The evolution of multiplayer shooters have come a long way over the past few decades in gaming and we have seen trends fade in and out of the spotlight. Some shine brighter and for longer than others, but it is rare to see genres come full circle once again. If you want to feel nostalgic remembering the spawn of arena shooters with a group of friends LANing in a basement covered in Dorito dust and the only liquid being consumed was carbonated and filled with sugar, you can picture Quake and Unreal tournament blowing minds in the 90s. Then came along the influx of twitch FPS games like Call of Duty that stole the hearts of my generation. Hero based shooters made a brief appearance with the OverWatch being the only game to stick around, and now we are in the bloom of shared world looter shooters and the over populated Battle Royale market. I mention all of this, because Drone Strike Force isn’t trying to fit itself into any of the modern categories of FPS games. Instead the team over at Odisi Games and NGD Studios decided to go back to the roots with a bleak, post apocalyptic future coat of paint.
Drone Strike Force is a pretty straight forward arena shooter that feels very similar to some of the older, genre defining games of the past. The movement is nowhere near as fast as Quake or Unreal Tournament, but what Drone Strike Force brings to the table that the others games cannot is verticallity. You are operating a weaponized drone so you aren’t tied down to the floor, having to rely on strafe and rocket jumping to gain momentum and height. The movement is smooth enough and it only takes a few games to get used to the ascending and descending in combat. That being said, you have access to 3 models of drones ranging from the smaller more agile ones to beefier tank types that move significantly slower but take much more to destroy with the most balanced drone being the medium spec’d one. You also have access to a decently sized array of weaponry for each, that can be unlocked with Cryptos, the in game currency that can be acquired pretty generously after matches. The weapons remind me of the Quake arsenal, having heavy hitting rockets, machine guns, a shotgun, a few railguns, and a laser gun that is basically the Lightning Gun. You are capable of equipping 2 weapons as well as some abilities for each drone giving each individual the variety to cater their own play style. In general the gun play feels really good and being coupled with the smooth movement mechanics, Drone Strike Force makes for a pretty solid arena shooter.
As with every game there are negatives that need to be addressed. The game just released in Early Access on Steam August 16th with a 20$ price tag which may be a little too steep for players who aren’t as familiar with arena shooters and have access to cheaper or Free To Play games like Quake Champions, which is a shame because I honestly believe Drone Strike Force is a great starting point for anyone trying to get into arena shooters. You don’t have a group of players who have been strafe jumping around every map for the past 3 decades destroying noobs in normal matches like you do in Quake and you aren’t forced to learn required mechanics for movement, because it is basic enough to get a grasp on early in DSF. All of this lead to long wait times to get into games with the same groups of people all weekend and with no access to custom matches, the group of 5 friends I was playing with could not get into the same match as each other and we inevitably needed to split into groups in hopes of being matched against each other. I played a couple matches with some of our WGG Stream Team as well as some friends who have been grinding arena shooter since day 1. We all came to the conclusion together that Drone Strike Force really is a good game with the lack of custom matches and the long wait times being the only real issues. What am I really hoping to see is a big marketing push before the game comes out of Early Access and maybe with a different payment method. 20$ may put some people off and there is enough customization in skins, perks, weapons and abilities to allow for a Free-to-Play model being introduced or even what one of the biggest hidden gems of 2019 did, release at launch for 1$ then go back up to around 6 or 7$ a week or two later like Mean Greens. There is a lot of potential for Drone Strike Force to carve its own path in the arena shooter genre and we will be sure to keep a keen eye out as the game approaches full retail release.
Drone Strike Force (Early Access)
4 Missed Rail Shots out of 5