Review – Earthfall (Switch)

Left 4 Dead is one of my all time favourite co-op games, a game that is perfect to play with friends thanks to its structure and highly replayable gameplay. Earthfall is clearly inspired by the zombie shooter, but does it re-capture its charm? And was the Switch version competently ported?

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First impressions aren’t great

There’s not much of a story in Earthfall. Earth has been invaded by aliens and you must push them back in a battle for survival. It’s not the focus of the game, and is pushed really heavily to the background to let the gameplay shine through. You play as one of four survivors, each with their own personalities, and that is all you’re going to get story-wise.

Much like its inspirations, Earthfall is played from a first person perspective and heavily focused on co-operative play, with AI characters filling out the remaining player slots. Even in single player you will have AI with you at all times and they function identically. The AI is certainly competent, healing you when you are low on health, and even managing to take down special enemies, but they certainly aren’t anything special and will more often than not get in your way. Prepare to spend a lot of time with AI as well, since matchmaking will often never fill a complete lobby unless you are with friends.

Multiple special enemy types are pretty much pulled from Left 4 Dead as well, with your standard archetypes of hunters, tanks, spitters and more. Earthfall doesn’t really do anything unique or special, instead sticking plainly to the standard roster of monsters you already know. At the very least, they are a ton of fun to fight, with interesting visual designs that really stand out and feel unique.

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Turret sections are plentiful.

Throughout the levels you will come across moments when you have to stop and hold down the area. In order to succeed, you’re able to place barriers and control turrets with an ungodly amount of ammo. There are other times you will need to do things such as gather fuel, push a vehicle or reactivate a power source, all with the game randomly throwing more alien hordes at you. It’s a basic gameplay loop that doesn’t innovate that much, but also doesn’t need to because, as Todd Howard would say, “it just works”. It’s always fun to deal with wave after wave of aliens.

Playing on the Switch though was rather underwhelming even though for the most part it is a playable game in handheld mode. The visuals are surprisingly less clean, with bad texture work and a lower resolution. This would have been forgiven if the frame rate was at the very least solid, but that isn’t the case, with some rampant drops that really impact the gameplay. Whenever the alien horde shows up in massive numbers, the frame rate just tanks hard, and it can be genuinely tricky to see what the hell is happening and aim accurately. Sound design is pretty good though, with your crew of survivors making calls to alert you of nearby threats and points of interest. Weapons all sound pretty powerful with the shotgun being the highlight.

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Prepare to setup a lot of barricades.

As for the amount of content in this version of Earthfall, We have two main campaigns available to play with five missions each. There’s also a bonus mission and a horde mode known as Invasion which provides a smaller arena for you to fight in. Much like Left 4 Dead, they are heavily focused on being highly replayable with some great level designs and slightly randomised through the AI director.

Earthfall is a pretty good co-operative game but the Switch version leaves much to be desired. It’s certainly in a playable state, but the frame rate drops can be pretty heavy, impacting the overall gameplay and your enjoyment.

 

Graphics: 4.0

Underwhelming Switch port with some really heavy frame rate drops.

Gameplay: 6.5

You’re basically getting the same gameplay style and control scheme from Left 4 Dead, but with aliens.

Sound: 7.0

Competent sound design that handily helps the player with regular call outs on enemies and objectives.

Fun Factor: 6.0

Earthfall is a decent co-operative shooter that just feels unpolished, especailly on Switch.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Earthfall is available now on Switch, Xbox One and PC.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Earthfall was provided by the publisher.

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