Those who have played the original Homefront from Kaos Studios shouldn't be surprised when I start my impressions of Homefront The Revolution by saying, thank goodness, the new game is nothing like the original. I apologize that this isn't the most flattering way to introduce the Homefront sequel, but that first game was just a huge bummer and as soon as I heard "Homefront sequel" I was admittedly compromised. Yet as soon as Crytek started showing their demo to us, all thoughts of that first game flew right out the window. I was impressed enough with what Crytek showed of Homefront The Revolution to forget the original Homefront for the duration of the event. That should be as meaningful a compliment as any other I go on to provide in these paragraphs.
"Open world" and "guerrilla warfare" are the two phrases that will be used to describe what Homefront The Revolution is, what it embodies. The demo that was shown did a great job of making both of those things apparent, as well as making them look like they'll make for a fun game. A large part of why that is, is Crytek's ability to really push its CryEngine. Homefront The Revolution's visual were outstanding. Each scene was filled with moving, animated detail and the lighting like hid as much as was shown. It shouldn't too much of a stretch to imagine how amazing Homefront Revolution looks when other modern CryEngine Games include Evolve, Star Citizen, and most recently Ryse: Son of Rome.
Before we break it down, however, I want to reiterate that what I saw was a demo. Homefront The Revolution is a long ways off from its 2015 release date and considering its coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One, Crytek's got its work cut out of itself to make a full game look as good as that demo on all three platforms. Let me provide a reminder that these impressions are meant to provide an idea of what I saw, not to present the specifics of what was shown -- because the specifics will change. There's a lot of game development left ahead for Homefront The Revolution.
Of the handful of scenes shown in the demo, it's hard to tell whether we're joining a story at the beginning, middle or end. North Korea has invaded the United States, won, and are currently occupying it. The small guerilla group in the demo, of which the protagonist is a part of, looks ramshackle, held together by strings. More than that, the world looks ramshackle and held together by strings. From the basement in which the demo begins, filled with a myriad of junk the group has taken on the off chance they can use it in one way or another, to dimly lit streets where displaced families try to find somewhere warm. Without resorting to extreme and controversial imagery or events like the first Homefront, Homefront The Revolution's demo does a meticulous job of creating a setting where everything is wrong.
Yet it's in the shadows, through broken buildings and among the shambling families without homes that the resistance, the protagonist and his group, light the fires of their revolution. After collecting a handful of items from the groups collection of paraphernalia, the protagonist heads out into the night. Staying to the shadows, he witnesses small small day-to-day injustices which he could perhaps intervene into, but doesn't. His goal is to avoid the spotlights and the cameras -- his focus is the mission. Though ultimate the player will decide what sort revolution they lead, whether that be silent or bloody. It is an open world game after all.
Several gameplay quirks are shown, including on-the-fly gun modifications, crafting such as the player creating a remotely detonated bomb and placing it on a remote control car. Open world features like a map showing local events which the player might be interested in were also shown. All of it looked very competent, and perhaps most notable in how they maintained the world without breaking into bulky, tedious menus or overlays. Crytek clearly wants the players focus to be on the events unfolding around them.
The final bit, which is also my favorite part of the demo, involved the protagonist successfully completing his mission -- in a very loud way. Enemy soldiers pour out of the woodwork and at first appears to be a very typical shooter sequence quickly became something different. At first it was just the soldiers in the vicinity, but as alarms are raised more soldiers appear with increasingly deadly arsenals. The more the player's group escalates the mission, the worse it becomes for them. Rather a mirror image of the earlier sequence where the protagonist strikes out into the world holding to the shadows, they then return to them in an attempt to flee from the obviously enraged big brother. The rebellion showed its head briefly for just one objective and then quickly disappeared back into the woodwork.
There is one final scene which I won't go into detail on, but it involves night becoming day and this small act of rebellion growing into something much larger. The symbolism actually really well applied.
My greatest hope, and also largest worry for Homefront The Revolution, is that it continues to be smart about its story and setting. I hope that the things I enjoyed the most weren't happy accidents. I loved that the protagonist was as much a camera presenting common day events in a complicated world as he was an active participant in the events unfolding. I love that the protagonist was made to appear as one of many, rather than a super-soldier single-handedly battling against tyranny. Homefront The Revolution's demo was a refreshing, exciting shift in tone for an FPS.
There's still a lot of shooter cliche. The protagonist in the demo was rather a bullet-sponge muscle bro, the enemies were nameless embodiments of evil, and the setting was near-future dystopia like seems to be "in" these days. I didn't see any zombies, at least.
If what Homefront The Revolution wants to be is a shooter like the other guys, but different too, that's fine by me. They certainly showed the potential for something much more meaningful, however. Ah, who am I kidding. Crytek's FPS had me at open-world guerilla warfare anyway. Also, co-op. Four player online co-op. Rory likey.