To save our mother Earth from any alien attack… That’s right, the EDF are back to once again rid the Earth from an infestation of giant bugs and robotic killing machines. However, unlike the semi-realistic visuals from previous games (well, as realistic as a B-Movie), Earth Defense Force: World Brothers has a very different visual approach, a voxel-based design similar to games such as Trove and Cloudpunk. There’s also more emphasis on multiplayer and teamwork, allowing you to control multiple characters even if you’re playing on your own – could this be the best EDF game to date?!
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers was developed by Yuke’s, the same as the previous Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain. The developer is probably most well-known for their WWE 2K games, but don’t worry, they weren’t the team behind the terrible WWE 2K20! In my Iron Rain review, I thought Yuke’s took the EDF concept and created a new yet familiar game, combining new gameplay mechanics with fan-favourite gameplay without deviating too far from what we’d expect from an EDF game. World Brothers is the same, only the changes are a bit more drastic.
So, did this new multiplayer and teamwork focused game grab my attention and have me addicted to it since I received it earlier this month, or did the new changes leave me wanting to re-install and play EDF 5? Let’s find out…
The story within Earth Defense Force: World Brothers is very similar to previous entries, the world is a giant dumpster fire, infested with giant bugs and robotic killing machines, and it’s your job to destroy them all and restore peace to the land. The big difference here is that the world you’re trying to save isn’t spherical, it’s a cube that has been shattered and torn to pieces due to the hostile attacks upon its surface. That’s right, the Earth is almost Minecraft-like in its design, broken into small cultural segments that house their own threats, styles, and destructible objects.
As you make you’re way through all sixty stages, you’ll find yourself battle in Paris, London, Egypt, America, and many other places, showcasing their voxel-designed landmarks as a way of distinguishing where you are. Every mission has one main goal and one secondary objective; the main goal is to exterminate every enemy by shooting, slicing, burning, or squishing them back to hell, whereas the secondary objective is to rescue and recruit three new colleagues. Sometimes there’s a little variety thrown in, such as defending a building, but more often than not it’s simply a case of kill everything red on the mini-map.
This was my only issue with the game, there isn’t much variety within each stage, but there wasn’t much in previous EDF games either! This is a mindless slaughter-fest, a game in which you’re out to save the world by ridding it of all massive insects, spiders, robots, and Godzilla-like creatures. With that in mind, I never found the game to be repetitive or monotonous despite the gameplay clearly being those two things, those who have played and loved prior games should also thoroughly enjoy the gameplay as I did. But, if you’re new to the series, go into Earth Defense Force: World Brothers knowing that despite the change in enemies, each stage will be very similar.
There’s one big change in Earth Defense Force: World Brothers, the push for co-op multiplayer. Sure, previous games had support for couch and online co-op gameplay, making the game more fun if you brought a friend along, but this game wants you to play co-op even if you’re playing on your own. Basically, instead of picking a class and trooper, choosing a load-out, then starting a mission on your lonesome, you now assign up to four voxel-chibi-looking characters to your squad, allowing you to instantly swap between them with the D-Pad in-game.
This mechanic is brilliant and fits the fast-paced gameplay perfectly. It allows you to take four very differently skilled fighters into battle and alternate based on the threats that appear. You may have a guy with a shotgun for close-range combat, a flying wing-fighter lady for traversing easily around the map, and a flamethrower guy to barbeque everything that looks tasty! Also, unlike games such as Warriors Orochi, when you switch characters they simply appear where you’re standing, you don’t teleport to where that specific character is on the map – despite them all having free when not under your direct control.
Each of your freedom fighters has their primary weapon, a secondary ability, and special power, further emphasising bringing along a diverse set of individuals into the battle. What’s also great is that when you initially find your new teammates they’ll be level one, only able to equip one type of weapon, but as they level up they’ll be able to wield different types so you can experiment or vary your gameplay whilst keeping the character you like to play with. I’m glad this is possible as the secondary attacks and special powers can’t be changed, so being able to swap the weapon means you can create your perfect team of EDF recruits.
Weapons aren’t limited to guns either. You have missiles, shotguns, assault rifles, lasers, swords, hammers, bear claws, etc… There’s a lot of variety.
Progression and pick-ups
The progression within Earth Defense Force: World Brothers is quite confusing, or at least it was to me. first of all, you don’t get experience from completing a mission with a set of characters, they level up by finding their doppelgangers on the battlefield. Remember the secondary objective above, find the three recruits, well they will randomly either be new colleagues you’ve not found before or the twins of ones you have. If they’re new, they’re added to your long list of playable characters upon beating the stage, if you own them then they’re melted down and force-fed to your version as you watch their experience increase.
