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 that being trapped on a ship with the most dangerous hunter in the universe would be like. 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.
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The announcement for Aliens Dark Descent didn’t come with a specific release date. For now, all we know is that the game is targeting a 2023 release window, which will hopefully be narrowed down before too long. Being a horror-type game, and for how little of it has been shown, a fall or October 2023 release date could work out well in our opinion.
While we don’t know when we can face off against the Xenomorph hoards, we do know on what platforms we can. 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 it may come to that system later.
Aliens Dark Descent was one of the first things shown off during the 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 passed away 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 they were 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 the survivor 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, natively speaking, 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.
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 large 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, level up, equip, and learn skills for. 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.
It is hard to tell, but based on the way the game describes giving commands, we’re not sure if you actually control an individual unit or are more like an RTS commander and just directing a squad.
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. 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 as well.
A small 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 listed as a single-player-only game on the store page. If it is a more RTS-style control system, that makes sense, though if you do control a unit directly, then it would be interesting to be able to team up with other players to control your other members. For now, though, this is one mission you’ll need to go on alone.
No pre-orders are officially up for Aliens Dark Descent just yet. However, if you’re interested, you can wishlist the game on the official Steam page for updates, which we will of course be sure to include here as well as soon as they become available.
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