Like its predecessors, Killzone Shadow Fall is a first-person shooter in a science fiction setting. Staple weapons such as the M82 Assault Rifle, stA-52 Assault Rifle, and stA-18 pistol return from the earlier Killzone games, albeit in new forms and variations. New weapons include the LSR44, a recoil-free, hybrid assault/charge sniper rifle that functions much like a miniaturized rail-gun, and the OWL, an advanced hovering attack drone (used by the Shadow Marshals) that can attack/stun when it is adjacent to an adversary, as well as deploy an instant zip line, protect the player from enemy fire with an energy shield, and hack/scan terminals and enemy alarms to prevent reinforcements from arriving.
While the previous games in the Killzone series portrayed a large war-zone with numerous allies by the players side at any given time and an overall linear design, Killzone Shadow Fall opts for a more open-ended, stealth-based approach. Levels are much more open than in previous games, allowing for multiple ways/routes to complete objectives. Also in Shadow Fall, for the first half of the campaign, the player is alone in firefights, with the OWL as the player's only "companion", which is able to lay down cover fire, among other abilities. During the second half onward, the player is occasionally joined by Echo as an ally, where she is able to snipe enemies marked by the player.