Every recent Earth Defense Force game has offered people a number of different roles to choose from. When you are heading out to fight, there are typically all-purpose warriors, ones that are airborne, another that relies on vehicles, and one that might be about support. Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is no different. With this one, people have the Trooper, Jet Lifter, Heavy Striker, and Prowler. Each one feels like it has a niche and a role on a map, which might help people with strategies either when playing alone or with a group.
The first thing you need to know about Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain classes is that you don’t need to let loadouts limit your decisions. Every one of the four classes can use every weapon. You choose the two you want to have equipped in the hub before heading out into a mission. As long as you have already unlocked it as an option via playing and have earned enough energy cores and credits to craft it, you can make it a permanent part of any arsenal. This can mean a little more grinding than usual, since it isn’t like past Earth Defense Force games where you just have weapons drop and be immediately available after a mission.
The Trooper and Jet Lifter PA-Gear classes are essentially our old friends. These two are available right from the outset. A Trooper is like the Infantry and Ranger classes from past games. They have a good dodge, they have adequate armor, and can hold a lot of items. You begin Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain as one in the tutorial, and it is the epitome of well-rounded. The Jet Lifter is this installment’s Pale Wing or Wing Diver. Their armor isn’t great, as they have the lowest defense, and they can’t hold as many items, but they can fly around the map and are the most mobile. Both are respectable additions to any team, providing good firepower and range.
The Heavy Striker is the first new class people will encounter, as it becomes available after completing mission 12. This is basically a walking tank. Literally, walking, as it is the slowest class. It also has a smaller item capacity than a Jet Lifter. However, it is designed to take a hit and has an E-Shield ability that 100% protects against ranged attacks. It dual-wields every weapon, though its reload times is much longer. (Recharge ability and Quick Load guns are great for this class.) You may want to have one Heavy Striker on a team to try and draw ire and attention from ranged units, while more mobile Jet Lifters and Prowl Riders clean up around them.
The Prowl Rider is the other new class. Like the Heavy Striker, you have to reach a point in the story to unlock it. After mission 15 ends, you get the PA-Gear found at the Rebellion’s facilities. When fighting normally, it makes you more mobile with rappel gear that feels like the Attack on Titan omni-directional mobility gear. You get these grappling hooks that offers some mobility similar to a Jet Lifter, but that relies on more environmental areas you can swing from. It also means getting to ride on an insect.
However, riding insects is more limited than people might expect. In the menu, you can set your G-L.I.A.R. that can be summoned in after triggering Overdrive. You can go with a standard Storm Ant, a Wolf Spider, or a Death Stalker to start. (Eventually, you’ll get others like Ant Soldiers or Scorpion Warriors.) Each one has two attacks and an ability. The Wolf Spider is a good choice to start with, as it has attacks that allow you to keep your distance. It can throw webs or deploy its babies. You also have the large jumps to get around the map. It is really like getting to temporarily be one of the bugs for a brief period on the map. Someone might want to start getting used to the idea of moving around freely by trying a Jet Lifter leading up to the Prowl Rider’s unlock mission, then transitioning over.
The classes in Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain each have their roles. We have an all-purpose unit like the Trooper, who is generally good at everything and handy to have around. The Jet Lifter and Prowl Rider are the more mobile allies, giving people an opportunity to scout things out or bring an a bug ally during Overdrive to provide a temporary edge with special abilities. Meanwhile, the Heavy Striker is this massive tank that may be slow, but can withstand ranged attacks and be a little more powerful with its slow dual-wielding. Knowing each one’s capabilities lets you be smarter about heading into missions, letting you know when you might need heavy hitters, like the Heavy Striker, or when it could be a good idea to only use Jet Lifters and Prowl Riders.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is available for the PlayStation 4.