Implausible as it was, Homefront was an interesting idea for a videogame.
Having been a child back when the Cold War was still burning hot, and the Berlin Wall had yet to fall, the idea of these glorious United States of America being invaded and overtaken by an evil empire seemed like a realistic possibility. For us, movie like Red Dawn weren’t pieces of fiction—they were training videos.
These days, the fear of our country being invaded by a foreign army are usually trumped by the rational understanding that such an invasion would be nearly impossible logistically. Well, I mean, unless Canada and Mexico get really pissed off at us and decide to join together for a two-pronged attack—then, we’re screwed.
Videogames don’t have to be realistically possible, however, so having North Korean invade and take control of our country seemed a pretty darn good set-up for a first-person shooter. Unfortunately, the original Homefront—the sophomore project of Kaos Studios—didn’t live up to its premise.
With the success of Homefront ending up mixed, some were surprised when Crytek picked up the rights to the franchise during a sale of original publisher THQ’s assets after their bankruptcy. (Then again, the price was a measly $500,000.) Talk went around for a while of the developer working on a sequel, and that game was officially revealed to a group of us media earlier this month.
Homefront: The Revolution is indeed coming, a collaboration between Crytek and publisher Deep Silver (another company who picked up some of THQ’s former properties). The story kicks off four years after the first game, where the Korean People’s Army are in full control of occupied Philadelphia. Players step into the shoes of Ethan Brady, a “normal guy” who sets out onto a journey of becoming a guerrilla fighter trying to take back his hometown.
One of the complaints levied against Homefront was that the player didn’t really feel like a guerrilla fighter most of the time—instead, they felt more like an equal to the North Korean soldiers. That’s an aspect that the team at Crytek are very aware of, and they’re working hard to make sure you’ll always understand how powerful and imposing your foes are. As the game’s narrative unfolds in a non-linear, open-world environment, players will need to make use of a wide variety of guerrilla tactics, such as hit-and-run attacks, setting up ambushes, or launching assassination attempts against specific targets. You’ll also feel like a grassroots group of resistance fighters when it comes to your weaponry and equipment. Ethan won’t have access to the same guns North Korea’s forces do—he’ll have to make use of less powerful, more common guns combined with whatever else he can scavenge from the ruins of American society.
On a tech level, Homefront: The Revolution is being built on Crytek’s Cryengine, and the team is trying to craft a world they describe as a “living, breathing ecosystem.” We got to see a quick demo of some of the various aspect of the game’s environments, such as a full day/night cycle, dynamic weather, and AI. The demo was definitely beautiful—not surprising given the developer it’s coming from—and if those elements can play out to the degree we saw in-game, they’ll potentially add a valuable layer to the creation of a sense of really being in this world and trying to survive as one of its citizens.
Though there’s still a while before we’ll have a really good grasp on how Homefront: The Revolution is turning out—the game won’t be coming until an undetermined date next year—it’s clear that there’s a genuine effort to build something that makes use of the potential inherent in the Homefront concept. Game franchises don’t always get a second chance at hitting it off with players, but if Crytek can pull off an engrossing open-world shooter that truly captures the feeling of being a guerrilla fighter against an opposing army, the Homefront name may just become a name that’s looked upon with anticipation instead of apathy.
Homefront: The Revolution is planned for release on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac, and Linux.