EDF! EDF! EDF! While there’s (sadly) no sign of Earth Defense Force 6 seeing an English language release any time soon, the barriers to enjoying the latest game in the franchise really aren’t all that hard to hurdle over.
|Frantic, fun shooting action returns!||Japanese-language only (though this isn’t insurmountable)|
|New weapon options breathe life into the EDF formula, as do new visuals and enemy types||Some levels and assets re-used (in a way) from EDF 5|
|There is singing. Much singing.||Still possible to enter levels with the wrong weapons|
Buy Earth Defense Force 6 on Amazon
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Earth Defense Force 6 continues the story of one of gaming’s more cultish hits, at least for western gamers. EDF games have never quite broken through to that mainstream critical acclaim position, though it’s rare that I’ve hit a gamer who’s tried one and not fallen rather rapidly in love with the series on the spot.
For me, that game was 2006’s Earth Defense Force 2017 for the Xbox 360, which came out all the way back in 2006. Which means if I feel so inclined, I could include it in my ongoing Retro Game Of The Week series. Yes, Xbox 360 games are properly retro now. We’re all getting older…
EDF 2017 wasn’t the first game in the series, but it was the first that I’d played, and I’ve been in love with its campy B-movie aliens-and-giant-insects schtick ever since.
Even through the dark days of EDF: Insect Armageddon.
Let us never speak of it again.
If you’re 100% new to the series, Earth Defense Force 6 tells the story of… the Earth Defense Force repelling the attempts of an alien group of by-now-rather-convoluted-origins to take over the world through force, explosions and giant insects. To date, it’s not been a smart plot, and it knew that, leaning heavily into every campy B-Movie trope you could possibly think of.
Giant ants? Thousands of them. Huge spiders? Let’s just say I’m less arachnophobic than I used to be through the catharsis of destruction. Giant Mecha that stomp through cities blasting at will? Indeed, and my name isn’t even Will.
EDF games have long appealed due to their scope and size, throwing hundreds of enemies at you Musou-style, even though they started life as budget titles with visuals to match. Frankly, the hilariously clunky physics and cardboard buildings are all part of the charm, at least as far as I’m concerned.
It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to play a new mainline Earth Defense Force game.
Sure, Earth Defense Force: World Brothers came out in 2020, but it’s an oddball voxel-based spinoff from the main EDF games, not a core title.
Earth Defense Force 5 did get a western release in 2018, but that means it’s been five years since there’s been new EDF for me to play.
And really, I’m still waiting.
For legal reasons, this is NOT Godzilla. It’s just a legally-distinct,
big angry Kaiju with the Toho serial numbers filed off.
Yes, I’m reviewing Earth Defense Force 6 here, but it’s based on a Japanese copy, not an English translation copy.
There’s no sign of a localisation or even an announcement that they’re going to try, and while hope springs eternal, the sight of copies on store shelves during a recent Japanese holiday was too much for me to bear. Temptation struck, and I purchased a copy, well aware that this might be a challenging affair.
Not so much from the game perspective — I’m an old hand at EDF, after all — but because the copy I have is in Japanese. I’m learning Japanese — and I guess this means I can claim that my time spent playing Earth Defense Force 6 over the past few weeks for this review counts as “revision” if I’m being very generous with that term — but still, I wasn’t sure quite how tricky it might be to get into Earth Defense Force 6 due to the language barrier.
There is no stopping them. The Ants will soon be here.
To answer the question any EDF fan might have regarding this, I’d say that it’s not much of a hurdle at all, especially if you’ve played either EDF 4 or EDF 5. Most of the menu structures are fundamentally identical to those games, so it’s really not too hard to work out changing character classes or picking new weapons.
There’s almost a fun aspect to trying out a new weapon if you’re not sure what it does, though you can always cheat a little and use something like Google Translate in camera mode to help you along the way. I’ve done that from time to time, mostly for the character boost slots, because the way that Earth Defense Force 6 handles those is rather different to previous games.
Battles are HECTIC. Not a great game if you have serious light sensitivity issues.
Your classic character classes remain, with a slight lick of high-definition paint, or in the case of the flying class Wing Diver, even more stripperiffic armour (seriously, it’s kind of beyond parody at this point, and just a little icky to my view).
Early EDF games had a LOT of slowdown. Earth Defense Force 6 reduces that problem a lot (but it can still happen.)
I’m a bit of a classicist in this regard, generally playing as the default Ranger class, stuck on the ground but with the best weapon flexibility in the game, typically speaking. The Fencer and Air Raider are good support classes if you’ve got multiplayer options to speak of, but I’ve been playing solo, so (mostly) Ranger it is. I’m sure I’ll get around to enjoying the other classes more fully in due course.
