Review: Earth Defense Force 5

When we consider the guilty pleasures of the gaming world, you can point towards a handful of titles. While these games might not be as high production in comparison to AAA games, they offer something special for you to enjoy for small bursts.  For some of us, it can be a simple Beat ‘em Up where you go up against a seemingly endless wave of enemies as you take them all down. As much fun as it is, there is a set of games that took this concept to the next level where you replace fists with guns and your random assortment of bad guys with giant insects. This is where Earth Defense Force comes into play as the series enters its fifth entry.

Monster Attack 5!

While there isn’t much of a plot in Earth Defense Force 5, it’s as straightforward as you can get. You are a random nobody who just so happens to find yourself in the middle of an alien invasion. After watching your instructor become ant chow, you get drafted into the Earth Defense Force and travel the world as you take the fight to the aliens and fight off their giant insects.
Think Starship Troopers, but in video game form. You could say the same thing about the overall tone since the plot itself should not be taken seriously. Even the random chatter of the troops can be great too as their random gibberish makes you think the Earth Defense Force is a bunch of lunatics that get away with blowing up buildings with rocket launchers and giant robots.
While the plot itself is simple, I had one minor gripe with it.  You have giant ants, spiders, wasps, and laser gun-wielding frogs, but apparently, no one calls them out. I know that if they’re aliens and monsters, you probably don’t want to refer to them by such names, but it can be head-scratching they can talk about things like webs and still act as though they aren’t trying to fight off giant spiders.  Still, while the plot might seem over the top, it’s the B-Movie horror that will keep you engaged more than trying to bring sense to the plot.

Four Methods of Mowing Dow Aliens

You can choose between four different classes to take down the enemies with, and each of them plays differently from each other.

The Soldier Class is the standard run-of-the-mill group that gives you access to a wide assortment of weapons. While they have no special goodies to their name, they are the only class to have a sprint ability, so you can move around faster.

Wing Divers have the lowest armor of the four classes but make up for it with Aerial superiority. During fights, Wing Divers can fly in the air while using energy weapons that can “refuel” using the plasma generator. They also can perform mid-air maneuvers to re-position themselves if surrounded.

Air Raiders at first feel like a Soldier class but downgraded. They do not have access to that many weapons, thus it can feel like they are the weakest of the four.  While they do more in supporting the team, they can set up turrets, call down airstrikes and bring out some of the most powerful vehicles in the game.

Fencers are the giant bulking fighters that can carry up to two sets of two weapons at a time. While they’re the slowest units, they pack the most punch with a powerful range of heavy artillery, shields, and close quarters combat.
You can switch into any of the four classes before a mission and you are not limiting yourself if you go with one class for a while before trying out another. The game encourages you to use all four, but it never hurts to ease your way into those other classes overtime in case if you see one mission causing more trouble with one class.

Leveling up the Loot System

During missions, enemies drop weapons and armor crates which are in your best interesting to always collect. For Armor, it can increase your health with each one you collect. As for Weapon crates, they can contain a new weapon for you to use in upcoming missions. While the armor and weapon crates remain fairly the same as they have been, a few things are different this time around. The class you use primarily will get most of the goods, but you may see that other classes can also get an armor increase and also get a few weapons too. This is fantastic considering it doesn’t place you back to start from square one if you want to use another class. You can play at your own pace with your favorite class and then have a decent setup if you switch to a different class.
The bigger draw here is how getting duplicate weapons isn’t so bad this time around. While getting a better weapon is the ideal plan, you can also upgrade your current weapons. These upgrades can range from increased damage output, faster reload times, more ammo, and so forth. With this in place, it can make the grind for better weapons more interesting if you max out a weapon and get a star as you can experience how strong one weapon can become. Best of all, grinding for armor and weapons is more lenient this time around; at least on lower difficulties. Even if the mission ends poorly, you can still collect some of your goodies (although you will lose a good majority of the collected goods). The higher the difficulty, the fewer rewards you can claim if you get KO’d.

Extermination is my Business, and Business is Good!