In regards to the weapons, I honestly don’t know how you get these! I imagine you obtain new ones as you recruit people to your team, as they tend to have their own unique weapon until you swap it out for something better, but there’s sadly no green crates scattered around as we see in previous games. One of the fun things about earlier titles was coming across a vastly overpowered weapon early on, allowing you to show the enemies who’s boss far earlier than you should have been allowed to. Instead, the game actually feels much more balanced and coordinated, keeping your arsenal in line with the levels of your squad and the enemies you face.
There are three loot boxes that drop when you pulverise the enemies – well, boxes that benefit you, not exactly ‘loot boxes’. These are your standard medical boxes, to heal you on the spot, yellow boxes that increase your SP gauge, and red boxes which, I presume, increase your armour post-completion of the stage. I presume because I haven’t seen any help or tips in-game that confirm this theory, but red boxes increased your armour in previous games.
So, although you only increase your character’s levels by finding their twins, you can still increase their firepower by swapping out weapons and increase their armour by picking up the red crates.
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers perfectly recreates the infamous foes from the previous games within the new voxel-based visual design. It begins with instantly recognisable blocky ants and spiders, then in comes the giant laserbeam-shooting robots, followed by the enormous motherships that give both to an infinite amount of giant creatures looking for blood! Also, due to the fact that you’re not a photo-realistic human in this game, you’re a cute chibi-like miniature-sized person (at least I think they look quite cute and small), the enemies look even bigger – especially when the Godzilla-like monsters enter the scene!
Although taking down your foes simply involves shooting them until they’re dead, I personally found this game quite enjoyable as I experimented with the various weapons, special moves, and secondary abilities of each character. One such group has an Attack on Titan-style Hookshot, allowing you to attach to the big creatures, pull yourself in, and attack as you circle them, whereas another person’s ability lets them drop a protected wall for you to stand near and attack whilst being protected.
If you’ve ever played a Musou game before, or a previous EDF game, you’ll know how intimidating and overwhelmed you can feel when surrounded by hundreds of enemies – Earth Defense Force: World Brothers is no different. There are some levels where you’ll literally have over a hundred giant ants, spiders, and flying robots all attacking you at once, which is why having a flamethrower is handy due to simply spinning and you shoot and watching them burn to a crisp all around you!
For an EDF game, the variety of enemies was as expected, offering a decent challenge in the later levels whilst constantly making you feel overwhelmed as you swap between your characters to avoid being vulnerable whilst you reload or wait for a special move to activate.
When I first saw Earth Defense Force: World Brothers, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It looked very cartoony and childish, this wasn’t the EDF I knew and loved for the last few generations. But, a change in visual design doesn’t always mean a downgrade in quality, so I went in with an open mind and ended up loving this new direction. Aside from the above gameplay mechanics, which I feel fit the new design and fast-paced action really well, the level design is also nice and simple yet recognisable and relevant.
As stated previously, you’ll find yourself in the busy streets of London, complete with the iconic red busses, Parliament, and Big Ben – all of which can be accidentally destroyed by a few of your stray rockets. Or, you may venture into the bright yellow-coloured sands of Egypt, with pyramids and the sphynx to keep you company. There’s also a lush green and blue forest with a lake that’s full of bugs just waiting to be squished, and many more exotic and urban locations to fight within.
As the world is now a cube, each location is a small flat square, confirming that in this universe, the world is flat (well, a cuboid, but the portion you’re fighting on is flat). And yes, you can fall off the edge… As such, there’s not a lot to the actual design itself, outside of the various setpieces that helps you identify where you are, but it’s still fun when you accidentally cause more damage than the invaders by levelling tall buildings, burning crops, and smashing tourist attractions.
However, despite there being sixty levels, there aren’t sixty locations. It reuses a lot of the same locations for multiple missions – this isn’t an issue as, like before, previous games did this – just don’t expect a lot of variety, again.
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers is a single or multiplayer game. You can play along and control all four characters with the D-Pad, play with someone next to you via couch co-op, or play online via private and public rooms. If playing either of the co-op modes, you each control your own character, just like the previous games, with the online mode letting you host a private session with a password or leaving it open for anyone to join. I didn’t try this feature out but I did look, there were a decent amount of rooms available and each had multiple people playing in them
The songs and nostalgia
Anyone who’s played a game in the series before will probably know the various chants and songs off by heart. Once again, you can assign various verses from a few of the chants to your emote bar, letting you happily sing and shout whilst you eradicated the aliens. There’s also a lot of music I thought was familiar so I think it’s using music from previous games as well as some original pieces.
On a similar note, the characters you meet will often break the fourth wall, talking about how it’s only a game and referencing prior games by name, such as EDF 5 and EDF Iron Rain. This game is almost like the Atelier Nelke of the EDF franchise, the colleagues you rescue in each level are both original and modelled off people from the previous games, there are even playable enemies and people from games such as Onechanbara (but that may just be in the DLC as we got the Deluxe edition).
