2011’s “Homefront” presented players with a terrifying, fictional future where a rising military superpower invaded and occupied the United States. “Homefront: The Revolution” – the Crytek UK-developed sequel – aims to evolve on its predecessor’s intriguing concept, while also elevating its mechanics and gameplay to next-gen standards.
Once again, players are up against the Korean People’s Army, a powerful, freedom-hating force hellbent on turning America into an Orwellian nightmare. While “Homefront,” set in 2025, depicted the KPA’s initial invasion of the U.S., “The Revolution” picks up five years later; the evildoer’s occupation of the States is in full swing, America has fallen, and players are put in the well-worn boots of everyman resistance fighter Ethan Brady.
Crytek UK is constructing the title’s narrative and characters on this against-all-odds foundation, while also leveraging this underdog scenario to craft “The Revolution’s” gameplay. Rather than arming Ethan to the teeth with the expected first-person shooter arsenal, the developers are giving him access to what producer David Stenton dubs the “Guerrilla Tool Kit.” In fact, relying on guerrilla tactics – ambushes, assassinations, hit-and-run attacks – to take on the enemy is what Crytek bets will separate this game from the been-there-fragged-that pack.
We got a taste of this approach during a play session set in the game’s open-world Philadelphia, which the KPA – in a kick to America’s pride – named their capitol. Searching a resistance safe house, we armed ourselves not with guns and grenades, but with bolt cutters and a Molotov cocktail. Our mission was to rescue some freedom fighters being held in a KPA-controlled police station. Upon exiting the hideout, we were subjected to a scary-real look at how the occupation had taken hold; enormous airships filled the sky, drones patrolled the streets, and a PA system reminded scared citizens of the evening’s impending curfew.
We soon learned that our smart phone was mightier than the sword in this frightening future-fiction scenario; from tagging potential targets and accessing area maps to detonating homebrew explosives, there was no shortage of terrorist-thwarting tech packed into the device. After surveying the police station from afar, performing a stealth kill, and disabling a security camera with a well-placed brick, we broke out the bolt cutters and used them to access a secret stash of resistance goods, found by way of graffiti-like directions left by our allies.
Upon grabbing the gear – batteries, weapon mods, explosive substances, and a remote-controlled car – we customized our rifle; using an interface that will be comfortably familiar to “Crysis” fans, we tweaked scopes, stocks, and silencers to our KPA-hating heart’s content. With our gun good-to-go, we headed toward the police station and popped a squat by a parked car. Thanks to a distracting explosion triggered by our rebel pals, we were able to outfit the RC car with an IED – that’s “improvised explosive device” for you fresh guerrilla recruits – and pilot it past enemy soldiers, under vehicles, and finally to the facility’s door.
After controlling the toy-turned-bomb from its own first-person perspective, we snapped back to our character’s cover spot and detonated the bad boy right beneath the bad guys’ noses. All hell officially broke loose, enemy reinforcements got called in, and our newly freed friends made their escape. We finally got to peer down the iron sights and light up that Molotov cocktail, but our demo came to a close before our trigger finger could get much of a workout.
While we didn’t get to see the results of our actions during our demo, Stenton informed us that rescuing the prisoners will help “expand the resistance and ignite the revolution.” Apparently, as players progress through the story, the world changes based on how much they’ve built up the rebellion; successful revolutionaries, for example, might see more rebel rioters than KPA a-holes in the streets of areas they’ve liberated.
Our short play session barely scratched the surface of what Crytek UK has planned for the final game. The demo nicely showcased the title’s guerrilla-focused gameplay, but it also teased features like “Uprising Points,” a sort of progression-based currency players earn by ticking off the KPA. Toss in the potential of setting the sequel in an open-world and bringing it to life with the developer’s CryEngine tech, and we’re already anxious to join “The Revolution” when it ignites on U.S. soil next summer.