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The game departs from the look of it's predecessor but keeps the spirit of the game play, with updated graphics and effects. The developers worked with the original distributors, D3, to help keep the game in the spirit of it's predecessors. In addition, comments and opinions from the fan base were taken into the account and in many cases implemented into the game. More weapons, the return of a flight based armor, reloadable energy weapons, online and local co-op, and cheesy dialogue are some of the examples. You're still fighting over the top B-movie style enemies; they range from an assortment of giant bugs, giant cybernetic bugs, space ships, giant robots, and the usual alien flying craft.
The game makes a major change with its new game play modes. The game has single player with AI bot support, Local or Couch Co-Op, Xbox Live and Play Station Network support for online co-op, Remix mode and a new Survival Mode. The bot support is in the form of one or two AI bots depending on game mode. The game ups the ante in weapons from 100+ to over 300+ different weapons, which are divided into sets usable by one of the new armor classes.
There are now 4 different playable armor classes.
- The Trooper Armor: The Jack of All Trades, a Combat Medic with a respectable array of weapon choices, most like Storm 1 from Earth Defense Force 2017. The armor also gets the bonus of being the only armor that can use certain unique weapons none of the other armors can. This Trooper has the fastest reload times, fastest foot speed, and the fastest revive times for downed allies. The armors benefits are offset by a lack of special abilities and having relatively low defense.
- Jet Armor: The Crowd Controller, a Lightning Bruiser with powerful energy weapons. A return of the Pale Wing Style Character from the earlier games. Like the Pale Wing character, the Jet Armor can fly and uses energy weapons almost exclusively. The armor can fly up to some of the building tops, dodge mid air, and has limited flight capabilities. The flight and weapon reloads drain the special ability energy bar; if the bar runs out completely, it has to recharge before the suit can fly again, and the reload process is frozen. The armor is limited in it’s ability to fight enemies close in and has low defense.
- Tactical Armor: The Support specialist, a Gadgeteer Genius with gun turrets, mines, and other deployables. The armor can drop additional deployables onto the field which feed off of the special ability energy bar for the armor. The deployables include machine gun turrets, plasma turrets which fire an area of effect attack, mines, and radar turrets. The armor cannot use as many powerful weapons as the other armors and is not as good at fighting flying enemies as the other armors.
- Battle Armor: The Heavy Weapons specialist, a Mighty Glacier with an arm mounted Energy Shield. The Battle armor wields some of the most powerful weapons in the game, such as heavy machine guns, mortars, and other powerful ordinance. The energy shield also doubles as a weapon being able to either electrocute enemies that come too close or emitting a powerful blast wave of energy, similar to the shockwaves used by the Hector Mark 2 and Mantis. Unfortunately, all that extra firepower and protection comes at a serious cost, as the Battle Armor is the slowest of all, and moves even slower with the Energy Shield deployed. The two abilities for the shield also rapidly drain the Armor's energy bar.
You can power up your armors in a manner similar to gaining experience based on how many points you earn in the missions. There are 8 total armor levels; Normal difficulty allows unlocking up to Level 5, Hard allows you to level up as far as Level 7, and Inferno Mode must be risked to achieve Level 8. As you improve your armors they gain access to more powerful weapons, improved abilities, increased health, and other perks such as faster reloading.
The game uses a 'credit' purchase shop and a unique weapon system to buy the various weapons in the game; credits are earned much like experience and go towards an overall total that can be spent on weapons for any armour. The special weapons that are dropped by elite enemies are randomized like in the previous games. You no longer have to gather armor pickups to increase your health, instead you level up your armor to gain increased maximum health.
Instead of the traditional multitude of short missions with several difficulty levels, the game consists of 3 chapters with 5 missions each. Each mission takes place in a themed area in the city of New Detroit. Each mission is longer than the missions in the other games, and after beating a mission players can go back and play them again as they are in campaign mode missions. Once the game is beaten the first time you unlock Remix mode and the ability to turn off the AI. In Remix mode the game uses a different set of enemy spawn settings for each mission, such as replacing all Hectors with Mantises. Finally, there are now only 3 difficulty modes; Normal, Hard, and Inferno.
