E3 2014 Homefront: The Revolution Preview: Guerrilla warfare never looked so good
2011’s Homefront had some high expectations which I think many of us would agree it didn’t quite live up to. With Crytek having acquired the rights to the franchise following THQ’s bankruptcy, the new developers certainly have their work cut out for them. And though it looks to be an improvement upon its predecessor, I’m still not sold that Homefront: The Revolution marks a complete turnaround for the series. It looks to be on the right track though.
As a free-roaming open-world game, it’s clear that Crytek is looking to establish a new precedent for the series. Go big or go home, right? During my behind-closed-doors, hands-off preview of the game, I was shown just a bit of what Homefront: The Revolution offers: pretty graphics and somewhat bland-looking gameplay. Of course, without being able to actually go hands-on with the game for myself, it’s hard to comment too much on the gameplay.
First off, this is a Crytek game, so it looks good. From the dynamic weather to the day/night cycles to the actual appearance of the world around you, Homefront: The Revolution is a true testament to what next-gen consoles offer in terms of graphical capabilities.
As for the plot, the game takes place in 2029, four years into the occupation of the Korean People’s Army, following the events of 2011’s Homefront. In this dystopian future, America has fallen, but all is not lost. In the badlands of Philadelphia, the birthplace of America, a resistance is forming -- led by you, Ethan Grady. And through guerrilla warfare tactics like assassination and sabotage missions, it’s up to you to ignite the revolution. So the plot is cool too.
What has me worried is the gameplay. As I mentioned it was a hands-off preview, so I don’t have a feel for the actual controls, but combat just looks bland. Set “partway” through the game, Grady gets a call from a resistance cell to attack a police station in the “yellow zone” to free prisoners. So what did this involve? For the most part, a lot of sneaking around. Remember, this is an occupied Philadelphia, so much of what you do involves scavenging for supplies to combine and craft your toolkit, taking out enemies quietly as to not attract attention, and other guerrilla warfare tactics.
Rather than waste your time recapping every single event in the preview, I’ll instead cover a few interesting features. For starters, crafting your supplies can be done on the fly. In the preview, we had an automatic rifle which could be customized to our liking using supplies we scavenged from the city. This was done on-the-fly without the need for any sort of workbench. Also, it appears as though your smart phone will serve as a primary tool within the game. Using the camera mode, you can highlight threats and other key points of interest in the environment.
One part of the preview that stood out to me particularly was using the camera to highlight all of my potential threats. Then, using supplies scavenged, building an improved explosive device and attaching it to an RC Car. From there, the previewer followed a transport into the enemy base and blew out the prison door. It was just a taste of the type of tactics I expect to use when the full game releases. But from there, the preview turned into full-blown chaos. With the enemy now on full alert Homefront: The Revolution seemed to become just another generic shooter, with Grady running through linear pathways, shooting anything in sight. Any sense of being an underdog seemed forgotten as the next 5-or-so minutes involved a full-blown shootout.
It’s possible that Crytek chose to use this demo to showcase the variety of gameplay options that you’ll experience in Homefront: The Revolution, but I don’t think it did any justice in terms of setting it apart from first-person shooters we’ve already experience. It’s possible my opinion could change with some hands-on time with the game, but I’ve yet to see any evidence that Homefront: The Revolution offers anything more than a few moments of stealth and very impressive graphics.