Alienation is a fantastic twin-stick shooter, blending the quick, tough combat of developer Housemarque’s Dead Nation with an appropriately cheesy alien invasion story, a Diablo-style loot system, and some beautiful particle effects. But the game launched with an enormous problem for those wanting to complete it alone, and an update announced Monday should help to make things a little less painful.
For the vast majority of Alienation, once killed, you are respawned at the nearest activated beacon. Enemies typically reappear once you’re back in the fight, and this adds plenty of incentive to stay alive; the beacons are fairly far apart from one another, and sprinting through a crowd of aliens very rarely works. If you’re playing with a group online, the game is more forgiving, as any downed player can be revived — and as long as the entire team is not down at the same time, the fight continues.
The last mission in the game, however, ditches the beacon system completely. If your entire team dies, you have to start the entire mission over from the very beginning. If you’re playing solo — as I attempted to do when the game launched — getting downed once means complete mission failure, with no option for AI allies to revive you.
The update includes a major change that will make things significantly easier for those trying to complete the game by themselves. Enemy levels will now remain static after your first attempt on the mission, giving you the opportunity to go back and upgrade your character with both XP and new weapons before retrying the mission. Without this tweak, I was unable to even complete the first of three bosses on my own, and it was even a challenge to complete the game with three other people helping me.
Alienation features no option to pause the action, but the update also adds a small shield around each respawn beacon, giving you a chance to equip new weapons and gear before venturing out into the unknown. I was killed several times during my playthrough as I attempted to swap out weapons, so this is a welcome addition. For a full list of changes, including bug fixes (some of them involve literal bugs), check out the patch notes here. The next planned update will add local cooperative play.