Fewer Than 800 People Are Playing Aliens: Fireteam Elite

Fewer Than 800 People Are Playing Aliens: Fireteam Elite
Image: Cold Iron Studios

Aliens: Fireteam Elite was released on August 23 to mixed reviews, but on Steam it averaged around or above 10k players for the first few weeks after release. But a lack of content, small updates, and possibly the release of the popular Back 4 Blood recently have killed the player base on PC, with only 792 players online at the time of writing.

This piece was originally published on October 19, 2021. We’ve updated it for posterity.

Developed by Cold Iron Studios, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a third-person co-op shooter that plays similarly to Back 4 Blood and Left 4 Dead. It features different classes, a progression system, and loot. I’ve played a decent chunk of the game in co-op with my brother and had a fun time with it, but I’d be lying if I said I was excited to play more. And it seems I’m not alone.

Screenshot: Steam Charts / KotakuScreenshot: Steam Charts / Kotaku

During the first two weeks after it launched, Fireteam Elite enjoyed 10k-13k active players. At its peak, it even hit 15,500. Not incredibly impressive numbers compared to bigger games like Counter-Strike or Warframe, but solid enough to land it in the top 100 or so games on Steam. But now, 55 days later, the co-op shooter is struggling to maintain 1000 active players. It dropped well out of the top 100 Steam games and now sits at 571.

So what happened? Well, it appears that, even with the support of a popular franchise like Aliens, the game just hasn’t connected with players enough to keep them coming back. People don’t hate the game, as it has mostly positive reviews on Steam. But a lack of major updates and content means even folks who dig it have run out of stuff to do. The last big update for the game was back in early September, which added a new class and started the game’s first season. Since then it’s been mostly tiny updates that have patched or fixed things.

Also not helping matters is that Back 4 Blood, a game that is very similar to Aliens: Fireteam Elite, was recently released. It was incredibly popular on Steam during even its beta state, hitting nearly 100k players on the platform. Today, it sits in the top 20 most played Steam games with currently around 45k players actively online, killing zombies together.

There’s still a chance that Aliens: Fireteam Elite can turn things around. I hope it does. I think some new content, including new missions and enemies, plus more frequent events and a few free-to-play weekends could help bring back some of the audience it once had. But it’s also likely that it will quietly fade away into the darkness, with its servers one day getting shut off and years of hard work disappearing overnight.

Comments

  • If you’re going to make ANOTHER third-person co-op shooter, it had better be the best in class or something completely fresh. If not you’re heading into a crowded category against some of the largest IPs in the business.

    They are the zombie games of the 2020s.

  • AFE is annoyingly close to good. It plays like Strange Brigade or WWZ but with solid use of the Aliens franchise as a selling point. Each location is distinct and evocative of the elements of the movies. The class and weapon configuration systems are really interesting ways to tune equipment by playstyle, and leverage each other to encourage trying different options instead of specialising from the start.

    However, the game has a lot of issues like bad math for the attachments (does this expanded mag give my gun 8 rounds or 10 between reloads? Find out at random because your test case on the base ship won’t match in the actual missions), patchy interactions with class kits (lots of builds that straight up don’t function, or don’t get their bonuses from attached modules), and these result in a lot more balance issues between classes and weapons. Additionally a lot of the achievements and weekly challenges just don’t register, which puts a dampener on trying to grind out all the unlocks.

    WWZ had some issues on release, but the Aftermath version that came out on Steam shows how well it polished up with some extra work. AFE really needs that extra work as well because it almost seems like a beta by comparison in its current form! Here’s hoping it gets that polish over the course of the seasons and we get more QoL improvements alongside extra content.

  • This is the problem with flat online only titles. I stopped playing because server waiting was too long, gunplay was stale across all classes and it lacked good reward feedback. The same can kinda be said of Back 4 Blood. Where is the replayability? For cosmetic skins? Needs a proper dedicated RPG tree to keep you levelling up to evolve your gameplay (e.g. ME, Destiny, AC or even BF to a lesser extent levelling up guns)

  • The Aliens blood just left a puddle on the ground (didn’t melt the levels) and the operator voice over was cringe imo. BUT many people had no issues with that sort of break in immersion. Alien Isolation is really the last properly done Alien game!

  • Publishers seem to think MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product and strive to make every game the MVP.

    I feel bad for all the talented people watching games they worked on and care about just be sent out to die in a barely working fashion.

    • Literally everybody who actually played it disagrees with you, the game was not broken in any way even on release day.

  • The people I know who played it co-op had a great time, but after playing through a second time on a higher difficulty there’s nothing left to do or reason to go back so they move onto something else. Back when L4D came along for example there wasn’t really anything else like it to move onto so players stuck around for a long time, not so anymore. I personally played through L4D/L4D2 just once like any regular game.

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