In space, no one can hear you scream. While the Alien franchise has been hit-and-miss when it comes to video games, the good ones have been great. Alien: Isolation is the most recent example of a game absolutely nailing the tone, atmosphere, and sense of dread of what it would be like to be trapped on a ship with the most dangerous hunter in the universe. Just like the jump from the first film to the second, though, our next Alien game to look forward to appears to be less about the horror and intends to mix in a healthy dose of action.
Aliens: Dark Descent is the newest game to drop us into the nests of the Xenomorphs. However, unlike most other games that used this license, it isn’t a straight-up horror game, nor is it a first-person shooter. This is one of the most beloved franchises in film history, so if you’re at all curious about diving into Aliens: Dark Descent, we’ll use our motion tracker to guide you along safely.
Aliens Dark Descent will arrive on June 20, 2023.
Aliens Dark Descent will launch on almost every modern console, including PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. Only the Switch is left off that list, but it is possible that the game may come to that system later.
Aliens Dark Descent was one of the first games shown off during Summer Game Fest 2022, and it was the first surprise of the show that no one knew about beforehand. The trailer opens on a snowy compound named Tantalus Base in the year 2198, where a soldier is recounting a mission his squad had been deployed on. They were to enter a base to restore communications, but encountered a “problem.”
Cutting to a flashback to the mission, we see familiar colonial marines cutting through a door with a blowtorch in a dank, dripping metal hallway. One soldier has already died from unknown causes, but the squad moves on. The trio goes deeper into the base, becoming more coated in alien matter, until they spot a humanoid figure, although the narration is quick to explain that it was anything but human.
Aliens ambush the squad as they try to hold them off while retreating at the same time. One gets picked off, and another runs through a door and locks out the other last remaining member of his squad.
When we cut back to the soldier telling his story, we now see everyone else in the room is dead and a pack of aliens is skulking in the shadows.
That alone isn’t much to go off of, but one other detail we can point out is that Aliens: Dark Descent will take place 19 years after Alien 3, which was in 2179. That means that Xemomorphs are a known quantity in this universe and not something we’re encountering for the first time. We also know the setting will be on Moon Lethe, which is a new location in the franchise.
The Gameplay Release Date trailer, aside from announcing the release date, gives a small look at what the game will play like. Unfortunately, no new story details were given.
While we’ve only seen the smallest glimpse at actual gameplay, we do know a decent amount about how Aliens: Dark Descent plays. First, it is a real-time, isometric shooter where you will lead your squad through vast levels full of different routes and shortcuts. It also seems to have some hardcore tactics elements, such as any squad member’s death being permanent and different classes to unlock, learn skills for, level up, and equip. Aside from soldier health, sanity is another factor you will need to manage when considering who you will bring on your next mission. The different areas are persistent as well, meaning any equipment you set up, such as motion trackers, will remain in that location for future missions through that space.
Commands are given in real time to the entire squad as a single unit, rather than issuing orders to individual marines. There is also an option to slow time to give you a chance to issue orders in the heat of battle. As expected, any marine killed in a mission is lost forever.
Enemy types will include Facehuggers, Aliens, Praetorians, rogue humans, and even Alien Queens. New types are also said to appear, but all of them will apparently adapt to your strategies.
Outside of combat, you will need to use resources to upgrade a home base called Otago. The overall goal is to prevent the outbreak from leaving Moon Lethe, which will probably be tied to not only succeeding in key missions, but managing your resources outside of battle. This is also where you can upgrade, equip, and compose your squad between missions.
A quick look at Aliens: Dark Descent gameplay was nestled in the D23 Expo in 2022 at about the nine-minute mark. This finally shows us the game in action, which will be fully in real time. The HUD seems very cluttered, with icons around the center of the screen and along the top, a motion tracker on the bottom left, the squad status across the bottom, and commands and more along the left. Thankfully, it appears that time does slow down, at least while selecting and targeting skills.
Aliens Dark Descent is open for preorders on all platforms. There is currently only one version, the Standard Edition, which will cost $40. Preordering will give you access to an exclusive black armor set for your marines, plus a cat that will live in your home base.
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