Homefront: The Revolution
Deep Silver showed off a new trailer for Homefront: The Revolution at Microsoft's Gamescom presentation, showing a glimpse of what life is like for Americans living under occupation of the Korean People's Army. Today, I got to experience it myself, in the first hands-on demo for the game. Deep Silver Dambuster Studios is reimagining the world the first game set up, keeping the sense of oppression and unease but blowing everything else wide open. Here are five big things you need to know about Homefront: The Revolution.
Philly's Seen Better Days
Homefront: The Revolution is set in Philadelphia, well after the KPA occupation has taken hold. The sequel basically scrapped everything but the premise from the first game, even going back and creating an alternate timeline that reaches back 50 years in the past. That fictional history is designed to better explain how exactly the Koreans were able to take control of the United States and lend more plausibility to the scenario. The demo took place in the city's red zone, the blasted-out suburban ring surrounding the city. It's a shoot-on-sight area, and it's essentially open warfare.
The area was hard hit during the initial invasion, and the industrial area is a wide expanse of ruin and devastation. Fortunately for the resistance, one man's bombed-out building is another's shortcut, providing ways for them to slip past enemy patrols without being noticed. There's a special significance to Philadelphia, too. The KPA has set up its central command there as a show of power, turning the birthplace of American democracy into a totalitarian nightmare. Fortunately for us, revolution runs in our blood.
During the demo, I raided cabinets and other supply stashes as often as possible. These supplies can be used to create a variety of items, all of which go into what Dambuster is calling the guerilla toolkit. This arsenal of improvised munitions can be pulled up in a radial menu, allowing players to pull out something explosive in a few seconds. There are several variants under each category, provided you have the required items and know-how to assemble them. Explosive options include pipe bombs, remotely detonated bombs, and, my favorite, an RC car that can be driven to an enemy and detonated at will.
Firearms are similarly customizable. Your character, Ethan Brody, can do more than field strip his weapon. He can swap parts in and out at will, to sometimes extreme lengths. I could swap my weapon's parts out to transform it from an assault rifle to a limpit-mine-firing beast in seconds. Or the shotgun could be transformed from firing traditional shells to projectiles that create tiny firestorms to engulf enemies in flames. I like the idea of swapping parts out to change the character of a weapon rather than simply using a different one. There were moments where I hunkered behind cover trying to figure out how best to fight my way out of a situation, and having that kind of offensive flexibility was cool. If you're getting pinned down by a sniper, why not turn it into a sniper duel?
You're Definitely Not Invincible
Bullets hit hard in Homefront. It only takes a few shots to end Ethan's role in the resistance, which adds to the sense of vulnerability. Talking with senior narrative director C.J. Kershner afterward, he pointed out that you'll spend a fair amount of time running away in the game – something that rarely happens in shooters. You're facing overwhelming odds, and what might seem like a reasonable target can quickly overpower you once reinforcements are called in. You're in a guerilla war, which means the most effective way to fight is often to strike quickly and then move out of sight. Most of my deaths came when I lingered and overstayed my welcome.
The Resistance Probably Won't Win
One of the first objectives I had was a strike point. These are missions that, when cleared, give the resistance a toehold in a location. For this one, I had to take out a patrol and then get some intel by hacking. The patrol was relatively easy, thanks to a handy trap that ignited and dumped several fuel drums onto the APC and KPA soldiers underneath. The next part was trickier, since I needed to avoid being discovered by soldiers and aerial surveillance. I found a motorcycle and was able to use ramps and rooftops to get to my objective. Once that was done, several points of interest popped up, like what you'd see after destroying a radio tower in the Far Cry games.
This Is Only The Beginning
Even though you're working to give your resistance allies safe places to work, the red zone will never truly be safe. You're vastly outnumbered, and you're not going to scare the hardened KPA forces out by throwing a few molotov cocktails. They're still the ruling party, and they'll remain a hostile presence. Your life will be easier by creating free spaces via strike points, but you're not cleansing areas of anything. The fight won't just take place in the red zone, however. Other areas are designated yellow and green, and they're part of the game's open world, too. Yellow zones are where American civilians have been forced to live, while the green zones are reserved for the KPA. Judging from the amount of devastation on hand and how entrenched the enemy is in just the red zone, however, you're not going to be raising the American flag over the entire nation when the credits roll.
Homefront: The Revolution is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2016.