Most vehicles feel too clunky to use.
Throughout the entire 110 missions in Earth Defense Force 5, they all share one common goal: Destroy everything. From the Bugs and Aliens to the Robots and other gigantic threats that want you dead, you need to take them all out. Most of the time you’ll fight off seemingly endless waves of bugs as they charge head-on. At first, it might seem simple to just point your gun at the giant ants and pull the trigger. However, monsters and aliens that appear later provide a legitimate challenge.
Many enemies return, but now you have actual aliens and frog people with lasers that will avoid your attacks and hide behind buildings. Even a playthrough on the normal difficulty can have moments where you can easily get overwhelmed. While previous titles increased the difficulty by just having more aggressive enemies, this time around you can be caught off guard by the giant enemies with guns pointed at you. It will make you realize that you have to prioritize targets besides dropships dropping off more insects. Yeah, getting surrounded by spiders can put you in a web of hurt, but then the frog with a shotgun can easily take you out quickly if you don’t shoot their arms off.
Actual Humanoid enemies in Earth Defense Force?!
While the game can be challenging, it makes me wonder if 110 missions may be too many. It isn’t that the game is too long, but rather it feels like you might be doing the exact same mission multiple times and not realize the only difference being where you start and the number of enemies that flood the map.

Looks and Plays As Well As Last Generation

The presentation was underwhelming. Not that there wasn’t any effort put into the graphics of the game. Taking out enemies looks so much better since you can see the fine detail work put into the enemy models.  Even the giant walking frogs are a sight to behold since you can watch their limbs fly off.
Enemies have tons of variety while still moving as good as ever, yet the landscapes can feel lackluster. There are different locations, but after playing through several missions, one can’t help but wonder why you’re back in a city or town that just got leveled but now all the buildings are back up as though this is your first time in this supposed “brand new location”.
Too many enemies and projectiles can overtax the game
You also have times when the action on-screen can get so over the top, not even the game itself can keep up without having to drop the frame rate. It feels like the drop in frame rate is almost like a staple of the series where it wouldn’t be the same without it.
While Earth Defense Force 5 is the best-looking game in the series, it doesn’t feel like it has stepped too far away from what Earth Defense Force 2017 did over a decade ago.


Chances are that if you’ve been a long-time fan of the Earth Defense Force games, you already made up your mind. For everyone else, this can be a harder sell to make. The charm of Earth Defense Force 5 doesn’t come from trying to be the best-looking game. It’s charm is all about having too much action crammed on-screen. In the past, this would’ve been difficult to help persuade people into trying out the game. With Earth Defense Force 5 though, I would say that it’s definitely a sleeper hit.
With the amount of content in Earth Defense Force 5, it’s the perfect game to play in small chunks at a time. There’s an actual challenge to this game while also being as engaging and hilariously over the top as ever. It isn’t a game that many people would say is a standout in 2018, but if you’re looking for a fun side game to enjoy, Earth Defense Force 5 has you covered. So, pick up a gun and some explosives, and start blasting away as the alien menace!

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Tons of weapons and classes to tear the aliens apart
New enemies in-game provide a good challenge
Mowing down enemies can always be fun and engaging
Loot system more interesting as you can now upgrade weapons 
Were 110 missions necessary? Some levels can feel recycled
Can be mistaken for a game that came out last generation
Will have frame rate issues if too much is happening on screen
Driving vehicles and Mechs are stiff and difficult.

Review Summary

While it isn’t the most technically savvy game out there, Earth Defense Force 5 can still be a fun and engaging game where you take down hordes of aliens and insects.

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Michael Solseth

How’s it going everyone, I’m Mike Sol and I am one of many contributing writers to Culture of Gaming. You can usually find me playing some of the latest games to come out, although I tend to avoid anything related to sports or strategy. I enjoy the big three and all the games on them but my main console is the Xbox One. I don’t have a specific preference in gaming, but any game that has fun action and beating up waves of enemies is usually my cup tea. If you ever want me to game with me or want me to write about something of interest, feel free to hit me up. I hope to have a personal blog set up soon, but my loyalties shall remain with CoG.

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