Eurogamer Expo 2013: Killzone: Shadow Fall multiplayer hands-on
Sony’s popularity and market dominance in Europe may have taken a knock of confidence during this generation but the overwhelming queues at Eurogamer Expo 2013 showed this could be back on track (as well as UK pre-order figures being “a big chunk” of PS4’s demand). It was now time to get some hands-on with the exclusive first-person shooter flagship launch title Killzone: Shadow Fall.
“Three class types to customise and select from”The demo did not get off to the best of starts. With signs of crashes before our turn, error messages began to appear as the match launched and conclusively all of the machines were rebooted in sync. With the technical hiccups anatomised and resolved – and a brief peak at the PS4 dashboard – we were in.
The Dualshock 4’s superiority over its predecessor was unmistakable. It sat snugly in my hands, the analogue sticks accurately placed and triggers satisfying. The best controllers are the ones you don’t notice and, during my time with it, the Dualshock 4 certainly strolled into that category without fault. It’s an important aside to make when using the controller for the first time in a genre that requires responsive input to stay alive.
In-game there were three class types to customise and select from, each with unique weaponry, explosives and abilities before joining the battle, and which could be swapped out during each respawn too. The support class allowed for the use of a shotgun called ‘Pulveriser’; an easy decision to make. The title of the weapon was apt too – slow firing but powerful. Its reloading was awkward to become accustom to due to its sluggish nature and accuracy of the first and only shot in the barrel was vital.
The warzone battle we were deployed into placed two antipathetic teams against each other. Rather than static objectives, the main goal would change every three minutes to offer modest variation to play within a single round on the same map (which itself did not dynamically transform). At first we had to defend a communications station whilst simultaneously destroying the enemy’s. Running into battle without an ounce of teamwork my comrades fell and I soon joined them. We quickly lost the first mission.
“No adrenaline, no raw energy, no emotional bond or hook”Once that was failed a new objective was dictated to take control of three priority points signalled on the map. Here we gained ground and began clawing back the points we’d need to become victorious. These objectives weren’t groundbreaking but the mix and match of them within a solitary seamless battle was neat. The map this took place on was tightly wound and several areas looked identical on a first playthrough, leaving it easy to become misplaced.
Aesthetically the design of this battleground had little to speak of outside of some occasionally surprising ambient lighting. Running through an underground tunnel to turn a corner and have a spotlight’s beam of white light trumpet down upon you is beauteous in that initial moment, captured like a rabbit in headlights. There did appear to be an over wash of motion blurring coating all the textures bar the main weapon, which remained immune to most lighting effects, when in movement.
This was confirmed when the machine next to mine froze and the blurring could be seen on the static screen. The technical shine many will come here expecting at launch will have been saved for the single player campaign. It’s not unusual for multiplayer to take a hit in its graphical prowess to keep things running smooth. Here the focus was on maintaining a constant frame rate which did visibly dip at times.
Visual dominance will struggle to stand on its own when the mechanics felt derivative and plain. In a sea of first-person shooters Killzone did nothing to elevate itself. Whereas Titanfall had earlier given me a rush akin to picking up Call of Duty 4 for the first time, as I never once thought “it’s just another FPS” whilst playing it, this did feel like just another FPS from the get go. It isn’t another modern military shooter and that’s a good start, for sure, but there was no adrenaline, no raw energy, no emotional bond or hook. It was confidentially constructed from a technical standpoint but that magic spark which prodigious videogames can conjure like no other medium was non-existent.
As the hands-on came to an end we put our pads down and walked away. The multiplayer of Killzone: Shadow Fall left me cold. It wasn’t a bad game but my emotions before, during and after were the same. A sense of indifference was all that remained.