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Aliens: Fireteam Elite doesn’t have many frills. A new survival shooter with co-op play, this game doesn’t have the kind of fancy cinematics you’d expect for something set in the Aliens sci-fi franchise. But it does have really intense combat.

It’s coming out in North America and Europe on August 24 for the PC, PlayStation, Xbox consoles. I played the final version of the game from Cold Iron Studios game over the past few days.

The game is designed for three human players to play together in co-op mode, but I played it solo with two AI characters. In each mission, your fireteam — a trio of heavy-duty Colonial Marines — has to go into spooky space stations and rescue people trapped by the ugly Xenomorphs that we sadly share the galaxy with.

Your squad of marines has to fight for survival as hordes of different Xenomorphs swarm over ceilings and walls to get to you. I suited up aboard a spacecraft and used the default character, though I could have customized it. I played as a gunner at first, armed with an assault rifle, a shotgun, grenades, and a sentry gun.


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The AI characters are reminiscent of those pasty-faced, unsympathetic, emotionless grunts from the Alien/Aliens movies. That was OK with me, as I just wanted them to revive me without having to return the favor so much for them.

I liked how the guns fired and how a red cross shows up when you’ve hit one of the aliens. You have to pump a lot of assault rifle rounds into each Xenomorph, and some take a lot more bullets to kill. The shotgun comes in handy at close range, so I switched between the weapons a lot.

The sentry gun is a consumable. You put it down once, and then it fires until it’s out of ammo and it’s gone. So I had to use it (or sometimes more than one) sparingly for the toughest battles only. The most difficult situation I faced is when one of your team loses all health and goes down. You can revive that teammate, but the other has to give you cover, or the Xenos will just be all over you and stop the revival. Inevitably, they swarm all over you when you go down, so it’s good to be tightly coordinated with your team and watch your health. You can use a health kit to restore health, but these are often in short supply.

It’s been a while since we had a good Aliens game (Isolation came out back in 2014), and this one was really long in the making. Cold Iron Studios was founded in 2015 by former creators of City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter. Zinkievich started at Cryptic Studios, where he was the designer and producer of City of Heroes. The other cofounders are Matt Highison and Shannon Posniewski. They had all worked together for 14 years.

FoxNext Games announced in January 2018 that it acquired Cold Iron Studios from the former Kabam, which was split into different parts.

Disney assumed ownership of FoxNext Games when it acquired Fox in March 2019. Then Disney sold FoxNext Games to Scopely, but that mobile game publisher said Cold Iron was not a good fit for its portfolio. So it began shopping the studio around, and Daybreak made the winning bid, acquiring it in August. The studio expanded to 48 people, a relatively small team for an ambitious console and PC title.

I’m thankful they got this far, and I enjoyed playing the Mature-rated game. I don’t know how far I’ll get into it, but it really is a lot of fun.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite takes place the year 2202, 23 years after the original Alien trilogy. A mysterious distress call rerouted my Marine Assault Unit (aboard the UAS Endeavor) to LV-895 in the outer colonies, where deadly Xenomorph legions, hidden corporate secrets, and ancient alien ruins await my arrival. My job was to head to the Orbital Refinery Kanaga and rescue a Dr. Hoenikker. The are multiple such missions in the co-op campaign.

Fireteam features 20 different enemy types and 11 kinds of Xenomorphs. I played it with 4K graphics on my Falcon Northwest PC. Check out the videos of my gameplay and see how many ways the Xenomorphs can sneak up on you. They’re just so relentless.

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