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Earth Defense Force 5 Review

Earth Defense Force 5 Review: Epic Cheese!

Earth Defense Force 5 is a chaotic third-person shooter developed by Sandlot. It is available on the PlayStation 4, Steam and Humble Bundle This review was conducted on a standard PlayStation 4 system by Joseph Pugh


Many years ago I played a game titled Earth Defense Force 2017. At the time, it had low-quality graphics, cheesy dialogue, a silly story, and…it was an insane amount of fun to play. Now in 2018, I’ve got my hands on Earth Defense Force 5, and…well…not much has changed. Its graphics are still mostly poor. Its dialogue is over the top and cheesy and its story went past movie theaters and DVD and landed straight on the Sy Fy channel. But in spite of all of that, it’s a damn fun game to play

It doesn’t have a riveting 60-hour story voiced by talented voice actors, and it’s not so packed with details that you can watch a horse’s testicles shrink in the cold air. What it does have, is a ton of weapons, missions, enemy types, and enough explosions to make Michael Bay blush. It’s good old arcade fun with thousands upon thousands of giant insects that need exterminating!

The player fires missiles at a horde of incoming giant spiders
A fencer launches missiles into a horde of oncoming spiders.

Earth Defense Force 5 plays from the third-person perspective. You control a soldier with one of four classes and take on various missions that mostly boil down to murdering everything in your path. You take on a variety of giant insects, aliens, and robots in single-player, online multiplayer, or split-screen. The game’s first couple of missions are slower-paced tutorials. But make it through that and you are in for nonstop action all the way through the game.

Gideon’s BiasEarth Defense Force 5 Information
Review Copy Used: YesPublisher: D3 Publisher
Hours Played: 20+Type: Full Release
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4Platforms: PC, PS4
Fan of Genre: YesGenre: Third-Person Shooter
Mode Played: MultiplePrice: $59.99

Mega Cheese

The story is simple, aliens invade, done. The game tries to elaborate further, but it’s all an excuse to fight hordes of enemies that are the size of semi-trucks at the littlest, and as big as an entire city at the largest. The dialogue is horribly cheesy and cringe-worthy. The fact it was done intentionally softens the blow a bit. But I really feel like I need to prepare you for just how bad it is.

It’s more cheesy than the original Star Trek, it makes any movie involving Will Ferrell look normal. Allied soldiers will go from overacted and dramatic screaming to singing cheerfully in the midst of battle. Your radio commander will unironically say that “a ship capable of teleportation shall be known as teleportation ships from now on”, in a completely serious tone of voice. In one early mission, a soldier barks out, “Monsters AND UFO’s? the most disgusting combo!”

While it can garner a chuckle every now and then. Most of the dialogue is not only cheesy, it’s not cleverly written or delivered well. So most of the time its just cringe-inducing

A soldier with a jet pack descends into a giant ant nest
The wing divers jetpack is quite handy for navigating cave missions.

The environmental textures are poor quality and have low resolution. Some of the textures on allied vehicles look terrible. The particle effects, of which there are a ton, look good, as do the explosions and most enemies. It’s a trade-off because the game throws hundreds of large creatures at you at once.

You could have a horde of giant ants crawling around, while spiders jump from building to building firing webs. Alongside large aliens that fire at you with blasters. At the same time you are unleashing complete hell with lasers and missiles and your AI-controlled teammates are firing away. In the midst of most of the game, you won’t notice the lower resolution textures and poor graphics for the chaos and beauty of battle.

Alien Thrashing Goodness

Earth Defense Force gives you four different classes to play and you can switch from one to another between missions. Each class controls vastly different from the others and has its own set of weapons that can be unlocked and upgraded. The Ranger is your basic soldier who is faster than the Fencer or Air Raider and can sprint, looting items in a radius around him. His weapons range from assault rifles to rockets and grenades. He alongside the Air Raider can pilot vehicles and gets access to tanks, helicopters, and bikes.

The Wing Diver has the least armor. She has a jetpack enabling her to fly around the battlefield. Her weapons are all energy-based, and many of them are focused on charging up using the shared pool of energy between her jetpack and weapons. She is by far the fastest and most agile.

The Air Raider is not as fast as the Ranger or as slow as the Fencer. He cannot sprint, but has a whole host of support weapons such as healing posts, damage buffs, and guiding lasers to help allied players fire certain weapons. He can call in the largest variety of vehicles, from mechs to helicopters, and support transports. The Air Raiders’ weapons focus on calling down airstrikes, bombing runs, and orbital lasers.

The Fencer is a slow-moving hulk in a battlesuit that lets you live out your ironman fantasies. He can carry four weapons and dual wield them. His weapons hit hard but tend to be slow to reload with massive recoil. The Fencer can carry heavy cannons, shoulder-mounted lasers, large mortars, and huge melee weapons.

The classes being so distinct from each other adds a great deal of variance and replayability to the gameplay. Each one feels unique and is fun to play.

