Earth Defense Force 5 is a strange creature. Not unlike the giant alien monsters you fight, it seems out of place in this modern world. What looks and feels like something pulled straight out an early 2000s arcade is fleshed out into a full game with a pretty ridiculous number of missions and amount of replayability, but the question is – is it fun to play? The answer, of course, is yes.
What is fun? (Baby don’t hurt me)
If you’re like me and have been a fan of the Dynasty Warrior games, you’re more than accustomed to whimsical voice acting and stories that make only the smallest amount of sense. These seem to be traits for quite a few games that are popular in Japan and not quite so much in America. Earth Defense Force 5 has plenty of that to go around.
EDF5 also has loads of alien bug destruction. That’s pretty much the only thing you’re going to be doing. Across its 110 base missions, you’ll be running around blowing up so many aliens that you might stop noticing the endless spectacle of it all.
Whether it’s the scripted screen-filling experiences where bombers or artillery tear into giant ships or monsters or the emergent parts that have you blasting apart densely packed insect hordes with explosive weapons, it’s all a treat for the eyes. Somehow, that never seems to get old.
The hundreds of potentially available weapons add to the fun factor. While not every single one is good, at least for me, it’s fun to try them out and see what works for you and in what situations.
Though it can be frustrating, at times, to get into a mission and have a weapon that doesn’t work well for the enemies you’re facing. Such as a short-range or inaccurate weapon when trying to face off against flying enemies. However, the short length of most missions allows you to exit without issue and restart with a new loadout, or a completely new character class.
The Deadly Quartet
Part of the replayability of EDF5 comes from the distinct way each of the classes plays. Perhaps in a way comparable to something like Diablo, the game can play out a bit different depending on who you pick.
The middle-of-the-road Ranger can equip a broad assortment of weapons and some vehicles, making him great for mid-to-long range engagements. He’s the guy I picked most often as getting up close and personal with some of these monsters was as visually confusing as it was dangerous.
Contrarily, the Fencer class excels at getting up close and personal with powerful weapons like the lead-spitting Gatling gun or just a giant-ass hammer. However, what you get in raw armament is offset by his lack of mobility.
You can enhance it a bit and take advantage of the boost ability to get around a little better, but it can make some missions with a lot of ground travel feel like a chore.
The Wing Diver stands as the polar opposite of the Fencer with her ability to fly and boost around the map. You would think that would compromise her firepower, but she still has a devastating arsenal.
The hindrance comes from the fact that both her weapons and flying ability pull from the same energy pool, so it’s easy to find yourself unable to shoot or unable to fly at a critical moment if you don’t manage it.
The Air Raider fills in the role of a support character but doesn’t slouch when it comes to effective tools. While his main weapons may be a bit lacking, he can get air and artillery strikes that can be some of the effective attacks in the game.
The variety of vehicles he can use differs from the Ranger, but they are no less effective in their ability to tear down your foes. He also has a collection of tools for healing and shielding teammates making him a welcome addition to the multiplayer portion.
The multiplayer is fun… when you can get it going. I think it’s much more of a thing you play with friends rather than something you can do effectively with random people. With the way that you join matches by selecting them from a list after reading through all of the included data (level, item level limits, difficulty, etc.) it can be a little clunky finding what fits your situation.
You’re limited to using what items you’ve unlocked, so going into a match that’s too high means you’re not going to be able to do much of anything. Matches too low will usually limit what you can use and of course, the level of items you’ll collect, so that can be disappointing as well.
Then there’s the issue of single-player progress in the levels not counting toward multiplayer, so to start your own match on a specific level, you have to either play through it in someone else’s match or go sequentially from the beginning. That situation is not ideal.
Saving the Earth and Other Important Things
EDF5 is an enjoyable experience, but it’s one best done in moderation. While the gameplay is simple and doesn’t require a lot of brainpower to get into or continue playing, the adventure can wear thin after a while.
It always seems a lot more fun when I come back after taking a break and start looking at some new weapons or play a different class.
When I am actually able to find a proper match online that adds another layer to the fun. Yet, when I’m three hours into grinding out the short missions, it all starts to blur together and get a little mundane.
While I do think Earth Defense Force 5 is an enjoyable game, I don’t think it’s worth the $60 price tag. EDF 4.1 was a bargain from the start on PC.
If you’re on the fence about EDF5, try a sale-priced EDF 4.1 first and see if you like the style. The games seem similar enough that you can get a sense of what you’d be getting into. If you can find a good EDF5 sale though, it’s worth playing and certainly has enough content to keep you playing longer than most full-priced games.
Earth Defense Force 5
Earth Defense Force 5 is fun in a very primal way. You're shredding alien bugs with big guns. It lets you do that as much as you could possibly want and looks decent doing it. It can't keep it from getting a little repetitive after a while though.
- Killing mountains of bugs and aliens is fun
- Silly story and voice acting
- Easy to get into
- Tons of content and replayability across classes and difficulties
- Voice acting can get annoying
- Repetitive gameplay
- Mediocre visuals pretty much everywhere
- Base price is higher than expected