Square Enix’s newest entry in the Front Mission universe, Left Alive, is set to debut on March 5 for PlayStation 4 and PC. While this survival action game certainly seems promising on its own, many curious fans may be wondering what the franchise is all about. The last Front Mission title released nearly 10 years ago, after all, and Left Alive seeks to deviate from the series’ mecha-based roots. Additionally, only a handful of these games have released in North America. From the series’ usual settings to its signature gameplay, check out everything that fans need to know about Front Mission before Left Alive debuts.
Everything you need to know about Front Mission | The settings
The Front Mission franchise is usually set between the 21st and 22nd centuries and explores the political tension that independent countries experience when supranational unions seek to take them over. These fictional entities include the United States of the New Continent (North and South American countries), the Oceania Cooperative Union (Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Australia countries), the European Community (Western and Eastern Europe), the Organization of African Consolidation (Africa), and the People’s Republic of Da Han Zhong (China and Taiwan).
The series begins when dissension brews over the fictional Huffman Island, located in the Pacific Ocean. The Oceania Cooperative Union and United States of the New Continent dispute over natural resources, eventually leading to a war called the Huffman Conflict. Mercenaries from all over the world join in on the battle to fight for their own causes. The Huffman Conflict introduces players to the supranational unions that govern the Front Mission universe, thus preparing them for combat across the entire globe.
Other locations throughout the series include Bangladesh (now called Alordesh), Indonesia, Singapore, Venezuela, Poland, and the Philippines. Nearly every numbered entry in the franchise revolves around one or more of these countries seeking independence from the entities that dominate this universe.
Everything you need to know about Front Mission | The gameplay
At its core, Front Mission is a turn-based tactical role-playing franchise. Players are tasked with using Wanzers or “walking tanks” to win in key battles and advance each entry’s political narrative forward. These mecha usually have four modular parts (the body, left arm, right arm, and legs), each of which has its own health bar and specific function in combat.
The legs handle evasion, the arms carry weapons, and the body ensures the Wanzer remains operable. These parts can be customized and modified in nearly every iteration. Melee, short-range, long-range, and support weapons can be installed to improve offensive capabilities, while computers and auxiliary backpacks can raise accuracy and allow fans to bring along more ammo into battle.
Numbered entries include a variety of modes that help acclimate fans to the franchise’s strategic elements. Arena modes allow users the chance to fight solo or in a team in order to earn new parts, battle simulators provide players with VR training exercises, and survival simulators have fans complete a series of floors in order to gather parts and weapons for the main campaign. Each is a nice aside if one grows tired of Front Mission‘s never-ending military conflicts and just wants to blow up some mecha.
Of course, the franchise isn’t only rooted in the tactical role-playing genre. Other genres that Front Mission has experimented with include real-time strategy, side-scrolling shooter, massive multiplayer online, and third-person shooter. Examples of these are Front Mission Alternative, Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard, Front Mission Online, and Front Mission Evolved, respectively. While some of these have been more successful than others, each is proof that Square Enix isn’t afraid to take risks with the property.
Everything you need to know about Front Mission | Other media
Square Enix’s mecha franchise doesn’t only consist of video games. Hiroshi Yamaguchi, whose composition work could be found in titles like Okami, Bayonetta, and The Wonderful 101, directed a 10-episode Front Mission radio drama in the late ’90s. Two live-action films have been made alongside many novels and manga. One of the best pieces of Front Mission media is Dog Life and Dog Style, which takes place in June 2090 and follows the events of a devastating war. Of course, fans can also build their own miniature Wanzers with officially licensed model kits.
Everything you need to know about Front Mission | Where Left Alive fits in
Left Alive takes place in 2127, between the events of Front Mission 5 and Front Mission Evolved. It’s specifically set in the fictional nation of Rutenia, the likes of which has just been invaded by the Garmonia Republic. Rutenia’s troops are quickly annihilated at the country’s border, rendering the city of Novoslavia defenseless. As Garmonia wreaks havoc, three playable characters are tasked with surviving behind enemy lines. Fans switch between Mikhail Alexandrovich Schwarov, Olga Sergeevna Kalinina, and Leonid Fedorovich Ostermann as the narrative unfolds.
Mikhail is a pilot of the Rutenian Army’s second mechanized platoon. Considered a problem child by his commanding officers, he’s forced to fend for his own after the Garamonian army wipes out his entire station and destroys his Wanzer. Olga is a former Garmonia pilot who moved to Rutenia after an armed confrontation killed her only child. Just as she begins a new life for herself as a police officer in Novoslavia, all hell breaks loose. Lastly, Leonid is a former high-ranking member of the city’s liberation movement, NGFP. He’s sentenced to death after being accused of assassinating the group’s leader, but is spared a public execution when Garmonia arrives.
While each protagonist will have to cope with different circumstances throughout the game, Left Alive will constantly have players examine the best routes to avoid confrontation. Crafting and morality choices will be key components here, as will be Front Mission‘s customizable Wanzers. Though Left Alive markets itself as a survival game, it does promise some satisfying mecha action. Fans of massive explosions may find a lot to love about the title when it launches soon.
The Front Mission franchise has experimented with its gameplay mechanics since 1995. This tradition doesn’t change with Left Alive, as Square Enix will supposedly place a lot of emphasis on stealth and resource management with this entry. While some Front Mission titles play better than others, the developers behind the series, of which include G-Craft, Omiya Soft, Double Helix, and more, deserve to be applauded for how willing they are to try something new. If 2018’s God of War serves any indication, it’s always exciting to see a property reinvent itself for modern audiences. Left Alive has potential to revitalize Front Mission if Square plays its cards right.