We've always been big fans of Earth Defense Force here at Push Square (we've lost track of how many times we've used "EDF! EDF! EDF!" as an article tagline). The meme-worthy series has been around for a while at this point, and it's about to reach a whole new level of absurdity with Earth Defense Force: World Brothers, which launches for PlayStation 4 on the 27th May. In order to find out more about the upcoming shooter, we asked producer Nobuyki Okajima our most pressing questions.
Push Square: To start things off, can you give us an overview of what Earth Defense Force is all about?
Nobuyuki Okajima: EDF is a third person shooter game that enables players to protect the earth from alien space invaders. The player fights as a soldier belonging to the EDF. Giant insectoid monsters, giant monsters, giant UFOs, and giant robots appear and attack in desperate numbers. You will feel the exhilaration of defeating them as a soldier of flesh.
What's new in Earth Defense Force: World Brothers?
There are three major highlights of EDF:WB.
1. For fans of the old EDF series, there will be a lot of old soldiers and enemies. All of these characters from past titles will come together to create battles that have never been seen before. For example, EDF's giant robot Barga from EDF5 can fight EDF2's giant monster Solas, and EDF3 soldiers can fight EDF:IR enemies.
2. For those who are new to EDF, the game has been designed to be easy to play, with a four-player team system that allows you to control a variety of characters in a single battle, as well as the ability to change characters to eliminate the stress of reloading. You can also get weapons and stamina, which are character growth elements, without having to collect them on the map.
3. Besides the above two highlights, you can fully enjoy the dynamic combat that is typical of EDF (which is actually the most important).
The dramatic change in art style for World Brothers makes an immediate impression. Why did you decide to step away from the more 'realistic' visuals of previous EDF games?
Needless to say, EDF:WB is a spinoff work, but we thought long and hard about what kind of spinoff work it should be at the beginning of the project. We decided that it should be an all-star game, that it should please old fans, that it should attract new members (something that would appeal to a new user base), and that it should be instantly recognizable as a spinoff.
The voxel-like graphics were created as an art style that satisfies these requirements. There are a lot of games with voxel graphics, but if they are too simple, they look cheap, so we searched for a design that would be accepted by adults with action game character, with voxel-like details. And I think I was able to achieve that.
Has the new art style had any impact on gameplay systems or mechanics?
The art style has not had a negative impact on the game's controls or systems, as it would be a shame to lose the dynamic nature that is expected of an EDF game. The good news is that people who couldn't play previous EDF games because they hated bugs said they could play this one.
Oh, I just remembered a true scenario that sounds like a joke. Because we made everything in the world square (even the earth is square), we couldn't incorporate diagonals into the ground of the map. This led to insurmountable bumps in the ground for tanks and other vehicles. To clear this up, we had to mount thrusters on the bottom of the tanks.
Can you tell us about the different character classes available in World Brothers?
You can play all the soldiers from the past EDF series (both the numbered series and the spin-out titles). You can also play as Brothers, Sisters, and other friends from around the world as original characters in this title. There are over 100 characters in total including variations with different abilities.
Do you have a favourite character class?
That's a very difficult question. I like all the soldiers that have appeared in the past series. When it comes to its original characters, I like Pharaoh Sister and Ninja Brother. I also like a character named ILI in the additional DLC.
The EDF series has been around for quite a long time now. Is there a pressure that comes with developing a new entry in such a long running series?
Yes, there is. I'm feeling tremendous pressure!
The EDF series is perhaps more popular than ever here in the West — did you ever think it would have such a dedicated audience?
What? Is that so! It's finally becoming popular! I'm so happy. I've been working on this game thinking that there's no reason why such a fun game shouldn't be popular in the West, so I'd like to spread its appeal even more.
Games often take themselves so seriously, but EDF has always embraced its absurdity, and it knows how to have fun. Do you think it's important to have games like EDF — games that aren't so serious?
That's right. A game doesn't necessarily have to pursue a realistic line. However, there is certainly a sense of immersion that comes from pursuing realism, and it is difficult to find the right balance. I think it's good to think of this as a personality trait as it varies from game to game. In this sense, unique games such as EDF are necessary.
Can you tell us anything about the future of EDF? Where would you like to take the series after World Brothers?
It's hard to say what the long-term outlook is for the future of EDF. In terms of short-term vision, I would like to achieve worldwide sales of 1 million units first. I’d love to share the experience of humanity coming together to protect the Earth with one million people first.
EDF6 is scheduled to be released in Japan at the end of this year, but before that, I would like to recruit members for the latest numbered title EDF5, which is currently being released, until the number of soldiers reaches 1 million worldwide. Otherwise, I don't think humanity will be able to win the tough battle of EDF6.
Finally, do you have anything you'd like to say to EDF fans, or even people who may not be familiar with the series?
To existing EDF Fans: Thank you for joining the EDF. I'm sure there will be many more intense and tough battles to come, but please fight to protect the peace of Earth. We, the staff and creators of EDF, have done our best to deliver a fun product that will make everyone happy and "despair".
To those who don't know much about EDF: I think there are things you lose if you don't know. If you're someone who enjoys games, you're missing out if you haven't had the chance to join the EDF. In this game, there are huge insects and huge monsters, all waiting for you to give you a sense of despair. And if you overcome this despair, you will be given the best experience to become a hero to save the earth. You may not know what I'm talking about, but enlist first so you can find out for yourself!
Have you enlisted in the Earth Defense Force? Is World Brothers on your radar? Show your support by chanting "EDF!" in the comments section below.
Huge thanks to Okajima-san for taking the time to answer our questions. Special thanks to James Bartholomeou and the team at ICO Partners for making this interview possible.