Killzone: Shadow Fall Preview

Killzone: Shadow Fall isn’t, at least at the moment, Killzone 4. It’s being branded like Mercenary – a side plate to the already established three course meal that we’d normally associate with mainline console releases for the series. An odd choice, perhaps, or just a way for Guerrilla to subvert expectation a little and change the angle.

Killzone: Shadow Fall PlayStation 4

That angle, it seems, is one of further nuances between the Vectans and the Helghast, separated by what appears to be a Berlin Wall-esque physical and political barrier. Things have obviously changed by 2381, but then the developers have acquired a habit of pulling the rug from under us.

The live demonstration appeared to illustrate one thing: that Shadow Fall would adhere to the common Killzone specsheet of funnelled pockets of gameplay interspersed with momentary cut-scenes designed to punctuate the action and progress the story, the pacing controlled by the writers.

That’s a core element of the games of course, and nobody expects Guerrilla to craft a huge open world ripe for gentle exploration; rather, by ramping up the visuals and adding in a few new tricks (the slow-motion worked beautifully) Sony are showing that they know what works with the brand and don’t want to mess around for the sake of it.

And the graphics are rightly change enough. Rich, deep primary colours bathe the level shown and shimmering reflections, drifting leaves and a skybox to die for are a marked difference from Killzone 2’s gunmetal grey and the sequel’s muddy brown. It looked beautiful, and as Vecta City stretched miles into the distance it was evident Guerrilla had already mastered the platform.

It’s the lighting, the smoke, the still wonderful animation and the incidentals and the background noise. There’s little in the way of level-of-detail shifts as the dropship first approaches, a staggering achievement.

But when the explosion came and the switcheroo tricked the audience, the game really started to flex its muscles. The instant change to a desperately broken version of the environment you were in is startling, the debris and dust almost choking. And although it’s tricky to tell when someone else is playing, it looks like the AI has had a little boost, something we’d hope to see a lot of this next generation.

The gunplay bore a closer resemblance to Killzone 2, too. That rifle (loved the sniper scope section) was decisive and swift, the player unencumbered and agile, but there was something about the way the sequence played out that reminded me of the first time we saw the PS3’s initial outing – the enemy looked alive, and with a real purpose, rather than just sitting ducks.

We’re always going to see a game in its best played by someone familiar with every aspect of it, but that’s true of all on-stage demos. It’s clear that Guerrilla are bringing back the on-rails elements (possibly the weakest part of the showing) but it’s in these portions where, with control of the camera and the movement, the developers can show us the visuals at their best.

And, so, as the presentation ends and the gameplay is effortlessly pushed online via the PS4’s Share button (and presented below in its entirety) PlayStation fans know exactly what they’ll be getting with the game. No massive diversions despite the name (at least not yet) and it ticks the checkbox labeled “first person shooter for launch” – job done.



  1. This looked gorgeous when announced. I’m curious as to what sort of co-op or multiplayer they might integrate into the single player (if any). Was I the only one hoping that PSN IDs were going to pop up above the Helgan Drones and Vectan gunships at the end of the clip?

  2. Not my type of game but thought last night’s footage was brilliant.

  3. This game caught my completely off guard. Before watching the conference I joked with my mates saying “I’ll get one if they announce Killzone”, thinking, what with the Vita game in development, there would be no chance of a PS4 game. How wrong I was, lol.
    Very pumped for this now. Once I hear a price I will be pre-ordering

    • The Vita game is Cambridge Studio (I believe) working closely with some of the staff at GG to get it right. So it’s not really taking up huge amounts of resources at GG, and they’ve been able to push on this.

      • Ahh makes sense :) The only Sony console I’ve owned in the past couple of years has been a recently acquired PSP so I’m a little out of the loop, heh.

  4. The new helghan rabbit like mask was siiiick!!! The camo was doope lol

    • I can tell you’re special straight away.

  5. Very impressive showing, but as soon as you look closely you get the little hints of how early on this is in development, still.

    To my eyes, the animation was a bit clanky at times, and some was obviously canned rather than ragdoll in that explosion, since a couple of NPCs pulled the exact same motion. NPC faces all lacked any real animation, and I think there was a lot of models being reused.

    I’m not sure how tuned up the AI was, as troopers would pretty much ignore the player at points, but then he was probably playing on the easiest difficulty. Nerves must have been getting to him a little too, as he barely hit anything!

    But for all the flaws when you dig into the nitty gritty, this game’s going to kick arse, going by this presentation. The engine is all there, with particle elements and physics up the proverbial wazoo, and it’s a true generational leap in scale and ambition. GG know what they’re doing with gameplay, too, and this future cold war styled plot is particularly intruiging.

    So, I’m nicely hyped about this.

    • Agreed. I could see the flaws (mo-cap was missing at key moments) but it was stunning looking and the man-made vista was captivating to look at.

    • Pretty much my exact opinion. I’m sure it’ll be a fine FPS, but I’m a little disappointed that Guerilla didn’t take this break in the Killzone status quo to stretch their creativity a little more. If you squint at the PS4 footage it could easily be any of the previous three iterations, which seems like a missed opportunity and a crying shame.

      • I very much disagree, and squinting at something when you want to let the vastly improved visuals and effects sink in is a little counterintuitive.

        I was just pointing out that on second viewing, some of the smoke and mirrors were on show for how they got it to work in time for this unveiling.

        Wanting a new franchise is something else entirely, but if you look closely, beyond the slight flaws, there is a lot to be impressed by in pushing this franchise forward. Especially in terms of plot and setting.

    • the ISA NPC in the beginning was walking like a thunderbird

  6. Loving the smoke and lighting. Any word on framerate for the stuff we’ve been shown? I’m guessing we’re still dealing with 30FPS, and don’t mind as long as it’s stable and v-synced, but it would be nice to know.

  7. That whole rope section was awful.

  8. “…It looked beautiful, and as Vecta City stretched miles into the distance it was evident Guerrilla had already mastered the platform.”

    You sure about that? I know the technology inside it isn’t the absolute newest available custom built madness, but surely there’s scope for development like there’s been in previous platforms?

    I though this looked great. I was planning on holding off on a PS4, I’m not sure now.

  9. Wow i thought this looked good yesterday, watching that official trailer in 1080p really makes a massive difference, its almost on the same level as CGI!!!

  10. So…this is set 30 years after events of Killzone 3?.My inner geek is screaming that it’s odd that niether the ISA or Helgan forces have seemed to upgrade their tech in the 30 years since.

    In the Helghan timeline, after the 1st extrasolar war, Vekta was divided by those colonists from the Helgan Corporation and those Earth Colonists sent in to ‘thin’ the numbers out somewhat and as tensions rose between the 2, Helgan forces started carrying out terrorist acts on the Earth forces, leading to the eventual relocation of Helgan Colonists to Planet Helgan in 2220.

    Think my timeline is right.

    Anywho, game proper, even in early stages, it’s great to see a more colourful setting, even if it does scream ‘far too generic’.

    Killzone 3 (and KZ2 in some mags), was ripped apart for being too cliched, generic etc, you can bet your bottom Dollar, same magazines (EDGE, Gamestm etc) are already sharpening their knifes for the 1st high profile PS4 games. to deliver something new, IF it’s by the numbers? god help it.Whilst Halo and Modern Warfare get away with thier sins at review, likes of Killzone and Bad Company always seemed to suffer.

    • I spotted a few differences, the rifle most obviously and the ISA sidearm seems to have received a lovely upgrade. The ATAC drones looked even more fearsome than usual too and they were scary to begin with.

      I’m fairly hopeful we’ll see plenty more upgrades like this by release (whenever that is.) :)

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