Our new masters.
Who would’ve thought there’d be another Homefront game? In case you’re not aware, the original Homefront released in 2011 to not the worst reception by any means, but it certainly didn’t knock anyone’s socks off. The idea of South and North Korea unifying to bring the world’s powers to its knees was an interesting theme, but the game didn’t shine bright enough to be remembered on the same level we remember Call of Duty 4 and the like.
Now a whole five years later, Deep Silver are taking another crack at the series with Homefront: The Revolution. After a weekend with the closed beta, I can say it’s shaping up to be an interesting take on the multiplayer FPS formula, but there are some major concerns to address.
Even from a closed beta standpoint, there’s a lot of things The Revolution gets right. That “Achieved with CryEngine” splash screen is well-earned as the game is quite simply gorgeous. The war-torn environments blended with Korea’s high-tech security are quite a spectacle. Maps are large and full of detail, with each bomb-blasted building looking uniquely shattered. If nothing else, Dambuster Studios have done to Homefront what DICE did to Star Wars: Battlefront.
Once you’ve got boots on the ground, you’ll be delighted with the game’s weapon design. Every weapon handles like you’d expect it to, but the feedback and sound design give each that punch that so many shooters desire. Unlocking a new weapon is fairly exciting thanks to this; while weapons of the same class are similar, each has its own personality, no doubt helped by Homefront’s guerrilla warfare motif.
In its current state, I also found Homefront to be quite challenging. It’s not uncommon for a squad of soldiers to surround your position, pelting you with countless bullets, pinning you down with sniper fire and going as far as to bring in armoured vehicles whose turrets can seriously ruin your day. On the higher difficulties, each encounter feels like a fight for survival. Enemies are thankfully not bullet sponges (though you will have to pump some extra rounds into the more armour-adorned targets) which justify the often overwhelming number of troops the game can throw at you.
The thing I liked the most about my experience with the beta was just how easy missions can turn for the worse. I was on a mission with another player, and a squad of soldiers hadn’t noticed us. I took it upon myself to stealth takedown a series of guards to thin the ranks. My ploy was actually working, and the other player seemed content in letting me do my thing.
Then I rounded a corner and two Korean soldiers spotted me, announcing my appearance to about twelve other troops. Given the design of this part of the level, a bombed out marketplace, there were blind corners and numerous entryways. Before I knew it, I was surrounded at every possible angle. I was going down, and it was all I could do to take some of them with me. You can be revived by other players if they remain alive, but the Koreans also made short work of my newfound pal. We never spoke again. As you’d expect to be the case, Homefront: The Revolution is best played with friends as trustworthy communication is key.
Beta Be Worth It
I found a lot to like about Homefront: The Revolution in its closed beta. But it is only a beta, and I naturally encountered some glaring issues that I pray are remedied by release day. I wasn’t a fan of the character progression, or lack of customisation options. Upon starting the game, you’re given the choice of some pre-made freedom fighters. You do at least have a choice between genders, and the selection does hint at a larger character creation system in the finished game, but the selection here was paltry.
Too many times I saw a “woman with blonde dreads” and the “bloke with man bun.” Why Dambuster Studios thought including a man bun in their game would be a good idea, I’ll never know. However, these outlandish hairstyles point to what could possibly be a more involving character creation system at launch. Not that you’ll see a whole lot of your own character on the battlefield, but the addition of personalisation would be welcome nonetheless.
What I did enjoy, progression-wise, was the diverse skill trees. Skill trees are broken up by the type of character you want to play as, but you’re not locked into just one. You’re able to freely pick from any tree at any time. I hope this leads to players being able to form countless hybrid classes and should make for some interesting discussion on character builds. Here’s hoping The Revolution has the depth and longevity to support this.
One major concern I have is the selection of weapons we’ll end up with at launch. The beta housed very few, and even fewer separate weapon types. The usual suspects are all here; assault rifles, shotguns, semi-automatics and so on. I was able to unlock more weapons, attachments and clothing via chests in the Armoury system, by spending money earned in-game. Here’s hoping this system is not abused by microtransactions in the full release. Nothing that leapt out to me as immediately interesting. I know we play as a guerrilla faction and we’re not necessarily supposed to have high-tech weaponry, but a greater range of more creative weapons wouldn’t harm the game at all.
In the face of all my concerns, however, none could quite match The Revolution’s sporadic framerate. While never making the game unplayable, the framerate made an annoying habit of dipping up and down on a semi-constant basis. So much so that it did throw off my aim occasionally. While this is most likely to be an issue with the beta, and undoubtedly will be improved upon by launch day, in its current state amazing visuals are not the only thing Dambuster have achieved with CryEngine.
Homefront: The Revolution will release on PC, Xbox One and PS4 later this year.
A closed beta code of Homefront: The Revolution was provided courtesy of Xbox. The game was played on Xbox One.