Previews// Dispatches from EGX - Homefront: The Revolution

Posted 9 Nov 2015 16:39 by
Chris O'Regan, host of The Sausage Factory (the inside baseball of the videogames world), has been out and about once again, keeping his nose to the ground at EGX to sniff out the best upcoming games you might not have heard about. Here's what he found...

Homefront: The Revolution
Developer: Dambuster Studios
Format(s): Xbox One, PS4, Mac, Linux and Windows PC

I remember traipsing the corridor that links the South Hall to the West Hall at E3 2010 and seeing the very large banners across the roof of that passage all festooned with the words 'Homefront'. THQ were pushing that game very hard that year and many thought it to be an FPS that might, just might, mind you, topple the mighty Call of Duty from its perch. When March 2011 rolled around and Homefront made its way out of Kaos Studios, however, it fell far short of expectations.

Now, five years later, things are somewhat different. THQ has long since ceased to be, as has Kaos Studios. Deep Silver picked up the rights of the Homefront franchise and tasked Dambuster Studios with creating a follow-up to the original game. Being the clever people that they are, they took one hard look at the original and thought 'rather than create a sequel, let's just reboot this thing' and that's exactly they have done by making Homefront: The Revolution.

Set in a near-future Philadelphia, the player takes control of a resistance fighter who has had enough of the oppression meted against him and his fellow Americans under the yoke of the occupying Korean army. He doesn't have any super powers, nor is particular resistent to being shot, a-la Master Chief.

Instead, he is a man who wants to free near-future America from the ravages of an invading army using guerrilla tactics, and that is the very central core to Homefront: The Revolution. The player is not a hero, they are a regular soldier fighting overwhelming odds and they must work together with fellow resistance fighters as a team in order to secure victory.

The environment of Homefront: The Revolution is what I call Near-Open World. This is where the player can go and do whatever they wish, but they can only do so within a predefined boundary. As soon as they go beyond it, the 'signal' is lost and the player character dies. It's a common method that has been used in the Battlefield games since their inception, but in these days of Grand Theft Auto V and Metal Gear Solid V they are a little hard to stomach. However, in Homefront: The Revolution's defence, there are gameplay mechanics present that require a smaller environment to work within.

With the resources available to the resistance being very limited at best, the player must use everything they can find to cobble together weapons and ordinance from the most unlikely of sources.

Molotov Cocktails are a popular and easy to build projectile weapon that is extremely effective in dealing with crowds of enemies. Guns can also be modified on the fly after items are found in the field that can be used to enhance them. This allows players to alter their weapons depending on the enemies that they face and the mission they are trying to complete.

During any engagement in Homefront: The Revolution there is a set of core objectives that the player needs to complete in order to progress. These actions can vary from successfully carrying out an ambush to shutting down a surveillance grid by hacking into it and negating the friend vs. foe recognition software. The means by which the player completes this task is entirely up to them, provided these actions are within the constraints of the game world.

When I first played Homefront: The Revolution it was at PAX Prime 2015 and it was there I took on the Korean army head-on by adopting the now familiar 'I am an invincible hero and I will win this war single handed' run and gun approach. I didn't last very long by doing that as my actions alerted an entire division of Korean soldiers who made short work of me.

So when I returned to Homefront: The Revolution during EGX 2015 I was determined to learn from my mistakes by actually hiding from the enemy and only taking them out if it was 100% required of me.

I did this by riding around the map in a motorcycle and diving into buildings and cover when I was spotted by the Koreans. This was a much more successful tactic as I managed to complete the objectives in the map by scrambling the defence systems and thus helping my fellow resistance fighters in the process.

Visually Homefront: The Revolution reminds me quite a lot of the Killzone games, with grey being the primary colour choice and the odd bright colour appearing through the gloom. Considering the world within which Homefront: The Revolution is set I'm not surprised there is a distinct lack of SEGA Blue Sky (tm) making its way into the game.

What I did find was that the animation was very convincing, as were the lighting and spot effects. What was troubling, however, was the amount of bugs and errors present in the
build I played both at PAX Prime and EGX 2015. At PAX I found myself falling through the world on three occasions and at EGX I encountered an enemy patrol actually pop into existence right in front of me! I'm sure these elements can be fixed prior to Homefront: The Revolution's release early next year on Xbox One, PS4, Windows PC, Mac and Linux, though.

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