Alienation

Housemarque's latest offers brilliant loot and levelling, but it's the moment-to-moment action that truly excels.

Key events

Local co-op and leagues are coming to Alienation via a free update in July

Local co-op and leagues are coming to Alienation via a free update in July

Along with new difficulty levels and other bits and bobs.

There is a rainbow in my heart, as Chang once said (in The Blue Lotus?). The good news is that Housemarque is adding a load of new stuff to Alienation for free this July. The bad news is that this probably means that some people at Housemarque are working on Alienation when they should be prepping the Eugene Jarvis Project for release ASAP. Swings and roundabouts. (Also a Chang quote.)

Writing in a post over on the Playstation Blog, Housemarque's Tommaso de Benetti broke down the update that arrives on the 5th of July. First off, there's couch co-op for up to four players, all of whom will now have to fight over loot crates. Then there are leagues, five whole ranks of them, with cycles lasting a week. They'll allow you to unlock new bullet colours.

On top of that come two new difficulty levels, Expert and Master, and a rejigged Arkship with new rooms and better loot. Finally, there are new hero levels and Trophies, and a bit of tinkering with legendary weapons and loot drop rates.

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Digital FoundryDigital Foundry vs Alienation

A visual effects showcase, but is it a worthy successor to the brilliant Resogun?

Housemarque specialises in creating arcade action titles, with Alienation the latest in a long line of frenetic shooters backed up by a remarkable suite of technology. Conceptually, it's similar in nature to the firm's PS3/PS4 title, Dead Nation, but the sci-fi focus opens the door to a new gameplay focus, along with a radical revamp in visual effects work.

Alienation review

RecommendedAlienation review

The X-plosion files.

"Multiplier up." That voice! That perfect Housemarque voice, so calm in the face of chaos, so endlessly assured. In Resogun, she spoke to you through your controller - a wonderful piece of release-window magic that did more to make the PS4 feel exciting and new than almost anything else in the early line-up. In Alienation, she's back, bringing a hint of order to the manic battlefield of this relentless twin-stick shooter, and suggesting that, no matter how bad things seem right now, there is always the chance of a little showboating.

And things seem quite bad right now, to be honest. Earth has been invaded, and huge chunks of the planet are no-go zones, home to shambling, hulking, bubbling aliens. If you wondered what XCOM might feel like as a co-op blaster, this is probably it, the wide top-down-ish angle offering a decent view of a world that seems long past saving, while you and up to three friends (online only for now) pile into Chernobyl, Brazilian jungles, the frozen wastes of Alaska and beyond - how many other video games have room for Nebraska on the itinerary? - in a last ditch mission to save the remains of humanity.

Simple as the story is, the set-up makes a surprising amount of difference to the final game. Alienation is the sci-fi sister to Housemarque's much-loved zombie-athon Dead Nation, and while both play very similarly, they feel rather different. Dead Nation could come off as a bit of a slog, carefully crafted as it was, just because it was you against all those zombies, and you were surviving from one mission to the next, scraping by between horrific set-pieces. Alienation's ETs still feel a lot like the undead - staggering after you, limbs flailing, mutant bodies covered with odd lumps and bumps - but the framework offers players just a little more control. You're dropped in and lifted out of each level by chopper, and as you dart around the world, the growing sense that you're guerillas sticking it to the aliens blends well with the way that your powers evolve and your arsenal expands.

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This is Alienation, the next PS4 exclusive from the people behind Resogun

This is Alienation, the next PS4 exclusive from the people behind Resogun

Twin stick arcade shooter debuts with explosive trailer.

Housemarque, the developer of PlayStation 4 launch title Resogun, has announced its next game: Alienation.

Alienation, also a PS4 exclusive, is a twin stick arcade shooter for up to four players in which soldiers survive against an alien horde.

From the gameplay video it looks like you can work together as well as turn against your squadmates.

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