- Abnormal Ammo: Homing bullets, homing lasers, bouncing bullets, bouncing lasers, exploding bullets, (but no exploding lasers), super-cooled particle beams, miniaturized particle beam cannons (that make explosions), plasma stickybombs fired from sniper rifles, cluster grenades that launch missiles, or stickybombs, or... the list goes on.
- Action Bomb: The Ticks latch onto you and explode. They're not much of a threat on Normal, but on Inferno, as the 'manual' says;
Ticks Hurt! Stay Alert!
- Area of Effect: Some of the weapons have an area of effect. This can range from a pitiful 2 meters on some missile launchers... to up to 150 meters in the case of some of the Pesticide weapons.
- Arm Cannon: The Hectors have weapons built into both arms.
- Artificial Stupidity: There are some signs of this in the game. While the A.I. is not terrible it does not stop the A.I. bots on your team from plastering you with multiple grenade launcher rounds because the enemy is nearby or running in front of you while you're trying to shoot a particularly evasive enemy.
- Art Major Biology: Everyone knows giant bugs simply aren't possible, at least not simply by scaling them up; the Square-Cube Law tends to get in the way of that.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Basically every major enemy save the Mantis and Bomber Bugs have a weak point. If it opens up to spawn things, it's a weak point.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Giant Robots, Even Bigger Giant Robots, Giant Robot Praying Mantises, Giant Robot Daddy Long Legs, and of course the giant insects.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: Achievement names, Nothing Turret in particular.
- Badass: Most of the EDF, really, given they're up against an overwhelming number of giant bugs. Sully gets special mention though, for flying in to rescue Lightning Squad, despite there being a giant alien mothership overhead, and being in the blast radius of what is essentially a nuclear weapon. The whole area has been designated a 'no-fly zone' by Command to boot.
- Beam Spam: The Ravagers love beam weapons. Both types of Hector have an attack that is best described as a laser machine gun in addition their other energy weapon attacks.
- The Daddy Long Legs has a short-duration beam cannon that fires three times in rapid succession.
- Some of the Jet Armors weapons follow this trope. Energy based assault rifles in particular.
- The gigantic mothership in the final mission shoots sweeping laser beams all over the place, on top of constant barrages of explosive shots that look suspiciously like photon torpedoes.
- Beehive Barrier: The Ravager force fields that surround the map look like this.
- BFG : A variety of weapons fall into this category including grenade launchers, rocket launchers, large caliber assault rifles, large caliber sub machine guns, powerful missile launchers, and an assortment of other weaponry.
- The Battle Armor is capable of wielding heavy machine guns and large, mortar-like grenade launchers. One of the Jet's weapons is specifically a miniaturized version of a particle cannon normally installed on battleships.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Lots of them.
- Boring but Practical: Some of the early weapons are kind of dull in comparison to weapons you can access later, but are very practical.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Wasps aren't too much trouble - just a nuisance. It's the Cyborg Wasps that you really have to look out for.
- Boss Rush: Mission 2-2: Predation, where you're introduced to the Ravager Mantis, might as well be a Boss Rush mission in disguise. First, you fight a Bomber Spider. Then you're introduced to the Mantis a few minutes later. To sum it up neatly; by the end of the mission, you will have killed 3 Bomber Spiders, 3 Mantises, and 2 Carriers. Or thereabouts. Fortunately, there's an ample supply of fodder, so there are plenty of health kits to go around.
- Bottomless Magazines: The mech suit and the tanks machine guns have infinite ammo with no need to reload.
- Bug War: Most enemies are either giant genetically altered bugs or cybernetic versions of them.
- Captain Obvious: Due to Intel's... limited knowledge of the enemies, a lot of their advice will come off as this;
Intel: "Ah yes, we've seen these, Ops. The trick is to shoot them whilst at the same time avoiding their attacks."
Intel: "It appears to be a praying mantis. A giant, metal one."