The EDF games are infamous for their trophy lists, often taking easily over 100 hours to obtain the platinum (sometimes much, much longer). If you were hoping for an easier list due to how the game looks from the outside, I’m sorry to say that it isn’t the case. There are a bunch of grindy trophies, involving using certain abilities 100 times and killing 500 enemies with each weapon type – they took a while but I did those without any issues. But, then you get the trophies regarding saving every character and collecting every weapon!
Due to the RNG within the game, the people you find and weapons you obtain (by saving them) is based on the difficulty you play on. Yet, you still can’t anticipate or choose what you’ll find – the people and weapons trophies are like getting very lucky with actual loot boxes, only it costs time instead of money. Another very big time-sink are the percentage trophies – complete 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100% of the game. This may sound easy but nope, it’s another very long grind.
There are sixty levels in Earth Defense Force: World Brothers, these took me around 25-30 hours to complete. But, upon completion you unlock the new ‘hardest’ difficulty, meaning you need to complete every level on easy, normal, hard, and hardest. That’s 240 levels in total. But, upon completing the game on normal, I only just hit the 20% completion mark, so I looked at the trophies – there’s an Inferno difficulty as well! So, once that’s unlocked you have to complete all the missions five times each, that’s 300 levels – you also need to grind to level up your characters if you’re not strong enough as the harder difficulties will pretty much insta-kill you if you’re not prepared!.
So, although the game looks cute and child-friendly from the outside, it’s your standard EDF game under the hood with its brutal trophy requirements that require a lot of luck and time to gain the elusive platinum trophy.
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers is a PS4 game, it doesn’t have any PS5 enhancements and I don’t even know if it has any PS4 Pro enhancements either. The game is also out on the Nintendo Switch, meaning something clearly had to be compromised to deliver a similar experience over the PC, PS4 and Switch. Sadly, it was…
Going by eye, I’d say the game is 1080p and 60fps on the PS5. It’s a very stable framerate, with no dips at all despite the screen being covered in multiple explosions and alien limbs flying all over the place. This is obtained by the rather aggressive depth of field effect and lower framerate animations. Basically, if an enemy is more than about 10-20 meters in front of you, their rendered model is very low resolution and/or covered in a bokeh blur effect – their animations are also around 15fps as they jerk all over the place. This resolves itself and becomes full (and clear) resolution and framerate as they get closer.
This is obviously a technique to keep the framerate high and stable, but it’s quite jarring at times. As such, I wish the developer had either made a PS5 version that took advantage of the console (and the DS controller) or at least added in the ‘PS5 flag’ which checked if we were on the console and simply disabled that compromise and/or increased the rendering resolution. The game isn’t bad, it visually looks great with its new voxel-based design, it just could have been more optimised and customised for the new console in my opinion.
There was one thing which I was upset they removed – the ability to run. I get that they want us to swap to a character that has a sprint or fly ability and use them to traverse the map, but I feel every character (bar the Fencers) should be able to run – it’s just like walking, only faster! Plus, they can jump, so I know their legs work!
45 minutes [no commentary] PS5 footage (captured at 4K/60):
Official Trailer (quite long):
Under the new voxel-based visual design, Earth Defense Force: World Brothers plays just like the EDF we know and love, only this time with solo teamwork gameplay! Ensemble your dream team of four elite or rookie freedom fighters, featuring characters from previous games and various D3Publisher franchises, and set out to save the world once more. It may look different and almost child-friendly, but it’s just as addictive, brutal, time-consuming, and entertaining as previous main series titles under the hood. If you’re a fan of the franchise, make sure you pick up this game.
We were kindly provided with the Digital Deluxe edition of Earth Defense Force: World Brothers, the edition which contained the main game and the Season Pass. The Pass contains a bunch of playable characters from other franchises, such as Onechanbara, as well as 10 additional ‘elite’ missions which launched on the 10th of June.
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers£49.99
- - Very addictive with a vast array of characters and weapons to customise your perfect team
- - The main campaign will take arouns 25+ hours to work through, and you have to do this five times if going for the platinum
- - The voxel-based design works really well, making everyhtgin feel like you're playing a massive real-life LEGO battle on a square table!
- - Still has the comedy and whimsical dialogue we love from the previous games
- - Can be pleased solo, with a local co-op partner, or online
- - Only certain characters can run, despite being able to jump...
- - There are some visual compromises made to keep 60fps, but it's not been adjusted based on if you're playing on a PS5 (so it's not as good-looking as it could be)
- - Some of the trophies are based on RNG and being lucky, meaning it's going to take many, many hours to grab some of them