Earth Defense Force: World Brothers Review — A Particle-Filled Block Frag Fest

The bugs are back, but this time you have friends. Lots of friends. This graphic overhaul of the classic shooter series aims at more casual players but still delivers plenty of action.

EDF sure looks different in World Brothers. The boxy voxel graphics make the venerable mindless bug shooter look more like Minecraft or Roblox than anything seen in the series before. Admittedly, this new look is an attempt to attract newer, younger, and more casual players to the force, but the more diehard fans of both EDF and shooters in general shouldn’t pass the game off as a gimmick. 

The radical change in graphic style hasn’t really affected the core shooting gameplay of EDF. You’re still running around in third-person while blowing away a variety of alien bugs and bad things with a potentially huge assortment of characters and weapons. The levels aren’t huge, but they still feel spacious. There’s a variety of urban, country, desert, and other locales across the world.

Earth Defense Force: World Brothers Review — A Particle-Filled Block Frag Fest

Plot was never a heavy requirement for the series, and that’s certainly true this time. Dark Tyrant, a villainous alien conqueror, has come in and blown up the very-square Earth. Instead of destroying all life, the Earth is now in pieces. Each level is a piece, and defeating the motherships of Tyrant’s force after several levels magically helps restore more and more of the floating landmasses. 

Really, that’s all the excuse anyone needs to hop from mission to mission and landmass to landmass blowing everything up. There are a variety of massive enemies. Giant robots and spaceships, a huge Godzilla-knock off, and gigantic bugs among them. Acid-spitting ants and web-spewing spiders are commonplace, but the overall enemy design manages to pack a lot of detail into its blocky creations. 

Visual effects are particularly fun since all the structures in these levels are destructible. Powerful energy blasts of electric blue, blinding ray guns, and tons of explosions punctuate the action. The jaunty soundtrack and very beefy sound effects help as well, although the sound bites for the various characters tend to be incredibly over-used to the point where you might want to mute them. 

There’s a big campaign mode in World Brothers with 60 missions to blast through at three different difficulty levels. Each new level usually has several characters to find and rescue. Many are from previous games and around a hundred more are new. They cover the gamut of archetypes, from assaulting ground troops and heavily armored tank characters to flying jet pack-endowed Wing Divers and a horde of really bizarre, sketchily stereotypical characters like a cowboy, ninja, mariachi, and grenade-loving Dutch flower girl. 

The variety of characters and weapons is extreme since you can customize characters with new weapons. Weapons and characters can increase in skill level as well, so the more you use a particular combination, the more useful they become.

Team play is vital to World Brothers. Past the opening missions, you’ll be leading a team of four into battle and the team can be customized between missions. 

During the mission, you can switch between any teammate on the fly. This is especially useful during reloads, which are cooldown periods that vary between characters. The reload time can be anywhere from a couple of seconds to more than 10 and forces the player to either change things up or awkwardly wait to be able to shoot again. 

The action, while diverse thanks to the character options, isn’t particularly deep or complicated. Characters have their main gun, a rechargeable secondary ability or attack, and when they’ve caused enough enemy damage, a power attack. You’re nearly always at the mercy of the game’s auto-aim for any precise shots. While grenades and rockets have splash damage, rifles of any sort are nearly useless unless your target reticle is locked on. 

When the screen is crawling with bugs (as it often is), this isn’t a big deal, but the auto-targeting doesn’t take obstacles into account. So, it will target a bug going around the side of a building, for instance, but since you can’t zoom in or fine aim, your shots will almost always miss. It’s safe to guess this is a feature, not a bug to let less-action-oriented gamers play more easily, but there were times when it was an annoying distraction.

That aside, the action is fast-paced and satisfying, especially given that nearly everything in the world can be blown up. 

Of course, multiplayer is a big part of the focus in World Brothers. Online matches can support four players, each with their own team of four characters. The Switch supports four-player LAN mode for local play, while the PS4 and PS5 add two-player split-screen. There’s no cross-play, unfortunately, so you’re just playing with others on the same platform.

Multiplayer is also limited to just the story missions. You can join games of missions you haven’t beaten yet, but if hosting, only have access to those you’ve completed. It’s perplexing there are no multiplayer-only game modes and maps. So no deathmatches, enemy wave-based endurance rounds, or other familiar mainstays of online action games.

Earth Defense Force: World Brothers Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Radically different graphic style is actually pretty cool
  • Satisfying and explosive shooting action
  • Tons of characters and weapons to mix and match
  • An impressive amount of levels for both single and multiplayer
  • Team-based action

Cons

  • Definitely geared toward more casual and younger players
  • No refined aiming
  • Multiplayer is limited to only the story missions
  • No cross-play

Earth Defense Force: World Brothers manages to mix adorable block graphics with surprisingly rigorous and intense shooting action. While there are some areas where it feels a little too dumbed down, the overall game is a fun and frantic arcade shoot fest.

The sheer variety of characters, weapons, levels, enemies, and team-building options is impressive. This makes it a solid choice, especially as a shooter to play with the kids.

[Note: D3PUBLISHER provided the copy of Earth Defense Force: World Brothers used for this review.]

Our Rating
7
The bugs are back, but this time you have friends. Lots of friends. This graphic overhaul of the classic shooter series aims at more casual players but still delivers plenty of action.
Reviewed On: Playstation 4

Contributor

Jason D'Aprile has been writing about games and technology for a very long time. His bylines have appeared on and in countless sites and magazines over the years, including Paste Magazine, Playboy, G4TV, Indie Game Website, UploadVR, Techhive, Lifewire, the Brick Moon Fiction podcast, United Front Gaming, and others he's mostly forgotten about. Jason lives in a house in the woods and does not twit.

Published Jun. 1st 2021

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