- Car Fu: Apart from being there just to explode, the cars seem to be a favoured improvised projectile of Ants and Spiders. They can do some nasty damage.
- Combat Medic: The Trooper Armor gains bonuses to revival speeds of downed team mates making them the team medic. Their upgrades for this are even called medic in game.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Your lander pilot, Captain Sully, tends to send this vibe.
- Cyber Cyclops: The Hectors, most noticeably, but also all of the robotic/cyborg enemies in general have a single red eye.
- Danger Deadpan: Sully is always calm and professional, even when he's being a little... well, he's not exactly the sanest pilot you'll ever meet, that's for sure.
- Death From Above: The flying armor gets enough flight ceiling to rain weapons fire on enemies below.
- A variety of weapons have a high angle of fire and rain explosives down from above.
- The enemies include Giant Wasps, Cybernetic Wasps, flying enemy carriers that are also spawn enemies from portals on the ships, and the Alien Gun Ships.
- The Ravager carriers bombard the city with energy projectiles that "break up human beings on the molecular level". Getting caught in the blast radius is an instant kill, unsurprisingly.
- The spiders and ants will often climb on top of buildings and use their projectile attacks on you, or with the spiders, jump on you from the building.
- Deflector Shield: The Battle Armor has an arm mounted energy shield that can absorb damage. The damage absorbed drains from the special ability energy bar on the screen.
- Downer Ending: After beating the final mission on Normal difficulty, it will appear as though your team was killed in a massive explosion just before they could escape New Detroit.
- Downloadable Content: Four weapon packs are available, one for each suit.
- Enemy-Detecting Radar: The player has limited radar that “pings” or sends out a invisible wave that helps detect enemies in a limited radius. The Tactical Armor can deploy a radar device to more effectively detect enemies in a larger radius.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: It takes very little effort to make the cars in the game explode.
- Everything Breaks: You can flatten pretty much every building, tree, fence or structure inside the play area either intentionally or through the course of battle.
- Flechette Storm: Some of the shotguns for the Battle Armor are described as Large Smooth Bore Shotguns that fire a hail of flechettes.
- Flunky Boss: Bomber Spiders constantly spawn "lots of the little exploding Tick Spiders" in Intel's own words, making for very hectic battles if there are also other enemies involved. Carriers and the Daddy Long Legs as well, since they both regularly spawn enemies, and can only be damaged when they are spawning said enemies.
- Fragile Speedster: The Flight Armor and Trooper Armor are fast but have low defense when compared to the other two armors, though the Flight Armor's ability to use powerful area effect weapons also means it can be a bit of a Glass Cannon.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: See the entries for Beam Spam above.
- Gatling Good: From smallest to largest; the Tactical Armor can deploy a Gatling 'Autocannon' turret at higher levels, the Battle Armor has at least one model of portable Gatling gun as one of its 'Assault Rifle' options, the EDF Walker mounts a large six-barreled rotary cannon alongside its rapid-fire HE cannon, and the 'anti-infantry' base defense turrets mount no less than six nine-barreled gatlings. Yes, six. Did somebody order More Dakka?
- Giant Spiders: Giant Wolf Spiders, Giant Cybernetic Wolf Spiders, and Giant Mechanical Daddy Long Legs. Not a game for arachnophobes.
- Gratuitous German: The Leichenzeit-series of Plasma Rocket Launchers for the Jet Armour; Leichen is "corpses", Zeit is "time". Perhaps fitting, as they are the most powerful Plasma Rocket Launchers available in their own tier.
- Grenade Launcher: A type of weapon set usable by the various armor classes.
- A whole variety of grenade launchers firing impact or sticky grenades with various effects.
- Guilt-Free Extermination War: The Ravagers showed up guns blazing and the EDF are all too happy to return the favor. You often exterminate every enemy in an area that you can lay your gun sights on.
- Hit Scan: Not a hint of it here, save perhaps the Jet's particle beam cannons.
- Homing Boulders: Cars launched by Ants or Spiders will occasionally engage in Roboteching-esque attack trajectories. As will leaping Spiders, on occasion. It's quite fantastic to watch.
