This is not the first Homefront game. Now that it is an open world game, i.e. a completely different style of game, made by a different developer for a different publisher. It kind of begs the question; why the hell pay for the licence if the first game was not that well received and this one is being designed so differently?
Despite this protracted, messy development process, after getting the chance for a quick hands-on session at this weekend’s Insomnia 55 event in Coventry, I am pleased to report that Homefront has made the revolutionary leap of being back on my gaming radar. This isn’t your slightly older brother’s Homefront – This is a whole new warfront.
• Developer: Deep Silver Dambuster
• Publisher: Deep Silver
• Previewed on: PC (using Xbox One controller)
• Also Available On: Xbox One, PlayStation 4
• Release Date: Spring 2016
Set two years after events of the previous game (Nope! Me neither! But it does seem as though you will not really need knowledge of what happened in the previous game to venture into this one, suffice to say you did not end up successfully repelling the invasion force back to Korea last time around.) Homefront The Revolution sees you take charge of protagonist, Ethan Brady, as he takes the guerrilla warfare fight to the Greater Korean Republic army in their newly found, well protected base of operations in Philadelphia.
We had a chance to play a 15 minute hands-on demo while also being shown a 5-10 minute introductory video. The video really helped introduce some of the more complicated weapons and features. The main one of which was the upgrade system that allows you to, on the fly, strip off and refit various parts of any gun and remake it “to suit your play-style.” This was easy to get into and play around with in the demo, but a bit difficult to fully get to grips with in the short amount of time, but the video did a good job of highlighting some of the variety that changes will make to weapons. Some elements will just add small changes like greater stability, with others showing off larger scale changes such as the type of ammo fired – the example in the video saw a shotgun being adapted to allow it to spit Molotov cocktails over a large area. Again, hard to see exactly how these upgrades are discovered, but it seemed to stem from a system of finding component pieces from around the environment. This did not have the same wackiness or level of variety as the weapons in Borderlands, but think a similar sort of weapon variation with a bit more of a home crafted feel.
The demo starts with you aiding your team in the ambush of an enemy patrol. As explained in the video, you will want to use the element of surprise and guerrilla warfare tactics to your advantage, as you are weak and underpowered compared to your oppressors. You tip some explosive barrels onto the vehicle of a passing patrol and then set about mopping up any survivors, at which point some enemy drones attack, not too much of an issue as you have the necessary firepower to deal with them but they will pinpoint your position to nearby airships – and this will be a problem. Airships have to enough firepower to wipe you and most of the rest of a city block off the map with large bombardment of aerial laser-beams. You will want to be long gone by the time one of these Air Ships show up.
This is where the open world environment could really come into its own, with the need to duck-and-cover away from enemy hotspots until you are powerful enough to deal with them. The demo continues with you gaining access to a motorbike to help you more rapidly reach a faraway destination. You weave in and out of enemy patrols and can work your way via various shortcuts that have you travelling in, over or through the variety of decaying urban structures that make up the city of Philadelphia.
After reaching one of the checkpoints I was assigned to find, I spent most of the rest of my demo time in a battle with another enemy patrol that I stumbled into. I took down the guards following a heavily armoured pick-up truck, but did not make much progress in taking down the vehicle itself as my Molotov cocktails did little or no damage. I took refuge in a large concrete pipe and was relatively safe from the vehicles mounted gun position until reinforcements turned up in the shape of two drones. I was just about to even the odds with a package of explosives wrapped neatly in the shell of a remote controlled car when the demo’s timer ran out. Fortunately I had seen one of the remote control bombs put to good use in the video, in which it also demonstrated the use of the homemade jamming device that helps turn drones against your foes.
While a number of features and factors on show were derivative of other titles, the short portion that I got to play was enjoyable enough that Homefront is a name that interests me once again. They were keen to stress this was early Alpha code on display and so may change greatly before launch. It did seem quite stable, but also worth noting that this is very likely a well-polished vertical slice that helps show off some of their systems in a best light. I did have some concern that the character run and movement speed felt very stilted, but that is something that could easily be improved. Co-op is said to be on the way and while there were no signs of this in the demo, I could see this adding a lot of enjoyment to the final game.
Advertising for Homefront The Revolution states “You Are The Revolution”, before trying the game I needed some convincing. Now there is every chance I will be playing my part.