Let me just say off the bat — I’m so glad my friend group and I picked this one up. It has been a blast. There’s a lot you could nitpick at, to be sure, mostly stemming from the brutal prioritisation and adherence to the game’s budget I mentioned in my initial impressions.
99% of the decisions made I agree with and I might end up agreeing with this one too in the end, but I can tell you, a lack of cutscene or any kind of acknowledgement of the end of the campaign’s final mission seems a bit of a step too far. After completing the final setpiece sequence — which I shan’t spoil, worry not — you are unceremoniously dumped back to the mission hub, where you can hear a little about your exploits and what happened but that’s it!
That complaint aside, some of that post-mission dialogue does seem to be setting things up for what may come next. And I really hope this has been a successful enough launch for Cold Iron (the developers) to continue on releasing content for the game.
Right now, it might be a little on the short side — depending on how much you go for in extracting value from a game. I have just under 10 hours tucked into Aliens Fireteam Elite so far, and that saw us right to the end of the 4 currently included chapters (3 missions per chapter). This was with some backtracking for dailies here and there, but nothing too excessive.
It was also only on Standard difficulty. Right out of the gate you can unlock one higher than standard (called Intense) which also introduces friendly fire. If you and your team were looking to progress in Intense right from the outset, I can almost promise it would take longer than the 10 or so hours it took us. At least getting started. By the end of the campaign, we were feeling pretty powerful vs. the standard difficulty.
By the end, we’d settled into a class composition of Demolitionist, Gunner and Technician (I was the Tech). We’d played around with Demo, Doc and Tech and a little and a few other mix-ups here and there but ultimately felt that as well done and complimentary as all the classes and their skills are — possibly Doc could do with a bit of a buff.
Their main healing mechanic for the team comes in the means of a deployable station — it has a limited resource pool and the only way to charge it up is to pick up another healing kit. You can’t opt to use the kit already on you as a consumable for the device, so the team needs to, as much as is possible, let you heal them with your kit and then pick-up another one whenever they’re available.
Each pick-up replenishes only a small amount of charge in the device too, so you need to keep chaining the Doc Heal -> Pick-up -> Heal process, which we found both to interrupt the pacing of the missions a little too much and perhaps most damningly, not really be worth the DPS loss of switching them out to something else.
I can’t see this changing in the higher difficulties either, but! The big unknown I have is just what Perks and Skill-modifiers might change this up as Doc is ranked up.
Unknown at this stage how far we’ll take it past here. Completing the campaign — amongst other things — unlocked two additional difficulty levels above Intense (Extreme and Insane) which the more diehard could certainly progress with. But even if we only spoke to Standard/Intense difficulty there is plenty more for us to unlock even in our chosen ‘main’ classes, let alone all the other ones.
Aliens Fireteam Elite does a stellar job of providing unlocks across the spectra of perks, new slots, weapons and weapon attachments as you go — and provides means of improving the classes you’re not currently playing to an extent through these things as well. There is some intersection between weapon classes, for example, so you can level familiarity with a particular weapon — get it to 4 stars, even — then carry it across to a complimentary class to use while you grow the classes own power.
It’s a very smartly designed system, to say the least.
I feel to keep talking past what else unlocks at the end of the campaign might be to wander too close to spoiler-town though, so I’ll steer clear of the specifics and just say that even beyond what I’ve mentioned here — Aliens Fireteam Elite gives you a pretty solid enticement to keep going.
I probably wouldn’t have had a query about us trying to at least make further progress with… those things… excepting for the fact that some other friends who had been clinging to WoW through everything that had happened there recently are asking if we’re interested in trying ESO again with them.
(Spoiler: We are.)