Earth Defense Force 5 Class menu
The air raider works great in multiplayer, but can also bring the pain with air and orbital strikes.

The game features a large number of difficulty settings. I should note that they don’t function in the same manner as other games. Playing on hard for your first playthrough isn’t just challenging, it may be impossible. During each mission, enemies will drop crates of armor and weapons for you to collect. After the mission, these tally up and give you new weapons and increase your total armor (Health). Duplicates of the same weapon upgrade that type, making them stronger, and all this progression is permanent on the same save file. So while each higher difficulty mode offers better loot, you are more or less required to grind up on the lower ones first, becoming strong enough to take on the higher ones.

More weapons and armor are attributed to the class you beat the mission with, but you can replay any previous mission at any time if you want to grind up stronger or strengthen other classes. Not everyone enjoys this type of grind, but it’s optional. You can beat the game on normal and be done with it if you wish, but the option is there for those who enjoy this style of replayability. Even if you only play through it once, the game is quite lengthy with numerous missions for you to take on.

Some missions do become repetitive, but the game does a good job of drip-feeding you new enemy types that force you to adapt a bit. The core gameplay of Earth Defense Force is very solid. You feel the power of your weapons and they are varied, even within the same class. The game gives the player a ton of combat feedback which is easily the largest reason it feels so good. Enemies flinch when shot and green or purple alien blood splatters everywhere. Insects and aliens alike can be dismembered and blown apart and explosions send bodies and limbs soaring through the air.

A Crawler mech fights aliens in earth Defense Force 5.
A crawler mech takes on giant aliens.

The particle effects look nice and that helps contribute to the beauty of the chaos, Most missions have allied soldiers with you and while the dialogue is awful, it always feels like a grand epic battle between aliens and soldiers. Some groups of allied EDF can be strategically recruited by getting close to them These soldiers will follow the player and heal when you pick up health drops. Not only do they contribute more firepower, but they draw the attention of some of the horde which takes the heat off of yourself.

Each enemy in the game functions differently and it’s exciting when a new one is introduced. Some ants spray acid while others will pick you up in their jaws. One species of spider will lace you in an acidic thread while others pull you in a web. Certain aliens can have limbs blown off to knock them down or make them drop their weapons, others are armored and require you to shave off bits of it to get to the squishy flesh beneath. The combat is thrilling and engaging and you have a ton of weapons and vehicles to try out against each of the game’s missions.

The freeform nature means that sometimes you can make a wrong choice and have to back out and try again, however. For example, you might need to shoot down alien ships but didn’t bring any long-range weapons. Or the mission might be in a cave and you were playing an air raider carrying airstrikes that can not be used underground.

Earth Defense Force 5 can be played online in multiplayer or split-screen and this is where the game really shines. You can take up to three other players in co-op and fight the alien and insect hordes together. The classes complement each other, especially the air raider, and some vehicles have multiple seats. The vehicle’s controls can be a bit clunky, but they make up for it in firepower and utility.

A drone swarm hovers above the city in earth defense Force 5
That is a lot of drones…

Something nifty that I found, is that when playing online you could turn on limits for weapon and armor levels. That means players of any level could play any difficulty or mission but would be required to lower their armor and use weaker weaponry to keep the game challenging and balanced if they were too powerful.

This game was reviewed on the base PlayStation 4 and it ran pretty well even with numerous enemies and particles on screen. However, for some reason, the framerate dropped during the first two tutorial missions, and a couple of key missions, later on, turned into literal slide shows. It wasn’t something that happened often. It’s a couple of specific missions. But when it does, it is noticeable.

A Godzilla like boss in Earth Defense Force 5.
A fencer and EDF soldiers face down a Godzilla like beast


Earth Defense Force 5 isn’t winning any awards for narrative. It doesn’t have a large open world with lots to do, stunning graphics, or meticulous details. But it doesn’t want those things. It wants to be a shooter with epic battles against goliath-sized enemies and make those battles fun. In that, it passes with flying colors. It gives you a variety of classes and tools to play with and a large and varied roster of enemies to pit them against. It has got a long campaign that’s replayable with a large selection of difficulty settings and offers it all in co-op and single-player.

The dialogue and a couple of technical hiccups hold it back and some of the textures are truly poor. But it’s a fun game with a ton of content to justify its price. Its shooting mechanics feel good and the player feedback you receive when striking enemies could teach a couple of AAA games a few things. The multiplayer works great and the gameplay variance between the classes is nice. It’s a game that’s damn good at being a video game, but not much else.

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  • Huge variety of classes, vehicles, and weapons
  • Long campaign
  • Large enemy variety
  • Highly replayable
  • Online and split-screen co-op
  • Flying limbs, explosions, armor breaking and more make for great combat feedback.


  • Worst Dialogue ever, seriously
  • Poor graphics
  • Some missions have technical hiccups.
  • Some missions can be repetitive.
  • Did I mention the dialogue already? It’s bad