Earth Defense Force 5 [EDF 5] (PS4) Review

What was your most anticipated game this quarter? Did it involve plumbers and yoga instructors beating each other up, riding around on a horse, venturing out into the vast wastelands alone, or maybe you couldn’t wait to place coloured shapes into a grid as they fall from the heavens? Mine? I couldn’t wait to don my purple and green uniform, grab a rocket launcher and rifle, then head out and squash me some bugs! That’s right Earth Defense Force (EDF) is back and it’s bigger than ever with new weapons, enemies, missions, and songs…

In Earth Defense Force 5 [EDF 5], it seems the actions we took in previous iterations within the franchise aren’t taken into account as we relive a new, yet very familiar, adventure as we aim to save our mother Earth from any alien attack. From vicious giant insects who have once again come back. We’ll unleash all our forces, we won’t cut them any slack – The EDF deploys!

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 EDF 1

I’m so happy that I get to do this all over again!

If you’ve not played or seen EDF before then imagine a mass-genocide of insects and alien-like creatures. Oh, and these insects are about 50ft tall and spit out acid in your general direction! It’s a game you can pick up and play in either short bursts or long session as it’s so easy to get lost in the action, yet also just as easy to work through a few missions at a time. There is a story but I never really took any notice of it, this is due to three reasons:

1. It’s freaking EDF – you don’t need a story. All you have to do is eliminate everything which isn’t human and moves until all the red blips vanish off the mini-map!
2. I had an issue with the sound not coming through my speakers correctly but it may be my issue. I’ll talk about it later, but certain conversations were muted if I was facing a different direction.
3. You may recall an issue I had with Spyro recently in regards to Activision not providing subtitles for the hard of hearing (which you can read about HERE). Well, EDF 5 also doesn’t have any subtitles for the speech, not even the exposition parts which are said within the missions whilst being drowned out by combat noises.

EDF is a prime example of the type of game I love to put on and play whilst I watch a TV show or movie on my iPad – especially seeing as it’s a 500-1000 hour platinum. However, doing so means that I’m literally just killing everything without following any story because I haven’t heard the story! Just like with Spyro, this may just be my issue, but those who can’t hear fully will also be mindlessly playing the game with no comprehension on what’s actually going on and why.

Regardless though, I don’t hold the lack of subtitles against EDF 5 as much as I did with Spyro as the story isn’t the crucial part of EDF and exposition isn’t required to fully enjoy what you’re doing, unlike in a 3D action-adventure platform game aimed at children. Although, I highly recommend turning the music and sound effects down a little and the voices up as the soldiers all talk around you. Some will try and crack jokes, some chant EDF!, some will start singing, and I’ve even heard a few have conversations about random things – all in English. Seriously, the dialogue is great and sometimes quite funny.

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 EDF 2

Die Frogman!

Choose your destiny
So, what’s going to be familiar to all EDF Veterans who are 100% going to pick this game up on launch tomorrow? To be honest with you, quite a lot… Once again, you have the option to play solo in Offline mode, Online with up to four players from around the world, and in Local Split-screen co-op for two people. And yes, before you ask – you can do the trick of playing in split-screen mode if you wish to unlock your trophies twice as fast, hence the 500-1k hours I wrote initially. Another welcome return is all four different classes.

The Ranger: This is your standard ‘feet on the ground’ infantry unit. You have a choice of many, many primary and secondary weapons to find and equip – some will increase your accuracy yet cause less damage, whereas others may only give you one shot the entire mission yet cause catastrophic overkill on all it engulfs. This unit is fast on their feet and even faster if you turn to the side and roll around like Thud Butt from Hook! I played the majority of my time so far with this unit as it’s great for beginners and when you’re starting out – as you can use them to ‘mine’ for decent weapons before you bump up the difficulty and change to another class.

The Wing Diver: This team of highly skilled units come equipped with jetpacks so they can fly all over the place as they take down the monstrous threats. This unit type is ONLY female due to the female mind being the only ones which can connect with the weaponry they use. Taking control of this unit is recommended once you’ve played the game a bit, unlocked some better gear and more armour (as their initial amount is the lowest), and you’re comfortable evading the monsters rather than rushing in. 

