The multiplayer portions of Killzone 2 and Killzone 3, I thought, were fun and satisfying experiences that acted as suitable counterparts to their respective singleplayer campaigns. At the time, I felt that Killzone 3 multiplayer had taken a step back from its predecessor but (as is mostly the case) playing with a group of friends enhanced the game by leaps and bounds.
Killzone’s signature first-person shooting and movement saturated these multiplayer modes, too, and instead of speeding through the online worlds before rapidly snapping your gun into place to shoot enemies, Killzone fans will know that the series employs a much more steadily paced method of getting around a level. Walking and running feels a lot heavier and solid than most other shooters with an aiming system to match – it really does feel as though you’re wielding a weighted hunk of metal and firing off punchy rounds of ammunition.
After playing a snippet of Killzone: Shadow Fall’s singleplayer campaign at E3 2013 and being treated to Guerrilla Games’ latest (amazing looking) vision for the series, I got to get to grips with the multiplayer portion of the game at gamescom 2013 to complete the experience. From what I played, it seems as though Killzone fans are going to be right at home in Shadow Fall online, and very happy to stay a while, too.
Killzone: Shadow Fall – gamescom 2013 Screenshots
To begin, we were told that Guerrilla approached the development of Killzone: Shadow Fall multiplayer with three core principles: Accessibility, the chance to master and develop your own playstyle, and the creation of a game that evolves with the community. The features that Guerilla has injected into Shadow Fall multiplayer each dovetail into one another to strengthen these three pillars, with one of the most significant changes being that all weapons and classes are unlocked from the very beginning.
Whether you pick up the game on day one, or a year from launch, you’ll be able to immediately set to work playing with the weapon you want, in the class you want and in the style you want, and instead of experience points previously used to progress your online persona, there will be over 1500 in-game challenges that you can work towards that will help you unlock attachments for your weapons, be they scopes, secondary fire abilities or something else, therefore allowing you to specialise in – and customise – your favourite weapon.
It’s in His Skill, That’s Where it is
This time around, your progression is based on your own skill as opposed to how long you’re willing to grind, and challenges are presented depending on which playstyle you choose. If you’re playing as a sniper in the Scout class, for example, you’ll be given the challenge of performing a certain number of headshots with a particular weapon to progress. If you’re an Assault class member, perhaps you’ll need to use your shield in different situations or if you’ve chosen the Support class, you might be challenged to create a spawn point or turret, or call in air support, to complete a task.
Completed challenges add to your rank, which is displayed on your player card along with any recent medals, all of which are shown to your victims online after you’ve taken them down, similar to Battlefield or Call of Duty.
In addition, and during my time playing the Shadow Fall multiplayer, you’ll be able to unlock certain perks as you play. I had chosen a speed up perk, which I was happily contributing progress towards with every kill in a given match. These perks, it was explained to me, will only be available for a given map rotation and once you exit an online session all progress towards that perk will be removed, which I’m sure will encourage players to stay in a series of matches for as long as possible (and perhaps even discourage quitting midway).
Killzone: Shadow Fall – gamescom 2013 Trailer
One of the most interesting reveals at the Killzone: Shadow Fall presentation was that of Warzones. Killzone players will recognise this as a game mode that dynamically changed game types as you completed objectives, but in Shadow Fall Warzones will be fully customisable game variants with the option to choose which maps and modes will be rotated, which classes and weapons are allowed in the game, which abilities can be used and how many players can get in. You can even set the victory conditions, which means you can create a Warzone game where the only way you can win is by getting the most headshots, knife kills or revives.
With ten maps at launch, twenty-two weapons, eight game modes, three classes, twenty-four possible players (with a minimum of four), and loads of attachments and abilities to select, include, allow and disallow, you’ll be able to create your ultimate Warzone, which you can then name and share with the Killzone community. What’s great about the system is that Guerrilla Games will be actively sieving through community Warzone variants and promoting the very best ones alongside the team’s own official match types.
Guerrilla will be adding even more variety to your Warzone options with expansion packs that include more features and content in the future, and the better news is that all multiplayer maps for Shadow Fall going forward will be free to download.
Killzone.com will also be more fully integrated into the online experience with official clan support and the chance to customise your online identity included, and if you need to test your Warzone (or you’re just keen on practicing) there will be multiplayer bots to play against either online or offline. If you have more than enough friends to play with, however, a full Party system (and chat) will naturally be supported in Shadow Fall, too.
But what about the game itself?
Hands on, Hats Off
We played two rounds of Warzone, each with their own options toggled on and off, and each with their own objectives to complete. Playing as an Assault rifleman, I had access to a shield as well as some sort of pulse effect that stunned enemies in my immediate radius. As mentioned, I set about the task of earning a speed up perk to run a little faster over the battlefield, but other perks that multiplayer shooter fans would expect seemed to be present, too.
Shadow Fall feels exactly the way fans of the series might expect and I was able to hop right in without needing any time to acclimate myself. If anything, player movement feels a touch more fluid than previous games with what I can only describe as snappier reaction time, but this disparity is probably down to the despicable framerate of Killzone 3 online. The frame rate of Shadow Fall still isn’t where I would personally like it to be and is noticeably sluggish in parts, but I’m going to give Guerrilla the benefit of the doubt and assume that this will be addressed before launch.
The levels that we played through were consistently impressive, though, with the lighting and swirling particle effects in particular able to complement the detailed weapon models and detritus in the maps. Thanks to the various objectives and the helpful mini map in the corner of the screen (which showed allies and encountered enemies) gunfights were fairly frequent but I’m positive as players learn the ins and outs of the arenas the skirmishes will materialise more often and with more strategy and ferocity than what I saw.
As a launch game for PlayStation 4, I’m really looking forward to spinning up Killzone: Shadow Fall later this year because after playing only small portions of the game’s singleplayer and multiplayer modes, it’s going to be the most complete exclusive package that the system has to offer.
Follow El33tonline’s coverage of gamescom 2013 for our continued impressions from the show this year, with photos, sights, sounds and more to come.