Left 4 Dead was an immediate hit thanks to its unique cooperative survival mechanics within the context of a zombie shooter. Unfortunately, the series has been stagnant for nearly a decade, and fans have been left craving another entry. While Valve isn't reviving the series, developer Holospark made it the driving inspiration for its upcoming game Earthfall.
Many of the ideas behind Left 4 Dead are intact with Earthfall: Players work in teams of four to get from one side of the map to the other, completing objectives and finding caches along the way. As expected, getting across the map isn't easy. Rather than dealing with a zombie outbreak, Earthfall players are in the midst of an alien invasion.
The scenario I played dropped me in the middle of a wooded area and tasked me with re-activating a dam's power to destroy a nest of alien pods before calling for evacuation – easier said than done. In addition to the grunts that litter the roadways and backwoods, I encounter aliens that pop with a poisonous cloud when you kill them, lanky creatures that quickly close distance to snatch you, and massive tanks that can absorb damage like a sponge.
When you restore power to an area, it attracts the swarm. This may seem risky but is in your best interest as you can also use the healing stations and 3D printers to make new weapons. The weaponry I found during my mission included standard fare like pistols and automatic rifles, but also alien tech like a gun that blasted glowing green explosives.
After I complete the mission and destroy the pods, things get real sticky at the dam. I make a break for it to the barn where there's far less heat. Unfortunately, in order to call for an evacuation, I need to restore power, which draws the attention of a swarm. I'm immediately surrounded on all sides of the shed I sought refuge in. At first, I easily handle the standard creatures hurtling themselves at me, but things once again get chaotic when an exploding alien takes out two of my teammates. Shortly after that, I'm downed and shooting at any passersby with my pistol to desperately try and help my sole remaining teammate. Sadly, the swarm closes in on him and tears him apart, causing our mission to fail at the last possible moment.
From what I played, the steady pacing, strong gunplay, and intense firefights make for enjoyable and compelling feats. I loved how even though I wasn't using voice chat, my teammates called out items they spotted to make for a more approachable teamplay experience.
I've been wanting a new Left 4 Dead with today's technological advancements for a while now. While there's no indication we'll get that anytime soon, Earthfall is everything I'd want from a spiritual successor to Valve's Left 4 Dead series. Earthfall is currently available on Steam Early Access. I can't wait to see the full breadth of this alien invasion when it launches on PS4, Xbox One, and PC this spring.