Is Homefront really as bad as everyone's saying?
Oh boy, things are not going well for Dambuster Studios / Deep Silver's reboot of the Homefront franchise. The forums are filled to the brim with wrathful players, demands for refunds, and links to absolute rock bottom reviews.
Even the sites that consistently give higher ratings to anything FPS related are going for middling ratings. There's so much traffic on the support area of the game's official forum that it's actually been crashing all day.
Every Steam and Reddit post on Homefront explained in a single image
So what's with all the hate? Is all this rage properly placed the day after release? The answer is both yes and no, and even that changes depending on your platform.
Differing Homefront Experiences
In my review that went online yesterday, I bestowed the open-world recreation of Homefront a solid 8 rating in my review, given after playing through several hours a week before the official release date. After getting back into the game on launch day to start in on guide content, I seriously considered dropping that score due to the many technical issues with the PC edition that popped up the further in I progressed.
While the setting is interesting and the campaign mode's play style is a lot of fun, the frame rate drops make it unplayable in many areas, even on middling to high end computers.
Got into a fire fight with more than just a handful of KPA? Good luck aiming at anything as you move through molasses. Fortunately death doesn't really matter in this game, since you just re-spawn at your nearest safe house and get back into the fight.
Of course patches are expected to resolve these technical issues, but that's no consolation for those who bought on day one (or worse, pre-ordered) and expected to be leading a rebellion throughout occupied Philadelphia. For those dealing with unplayable frame rates on PC, yes, it really is as bad as all the hate would indicate – at least for now.
To compare the experience, I actually picked up the Xbox One version and am pleased to report it runs perfectly fine on console, and there I'd easily stand by my 8 rating for the single player campaign if you dig sandbox style runs along the lines of Far Cry or Shadow Of Mordor.
There are of course bugs to be found in a day one release. Issues with raising Hearts And Minds scores and some broken quests seem to be the most complained about at the moment, while some are also having problems grabbing or holding onto ledges - a big issue in a game so focused on vertical exploration.
There is definitely a reason to be upset on that front. Sadly, supposedly AAA games are increasingly released in less than optimal states and then fixed later down the line after all the money has been doled out already, and that's a trend that needs to be broken in the gaming industry.
Looking Past The Problems
The depressing part of this whole debacle is that outside of the frame issues on the PC and the handful of bugs sure to be quashed at some point in the near future, there's actually a fantastic single player game underneath.
That fact is lost in the sea of hate though, and Homefront: The Revolution seems destined to tank based on all the early negative feedback.
For those actually able to play the campaign, the on-the-fly weapon customization system is loads of fun to work with, and the open-world nature of the game lets you tackle objectives in a ton of different ways. The gritty tone is a fun departure, and the city has fascinating characters and tons of nooks and crannies to explore. If you don't care about the story, you can just go around causing mayhem across Philadelphia while finding all the collectibles.
This never gets old.
Multiplayer is another story though, as at the moment its completely dead, and that's very bad for a newly launched big name title. On launch night I had to wait 4 – 5 minutes just to find two other people to join the lobby and get a match going, and it hasn't gotten any better on day two. Compare that to the newly released Doom, where the multiplayer is absolutely on fire.
The multiplayer Resistance mode is a little lackluster and could use some tweaks. For instance, if your group consists entirely of people who don't feel like being team players, you can potentially sit and wait for a revive until the end of the match with no respawning.
I do have to give the developers props for overall going a much more co-operative route and basing each scenario around the actual game story, however, rather than offering up just yet another pointless death match mode where everyone shoots at each other wildly while trash talking.
History Repeats Itself
While the reasons were quite different, something very similar occurred with the ill-fated previous game. There was a ton of hate spewed across the web for Homefront immediately after release (much of it unwarranted in my opinion), and it stuck, which no doubt led in part to the game's demise and the long wait between iterations.
Oddly, the original is looked upon much more fondly today after everyone had time to digest the game – especially by those now trashing the new edition – and multiplayer is actually still alive and well on the 360 edition five years later.
Everybody hated this one in 2011 as well.
While there are some legitimate reasons behind this particular storm of criticism for the sequel, its sad to see how a culture of pre-hating games has really developed in the gaming community over the last few years, especially in the FPS genre.
Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare currently bears the brunt of that criticism in the Internet echo chamber, where one person says something and then 10 people pick it up and proclaim it as obvious gospel truth before even having played the game.
This dystopian guerrilla warfare title fell prey to a similar pre-hate storm that has intensified on release. When teaser videos first started launching for Homefront: The Revolution for instance, all the comments were about how it appeared to be just another COD / Battlefield clone with no distinguishing features.
That of course ended up being the complete wrong direction for criticism, as the game is in fact an unrepentant Far Cry disciple that switched to an urban setting, but the tone was already set and the damage already done – all before anyone gave it a try.
Homefront Is Dead, Long Live Homefront!
The sales numbers haven't come out yet and of course there's still time to rally with a well-placed patch, but based on what's happening on launch day and shortly beyond, it seems like Homefront's long-awaited resurrection has pretty well been canceled.
Players are already mercilessly mocking the notion of picking up the game's planned DLC, and it seems unlikely a third entry will be planned after this failure to launch.
It remains to be seen if history will repeat itself and the title will be remembered well by players years down the line after the franchise is dead and buried.