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The success of Horizon Zero Dawn shouldn't be the death of Killzone

Killzone
(Image credit: Sony)

If you were planning to finally start up that Killzone: Shadow Fall clan you've been meaning to get around to for the last seven years, I have some bad news. That social function, along with the official website for Guerrilla Games' PlayStation shooter series, is no longer available, with a statement on the latter's now-defunct homepage confirming Killzone.com has been quietly "retired". 

What this means for Killzone at large is anyone's guess, but the franchise's immediate horizon doesn't look particularly bright right now. Not only is Guerrilla focused on bringing Horizon: Forbidden West to two PlayStation platforms this year, but rumour has it that the Horizon IP is being expanded into its own Thunderjaw-sized mega-franchise, with plans for a full trilogy, co-op multiplayer, and more. 

Killzone doesn't sound like a priority for the Dutch studio at the moment, basically, and that's a damn shame. While the last instalment in the saga – the 2013 PS4 launch title, Shadowfall – didn't exactly blow the FPS genre out of the war, the Killzone series has been a staple of the PlayStation brand dating back over fifteen years and three generations. Should the PS5 come and go without a new chapter in Killzone's ongoing space opera, it would be a genuine loss. 

Guerrilla warfare 

Killzone

(Image credit: Sony)
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A look back at the last generation of shooters reveals a clear pivot towards verticality, speed, and momentum, where trigger-happy gun-running and clean, twitchy combat became the norm. That is, of course, no bad thing, but with every new trend and innovation, there's always the risk of saturation – where every game in the genre begins to look and feel a little too similar. 

As a series that flies in the face of that design philosophy, Killzone could be a worthy check and balance against that homogenisation. The series' gunplay is deliberately tactile and heavy, as though players are constantly wading through invisible mud. Its visuals embrace the messy intimacy of war, with an emphasis on uncomfortable, 'up close and personal' tussles against the enemy. Guerrilla's extensive arsenal of firearms, meanwhile, places a premium on sheer power over snappy precision, where a gun's laborious handling is merely a warning signal for those caught in its sightlines.  

Killzone's comparatively strenuous pace isn't everyone's cup of tea, then, which is perhaps why Shadowfall struggled to make an impact at the start of the last generation, where the appetite for speedier shooters was at its nadir. But the continuing popularity of slower, methodical shooters across PC gaming, from War of Rights to Rising Storm, proves there's still a place in the market for Guerrilla's shelved IP.

Killzone

(Image credit: Sony)

The power of the PS5 could also do wonders for Killzone. While the franchise is perhaps best known for its cutting-edge visuals, graphics are for once not the biggest leap being made in this next generation, opening up an opportunity for Guerrilla to focus on innovating elsewhere. 

It's not hard to imagine how the DualSense's haptic feedback tech could imbue Killzone's weaponry with an even greater sense of tangibility and weight, for instance, while the PS5's drastically improved SSD presents a chance to experiment with larger play spaces (and player numbers) in multiplayer. 

And while Horizon: Zero Dawn may be the reason for Killzone's current MIA status, the former's narrative accomplishments reflect how far Guerrilla has matured as a storyteller, and how the latter might be benefited as a result. 

Killzone's campaigns were all one-note war metaphors for the most part, but a new entry could be a chance for Guerrilla to flex those newly developed creative muscles for a more incisive, textured narrative. A new instalment this far down the line from Shadowfall needs to attract new players, after all, and a compelling narrative hook could be the perfect point of access for that audience. 

Getting back into the zone

Killzone

(Image credit: Sony)

"Should the PS5 come and go without a new chapter in Killzone's ongoing space opera, it would be a genuine loss."

Speaking more broadly, the absence of Killzone from PlayStation's upcoming slate of exclusives also now leaves it bereft of a tentpole first-party FPS. Consider the PS3 era, where we had both Killzone and Insomniac's brilliant Resistance series, but with that studio now enamoured by all things Spider-shaped, the likelihood of the Chimera returning anytime soon is just as slim as that of another Helghast invasion.

Instead, with both a new God of War and Horizon sequel on the way (and another Spider-Man game all but confirmed), PlayStation's next-gen AAA menu is currently characterised by its open-world, action-RPG experiences. A new Killzone game could easily rebalance that disparity, while also reigniting the passions of a fanbase that has already waited seven years to step back into the boots of an ISA supersoldier.

For more, check out the best FPS games to escape into right now, or watch our review of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla in the video below.

Alex Avard

I'm GamesRadar's Features Writer, which makes me responsible for gracing the internet with as many of my words as possible, including reviews, previews, interviews, and more. Lucky internet!