It’s truly an incredible year to be an Earth Defense Force fan. Not only is a mainline game in the works with a 2021 release window attached to it, but there’s also a fun-looking lighthearted spinoff right around the corner with Earth Defense Force: World Brothers. This one is coming up in May and will allow players to fight for our precious planet against alien invaders in a voxelized third-person action shooter, whether you want to go solo or with friends. Recently, we had a delightful opportunity to sit down with the folks from publisher D3, including EDF Series Producer Nobuyuki Okajima, and check out a hands-off demonstration of the game. Simply put, whether you’ve found yourself chanting “EDF!” over the years or are learning of the series for the first time, Earth Defense Force: World Brothers looks like a great place to either discover the series for the first time or remember the glorious battles that brought you here.
Piecing together a broken planet
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers seems to start off in some pretty dire straits despite its voxelated redesign. The demonstration had alien forces launching a combined attack on Square Earth all at once, shattering the planet into numerous pieces and scattering the Earth Defense Forces before they are even able to fight back. Players assume the role of a typical EDF Ranger (from Earth Defense Force 5 specifically) to kick things off and start the fight back against a regular array of giant voxel ants. It isn’t long before we found another playable character in the game, lovingly referred to as our “brothers” and “sisters”. The first one up was an EDF 4 Wing Diver, female soldiers armed with flying suits.
Where the EDF Ranger has a regular assault rifle for rapid fire gunplay up close, the Wing Diver has a laser lance for targeted destruction at good range. A further rescue brought a British “Royal Brother” into our team armed with a sniper rifle for heavy impact shots. Each character also has a unique ability and an SP Move. Unique abilities, such as the Ranger’s dodge roll, the Royal Brother’s ability to deploy defensive walls, and the Wing Diver’s jet pack, can be used regularly or on small cooldowns. Meanwhile, SP Moves operate on a gauge that must be built up. Some are support abilities like the Ranger’s Reverse Shooter XX that recovers the teams armor while others are sheer attacks like the Wing Diver’s Geist XI, which drops a rain of laser blasts down on groups of enemies. Regardless, each character’s SP Move can drastically turn the tide of the battle.
As you collect more and more brothers and sisters, you’ll be able to mix and match a squad of up to four combatants for each mission. Not only that, but once you collect a brother or sister, you can equip their weapon on any character you own. The Wing Diver can use the Ranger’s assault rifle, the Royal Brother can use the laser lance, and so forth. Moreover, not only do you level up characters as you use them, but you can level up the weapons as well to be more effective. Add accessories with special effects to the mix like health regen for doing damage or faster ability recovery and it’s not only fun to mix and match your growing squad and arsenal, but very worthwhile too. You don’t want to bring four slow shooting rocket launchers to a fight that features both big enemies and swarms of smaller foes.
A voxel compendium of EDF history
You might have noticed that earlier we specified that the Ranger and Wing Diver were from certain Earth Defense Force games. That’s because Earth Defense Force: World Brothers isn’t just a fun spinoff, but also a love letter to EDF history. Throughout the game, you’ll collect both original characters and variants of classic heroes from EDF history. Heck, there’s a Ranger variant from basically every mainline EDF game and even some spinoffs. You can find an Air Raider from EDF 2025 and equip them with a rifle from Iron Rain if that’s your cup of tea.
It’s not just the characters you collect, either. You’ll find vast amounts of EDF history appearing throughout the levels you face in both allies and enemies. It starts as small as the giant ants that make up the bulk of any EDF enemy forces, but more complex foes like spiders, Darogas, Aggressors, and plenty more make appearances in voxelated form. There’s even a level in which we got to power-up and pilot the super-giant robot Barga introduced in EDF 5 and Okajima teased that kaiju like Saurous from the original title Monster Attack will also make an appearance.
One of the most interesting parts of all of this is how every bit of the levels, characters, and enemies, both new and familiar, are crafted in this colorful voxel style. Hopeful players will be happy to know that not only enemies, but most of the level environments are very destructible as you go about trying to save Square Earth in World Brothers. It wasn’t always easy for Yukes and the EDF team to put together, but Okajima had a couple goals in mind for the official approach to World Brothers. The team wanted to experiment and try something new that would appeal to old fans and newcomers alike.
To that end, Okajima recognized that Iron Rain was a little too close to mainline Earth Defense Force style without necessarily playing all the way like a main EDF title. With World Brothers, a priority was driving it home that this is a lighthearted spinoff while still keeping proper elements intact that make EDF games fun. It was Okajima’s hope that whether young, old, familiar, or fresh, pretty much any player could pick up World Brothers and enjoy it.
EDF! EDF! EDF!
Coming out of the Earth Defense Force: World Brothers demo, I was excited to see what they’re doing with the game even for a hands-off preview. In a world of games that often put us to the test, get us to decipher them at length, and hide plenty of secrets (nothing wrong with any of that), EDF: World Bros. looks like a very chill turn-your-mind-off-and-keep-shooting experience. The character collection and mix-and-match team gameplay looked very satisfying, the art style full of environmental destruction and nods to EDF history are really fun to see in action, and it looks like whether you’re playing alone or with up to three other players, you'll always have friends in the fight. With this in mind, we’ll be happily chanting our way to the end of May as we wait for this one to launch.
This preview is based on a hands-off demonstration of the game. Earth Defense Force: World Brothers is slated to launch worldwide on May 27, 2021 on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PC.