Hands-on with Killzone: Shadow Fall on PS4

Lead image 1457_KZ4_Blast6

At a recent event in New York, I got my hands on Guerrilla Games‘ upcoming PS4 launch title, Killzone: Shadow Fall. The game will feel instantly familiar to anyone who’s followed the long-running series, but there are enough new features and additions that even the most battle-worn Helghan veterans will want a primer before heading into battle.

The tools at your disposal in Shadow Fall are many: In addition to the requisite bullet-driven armaments, the new OWL drone gives you an enormous tactical advantage. Swipe up on DualShock 4‘s touchpad to set the OWL into attack mode, point your crosshairs at a space in front of an enemy and press L1 to deploy the drone, which both attacks its target head-on and serves as a distraction while you flank around the other side.

The OWL is also incredibly useful when trying to keep track of one of the game’s teleporting enemies. Just follow the bullets.

The OWL has other uses, too. Swipe left on the touchpad to put the drone into stun mode, which will incapacitate foes and nearby electronics. Swipe downward for a drop-anywhere shield, creating last-minute cover from gunfire when things go south. Swipe right to turn your OWL into a zipline — especially useful for covering large amounts of ground quickly or escaping a tower you just planted some C4 on.

The OWL can also hack security systems, ensuring your enemies can’t call in reinforcements in the middle of a fight.

Holding up on the directional pad sends out a pulse that scans for nearby enemies. This is a big help when you’re trying to quietly take out foes, but be careful: hold it for too long and the signal will become strong enough for enemies to notice, alerting them to your location (and likely ruining whatever plan you had in mind).


One strategy I employed was to locate mid-range enemies while hidden behind a rock or tree, then attach a scope to my rifle (by pressing left on the d-pad) and take them out from afar with a charged shot. If I missed and things got hairy, I could quickly switch weapons, send out my trusty OWL drone, and switch to Plan B (shoot things and try not to get shot).

From time to time, you might find yourself faced against odds that you aren’t quite ready for. Pressing down on DualShock 4’s D-pad will not only restore your health (using up one of your reserved med-kits), but gives you a shot to turn the tables by putting you into a slow-motion mode when looking down the scope of your gun. This effect lasts for just a few seconds, but is usually all you’ll need to get yourself out of a messy situation and back on your feet.

PS4’s enhanced hardware is beautifully showcased in Shadow Fall: each melee takedown gives you an up-close look at the finely crafted intricacies of enemies’ uniforms. Ropes dangle and sway from ledges, and guns are seemingly machined from real, tangible metal.

I found myself constantly stopping to marvel at the little details, like an accurately rendered lens flare that swept across the screen when I panned the camera across a particularly gorgeous sunset. If a PS4 launch title already looks this good, I can’t wait to see what developers get out of the system throughout the course of the generation.


DualShock 4 has earned plenty of kudos since E3, and in Shadow Fall those positive impressions are solidly reinforced. The longer, concave analog thumbsticks respond to the tiniest adjustments while the extended, textured handles made extended play sessions feel more comfortable.

And the triggers… oh, the triggers. My index fingers felt like they were made to wrap around the lovingly redesigned L2 and R2 buttons, which are assigned to look down the scope of your gun and fire, respectively. Throw in the touchpad implementation discussed above, and Killzone: Shadow Fall is a perfect showcase title for PS4’s new controller.

Killzone: Shadow Fall makes a strong case for FPS titles on PS4, from the ultra-slick graphics to the impeccably implemented controls. You’d do well to keep an eye on this one if you’re considering your PS4 launch day options. Stay tuned to PlayStation Blog for more updates on the game, right up until its launch this holiday.

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13 Comments 0 Author replies
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dark_angel69 19 July, 2013 @ 4:13 pm   1

So excited for this game. Wish it was just out already!! 🙁 I want this game to be the first I play when I turn the PS4 on for the first time


I can’t wait to play this 😛

Voodoo341 19 July, 2013 @ 4:57 pm   3

There’s nothing actually new here. This has been shown off on other sites for well over a week now. Couldn’t you show some exclusive gameplay on your own site?

grandcanary 19 July, 2013 @ 6:58 pm   4

When is this coming out?

T-H-U-N-D-E-R 19 July, 2013 @ 7:58 pm   5

I would love to play this game but I won’t buy a PS4 until its games are £40. I can’t see myself spending £55/$84 on a single game.
Why are games in U.S the same price and we get such a big hike?

cowbanana 19 July, 2013 @ 8:43 pm   6

I’m more interested in Killzone: Mercenary.

Since SCEE has shown absolutely abysmal support (PSN services/content) for countries that aren’t their beloved UK I am going to wait and see how the PS4 is supported with services and content in Scandinavia. There’s also no WipEout (RIP Studio Liverpool) at PS4 launch which means that there’s no single game looking good enough in terms of gameplay to make me grab a PS4 at launch. A prettier FPS isn’t going to suck me in, so I’ll wait until the library is more fleshed out.

The Vita was the last time I’m buying a Sony system at launch. The hardware is great, but it is like the system doesn’t exist to Sony. They’ve made so few good games for the system and put out some horrible ports of old games that run subnative res at unbearable framerates. This pathetic effort hasn’t been great for my confidence in Sony. Why should third party publishers care about the system when Sony doesn’t even begin to put in an effort beyond a few very far between games?


yep yep yep, come KILLZONE4. I will be dressed up in my wydle Krueger sneaky pops suite splattering Helghast scum 😉

homer_snake 19 July, 2013 @ 9:49 pm   8

A little Helghast campaign please!


Pre ordered this along with the PS4. This game is going to be perfect to get to grips with the new Dual shock 4. Cannot wait!

pugcool 20 July, 2013 @ 11:29 am   10

paid for my ps4 so now all I got to do is wait for postie to bring it then its off to my local game


Although I’m not a shooter fan I always played and liked the Killzone series of it’s slower, more thoughtful shooting action.
What always disappointed me was the story, or the lack of it. I hope this fresh start improves on that. The whole Berlin wall thing could result in some hart wrenching and political interesting stories.

What I dearly miss from the new PS4 exclusive titles are the promised PSVita integration. I was expecting at least for the exclusive games that they would have an intelligent integration of the neglected handheld but as of today we haven’t seen any title do that. Yes you can play remote and that is great but I read the Vita was made with PS4 in mind and we should see some fun and useful second screen integration features that only a Vita can do.

Stonesthrow 20 July, 2013 @ 6:07 pm   12

Oh man, I hope that means we can customize weapons ingame and on the fly, in multiplayer too! This is an absolute necessity for shooters with big maps that require a different tactical approach for each situation. Not being done enough today. The owl looks like a nice distraction eventhough I’m usually not a big fan of these interruptions.
Killzone was one of the few that made good use of the controller’s extras, so I do wonder if the touchpad will be put to full use, particularly in multiplatformers.
History has shown me that things like the Sixaxis’ motion sensitivity and even Move has not gotten nearly enough attention, and usually mostly occur in exclusives. I have more hope for the touchpad since the select and pauze buttons are an integral part of it, but it’s still an (exclusive) gimmick, so it worries me..
Other than that I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about the triggers and can’t wait to try them out myself, although I do hope they leave us the choice to aim and fire with the regular shoulderbuttons.

TheDudeAhmed 21 July, 2013 @ 5:08 am   13