Killzone 3 (pictured) and Homefront are pretty different. I mean, yeah, they’re both shooters with inconsequential sleep-inducing singleplayer campaigns and robust multiplayer support. They both have a lot of leveling and unlocking, complete with gadgets and tricks and special abilities. I suppose they’re both fun, if you want to go there. Neither one has a needler, or a chainsaw-on-a-gun, or a power leash, so you could call them “realistique”.
But I’ve been playing multiplayer in both and it occurs to me that there are six important ways that Killzone 3 is better than Homefront.
After the jump, why I prefer Killzone 3’s multiplayer
6) How you unlock stuff
Both Killzone 3 and Homefront require leveling up to unlock weapons, equipment, and abilities. But Killzone 3 presents a broad and relatively shallow tree. As you earn unlock points, you can spend them on any of the five distinct classes, which offers a broad range of choices. Do you want a better shotgun for your tactician, or an improved senty bot, or a better capture ability? Or would you rather pick something from one of the other classes? Leveling up in Killzone 3 means you get to make a very important choice about how the game will play from here on. And if you want a badass character, it won’t take long at all. Every single one of the game’s mechanics is only a few points away from being yours.
Homefront, on the other hand, presents a long tall tree with only a single path. You can build different loadouts, but you’re not getting your hands on any goodies until the game decides you’re getting them. Unlocks are based almost entirely on what level you are. Yeah, everyone wants that Apache attack helicopter. But no one’s getting it until he’s paid an exorbitant game tax. Homefront rewards its most fervant players most. Everyone else gets to wait.
5) How you earn experience points
I’m constantly getting xp in Killzone 3 by doing the things my class is supposed to do. I earn xp for capturing points, for setting up ammo boxes, for healing, for helping with objectives, for defending. Also for kills and assists of course. And if my side wins, I get a nice healthy multiplier to my xp total. I can suck at the shooting parts of Killzone 3 and still be rewarded constantly for my contribution.
Homefront doles out the occasional objective xp, but advancement is heavily based on kills. You can make a beeline for a capture point just as it’s being closed out by your teammates, but you’ll probably just get yourself killed running blindly at a contested point (I speak from experience; it’s hardly worth it). If I play the important role of covering a capture point that no one is attacking — something I’m tempted to do because it’s an effective strategy to help my team — I feel like I’m just missing out on the xp everyone else is getting. So, screw it. I’m just going to run around and get kills. And any time a game makes me say “screw it, I’m just going to run around and get kills”, that game has failed at encouraging team-oriented play.
That said, there is a cool unlockable game mode in Homefront where bounties are automatically placed on players who rack up streaks of uninterrupted kills, along with bonus abilities for those kills. This gives some players the opportunity to hunt down troublesome enemy players for a hefty xp bonus. It still fosters a deathmatchy vibe to what should be a team-based game, but it’s a nice twist.
4) How the maps play
There aren’t many maps in Killzone 3 or in Homefront. But Killzone 3’s warzone mode has an insane amount of variety for how the randomly determined objectives make different points important at different times. I know and love these maps for how fickle and many-splendored they are. What’s just a boring walk from a spawn point in one match is Murder/Death Alley in another match on the same map. One moment a mounted gun is a waste of time. Shortly thereafter, it is the single most Important Thing on the map. The maps in Killzone 3 breathe.
Homefront, on the other hand, is mostly fought over the same three points in each of its handful of maps. Once those are captured, the game will shift to three new points, so there’s a bit of variety there. But I’m already sick of fighting a capture point battle back-and-forth over the same three locations.
3) How you spawn into a map
Killzone 3 acknowledges that where you spawn is a crucial part of the gameplay. It even has a class, the tactician, devoted entirely to capturing spawn points. When you respawn, you get to choose on the map any of the points your tacticians, bless their hearts, have captured.
When you respawn in Homefront…well, heck if I know what’s going on. It just drops you some damn place on the map. You know that point you were bound and determined to capture? Now it’s on the other side of the map from you. You were on the right flank before. Well, welcome to the left flank, soldier! We’ve got a whole other kind of battle going on over here. Oops, you got shot. Now you’re on the right flank again. Or are you? Get used to disappointment and uncertainty.
Killzone 3 has bots. Homefront doesn’t.
1) Killzone 3 is visceral. Yeah, I said it: visceral!
I don’t mean to be hard on Homefront, but it definitely looks and sounds weak compared to Killzone 3. In fact, it’s got a decidely “early this-gen” look to the graphics. Maybe the setting is a factor? Killzone 3 is sci-fi, but with a modern military tweak. Homefront is modern military, but with a sci-fi tweak. The former cocktail clearly kicks harder. Of course, a game built solely for one platform — Killzone 3 is only on the Playstation 3 — will almost always have a leg up on a game that has to straddle three platforms. But when it comes to giving my TV and subwoofer a workout, Killzone 3 is my go-to multiplayer shooter.