The Air Raider: This is basically your support unit. You don’t want to play this unit on your own as it will be super easy to become overwhelmed and taken out by the onslaught of enemy units. However, if you’re working cooperatively with other players, you can summon in various items and vehicles to help them out as well as offer boosts and health for them. Saying that, you can equip yourself with some weapons and even things such as turrets and grenades, but compared to the other units, this is certainly a support role rather than a ‘main’. 

The Fencer: This is the ‘tank’ of the group. A massive and heavily armoured unit which comes equipt with up to four weapons which can all fire in parallel and deliver a nasty surprise for the enemy. This unit is only recommended for advanced players, even though you have more weapons and a much bigger health and defence system. This is because you’re much slower, will get overwhelmed even easier than the Air Raider, and getting used to the manoeuvrability controls is a lot more advanced.

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 EDF 3

Godzilla?

Missions
EDF 4.1 gave us around 90 missions to work our way through, something which took me around 60 hours or so just to complete one playthrough. EDF 5 presents us with 110 missions, most of which are longer than the ones we got in EDF 4.1 with the tunnel ones being even more confusing to navigate than ever before! Again, if you’ve not played a previous EDF game, the majority of the missions revolve around you being placed within an almost deserted city as giant insects crawl all over the buildings, spiders shoot webs at you, and drones circle you as they try and take you out. With the help of the kind of useless NPCs scattered around the landscape, you need to slaughter all these bugs by shooting them until they tear apart and explode. 

The fun thing about EDF games is the lack of any kind of rules or empathy for innocent civilians. If you have a rocket launcher and there is a giant spider on a building – simply shoot the building until it comes crashing down and crushes the spider in the process – nobody cares if anyone was within the structure when it comes back down to Earth. Seriously, after a 20-minute bug bashing bonanza in the big city, if you spin around, you’ll see the majority of the city is actually now in rubble or half destroyed!

This does bring me onto the mission variety though. EDF 5 introduces a new story with its own tutorial hidden behind a few ‘first day on the job’ missions. Instead of dropping you right into the action as a fully certified unit, you begin as a civilian who has just started working in the military base underground. As such, your ‘uniform’ won’t be quite as you imagine, with the Ranger wearing standard clothes and the Fencer is actually in control of an exo-suit which isn’t too far from the one Ripley uses in Aliens! Upon the outbreak of the invasion, you escape the base with other officers and after a few missions, you’ll be given your correct uniform/suit to take into battle with you.

I thought it was cool that there is now an ‘intro’ to the game and it welcomes you in gently with a story of sorts. My only downside is that the first few missions involve running around more than any action. However, before too long you’ll be placed within levels containing hundreds of enemies, put against a giant Godzilla-like creature, and even get to take control of giant mecha suits.

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 EDF 4

Soooooo many bugs!

What’s new
Veterans reading this so far will be asking themselves what’s new for them in EDF 5? Will it just be more of the same? Yes and no. Yes, because the core gameplay, the goals, and the overall experience is EDF – the developers aren’t going to stray too far from the fan-favourite gameplay style of light-hearted genocide. No, because there are a few new mechanics and options in-game.

Now, I could be wrong with this, as I’ve not played EDF 4.1 for a while, but I don’t recall being able to summon a vehicle with a Ranger in that game. In EDF 5 though, you have a whole bunch of ‘support’ items you can pick up post-mission such as access to summon a bike, a tank, or extra buffs to your overall health or performance. As far as I’m aware, the Air Raider was the one who had to do this previously, so being able to directly summon them yourself is great when playing in single player. 

Another major difference, which comes without saying really, is the enemy types. The ants, spiders, and massive mother spider/ants are all back only they’re referred to as ‘monsters’ throughout the game and they have all supposedly been on Earth the whole time, hiding underground. Because of this, we have a few new alien types, these can supposedly control the Monsters and are the reason they have decided to surface. Whereas in EDF 4.1 we had giant robots attacking us, in EDF 5 we’re introduced to giant Frogmen and other alien beings!

