Beep...beep..beep..beep. It’s the only sound that I hear on my screen. My hands are gripping the controller, sweating, and I’m trying to stay calm when letting my teammates know where the enemy is coming from. You’ll get the adrenaline pumping with every emotion rushing through you when you play Aliens: Fireteam Elites.
Before I start reviewing the game, let me take you back in time for a brief memory lane moment. In May of 1979, one of the most successful horror movies to come out was Alien. A space miner crew is pitted against an unknown lifeform that is taking them out one by one. Then let’s jump to 1986 Aliens, which to me is the greatest sequel of all time. Survivor Ellen Ripley is forced back to face her demons on a planet that spawned the godforsaken Alien (now known as Xenomorphs). This time she is not alone. She will be riding along with the Colonial Marines, who are absolute badasses with the weapons and gear that should have evened the playing field...or so they thought. If you haven't seen any of the movies, I highly recommend them.
Based on how successful Aliens was, toy lines and video games were coming out the wazoo. There have been crossover games Aliens vs. Predator where you can play as the Marines, Aliens, or Predators. Some were good, and some were bad. So the question of etiquette is, is THIS game good?
The game’s primary storyline is that your platoon has received a distress call from a Weyland Yutani (WY) space station hovering over a restricted planet that is also owned by WY. With the advanced weaponry you and the rest of your ultimate badass marines have, you are tasked to scout the area. You can unlock so many more Alien universe mythos in the game by completing missions or finding secret items, even though the game story gives away nodes from Alien, Aliens, and Prometheus. That being said, the story is not the driving force of the game. The game’s main attraction is the Co-Op feature, where you and two of your friends can jump in the fray and start blasting every Xenomorph. Aliens Fireteam: Elite has that Left4Dead feel where you and your squad will feel overwhelmed after waves and waves of xenomorphs. If you play solo, the game will give CPU synthetic allies; however, they are as useful as a concrete parachute on the highest difficulty.
In the main game, there are 3 different types of enemies you’ll face. The obvious ones are the Xenomorphs. The unique thing about this game is that they have the common easy-to-kill ones to the acid spitting variety. Aliens that explode on impact to the annoying prowlers that come out of nowhere to pounce on you. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!! With Elite at the end of the game’s title, you face Xenomorph elites that have heavy armor with their health. The types you will see are the warrior type from Aliens, a tank-type alien that does serious damage, to the praetorians who are the royal guards to the queen.
The second type you’ll see is the WY synthetic army. Some of them have steel shields, other’s you’ll see are special armored snipers or heavy machine gunners. One of the most annoying things that can happen when you take a synthetic down is that some of them self-destruct, which can cause major damage to your character if you don't pay attention.
The third type of enemy is the most interesting one. They are called the Pathogens. They came from the Bioweapon you see in Prometheus and Alien Covenant, made by the Engineers (I’d check out Prometheus/Alien Covenant if you want more info). Whatever the goo touches, it will transform into either a walking corpse or a mutated beast. The best way to describe them is that they are the Halo Flood type enemies.
Now let's get down to the best part of the game, your marine. At the start of the game, you can customize your marine from the different hairstyles, colors, and voices. You can choose from six different classes. The classes have specific perks that should help your squad survive. The classes are Gunner, which can temporarily boost the rate of fire and damage for the squad. Demolishers can have shoulder rockets to clear the room, The Technicians can set their special sentry turrets to help control the flow of battle. The Medics can lay down a trauma station to heal all nearby teammates. The Recon can send out little drones to scout out hidden enemies.
A recent update added the Phalanx class, where they have a shield against the frontal assaults of the enemy. A unique feature the game has is the leveling/perk system grid. Depending on which class you choose, you can upgrade the abilities such as longer damage boost as a gunner, making your technician have a flamethrower sentry gun instead of the machine gun, or you can add stats to have better stabilization or faster reload speed for your class.
After the season one update, there are 35 total weapons you can choose from, the iconic pulse rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, flamethrowers, smart guns, or even sniper rifles! You gain new weapons from completing levels at a certain difficulty; the uniqueness is that you can level up each weapon up to four stars. As you gain a star on a particular weapon, it can add a 5% damage output boost, range, or stabilization. However, there is a catch with these weapons; depending on what class you are, you can only carry two specific weapons. For example, gunners can only use rifles or close-quarter weapons (CQW) such as shotguns or submachine guns. Demolishers have rifles and heavy weapons that range from the classic smart guns or rocket launchers. Technicians use CQW or pistols. One of the pistols I like using is a burst-type pistol that makes me feel like I’m Robocop.
The game has four stages with three levels in each stage, so in total, 12 levels of teaming up with your buddies to kill some Xenomorphs! It may sound short for most people, but there are replay abilities. You can try out the harder levels to prove that you are the ultimate badass marine that can handle anything, or you can play around and use unique challenge cards before the start of each level. Challenge cards can make your life a living hell, from having 80% of your health be gone to having a 50/50 chance of your medkit being empty. The helpful ones can either double your ammo count or double the amount of health. There are some cool aesthetics, where you can play the level in black and white or make it look like you are playing through a VCR on a tube TV. Another fun feature they have is after you beat the game, you will unlock horde mode. This is a feature where you try to survive endless waves of Xenomorphs to unlock extra items or gain experience points.
There are three seasons waiting to be released through this year and next year. The interesting aspect of the future season updates is that the paid season pass is only cosmetics and some new weapons. As I mentioned above, the free updates have rumors of free extra story missions and hopefully another horde map with different enemies to face.
There have been some issues with the game, where the frame rates seem to drop from time to time, or your character’s arm doing weird things and cannot fire your gun for some odd reason. However, the small studio, Cold Iron Studios, has been working on weekly updates to fix the next issues that persist. They recently added the most requested feature, the quick play option, so you can find random players to team up with, bypassing the old way of picking a random level and hoping someone is playing the same one with the same difficulty.