Earth Defense Force 5, the latest of Sandlot's ridiculous B-movie themed shooters (not counting third-party spinoffs), is headed to PC. Earlier than I expected, too, as the UFOs land this Thursday, July 11th. As well as the usual armies of giant ants, spiders and wasps to blat by the hundreds with overpowered guns, this one adds giant humanoid frog-soldiers with regenerating limbs to the mix. My brother and I have already played the PS4 version of this one to death in co-op, so you'll find some thoughts on it below, as well as a bombastic announcement trailer. EDF! EDF! EDF!
If you've never had the joy of playing an EDF game before, Earth Defense Force 5 exists at the intersection of Serious Sam, Dynasty Warriors and a '50s B-movie where you can see the UFO strings. One or two players (split-screen) or up to four (online) run around huge battlefields, fighting huge swarms of giant bugs with even more enormous guns. On consoles, it's not unusual for performance to slow to a crawl when the sky is literally blanketed with UFOs. The previous PC release was better equipped to handle the mess, so I'm hoping this one will behave similarly well.
For returning fans, EDF 5 feels designed to address some long-standing issues. Switching classes is more viable and recommended, and grind reduced. When you pick up gun and armour pickups, they're distributed between all four classes. If you pick up a copy of a weapon you've already found, there's also a chance it'll upgrade the stats on your existing version, making it viable to stick with a favourite gun for longer. This makes for a far more varied game. You can be a jetpack lady one mission or a mech pilot the next, and vehicles (bikes aside) are much more viable this time.
One other big change is more encounter variety. While there's around the same number of enemy types, the humanoid enemies feel entirely new. In fact, the dismemberment system they use seems lifted from Sandlot's little-known Norse mythological spinoff Zangeki No Reginleiv. These thirty foot tall frog-men (and later giant 'greys') act like soldiers in a cover shooter, moving as a squad, using buildings to avoid fire and retreating when pressured. Their limbs regenerate after a few seconds, but it's often safest to take off their gun arm before going for headshots.
Fittingly, these changes are accompanied by a plot reboot, casting the EDF this time as a defence contractor unit that get dragged into saving the world, and your character starts out as a civilian. You even spend the first dozen or so missions in your old work uniform. For the Fencer power-armour class, this means you get an engineering exoskeleton. I called my guy Construction Steve. Later, they give you a full suit of armour, completing his transformation into Destruction Steve. He's looking forward to blowing up the world again, this time without the slowdown.
Earth Defense Force 5 launches this Thursday, July 11th. You can see more on its Steam store page. It's published by D3.