When you play through Killzone: Shadow Fall's campaign, you'll have some air support. The PS4 exclusive shooter will allow players to command an aerial drone called the OWL.
Shadow Fall begins sometime after the events of Killzone 3. The Helghast home planet of Helghan is in ruins. The ISA takes pity on the refugees and lets them resettle on the planet Vekta. The war is far from over, however, and the Helghast soon launch an attack on ISA settlers on Vekta. Players take on the role of Lucas Kellan, a member of an ISA special forces unit known as the Shadow Marshals. The OWL is one of the gadgets at their disposal.
"The OWL is an advanced hovering attack drone used exclusively by the Shadow Marshals to give them all kinds of tactical abilities in the field," said lead designer Eric Boltjes on Shadow Fall's website. "It attaches itself onto the Shadow Marshal’s suit until he gives it an order. When damaged, the OWL automatically returns and regenerates health until it receives an order again."
There are several different ways to use the OWL in battle. You can have it attack enemies in a given area, or lock onto a specific target. The drone's Stun Mode will deliver an electric blast that shuts off nearby electronic devices and also stun enemies. The OWL can also create a shield that stops enemy bullets while also allowing you to freely return fire. If you need to get somewhere quickly, you can make the OWL fire a zipline for you to travel along. It's not clear whether the zipline has to be used in specific locations or whether you can just shoot it at any old wall, like the line launcher from Batman: Arkham City.
"We wanted to give the player more control over buddies in our game, and we quickly gravitated towards utilizing our futuristic theme to create something very technologically advanced and also extremely useful in the field," said Boltjes. "It was important that it was easy to use in the fray of battle and have suitable abilities for every type of situation the game throws at you, on top of all the other abilities/weapons the Shadow Marshal has at his disposal."
The OWL is controlled using the touchpad at the center of the PS4's DualShock 4 controller. This might be the first in-game application for the touchpad that I've heard of thus far. It's nice to see that someone's using it. This continues the time-honored tradition of Guerrilla using Killzone to showcase features of the latest PlayStation console. For example, Killzone 2 made prominent (if somewhat silly) use of the Sixaxis motion controls while Killzone 3 supported both PlayStation Move and stereoscopic 3D.
It's not clear whether the OWL will be available in some capacity through multiplayer. The Tactician class in Killzone 3 was able to summon sentry drones, but they didn't have nearly as much utility as an OWL. Guerrilla's been very tight-lipped about multiplayer side of Shadow Fall thus far so it might be months before we find out how this new gizmo fits into online battles.