Alien games have been hit and miss in the past, but Aliens: Fireteam Elite creates something that leans right into the action inspired by the 1986 movie Aliens.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is the first release from new outfit Cold Iron Studios, and is a third-person indie action title that pulls inspiration not only from the Aliens franchise, but also the likes of the Gears of War and Left 4 Dead series. You create your own colonial marine and play with two other friends (or AI helpers) against hordes of xenomorphs, some pulled straight from the movies and others created just for the game.
You start off by creating your marine and picking a class, each with their own special abilities and loadouts. Then, you and two other marines drop into infested hot spots and face hordes of xenomorphs (aliens). Just like in Destiny, The Division, Ghost Recon and many other games, classes in Aliens: Fireteam Elite have special abilities, but also some drawbacks.
The Medic class can place down a healing station where every marine inside the field will be healed, but they don’t carry as much ammo as other classes and don’t pack that much firepower. The demolisher is basically like Vasquez or Drake from Aliens, packing a pulse rifle and smart gun, and they can fire rockets as their special ability. Besides special abilities such as the healing stations and rockets, there are also squad buffs available, like the Medic who can improve weapon efficiency for the team for a short period of time.
Between missions, you return to your base of operations inside a colonial marine transport, which looks like the hangar from Aliens. Here you can change and level up your class, upgrade and equip modifications for weapons, purchase new weapons and there are even some clothing options available. Once your team is ready, you boot up a mission and have the option to equip optional challenge cards. When these cards are completed, they can reward you with additional experience or currency. Some challenge cards might reward a 1.5x experience and currency for having a 50/50 chance that your med packs will fail when you use them.
Gameplay-wise, just like those titles we mentioned such as Gears of War, you have a primary and secondary weapon, special abilities and can move into cover and vault over some obstacles. Both the enemies and the level structure are basically a merging of Aliens and Left 4 Dead. Sadly though, there isn’t much in the way of story in Aliens: Fireteam Elite – but there is fun to be had!
Just like in horde shooters, there’s a large variety of enemy types, ranging from the runners which are somewhat inspired by the design from Alien vs. Predator and Alien 3, running on all fours and being more of a cannon fodder variant just like the standard zombies in Left 4 Dead. The Drone, pulled from the original Alien movie, appears from pipes and vents then strikes, and when it starts to take too much damage, retreats and hides. The Warrior from Aliens acts a bit like a tank class, rather than how it was portrayed as a swarming enemy in the 1986 film. Just like in nearly every Alien game, there are Weyland-Yutani synthetic soldiers that change the flow of combat, but do make things play like a generic third-person shooter.
“For the first game developed by Cold Iron Studios, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a fun enough indie arcade shooter that’s set in the Aliens universe…”
While Aliens: Fireteam Elite is fun to play with some friends, there are some things that may irritate hardcore Alien fans. As mentioned, there’s no real story here, so if you’re looking for one, we highly recommend Alien Isolation (though that’s more of a horror title). Secondly, if you’re an Aliens fan and know about the different breeds and such, warriors acting like Left 4 Dead‘s Chargers don’t really make sense.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is really intended for multiplayer with friends, and playing solo can be a bit lacklustre and harder. Also, sadly the pulse rifle has no undermounted grenade launcher (come on, it’s one of the most iconic movie weapons!). Aliens: Fireteam Elite is an arcade action horde shooter too, and there are moments where the game tries to set up some jump scare moments by having vents drop and Prowler enemies pounce on you, but it doesn’t really work. This is partially due to the atmosphere and sound design in each level, as they both feel a bit flat and generic.
For the first game developed by Cold Iron Studios, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a fun enough indie arcade shooter that’s set in the Aliens universe, but many will miss the story involvement of previous series titles. Still, you don’t really need to pay attention to story elements or dialogue to shoot those xenomorphs!
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is available now on PS5, Xbox and PS4.