That’s right, the alien threat for the majority of the game are giant 40-foot frogs who walk around on their back legs and come equipped with giant guns. What I found rather hilarious and satisfying is the fact that these foes can be torn to shreds – literally. Land a decent shot to the face with a rocket and watch as the enemies head comes flying off and purple blood turns the city into a new Splatoon level! Likewise, blast its arms and watch as they rip off and literally paint the city red (well, purple). The best, but also the most confusing, is if you shoot off one of their legs. They’ll fall to the floor and land on their ass, but they may not be dead yet! If you don’t make sure to end it when they fall, they will sit on their backside and continue to shoot as well as scoot around on their bum trying to kill you!

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 EDF 5

The new ‘sharing’ mechanic

Weapons and Armour
A soldier is only as good as their weapon and EDF has you covered in abundance! As with any of the games in the franchise, as you annihilate the ants and squash the spiders, they will sometimes drop green, white and red crates which are all conveniently labelled. The white crates are health – boring – but the green and red are your armour and weapons, which you won’t see the contents of until you finish the mission.

The interesting thing here is the armour crates. Previously, if you played as the Ranger and collected 20 red armour crates, you’ll end up getting +20 onto your armour health. In EDF 5, if you’re a ranger and you collect 20 red armour crates, when you finish the level you may see that only 10 are for you and the other 10 are split between the other three classes. I don’t recall this happening before and it means I’ve actually increased the health of the three classes I hardly use just by collecting armour as the Ranger. This is good as it means they will be stronger when I get round to using them, but it’s also annoying as I want to increase my Rangers armour much quicker. 

In regards to your weapons, this is the same situation. The mission de-briefing window is much better in EDF 5 as you can see all the weapons you unlocked and what class they are for, as you won’t be only finding them for your use. Not only that, it clearly states if it’s a new weapon or an upgrade (if you already own that weapon). Then, as you press Cross, it will begin to cycle through all your unlocks one by one and give you info on the weapon or item, what it’s stats are and how it compares to the one you already have (if it’s an upgrade). This is useful but can contain a lot of info to take in if you’ve just had a really good haul.

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 EDF 6

It’s like that scene from Star Wars…

Things I don’t like
I wanted EDF 5 to be perfect – I love the series and I thought this would be an amazing and flawless 10/10 from me… Sadly, It’s not. My issues aren’t major but they need to be mentioned. First up, the song. Okay, so this isn’t a real flaw but it’s upsetting. They’ve changed the song from the catchy one we had in 4.1 to one which doesn’t sound right. Technically it’s a song and it rhymes, but I don’t like it. It’s not losing any review score over this, but I prefer 4.1’s song.

An issue which bothered me and may affect others is the sound. In the options, you can pick where you’ll hear radio chatter. I had this set to surround at first, as I have a 5.1 system, but depending on where the person talking was in relation to my character, it would sometimes mute them – especially if they walked behind me. When I set it to come through my centre speaker, it would still change which speaker it decided to come through, but it rarely cut out on that one. With headphones on, it’s hit or miss whether you’ll hear them as it once again tries to feed the audio through speakers your headphones don’t have.

I’m not sure if it’s just my setup, as I didn’t try the PS4 headphones, I used my Turtle Beach ones, but it made listening to the chatter a bit difficult. 

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 EDF 7

Surprisingly, this amount of action was one of the scenes which caused frame drops.

Framerate woes
A real issue is framerate – I bet a lot of you didn’t want to hear this. When EDF 4.1 came out on the base PS4 it was fine until you hit the later levels where a lot of action would take place and then the game would slow down until the action got a little less manic. Then the PS4 Pro came along, with boost mode, and the game ran at an almost locked 60fps for the majority of the time. EDF 5 seems to have returned to it’s 30fps format but with more enemies on screen at a time, especially as now you can literally rip the enemies body parts off and watch the brown, green and purple blood paint the walls and floor. However, even though the game spends the majority of its time at or near the 30fps mark, certain events dramatically butchers the framerate.

For example, there is one mission where the enemies base literally stands up and starts walking towards you, like Howls Moving Castle. At this point, it’s pooping out drones, giving birth to ants and spiders, and Frogmen are being dropped off by other alien ships. Not only this, every building it walks into is met with an explosion as they crumble, the allies are shooting the drones and causing them to explode, the walking monolith is firing out lasers which explode on impact, and the Frogmen are shooting rockets all over the place. To say “the game kinda shat it’s pants” is a big understatement. Going by eye, I would say it was in the low teens as the screen became an orgasm of explosions, lights, enemies, and death!

