it’s coming out on August 24th on Steam, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. 20th Century Games will sell the game for $40, though you can pay extra for the deluxe edition to get various in-game items.  

If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s essentially the Aliens to . Fireteam Elite downplays the horror elements of the franchise in favor of crafting a tight team-based shooter. Like in Valve’s , you’ll embark on a variety of repeatable missions where you’ll need to use teamwork and communication to take on the challenges before you. In all, there’ll be 20 different Xenomorphs, Weyland-Yutani synthetics and other enemies, each with their own AI systems, for you and your friends to take on. Each time you jump into a mission, two other Colonial Marines will support you, and they can be played by both humans and AI bots.

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ALIENS: Fireteam takes place after Alien 3, before Resurrection… but how?

Before you view this trailer, keep an open mind and check the “alpha” tag below. This game is still relatively early in development, and will almost certainly look better by the time it’s ready for release. That said, it’s odd that it’s set for “Summer 2021” but the gameplay trailer release today is still “alpha” in nature. Have you ever experienced such a combination of elements before?

The game ALIENS: Fireteam is an online-only collaborative, cooperative third-person survival shooter. You’ll be a marine that collaborates with other marines, the sort you’ve seen in the movie ALIENS (the sequel to ALIEN). This game “drops your fireteam of hardened marines into a desperate fight to contain the Xenomorph threat.”

This game isn’t just a “we’re just fighting Aliens at some point” sort of adventure. It takes place at a relatively specific point in the ALIEN universe timeline. This game takes place “23 years after the original Alien trilogy.”

That SHOULD mean that we’re looking at the year 2202. That’s 23 years after Alien 3, which took place in 2179. The first movie, ALIEN, took place in 2122, Aliens in 2179, and Alien Resurrection in 2379. So this new game fills a gap – or fills part of a gap – between Alien 3 (where Ripley is dead) and Alien Resurrection.

Here’s the thing that’ll be interesting to see, though: Where are these Aliens coming from? The folks at ColdIron will need to explain how, after Ripley’s taken what we assumed was the last Alien Queen to her death, there are more Aliens appearing in this game.

According to the game’s description, you’ll “play a pivotal role in the epic events that occur 23 years after the original Alien trilogy as a Colonial Marine stationed aboard the USS Endeavor, battling terrifying Xenomorph threats.” Not only that, you’ll be fighting 11 different Xenomorphs.

They include everything on the “evolutionary scale,” per the description, “from Facehuggers to Praetorians.” That’s right, this game includes the Predator universe’s own Praetorian, meaning we’ll very likely see a Predator at some point along the way. Cross your fingers this means we’ll get to BE a Predator, too – but don’t hold your breath!

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