Crytek builds upon Homefront‘s premise with guerilla warfare in an iconic setting.
The Homefront series could have been one of many casualties of the 2012 THQ implosion, but Crytek quickly scooped up the franchise. The future of Homefront was still uncertain until earlier this month, when Deep Silver announced it would be publishing Homefront: The Revolution, a sequel to THQ’s 2011 dystopian first-person shooter. According to producer David Stenton, Crytek Nottingham hopes to combine its established pedigree of AAA production quality with Homefront‘s compelling premise in a game that aims to bring guerilla warfare to a free-roam Philadelphia.
It’s 2029, four years after the events of Homefront, and North Korea’s invasion has escalated into a full-scale takeover. In Philadelphia, the birthplace of America’s independence, a resistance is forming. Crytek Nottingham chose the City of Brotherly Love as The Revolution‘s setting for its iconic locations; the KPA have made their capital as a symbol of how far America has fallen.
As someone who deeply loves the city of Philadelphia, I was drawn to Homefront: The Revolution partially for its setting, and partially because I thought the first game had some great ideas muddled by extremely average gameplay. Homefront had some very powerful imagery-the family executed in the street, the mass graves, the makeshift school-and I expected to see even more of that in the live hands-off demo of The Revolution. Even though I was familiar with the premise, I still gasped when I saw what looked like North Korea in the shadow of the Ben Franklin bridge. My beloved adopted city had become a battlezone with checkpoints, security cameras, and drone technology; people appeared to be living in trailers and shacks. “If the resistance was going to form anyway, it really makes sense that the resistance would form in Philadelphia,” Stenton told us; after all, if it was the birthplace of America’s independence once, why couldn’t it be again?
The demo was strictly hands-off, but we did get a look at some of the new features in The Revolution. The first-person protagonist uses a smartphone to find secrets, scan the environment, highlight foes, and identify security cameras. Cameras can be destroyed by throwing debris at them. The smartphone is also used to show current objectives, and in this case, it was to breach a police station and free resistance prisoners. Of course, the KPA has superior technology, so they can’t be attacked head-on, and Stenton was really pushing the concept of guerilla warfare to show how the resistance slowly but surely diminished the KPA’s influence. For instance, a remote-controlled detonation could be wheeled up to the police station, where its explosion would cause more of an impact; after doing exactly this, a full-scale battle broke out. The demo ended with the camera panning out to show Philly in flames.
Over the course of the game, according to Crytek, you’ll see the city change from a KPA-controlled dystopia to a place where the resistance is gaining power. Stenton said civilian and enemy AI was a big focus of game development, which would be a major improvement over the first game. Philly is near and dear to my heart, so you can take this with a Liberty Bell-sized game of salt, but I’m optimistic about Crytek’s vision for the Homefront series. I look forward to seeing more when Homefront: The Revolution launches on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac, and Linux in 2015.