D3 are no stranger to releasing Earth Defense Force spin-off games from developers other than Sandlot, with Yukes returning from their work on Iron Rain to head another take on the series. This time they go the other way and drop the serious tone for something that looks to be aimed at a younger audience. Have they managed to pull it off? Lets take a look
Taking place in a parallel universe of cubes, a new threat to the EDF arrives in the form of a Dark Tyrant. This new enemy has managed to bring together all of Earth’s previous foes into one fleet and shatter the planet into pieces. With the Earth in tatters, It doesn’t take long for the EDF to feel the strain cut off from each other. As Earth teeters on the verge of defeat, it is down to you and other heroes you can find around the world to continue the fight for the shattered EDF.
Story delivery doesn’t really differ much from previous games in the series, mostly delivered with the odd cutscene and predominantly radio chatter. Radio chatter usually comes from the general and your operator, which is a nice touch as it appears on-screen too with character portraits instead of being lost within the noise of battle. There aren’t as many missions as you may be used to as a returning trooper unfortunately, but given how long previous games are this still packs plenty and it makes up for it with the wealth of heroes to find in a ‘gotta catch em all’ kinda way. Probably my main gripe with the PC version is the omission of split-screen. Why it’s there on console and not here, can apparently be unlocked via script editing etc., is anyone’s guess given previous PC releases had it.
An EDF game from a different developer in Yukes that is running on the Unreal Engine was always something to expect a different outlook of, and this release goes the extra mile. It looks like what I can only describe as Lego crossed with Minecraft, with everything in the world being composed of cubes, with plenty of recognisable locales and characters that long time fans should notice – even when composed of cubes. The destruction is still there in this vibrant world aimed at younger audiences too, but the skirmishes for the most part do lack that visceral edge of something like EDF5. The audio side of things also carries the same feel to it as it sounds a little Saturday morning cartoon, in a good way, the full voice acting is also well done within the presentation they were going for on this one.
Whilst the series is generally known for its spotty performance on consoles, the latest releases shows you can just brute force past that on PC easily enough for smooth performance. It’s pretty much the same here, even with the use of Unreal engine, as utilisation was only a little higher than 4.1 when playing 4K/60 on my system (R51600/16GB/RTX 2080ti) Modest enough spec requirements meant the game was also playable on my laptop with some tweaks, so there isn’t much of a barrier of entry.
The EDF games have always been about the same thing, even the shmup styled Wingdiver, in that your mission is usually to clear the area of bugs before you get overwhelmed. Various enemy types means its not always so simple, but as long as you keep shooting and collecting health you’ll win the day. World Brothers does mix things up a little given it is a spin-off, and most of that comes from the hero system. Instead of classes we now have heroes that can be found during stages and added to your roster. You take 4 of these into battle, and can freely switch between them unless online, and each has their own unique abilities. The royal guard I got early can throw down a line of troops that acts like a turret, as well as a rampart to block enemies and allow you to stand atop to taunt those bugs a second time. Spent a lot of my time with Aya & Saki from Onechanbara in my team, and these offered melee combat with swords instead of the usual guns. It does make for a somewhat fresh feel for the series.
To be honest there are some things about the game I’m not too keen on. Player movement feels like you’re on ice, with the wonky sprint from EDF 5 now also gone, which makes level traversal a bit of a slog on larger stages. Your squadmates also lack damage output, not really noticeable in a swarm but larger enemies highlight it clearly – it sometimes has you yearning for the twonks on Sandlots games that would blast you with a rocket if between them and a bug. The biggest loss tho is the random weapon loot system, nothing beat getting an OP weapon early on older games, as drops now consist of armour, health and ability boosts for the most part. This is somewhat replaced by the hero system, each hero has a different weapon and you can find a few each stage. It’s not an ideal replacement to be honest, I do miss those random green boxes so.
As a long time fan of the series, I’ve seen some things fighting these bugs for nearly 20 years, I was sceptical going in. Luckily the game surprised me in many ways, taking the usual EDF template and mixing it up a little with the obvious graphical flair and restructuring of key aspects like the classes. There are some downsides to the game, as is usually the case with EDF spin-offs, so your mileage may vary depending on expectations. Still, I probably enjoyed the game more than I should’ve, and it does make a great entry point to the series if you’ve always wanted your kids to take up bug hunting too.
Perfect for EDF veterans looking to introduce their kids to this never-ending battle for Earth, could be a bit hit & miss for others.