'Aliens: Fireteam' is an online-only survival shooter with Xenomorph hordes

It'll hit consoles and PC this summer.

Six years and four acquisitions later, Cold Iron Studios is ready to reveal exactly what kind of Alien game it's been working on: Aliens: Fireteam. It's a third-person squad-based survival shooter, and it's due to hit PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S this summer. Think "Left 4 Dead with Xenomorphs" and you're halfway there.

Cold Iron is a 40-person studio founded in 2015 by former Cryptic Studios developers Matt Highison and Craig Zinkievich. At Cryptic, Highison and Zinkievich worked on MMORPGs including Star Trek Online and Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter, and at Cold Iron, they've been building a mysterious game in the Alien universe. Cold Iron was bought and sold four times starting in 2018, and today it's independent and working with 20th Century Studios to self-publish Fireteam.

Fireteam is not an MMO, though it's fully online and has RPG elements in the form of character classes with upgradeable skill trees and modifiable weapons. There are no loot boxes or microtransactions built into Fireteam, and it's not being billed as a living game, though Cold Iron does have plans for post-launch DLC.

Notably, Fireteam is also not a horror game. It's set in the Alien universe, so of course it's filled with terrifying Xenomorphs and sterile sci-fi environments, but it's a team-based shooter first and foremost, concerned more with action and tactics than creeping tension. This is in contrast to 2014's Alien: Isolation, arguably the most iconic Alien game to date. Isolation was a first-person, stealth-based survival experience from Creative Assembly and Sega, and it deliciously leaned into the series' horror roots, pitting one player against a single monstrous creature.

Aliens: Fireteam takes basically the opposite approach. It's a third-person squad-based shooter where players face off against waves of Xenomorphs, laying down traps and strategizing as the Facehuggers, Spitters and Praetorians materialize. There are always three Colonial Marines in a squad, whether they're other online players or bots, and more than 20 enemy types with disparate AI systems. There's no local co-op in Fireteam, and no cross-play or cross-progression among platforms.

There are five playable classes — gunner, demolisher, technician, doc and recon — each with unique abilities and perks, and individual skill trees to upgrade. Players run these characters through 12 campaign missions, and then replay these levels with altered loadouts, squadmates, difficulty levels and Challenge Cards.

Fireteam is built to be played online with public matchmaking, though there's an option to run private games, too. However you play, you'll never be alone.

That's not to say Fireteam will be a better or worse game than Isolation. Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien was more terrifying than James Cameron's 1986 sequel, Aliens, and the film franchise has successfully straddled the action and horror genres for more than 40 years. The games — of which there are dozens — have done the same, with varying degrees of success. This summer, it'll be Fireteam's turn.