One charge you could lay at developers Sandlot is that since Earth Defense Force 4, they’ve been largely tinkering with the same levels, layouts and enemies, re-using a lot of assets in either a very smart way for a budget title, or a cynical way depending on your point of view.
Nice buildings. Be a shame if somebody were to fire at them with a rocket launcher. But how likely is that anyway?
Earth Defense Force 6 is quite guilty of this too, and that’s at least in part because it relies on a plot that has to revisit some locales from Earth Defense Force 5 specifically.
I won’t say why just in case you do want to — and are capable of — following the plot, because there’s some rather clever twists in the way that Earth Defense Force 6 works as you progress through the game’s primary campaign mode. If you’re not fussed, this game came out a year ago, so of course there’s English language plot summaries if you’re very keen. A little searching will find what you need. Still, it’s a reuse of locations and assets that were already on file, so it’s worth noting.
Which is not to say that there aren’t improvements to be found. One of my complaints about Earth Defense Force 5 was that it took an age to get going through a horrifically slow tutorial at the start.
While Earth Defense Force 6 does set a scene early on, you’re very quickly into the action, blasting away at foes both recognisable and new, plus a few remixes of enemies you might have thought you knew all about already.
Everything bleeds — not always red, either. It can get tricky spotting those precious weapon crates amongst all the green goo…
As always, the frantic in-game action is the key appeal of Earth Defense Force 6. For the Ranger, there’s a slightly new control layout to get used to, because you now get your traditional two weapons plus an extra thrown weapon (or perk) to modify how you play.
Where the fastest way to get around older EDF games was to roll everywhere sideways, you can now more easily run with the thumbtack clicked down, and what’s more, you’ll automatically vault over or climb up surfaces within your reach. Movement and animation is better, without losing the charm of it also being a touch rag doll-centric and ludicrous from time to time.
While the chatter (and overlaid text) in Earth Defense Force 6 is in Japanese only (because, hey, so far it’s a Japan-only game, and this is a title that came out in August last year), it’s not a major hindrance to play. You’re mostly just tasked with destroying all the enemies in a given level. If there’s a need for you to be in a specific area or meet with a group of EDF recruits, you’ll get a very obvious overlaid HUD to guide you there.
Also, and this is important, there is still singing.
I can’t think of another action shooting game that employs singing, but it’s present and correct in EDF 6.
And just in case you’re thinking “wha… singing? Has Alex been at the gin again?”… here’s an earlier EDF song, because I don’t want to spoil anything major from Earth Defense Force 6.
The upgrade to the PS5 does bring with it improved visuals, but here Sandlot has had to tread a very fine path. A large part of the appeal of the EDF games were in how cheesy they looked, and that’s mostly been retained. If you’re after pixel-perfect physics and motion, you won’t always find it here.
But hey, it is funny to watch that robotic frog you just shot fly halfway across the map with a well-timed missile shot. Less amusing when it’s you being flung about, for sure, but it’s all part of the game.
Did you ever feel they were all out to get you? In Earth Defense Force 6, THEY VERY MUCH ARE.
One classic EDF problem is retained, however. You’re given a choice of weapons, and new ones are unlocked randomly as you play and collect weapon crates, but they’ve all got variable ranges and effectiveness. It’s still absolutely possible to select a new level with the “wrong” weapons, which is to say those without the range to reach some of the game’s flying enemies at all.
All you can do in that case if you realise this is to exit out of the level, and that can be annoying if you’ve just gone through a pitched and lengthy battle only to realise you’re the last soldier standing and your shotgun won’t reach the very last flying saucer. Yes, I’ve been there. The tiniest of design tweaks, indicating that a long-range weapon is recommended (even in Japanese!) would go a long way here.
STAND STILL SO I CAN BLAST YOU!
Still, Earth Defense Force 6 is an absolute blast. No, it’s not a AAA game, and it’s not trying to be.
It’s just trying to be fun in the classic “mindless blaster” way. I’ve had need of that kind of escapism nicely, and I’m perfectly happy with my copy.
So, while I guess it’s possible that Sandlot/D3 might surprise me and release an English language translation version, there’s absolutely no guarantee of that. We’re fast approaching a year since release, and while they have taken that length of time before (just) with prior games, that’s often been with at least a glimmer of notification that a localised version was going to happen at some point. For Earth Defense Force 6, as far as I can tell, there’s been no such indication at all.
If you’re a fan of EDF, there’s not much reason to wait for a localised version, really. Earth Defense Force 6 works beautifully and the language barrier isn’t much of an impediment at all. Hey, you might even learn a little Japanese along the way. Who said that Edutainment games had to be boring?