Aliens uses a first-person perspective and features a team of six playable characters from the movie. The available characters include Hicks, Bishop, Vasquez, Gorman, Burke, and Ripley. The game's UI features the main window, the characters' portraits and in the center of the screen, the selected character's portrait, vitals, and ammo.
Gameplay is team-based, and the player must command the six-member team and explore the Alien-infested colony facilities of LV-426. The team advances inside the colony, with the player being able to assume control of any of the characters at any time, and fend off the Alien attacks before locating the Alien Queen's hive and destroy her.
The game environments' 3D appearance serves to show the action through the characters' helmet cameras. The characters can weld doors shut and seek safe ways of passage through the colony, and any character may be attacked at any time by an alien, even while not controlled by the player. The motion tracker, a trademark feature of the movie, signals an alien's approach.
Additionally, the player must avoid growths of the Alien tissue throughout the colony, and pools of acid that damage the characters. A map of the colony was bundled with the game at release to assist the player with navigation.
The game was released in 1986 to wide critical acclaim, and is considered a classic, one of the first truly immersive and scary experiences in games. Mark Eyles, the game's designer, went on to work at Rebellion, getting to design some features for the gold edition of Aliens vs. Predator.