Review Price to be confirmed
Homefront: The Revolution preview
Coming to PS4, Mac, PC and Xbox One (tested)
Homefront: The Revolution release date 2015
It’s been a turbulent time for Homefront Revolution. It started off life in development at THQ, but its studio Kaos Studios was closed down as part of a restructure of the company. Development was then moved to THQ Montreal, but later was moved on to Crytek UK. But last year, it was revealed that Deep Silver would co-publish the title with Crytek. Since then, Crytek has sold the Homefront IP to Koch Media — the parent company of Deep Silver — and it's now in development at Deep Silver Dambuster, which is based in Nottingham.
During my hands-on session at Gamescom 2015, the devs were keen to stress that it’s the same development team that’s stuck with the project from the beginning, despite the numerous times it's changed hands.
What hasn’t changed is the concept, though. Like the original Homefront game, which was met with mixed reviews, this is a game where the US has been occupied by an aggressive force. And controversially enough, that’s the KPA — the Korean’s People Army.
You play as part of a rebel force, which is the underdog in every way imaginable. You are attempting to overthrow the KPA, but you aren’t strong enough to do this directly. Instead you must rely on guerrilla warfare tactics and your ability to run away when you’re starting to get overrun.
See also: PS4 vs Xbox One
The Revolution is set in 2029 in Phildelphia, which is poignant because that’s the birthplace of American Independence, and you’ll play in a living and breathing open world.
Patrols happen on the fly, as do other events, meaning each player will get a slightly different experience of the game. A lot of that depends on the time of day you attempt a mission too, and the weather conditions you’re currently experiencing — all of which is dynamic.
Deep Silver Dambuster stressed that Homefront: The Revolution will always be about putting the power of the Resistance into your hands. That means there won’t be any cinematic cutscenes per se, but rather interactive ones that attempt to make sure you stay connected to the game at all times.
See also: Xbox One vs Xbox 360
The city is split into three districts. The Green Zone is the affluent area where the HQ of the KPA is, and is heavily controlled by them. Then you have the Yellow Zone, which is the ghetto area where most of the population live. Patrols happen frequently and it's very difficult for the rebels to navigate.
Finally, there’s the Red Zone where our hands-on demo takes place. This is the bombed-out suburban area of Philadelphia that's full of ruins and rubble. It’s the Forbidden Zone, so if the KPA catch you out there they'll fire on sight — and call in back-up.
It’s my job to hunt out the Strike Points in the small area of the Red Zone that I have access to in the demo, and work slowly to gain some Resistance strongholds in the area. Even when you successfully capture these Strike Points, you won’t wipe out the KPA presence in that area, but you will get additional Resistance troops, supplies and other helpful benefits.
See also: PS4 vs PS3
My demo starts with myself and three Resistance fighters debating a plan of action. I make my way up to the rooftop of one of the buildings to find a hand-crafted trap is in prime position for an ambush. It’s up to me to pull the handle to send a barrage of petrol barrels flying down on a KPA tank and its entourage.
However, neither myself nor my Resistance crew expected the KPA to have scanning drones. These flying nuisances scan the area for any Resistance activity and send in back-up, much to our dismay. So, after taking out a few KPA soldiers, I run for the shelter of a partially collapsed building, fleeing from the advancing waves of soldiers.
When we emerge in a currently unoccupied area, I get a chance to take a look at the customisable weapons system. Pressing down on the D-pad allows me to swap out elements of my weapons, including the scope, barrel and grip for a more personal playing style.
To gain new weapon elements, I need to scavenge parts from the world — and I’ll find a lot in the Red Zone’s abandoned buildings.
See also: Best PS4 Games 2015
But now I need to work my way through Strike Points to gain a handle on this area of the Red Zone, and with only 30 minutes to do so, it isn’t going to be easy. I grab a bike from a Resistance stash I discover in our first freed Strike Point, with which it's slightly easier to navigate the area without being caught.
I need to watch my mini-map like a hawk, though, as if I get near a KPA soldier, drone or airship, they flash up as red markers. Thankfully, the Red Zone is built for quick traversal on the bike and I can ride inside buildings, where I find ramps and other speedy routes to evade the KPA.
If you get spotted, it can quickly be game over in Homefront: The Revolution, as there’s no health regeneration. So you’ll need to be very careful how you approach Strike Points. It is easy to evade the opposition forces, but you just need to make a plan of attack rather than go charging in like you would in games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield.
See also: Best Xbox One Games 2015
Being dropped into a gameplay session like this is actually very difficult. In Homefront: The Revolution there are so many custom gadgets and weapons at your disposal that it’s easy to get things wrong.
With time and practice I could get very into the guerrilla warfare of the latest Homefront game, but it’s not one that you’ll be able to dip in and out of with ease. It’s a game you’re going to have to learn.
I’m not sure how gameplay will work in the other zones, but it almost feels like Homefront: The Revolution is being damaged by its open-world gameplay. It’s early days still, but it feels like you need a little more direction to make the most of being a Resistance rebel. There are a lot of tactics to learn and discover, and that will only come with time.
I, unlike a lot of other gamers, actually really enjoyed the first Homefront game. Hopefully Dambuster studio will retain the concepts I loved from the original and haven’t ruined its premise with an open-world focus.