- Humongous Mecha: The Hector Mark II is possibly one of the largest semi-realistic Humongous Mecha you'll see in a game. There are also the Hectors and Ravager Mantises both as tall as or bigger than some buildings. The EDF get a Walking Tank with a gatling/rotary cannon and rapid-fire howitzer.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The Rav-Tech weapons, such as the Moleculus, are as the name implies; reverse-engineered from Ravager tech. They're very effective, although not fully understood.
- Infinite Supplies: You have to reload your weapons but never run out of ammo. Also you never run out of deployable items for the tactical class or energy for your armors.
- Infinity-1 Sword: A whole stack of them - many of the weapons unlocked by the armour-specific DLC packs are significantly more powerful than the other weapons in the same tier in one way or another. A solid example would be the Fleebus M-ARS (Magnum Assault Rifle System) - very high powered assault rifle. Whilst it has half the capacity of the standard assault rifle... it reloads quickly, has nigh-perfect accuracy, and deals twice as much damage as that standard assault rifle.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: See Humongous Mecha.
- Killer Robot: The various Giant Mecha like Robots in the game, the Hectors, are quite intent on killing every human they find, namely the player(s) and any other member of the EDF nearby.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Played with. While one of the armors specializes in energy weapons, a large number of the games weapons are some variation of kinetic projectile type weapons.
- Knockback: Several forms of it. Enemies can interrupt your bomb-planting/reviving attempts, and being caught by certain attacks (esp. explosives) will throw you around a lot. The Tactical's Autocannon Turret has a near-100% chance of inflicting knockback with every shot, and is a rotary cannon. Using it almost feels unsporting.
- Land Mine Goes Click: The Tactical Armour can also use landmines - either a contact-sensitive mine or a proximity-triggered mine. They both deal a decent amount of damage, so they can actually be a viable choice - especially since you can drop quite a few of them if you don't have a turret deployed.
- Lethal Joke Item: The Jagiri-series Missile Launchers available to the Jet Armour have very good homing ratings and fairly respectable firepower. The thing is, they're designed to seek and kill Silicon-Based Life, which they do very well! But the Ravagers are carbon-based.
- Lightning Bruiser: The small varieties of Hectors are fast and capable of doing a lot of damage as well as taking it. Not bad for 30 foot tall mecha enemy.
- Lightning Gun: The Neptanzer Q-series Assault Rifles are sort of rapid-fire shotgun-pattern lightning guns. Most of them fire 4 shots at a time, but the Neptanzer Duplicus fires 8 and does a lot of damage, making it an Infinity-1 Sword for most of Hard mode.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Thanks to the new lock on system this now in true effect for weapons that can lock on and are capable of firing off multiple projectiles in one shot.
- Magnetic Weapons: Railguns for the Flight armor.
- Mighty Glacier: The Battle Armor. One of the stated flaws in the game of the armor is it’s noticeably slower foot speed. It goes even slower when the DeflectorShield is deployed.
- Missile Lock On: All the missiles either have an automatic (passive lock on) or manual (active lock on) that follows this trope. Once the missiles are fired they need no further aiming guidance from the player and are suggested for use against airborne enemies. Certain shotguns and assault rifles can also fire auto-seeking projectiles; they tend to have much less firepower than their conventional counterparts.
- More Dakka: A whole variety of machine guns, assault rifles, SMGs, machine gun turrets, manned auto-cannon turrets, unmanned auto-cannon turret, and other multi-shot-rapid fire weapons follow this trope. The tank has no less than five machineguns, though only two of them are usable - one unusable miniturret on top of the main turret, two player-operated turrets under and in front of the main turret, and two unusable hull machineguns.
- New Game+: You can start Campaign mode again with all of your powered up armors and weapons. This also applies to the remix mode which changes up the Campaign modes enemy load outs from the Main Campaign.
- Nintendo Hard: There are still endless hordes of gigantic enemies that can soak up a great deal of damage. However, many frustrations from the previous EDF games have been removed or eased with the help of feedback from series veterans.
