Killzone: Shadow Fall Demo Impressions – It’s All About the OWL

Killzone: Shadow Fall Box Art

Killzone: Shadow Fall Box Art

Guerrilla Games is bringing Killzone: Shadow Fall to the PS4’s launch lineup, which is a great news for gamers who pre-ordered the PS4. This game has potential to revolutionize the long standing PlayStation exclusive franchise, and has potential to be one of the first must-own PS4 next-gen games.

A playable demo of Shadow Fall was at E3, and I was lucky enough to get some hands-on time with it. First and foremost, this game looks stunning on the PS4. The demo took place in a wooded area surrounding some sort of Helghan outpost, and the detail of the forest and the enemy buildings was intense. The most impressive visual aspect of this game is without a doubt the way light is reflected in the digital world. There were moments where blades of light would creep through the tree line that created such a life-like visual that it caused me to take pause in the action so I could soak in the breathtaking scenery.

Amazing next-gen visuals aren’t the only improvement to the Killzone formula in Shadow Fall though. The gameplay has been fundamentally changed to reflect the PS4’s new controller, as well as the protagonist’s (Lucas Kellen) Shadow Marshal (ISA’s super elite soldier unit) skill set. This warrior is equipped with a drone-like companion tool called an OWL, which is a new component to the Killzone gameplay formula, and one that completely changes how you go about approaching each and every skirmish.

The OWL plays a major role in how Kellen handles each enemy encounter. Through simple swipes of the PS4 controller’s touchpad players can scroll through the various functions that the OWL offers to aid them in their quest. Swiping up enables the OWL’s remote turret ability, while a right swipe to the touchpad turns the OWL into a grappling gun that can be used to traverse large expanses quickly.  Swiping to the left turns the OWL into a mobile stun gun, and finally, a down swipe causes the OWL to drop a one-man shield for quick relief from enemy fire.

Meet the OWL
Meet the OWL

Each of the OWL’s powers offer gamers a variety of tactics to use in Killzone: Shadow Fall, which now features a much more open-world mechanic to its missions. This game doesn’t force you to systematically clear enemies out of areas before moving on to the next like its predecessors. You can choose to plow through Helghan forces like Rambo, or you can take a more stealthy approach and use your OWL to do your dirty work for you. There are no real constraints when it comes to how you approach every situation in Killzone: Shadow Fall, so gamers will have multiple options when it comes to tackling this high-end FPS.

In addition to the OWL, Lucas also has the ability to scan the area with radar to help show where the enemy forces are concentrated. This ability allows for careful strategies to be laid out for each and every level to ensure success, or to offer a different way of completing objectives. Even the Shadow Marshal’s gun has alternate firing modes that can be employed for devastating attacks, so Kellen’s arsenal definitely doesn’t lack variety.

The OWL is hands down the biggest, and most interesting change in Killzone: Shadow Fall. The different options it opens up makes this game uniquely different from the three titles before it. The level of freedom in Shadow Fall is definitely one of its greatest assets, so that coupled with its next-gen graphics make Killzone 4 a must-own PS4 launch title. Guerrilla Games has heeded the call for greatness, so it’ll be interesting to see how the final build plays later this year.

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Tags : E3 2013First ImpressionsKillzone Shadow FallPS4 Exclusives
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.