Finding yourself caught in the middle of a “cold war” standoff between the Vektan and the Helghast, you must take part in shadow style missions along the border between the two nations. When we last saw the Helghast at the end of Killzone 3, (SPOILER ALERT) they were on the verge of extinction after the Petrusite detonation turned Helghan into a smoldering pile of uninhabitable rocks. Due to this incident, the Vektan have given refuge to the surviving Helghast, building massive walls separating the two societies. As it was with the debut of Killzone 2 on the PlayStation 3, Killzone: Shadow Fall is the showcase title for the PS4.
Peace between the two sides doesn’t last (if at all) and the VSA are fearful of the escalating small skirmishes between the two sides. In the majority of the missions, you won’t be alone with either useless AI controlled Vektan soldiers following you around or your trusty OWL drone. Using the DualShock 4’s touchpad, the OWL drone can be set to varying modes. I used the standard attack mode for the majority of my playthrough, serving as a distraction device as I worked my way into perfect flanking positions. If you find yourself caught out of a cover, you can easily throw up a shield that allows you to shoot through, but will deflect any incoming fire. Setting up zip lines – used heavily to transverse the environments – you can swiftly move from one location to another, especially one that may seem inaccessible. The stun ability can be finicky as the OWL will explode with a flash, but will not move around obstacles in the environment beforehand.
Taking you through the technological city of Vekta, across the wall into the slums of New Helghan, amongst other places the mission objectives are varied enough to maintain interest throughout the lengthy single-player campaign. There are two sequences late in the game in particular that do hamper the entire experience, but the 1.05 patch has already updated these experience to be less frustrating. I’ve played through them a second time post-patch and do appreciated Guerrilla Games already listening to player feedback. Free-falling through a crumbling city, you must guide yourself under and over buildings without a clearly defined path to follow leading to many instant deaths.
The dynamic Warzone mode made popular in Killzone 2 returns as Classic Warzone. For those unfamiliar with Warzone, objectives for both sides will be updated throughout the match from the standard Team Deathmatch, to Search and Destroy. Instead of locking weapons behind a leveling system requiring countless hours of grinding, Killzone: Shadow Fall features well over 1,500 challenges to complete. Offline bot matches allow you to prepare for facing real players, but you won’t be able to advance in the challenges during bot matches. There are only three separate classes, each with their own sets of abilities, such as being able to cloak, revive other players or use the ECHO ability from the campaign to ping the environment to find enemies.
Custom Warzones can be created, allowing players to create and share their own defined set of rules, instead of relying on the official modes created by Guerrilla Games. Looking to create my own Warzone, I immediately setout to create a Sniper free environment. I understand they may be a part of the game, but my hatred for those that sit back and try to pick off players at a distance and not play the objectives runs deep. Guerrilla intents to support the multiplayer portion of the game well after launch with free maps. The available Season Pass includes an optional co-op survival based mode and OWL drone skin, but will not include content for the competitive front.
Killzone: Shadow Fall will be best known for the visual showcase on day one of the PS4’s launch, but looking past the graphics, the game boosts a very solid multiplayer experience and lengthy campaign. The campaign can be frustrating at times and the pacing is inconsistent, especially late in the game where it feels like you are defending a room against waves of incoming Helghast soldiers every 20 minutes.Note: Killzone: Shadow Fall was reviewed on PlayStation 4. A physical copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.