As a big fan of using absurd weapons against enemies that nobody can recognise as ants, often doing so while shoulder-to-shoulder with some friends, all of whom are also confused by the whole ant thing, I’m obviously pretty excited about Earth Defense Force: World Brothers, which is coming to PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch on May 27th.
EDF: World Brothers takes the series away from its surprisingly gritty core concepts, and turns the whole thing into a cutesy voxel-based shooter. You’re unlikely to be confronted by the horrors of military life, the world losing 80% of its population, or the cold realities of having to kill god here.
Instead, you’ll find yourself journeying around a broken planet finding trying to fight off invaders from across the EDF pantheon of games. You’ll be using characters from across those same games, along with a bunch of new ones, all of whom are based on different cultures from human history. That means that you’ll get to have Amigo Brother from Mexico or Royal Brother from the UK helping out.
Around the world
Each of these characters has a weapon, a special skill, and an ultimate ability, all of which will be loosely based on the culture they’re taken from. All of these characters are voiced with accents, and while the team state that they’ve tried to make sure accents are in keeping with the place the Brothers and Sisters are from, it does make me a touch nervous that the final game could cause offence if not handled well. Thankfully, from what I saw, these tend to be closer to entertaining caricatures or plays on lighthearted stereotypes rather than anything offensive.
That means you’ve got the likes of Royal Brother chucking down castle walls to hide behind before being able to summon an army of toy Royal Guards to defend you and your team. It’s a fun take on it, and the reality of that means there are going to be a lot of characters to mess around with.
In terms of gameplay, the hook here is that you can switch between your squad of four characters as you go. For example, in the hands-off demo that I saw, the player used a Wing Diver to get on top of a building before swapping to a class with more firepower and laying waste to the swarms of ants below.
All of this feeds into the normal loop of EDF games of running around shooting at hordes of enemies while you become obnoxiously powerful and use completely over-the-top weapons, but this time each of these is a reference to one of the World Brothers and Sisters or a previous game in the series. You’ll also be happy to hear that you can still destroy buildings too, and that the new voxel style makes this even more satisfying than ever before.
Teamwork makes the dream work
There’s still co-op throughout the game, although it differs slightly based on the platform with online co-op available on all, local co-op available on Nintendo Switch, and splitscreen available on PS4. With an online co-op for up to four players you’ll each have a full squad of four still, which means that there could potentially be sixteen characters on the field at any given time, plus all of the bugs and aliens as well. Things could easily become very hectic, and I’m very curious about how well the frame rate can manage that on lower powered machines. We’ll just have to see how later, more bombastic levels hold up when it actually comes out.
There are a lot of interesting systems in place around levelling up your characters, changing their weapons, finding accessories, and then actually picking the best possible squad for any given mission, which should make this a delight for those who love min-maxing and optimising builds. If you really want to max things out you’ll likely be replaying levels a fair bit, but that’s always been part of the fun in the EDF series.
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers is also very clearly meant as an entry point into the series for younger players and less adept gamers. While it might be slightly easier than the standard games, there are still plenty of difficulty modes to run through, and more than enough different playstyles to make it worth playing through each mission a few times.
This little preview of the game did what I think a preview should always do, and that’s to make me more excited for the game’s release. With an even sillier tone and some lighter gameplay elements, this could be a pretty excellent new entry in a very under-appreciated series.