Earth Defense Force 5
Release: December 7th, 2017
Are you the kind of person that likes to watch old 80s horror and sci-fi films to laugh at how bad they are? If this is you, then you will love the Earth Defense Force series. The series is known for its intentionally cheesy dialogue and game set pieces and Earth Defense Force 5 is no exception.
For the uninitiated, Earth Defense Force is a third-person shooter in which you fend off hoards of enemies, including giant ants, giant spiders, even bigger spiders, massive hornets, giant bi-pedal frogmen, robots, flying saucers and more! There’s a lot of enemy variety but the most impressive thing is the sheer quantity of enemies that are thrown at you at once, at any time there can literally be hundreds+ enemies on the screen at once.
Earth Defense Force is not a series you play for the story, even though the spoken dialogue is hilariously performed and so cliché at times you might feel like you want to die. To sum up the entire story, there is a sudden appearance of giant insectoid monsters and aliens all over the planet and as a new recruit of the EDF, it is your job to eradicate this threat to humanity and save earth from these invaders.
Earth Defense Force at its core is a run and gun, wave-based shooter. You enter a map and hundreds of enemies will spawn, it’s then down to you to defeat them without getting yourself killed. Now, this would get pretty stale if this is all you had to do, you see, the beauty of EDF is its loot system. In the Earth Defense Force series, once an enemy is killed, it will likely drop items. White boxes act as an immediate health pack restoring HP, Red Boxes are additional Armour which is a permeant boost to your overall armour stat upon completion of the current and the third type of item, the green weapon box is what will keep you engaged and coming back for more. What’s inside the Green Weapon boxes are revealed to you at the end of your current mission, this will be a randomized weapon based on the mission number and what difficulty you are playing on.
Not knowing what kind of weapon, you are going to get can be quite exciting, it’s like a game with loot boxes, which you don’t have to spend any money on. Any duplicate weapons you find automatically level up your current version, offering more firepower, faster reload speeds etc, If you have ever played a game in the Borderlands series, well weapon stats kind of work similar to that.
There are 5 separate levels of difficulty for each map going from Easy all the way to Inferno. Playing on Inferno will net you the best type of loot drops at the cost of much more aggressive enemy numbers, and even slight variations on standard enemies will more health etc. This means you can set a slightly lower level mission while playing Inferno farming for higher grade weapons. I know this type of grinding is not for everyone, but I tend to find this very relaxing for some reason. There’s something really satisfying about finding a better version of your current weapon.
While on the subject of levels, it’s probably worth noting that Earth Defense Force 5’s base game is a staggering 110 missions long. Each mission will take you between five or twenty minutes to complete dependant on playstyle and what class you choose. Each level can be played and completed by each class with all five difficulties which a lot of replayability.
There is a total of four different classes you can choose to play in Earth Defense Force 5 and each of them is selectable from the get-go. First up is the Ranger class, who is basically a standard soldier infantry type. Rangers are ground-based and carry two weapons, usually a rifle of some sort and a rocket launcher, at least that is what I went with. Sniper rifles, shotguns and grenade launchers are also an option for Rangers. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s no ammo pickups, all bar a few special weapons have infinite ammunition which helps to keep an almost arcade-ish feel to the game and keep the momentum flowing nicely.
Rangers are somewhat mobile and fast on their feet, they are also able to use vehicles around the map. I recommend the ranger class for any beginner players.
Secondly, we have the Wing Diver class, somewhat a mascot for the series. Wing Divers are an all-female team of infantry soldiers that are fitted with jetpacks, they have a lower base health and armour when compared to the ranger and other classes but have the ability to fly and can cross large areas very quickly. Wing Divers operate on a ‘cooldown’ system where they have a certain amount of energy that they need for firing weapons and flying, once this is depleted they need to wait a few moments for this to recharge, this can create some real risk vs reward type moments which are always good at keeping your adrenaline flowing.
Wing Divers mainly use energy weapons and lasers, I usually keep a high-powered sniper rifle on mine.
Next, we have the Air Raider. The Air Raider is a fun class but one that I cannot gel with personally. The air raider is more of a support class and sadly, I have no friends, so I pretty much played this alone. The Air raider, as the name suggests, can call in airstrikes, drop additional vehicles onto the map and set up sentry guns and shields etc. This class is actually very powerful being able to lay down some extreme devastation on large groups of enemies with its airstrikes, you just need to be careful as they are essentially useless on maps that take place in an interior setting.
In Earth Defense Force 5, Air Raiders are now able to zoom out the camera to get a better look at the whole map before they call in their strikes, this makes using this class much more viable, as in previous games the Air raider would just roughly mark the area and pray its targets got hit.
Finally, we have the big boys, the Fencers. The Fencer Class is effectively a guy in a robotic mech suit, they can deliver massive damage using heavy machine guns, Gatling cannons, flamethrowers etc and have a high amount of armour at the cost of mobility. They are your archetypal tank class, able to dish out a lot of damage and take a lot in return.
Personally, I find this class way to slow to use, but I can see how others may enjoy this class.
Now, as you can probably tell, these four classes all have their pros and cons and that is because Earth Defense Force 5 is at it’s best when played with other people. Each class complements each other in one way or another and EDF 5 allows for both local split-screen co-op as well as online play, so even people like me, with no friends, can continue to mow down waves of alien monsters while annoyingly making my ranger shout ‘EDF!’ via the in-game communications menu, much to the bemusement of others.
This in-game communications menu is very nice and on PS4 you can customize your most used commands to be accessible via the touchpad, this is perfect for people who do not want to be involved in a party’s ‘chat’.
Although I prefer to play solo a lot of the time, I have to admit, playing with other people can be a lot of fun in Earth Defense Force 5, especially at the higher difficulty settings.
Earth Defense Force 5 is a lot of fun and a worthy entry in one of my favourite series. It doesn’t change a lot from the previous games in terms of gameplay, however, that is no bad thing. Just be warned, this game can be quite addictive and very time consuming, but not in a bad way! Who doesn’t enjoy killing a ton of alien bugs afterall? I highly recommend Earth Defense Force 5, go and play it!