Horde all the points.
Killzone: Shadow Fall is a sad case. Despite being a solid FPS and a stellar graphical showcase of what the PlayStation 4 can do, its multiplayer antics hasn’t been enough to grip and retain a sizeable community eight months on and has, like many day one first-party titles before it, fallen into the dreaded launch exclusive abyss.
Whatever your opinion on the state of Shadow Fall is though, it’s hard not to be impressed with Guerilla Games’s consistent post-launch support. What’s even more impressive is how much their latest content expansion, “Intercept” - an add-on centering on co-operative ‘Horde mode’ antics - re-energises the ailing first-person shooter with such a simple, yet incredibly addictive multiplayer concept.
Intercept is all about teamwork and shooting every bad guy in sight - forget unnecessary story or side objectives or stealth, this is blasting Helghast at its best. Across four beautifully rendered and structured maps, up to four players band together to fight waves of increasingly difficult and tactical Helghast elite soldiers.
Each assumes one of four vital roles - Assault, Marksman, Medic, and Tactician - to hold off the hordes from conquering three key beacons and reach a winning high score. All four player classes are easy to understand, fun to play, and fulfill an important role to the survival and success of the team.
Assault is the grunt of the squad, with a powerful assault rifle and helpful offensive drone to assist in battle, while the Marksman has a handy sniper rifle and laser trip-wires to set up defensive perimeters and pick off enemies from afar.
The two others are primarily support. Tactician is responsible for setting up shields and turrets to ensure the team’s survival. The Medic has a smaller gun but arguably the most important responsibility, being the only person able to revive downed allies and drop supply boxes for everyone to top up on ammo and abilities.
All classes have a range of starting weapons to choose from along but fixed secondary weapons and abilities - only the Assault can summon a robotic drone ally, and so on. But everyone has responsibility of calling in the big guns - a computer within home-base can be powered up with two petrusite fuel rods to activate a bonus defense mechanism, ranging from orbital strikes to extra turrets and jetpacks - crucial when having to defend and move across all three beacons towards the closing moments of the match. Flying and shooting Helghast from above is also bad-ass.
The match-type is chosen - Quick, Normal or Long - determines the total points needed to win a match of Intercept. Every action your four-man squad takes - captures, kills, revives - awards you said points, which you need to bank by physically returning to home base and entering a clearly-defined yellow circle.
The longer you hold onto accumulated points, the bigger the potential multiplier, adding an exciting risk/reward mechanic - do you feel confident enough to survive longer and bank more points? It’s always fun showing off, but not fun letting the team down.
The points system also act as shared currency; each death penalises your team 50 crucial points. While your tally may seem beefy with four other players, a series of mistakes and quick deaths could result in Game Over faster than you think - as I learned in one match when my team worked separately rather than together.
A satisfying difficulty level is well and truly present, especially as the match goes on and cloaked Helghast soldiers, snipers and better armoured warriors join the rank-and-file grunts to steal your team’s three beacons and test your group's multitasking skills. Characters from the single-player campaign such as Echo also join the fray as 'Boss' enemies with higher health and damaging attacks to add more tension.
A small downside is the varying level of A.I.; most of the time enemy Helghast are competent and challenging, but sometimes I found the cloaked soldiers - supposedly representing the Elite of the enemy - bunching up next to beacons without cover and revealing their position too easily, or teleporting away into the exact same space.
Thankfully, the matches never get overwhelming or unfair - a testament to Guerilla Games’s fine-tuning of balance - and rounds remain steadily tense and thrilling as your team fights for their points and survival - if you get a good team, that is.
The Final Verdict
Killzone: Shadow Fall may not hold the dedicated multiplayer community it aspired to, but Guerilla Games isn’t letting it go out without a bang. Their consistent dedicated post-launch support has culminated in Intercept, a polished, satisfying and ‘Horde’ mode expansion that is truly a DLC worth a purchase ($14.95 AUD) for loyal fans and those who may want fun co-op centric gameplay and more reason to return or stick around with the tight-knit Shadow Fall multiplayer community.