Killzone: Shadow Fall Preview - E3 2013
We get the first look at Sony's upcoming flagship shooter on the PS4
The Killzone series bears a heavy responsibility as Sony's de facto flagship shooter. Consequently, there's a lot of attention on the first game to see release on the next console generation, Killzone: Shadow Fall. We took some time to check out a gameplay demonstration for the new title at E3.
If the stylized cityscape showcased in the game's reveal trailer was an aesthetic departure from the grim confines of planet Helgan, then we're definitely not in Kansas anymore. The new demo took place in a rocky forest that's about as far from the series' earlier locales as I could imagine. The environment was spacious, and the colors vibrant. The sun, occluded by the trees, cast shifting rays of light around the leaves.
The great wall that divides the Helgan and ISA communities on planet Vekta seems to be an ever-present fixture, visible here in the background. Lest anybody forget the fascist influences of the Helghast, a giant, Lenin-esque statue stood proud in the periphery. The protagonist, an ISA special forces operative, stood on a platform, surveying the scene.
He didn’t spend too much time taking in his surroundings, quickly moving to create a zipline and pounce on a nearby guard. The sloppy kill drew the attention of nearby enemies, so he set about clearing the area of hostiles. That task looks to be facilitated by one’s personal sentry drone, an ever-present bot that can be used as a diversion, shield, or mobile turret. The player made ample use of the device during the playthrough, directing it around the battlefield, a-la Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. It can even disable security systems.
The player didn’t do much of the latter, though, choosing instead to careen through the level, wiping out enemy reinforcements as they arrived via dropship. He used a single weapon, a squared-off, high-tech-looking rifle with a hybrid sight. Its secondary fire, a charge shot with an increased area-of-effect, took out enemies in a single hit. Most of the Helghast went down fairly quickly, with the exception of a few cloaked snipers that appeared to teleport about the stage. A radar-like ability from earlier games, and a new technique that temporary slows time, helped to bring them down. Any damage taken could be mitigated with a health pack, activated by pressing down on the PlayStation 4’s directional pad.
During this particular playthrough, the demonstrator opted to proceed to the nearby crash site of an ISA cruiser, in order to locate a stranded team of ISA soldiers. We’re told that the objectives for levels such as this will be fluid, however, allowing for a variety of strategies and approaches. There will be optional areas of the stage that might be explored, or side objectives to tackle instead of attacking the goal in linear fashion.
After his rendezvous with the ISA squad, the player leapt back into the forest, reengaging the amassing Helghast forces until the demo’s end. He finished with some flair by charging the last remaining Helgan soldier, slashing his throat with his knife. The action revealed that there’s still some work to be done with the game, however - the soldier, who had been firing at the player, appeared to turn his back when the player pressed the “melee” button in an all-too-accommodating gesture that appeared multiple times during the demo.
Barring that lone exception, the enemy appeared to be rather aggressive, frequently surrounding the player and responding in force when he tipped them off to his position. Shadow Fall seems to offer the player a wealth of tools with which to counter their tactics, from drones, shields, and radar, to stealth, stun weapons, and secondary firing methods.
Other than that, most of the gameplay should be very familiar to Killzone fans. It’s still early to tell, but from our limited glimpses it seems that the biggest changes have been made to the game’s atmosphere and artistic direction. At first blush, the decision to divide the world between Vektan and Helgan seems like a way to “straddle the fence” so to speak, including both the sleek futurism of the first trailer’s city and the bleak industrial environs that the Helghast previously called home. But the forest lies on the Helgan side of the wall, so perhaps the breakdown is not so simple as that. Consequently, we’ll be curious to see what else Killzone: Shadow Fall has in store when it arrives alongside the PlayStation 4 later this year.