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.