- Noisy Guns: The guns make a ridiculous clacking/rattling sound along with the reload animation.
- Non-Indicative Name: Many of the weapons lean towards this. The GoatShrike series of missile launchers, for example, have nothing to do with goats or shrikes.
- One-Man Army: An option after you beat the game the first time is to turn off the A.I. bot support and play by yourself.
- Pinball Projectile: Several weapons fire shots that will bounce off of terrain and objects a few times before being expended or hitting an enemy.
- Powered Armor: The four armor classes in the game. They give additional protection and all the armors have some perk associated with their armor type.
- Randomly Drops: Special weapons drop from elite enemies and are randomized. You will get repeats. Lots of them.
- Ray Gun: Both the players and the enemies get variations on this.
- Recursive Ammo: A common theme among the various weapons, especially missile launchers. Two common variants are cluster munitions or bullets that split into more bullets. Certain grenade launchers and rocket launchers also spit out submunitions in-flight to make a path of destruction, similar to the Exploding Shot subtype of Spread Shot.
- Redshirt Army: The generic troopers in the game. They can fight, spout off funny lines like They Killed Fatty, and will follow the player loyally but they are utterly disposable and are likely to die in the ensuing fights.
- If the player decides to enable bot control they can be revived to continue acting as distractions.
- Roboteching: Some of the various guided homing projectiles do this. Cars will also do this, occasionally. How? Don't try to think about it too much.
- Rule of Cool: The game and its various mechanics run on this.
- Sentry Gun: The Turrets the tactical armor can drop.
- Self-Destructive Charge: The gunships do this. A badly damaged gun ship will get a glowing red field around it and try and dive into the player, a turret, or ally. The end result is like Taking You with Me except the charge can be easily defeated with a well placed shot turning the gun ship in a crashing burning wreck. The gun ship also frequently crashes into objects, buildings, or other enemies and explodes.
- Short-Range Shotgun: Most of the shotguns fall under this trope as they are best in very close quarters.
- Shout-Out: There's a subtle one to Vicious Cycle's previous game Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard; EDF soldiers can often be heard shouting "Yeah! Eat Lead!"
- Sniper Rifle: One of the weapon types available.
- Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: As you advance your armors level you get access to more powerful and effective weapons in the shop. Higher difficulty weapon drops are also better.
- Spiders Are Scary: Giant jumping Wolf spiders are all over in the game, along with robot counterparts and the gigantic Bomber Spider. Not a game for arachnophobes.
- An interview with one of the game designers revealed it also was one of the reasons for including them as they are inherently creepy to many people.
- Splash Damage: The various explosive weapons use this to great affect.
- Spread Shot: The Hemisect assault rifle, among other examples, fires a bullet that splits in two a few meters after it leaves the barrel. The two shots then fly off horizontally at a 45 degree angle to the original shot, making it hard to use against lone enemies and small targets. One of the Jet energy rifles works similarly, but with... well, energy projectiles.
- Sticky Bomb: Some of the weapons have this as either the primary shot or as a sub-munition.
- Stock Sound Effect: Several, used for the insects, plus;
- Stock Scream: A wide array of them, used for the panicking civilians.
- Super-Persistent Missile: Some of the homing projectiles will constantly circle the target until they hit it, another object, or another enemy. Failing that, they'll blow up eventually due having limited lifespans.
- Tank Goodness: A player drivable vehicle with additional machine gun turrets for more fire power.
- The Turret Master: The Role of the tactical armor and it's assorted abilities.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: This applies to how some of the weapons work. Like hitting an enemy with micro missiles that increase damage output or weapons that are more powerful then necessary for the threats you face in the mission.
- The pesticide weapons are capable of one shotting most bosses. They are often used by players to blast vast hordes of bugs and level cities.
- The Unpronounceable: Weapons manufacturer Qhrqwhqhr.
- Weaponized Animal: The Ravagers use scaled up, modified and otherwise 'enhanced' insects as their shock troops. You know, as if it wasn't obvious from the subtitle.
- Zerg Rush: They're giant bugs, what did you expect?
- Get 500 kills using Base Turrets