However, the game seemed to slow down, rather than skipping frames, so you could still roll out of there and look away from the impact zone (cool guys don’t look at explosions anyway) and everything returned to normal or thereabouts quite quickly. I would say, that throughout the 50+ missions I’ve completed, I’ve only encountered an issue like this in one mission and a few dips in others – it’s not a major issue, not on the Pro. I’ve not tried on the base PS4 so I can’t comment on how that system performs as I’m not sure what the extent of Pro support the game got. 

EDF 5 also has a lot of screen tearing at times in order to try and keep the framerate up. I’ve noticed this when rotating on the spot and when in high-combat areas. It’s not as off-putting as Agony was, but it does have it, even on the PS4 Pro. 

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 EDF 8

Oh dear, more are on the way!

Personal Opinion:
Personally, I love Earth Defense Force 5. I’ve been a massive fan of the franchise for a while and I’m used to frame drops, screen tearing  and being completely overwhelmed by hundreds of giant ants, so the issues above didn’t bother me to the level it would bother someone who is new to the franchise. That being said, I’m not a fan of the new song and I do feel the lack of subtitles for the key news reports and in-game audio is a shame as its actually fun to listen to but this isn’t a game I would put 100% of my focus into, not if I’m plodding along trying to get the platinum. However, to balance that out, the actual gameplay side is your standard EDF combat with all the bells and whistles of 4.1 along with some new abilities and a bunch of new weapons thrown in.

I’ve put in over 20 hours into EDF 5 so far yet I’m sitting at a 3% completion rate, three per cent! How many games do you know out there will give you so much content for your money? Well, I say content but we all know why it’s 3% don’t we? In order to get the platinum you’re looking at completing all 110 missions with all four classes at each of the five difficulties. Except, in EDF 5, completing hard will mark off Easy and Normal, something which is new to this game as well! So, you have to complete 1320 mission in order to gain 100% completion, or 660 if you use the ‘local split-screen’ boost. Anyone up for the challenge?

As a whole though, is EDF 5 worth picking up? Yes, without a doubt. It’s mindless genocide at its finest as you slaughter all the aliens and bugs without considering any of the damage you’re doing to your fellow humans and the buildings around you. Surprisingly, it’s a great game to relax to after a long day at work – you don’t need to remember where you’re up to in the story or what goals you’re aiming for, just aim, shoot, kill, profit…

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Earth Defence Force 5 [EDF 5] is a satisfying genocide simulator where you eradicate the world of Giant bugs and Frogmen. Even though the game has taken a step back from its EDF 4.1 60fps gameplay, as it drops back to 30fps, there are more creatures on screen than ever before and the physics push the game to its very limits. This is evident by the screen tearing, slowdown and frame drops, but it’s not a common sight on the PS4 Pro, especially when comparing it to EDF 4.1 on the base PS4. With the choice between four classes, a multitude of weapons and support items, vehicles, and even up to four player co-op, EDF 5 is a bloody amazing game.

If you’ve played an EDF game before, you’ll love what they’ve done with EDF 5, even though the intro is a bit slow with its tutorials. If you’ve not played one before, you’re in for a crazy ride when you pick this up as its nearest comparison would be a Musou (Dynasty Warriors) version of Starship Troopers.

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Earth Defense Force 5

£39.99
8.6

Final Score

8.6/10

The Good:

  • - EDF! EDF! EDF!
  • - Doesn't stray from the gameplay fans of the franchise will want
  • - Mindless slaughterfest with very satisfying gameplay, especially when you blast the body parts off the Frogmen
  • - A platinum which is achievable yet you'll have to work many, many hours to obtain
  • - Still tonnes of fun both solo and with others, locally and online

The Bad:

  • - There are framerate issues when the action gets pretty intense
  • - Screen tearing
  • - The EDF song/chant is different, and I don't like it (personal pref)
  • - People new to the series may not like it's monotony (fans will though)
  • - Seems it may be a digital only release
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