Earth Defense Force 5 Review
The first thing that came to mind while playing EDF5 was Sharknado. This game is the definition of corny with repetitive and poorly-delivered dialog, over-the-top dramatic enemy encounters, all on purpose. Much like Sharknado, EDF has reached cult classic status, but mostly originating from Japan and only making appearances in recent years here in the states. Right off the start you are a civilian touring a large military facility and your guide gets ripped apart by a large ant. A squad of soldiers comes around and basically tells you to pick up arms and fight. There is a long trek out of the facility with repetitive oversized ant attacks which serves as a tutorial on basic movement and weaponry. Once outside of the facility you quickly see the ant invasion isn't just originating inside the facility, but are told it's happening everywhere around the world. Ultimately, you have just been enlisted in the EDF and are now charged with global defense against the monster invasion!
The monster invasion and fighting them is the entirety of the game. Really, it's just fighting oversized ants, tarantulas, frogs, flying saucers, motherships, and more. The game is made up of missions and each mission is broken up into waves of objectives which are primarily to eliminate the monsters, but occasionally you have to destroy the method of which the enemies are being summoned or spawned. One moment they are coming from underground while the next they are spawning from glowing pillars which need to be destroyed, or being dropped from a mothership or by flying dispensaries. Be mindful of the objective and listen carefully as there is no on-screen indicator as to what the objective is and you could find yourself like me where I played nearly 15 minutes of a mission and made no progress but enemies just kept spawning. The objective in that specific mission was to destroy the mothership however I must've missed the dialog and had to start over. Luckily the missions only last about 5-10 minutes each and are quickly completed depending on difficulty selected so my mistake was quickly forgotten. The majority of my experience had been solo though once the game had been released the co-op floodgates opened and the simplicity of the game flew out the window and became much harder. The only difference I can surmise is the monsters have much more health and take longer to bring down. Each hosted co-op session can have upwards of four people and encourages everyone to work together in order to be successful. Separate and you'll have a tough time reviving your teammate. This is where classes become fairly important introducing a variety of damage and support in order to defeat the monsters.
There are four classes to choose from which are Ranger, Wing Diver, Air Raider, and Fencer. The Ranger is your standard soldier with rifles and missile launchers. The Wing Diver is an airborne class which is very mobile and agile which is my favorite. The Air Raider is purely a support class and provides health regen, shields, and vehicle drops for other players to take advantage of which in my case is not so useful solo. Last we have the Fencer which is a slow, clunky mech-like weaponry, but very powerful. Every class has their own set of weapons ranging from close quarters to long range. Typically all of the short to mid-range weapons are immediate use while the longer range weapons use a charge or lock-on mechanic before letting loose. Finishing a mission will reward experience across all classes but you will earn more experience for the class used. Over time you will earn more health, armor, unlock weapons, and earn more powerful versions of already unlocked arsenal. I however kept finding myself returning to older weapons as it felt like a joke using newer unlocks. One example is a gun that resembles an AK-47 which is notorious for not having great accuracy. They made it even more hilariously inaccurate and having bullets spitting out in all directions with no intention of hitting anything. It was a struggle and a horrible experience trying to complete missions with it equipped, but it did give me a chuckle for a brief moment. Similarly there are rocket launchers which look like they will pack a punch but require locking-on to a monster or a 3-5 second charge with little to no damage in the end. I prefer to use an immediately effective weapon for instant killing gratification. To each their own I suppose and with over 100 missions to complete I only completed around 30 of them so I am sure there is plenty more to unlock and experience. The draw is there is nearly limitless possibilities to tinker with and adapt based on mission need though I never felt that need.
So look, there isn't much meat on the bones in regards to story, enemy, or mission variety, but there is depth in a character grinding aspect. If you are looking for a challenge it is immediately found in co-op, though the bigger challenge may be finding people around the same level and I tended to find that most people at a higher level do not want to carry someone lower than them. Solo is a breeze and unlocking higher difficulties will come in time but will be more of the same just taking longer to complete and requiring a bit more strategy. EDF5 reminds me of the old school mindless arcade shooters I would waste an hour playing with a buddy every once in a blue moon while bored at the bowling alley. I honestly don't understand the draw, but do respect the community surrounding it. If even remotely interested in playing I urge you to wait until a steep sale from the initial $60 price tag.
Final Rating: 50% - Corny and over-the-top.