I played two different multiplayer game types. First up was Escape on the Hadley’s Hope level, the game mode that was first shown off at PAX Prime. Escape is a 4 v 4 objective based gametype. As the Colonial Marines you have to move through the level, accomplishing certain objectives to be able to progress to the next area.
For Hadley’s Hope you start off within the colony and have to fight your way out to the exterior to get to the APC. For the first round I was playing the Aliens and my objective was simple – tear shit up. The Colonial Marines only get one life per section and if the Alien players can kill all four marines then they win. If the marines get to their last objective then they win. As simple as that.
I’ve gotta admit that when I first picked up the controls I absolutely sucked as an Alien player. We were given a choice between three different types of Xenos: Warrior, Lurker and Spitter. I tried all of them but found myself severely lacking as an Alien player until I found myself pretty comfortable with the Lurker but I’ll talk about the Alien gameplay later. Upon completion of the map, we switched sides and I was in playing as a Colonial Marine.
As the marines you had to weld open doors, all the while covering your squad-mates. You had to wait for elevators, progress through the map. It was a pretty simple game-type that suited the Aliens property and I really enjoyed it – both as an Alien (once I got the hang of it) and as the Colonial Marines.
The second game-type we played was called Extermination. Like the Escape mode, you swap species after each round completion. For Extermination you can only score points as the marines. The way to score points being to arm as many bombs as you can before the time limit runs out. These bombs were described by the representatives as arming devices to destroy mini-hives. As Aliens, you’ve simply got to stop them.
To arm the bombs, there needs to be a Colonial Marine player around one of the objective points for a duration of around 30 seconds. If the Aliens can get in there and kill the marine players before that time is up, then they obviously do not get that point. Then rinse and repeat. There were numerous objective points scattered around the map and you basically go around on a loop until the time is up.
I did not particularly enjoy this mode. The objective points simply “regen” and you go to the same points again and again. To say we’re supposed to be arming bombs, there are no little explosions or variation in the location of the objective points to spice things up. It did get a bit dull.
For me, Aliens – Colonial Marines is about bringing Alien gamers into the current generation. It’s about updating the way we play Alien games. Rebellion’s Alien vs Predator (2010) was criticised because of its outdated gameplay style and Colonial Marines is doing everything opposite. We’ve got iron sights for the first time in an Aliens game, we’ve got a mass amount of unlocks and etc.
One of the things I am really looking forward to when we actually get our slimy claws on the final release are all the unlockables, the mass amount of customization on the weaponry and abilities. It really gives a game lasting power (if the gameplay can support it). I had chance to have a look in the loadout menus for Aliens – Colonial Marines while we were waiting for the multiplayer to start.
As it was only a preview event, I obviously didn’t get to see the whole breadth of all the unlocks but I had access to the pulse rifle and an assault rifle (completely new to the game) and all the standard fare, pistol and shotgun. Within each weapon was additional customization that would effect the overall performance which included things such as power, accuracy, etc…
You had different types of sights, different underslung attachments such as grenade launchers, shotguns and some type of explosive launcher. There were different types of ammunition, different fire-mode and even different paint jobs for the weapons. What I rather liked was the fact that the different weapons had different unlocks. It was not the same unlocks for all of the weapons.
Another cool modern feature that the game includes is the way the XP and loadout feature works. You get points for completing both single and multiplayer games and everything you unlock for your loadout will work on both the single player and multiplayer components of the game.
Whilst discussing this during the Q&A, Gearbox Software Software commented that they recognized that different gamers expect different things from games and they wanted to be sure that everyone, no matter whether they only brought a game for the campaign or people who only ever played multiplayer, would all be given the same goodies.
The Aliens also have their own separate unlocks. There are different types of primary and secondary attacks. There are also defensive abilities and offensive abilities. I didn’t have any upgrade points to use with the Aliens so I didn’t get to play around with them but I saw an ability that had the Alien go into a defensive curl that offered resistance against damage. I also saw an attack ability called “whirlwind”.