The beta’s a mess, but Homefront: The Revolution is an early 2016 surprise.
“Even with randoms and without headsets we managed to co-ordinate, to flank, to heal, support and put pressure on enemies until we were on top of situations.”
I wasn’t expecting to get much out of the Homefront: The Revolution but I’m pleasantly surprised. I like the scrappy combat, the four-player co-op, the thundering guns and feeling of being under-powered and heavily pressured.
After only 90 minutes I want to play more. I’m glad. No one wants to play a shitty game.
So let’s start with the problems and get them out the way. I know it’s a beta and the usual caveats apply, but this is technically shambolic. It’s a patient player who accepts a crash during every single mission played. Sometimes I was forced to start from the very beginning and lost all progress. Sometimes it crashed and I was “lucky enough” to drop back into a checkpoint. There were a few loud swears in my house.
This isn’t a stable beta like The Division or Destiny, nor is it as well polished. I’ve also had disappearing limbs, got stuck running on the spot and my gun has automatically unloaded all ammo without me pulling the trigger. If you don’t have much time for restarts and glitches, stay away from Homefront’s beta.
There are other problems too, and hopefully they can be tightened up before the full release. Although there’s plenty of enemies moving on your position, AI does have a tendency to stand around when you’re in close proximity. Your movement feels a bit sloppy, whether just sprinting, trying to steer one of the very fast motorbikes or scrambling up and over buildings. And the aim assist seems to either lock directly onto an enemy or not at all, which feels a bit odd. Most of these are something you can adjust to, and controls are something we’d expect to be tweaked until the very last second.
But! I don’t want to kick it around the floor because it’s free and I had fun with it. There’s no denying that.
I like the character selection that gives you a range of vocations to choose from and a corresponding perk. I like the actual missions on offer here, too. Four-player co-op works well. Even with randoms and without headsets we managed to co-ordinate, to flank, to heal, support and put pressure on enemies until we were on top of situations.
The guerrilla-style fighting is a real draw. Our enemies have better weapons, there’s more of them, they have armoured vehicles and drones, but we fight from the corners and the rooftops. The cover system works reasonably well, the petrol bombs have a satisfying “whoomp” and I can toss explosives from windows and feel like I’m gradually turning the tide of battle. I don’t feel overpowered as I often do in other first-person shooters.
The map in particular is a highlight. Running into open ground is suicide and completely unnecessary because there’s enough bombed-out buildings, rooftops and improvised bridges for sneaky approaches or hasty escapes.
There’s glimpses of the RPG system here, too. Completing missions gives you cash for armoury crates and XP for perks. I stashed mine and after three missions had enough to unlock a Deadeye skill, light machine gun, hacking tools, reflex sight and a teddy bear stuffed full of firecrackers. It was meaningful progress without the game handing me the whole back of chips.
There’s a lot I don’t know yet about Homefront: The Revolution but what I have tried so far is giving me hope. It could be one of the nicest surprises of 2016. I’m off to play some more…
Homefront: The Revolution is out May 17.