This year there is no better time to be a Star Wars fan. With the arrival of the seventh installment in the movie franchise and alongside the absurd amount of toys we have new videogames on their way. It’s only just the beginning as we step onto the battlefield in the boots of a Rebel or Imperial fighting in a galaxy far far away. It’s the return of Star Wars: Battlefront.
Developed by the legendary DICE, the team behind the “levelution” that is the Battlefield series, it was clear since its reveal there was no signs of stopping the hype train on its full speed course to greatness. What could go wrong? As the force was certainly strong there was no chance of it taking a turn to the dark side, or could it?
Battlefront isn’t a new franchise, but it is clear that EA is treating it as a new IP. Originally released a long time ago for the 6th generation of consoles, Star Wars: Battlefront, its sequel and spin offs saw players fight a galactic war, taking part in wide scale battles either within the prequel or sequel universes. Now though, with the future of Star Wars in the hands of Disney all attention is on the original trilogy and its future sequels. That means no prequel nonsense, no battle droids and especially no Jar Jar. Battlefront is a love letter to all things original and this by far shines throughout. It’s just a shame that beyond this there are some cracks that begin to appear.
Being an entirely multiplayer focused title, don’t expect to see any flashy cinematic campaign. DICE aren’t exactly well known for their diverse and interesting stories, but what they do best is create an experience that is your own. They want you to have a slice of Star Wars, letting you create your own stories within, and without a doubt, this is the closest experience you’ll get to date. You’ll almost feel part of the universe.
In my first experience, I was able to step into the shoes of a Rebel soldier upon the planet Hoth, defending against the oncoming onslaught of Imperial AT-AT’s destined to destroy the Rebel base. However, unlike the iconic battle in The Empire Strikes Back, which saw the destruction of the Rebel base, I had the opportunity to fight in full force alongside my comrades and stop them. It was the Walker Assault, featuring 40 players, combat on ground, in the air and if fighting for the empire; controllable AT-AT’s and AT-ST’s. As a Rebel I was tasked to get the uplink stations on in order to call Y-Wings to disable the oncoming AT-AT’s, the empire’s mission to stop and in movie fashion destroy the Rebel base. Seeing the blaster fire rage across the snow swept landscape and the roaring sounds of Tie Fighters and X-Wings above gave an exhilarating experience, which can only be left diminished if players don’t coordinate, but that can be the same for all multiplayer titles.
Walker Assault is certainly the most popular mode, it shows off Battlefront’s true colours and with immense scale at hand it’s a shame that the capacity for 40 players is only limited to two modes. The aforementioned and Supremacy - a twist on Battlefield’s conquest mode, where players fight to control five points on the map. Both are the heart of Battlefront’s multiplayer experience, but that’s not to say there aren’t other modes to enjoy, especially for those who may not be a fan of large-scale battles, but rather prefer to take on the power of the force, fight in infantry focused combat or straight up just want to take to the skies.
With nine available modes, there is plenty of variety and all available across four different planets: Hoth, Endor, Sullust and Tatooine. You’ve got your straight up team deathmatch in Blast, a stylish version of capture the flag in Cargo and a pod collecting version of king of the hill in Drop Zone. While none of these modes are exactly original, they have their own unique Star Wars take on them and even with less players they’re still great fun.
The mode which I found the most enjoyable was Droid Run. It was the one that I kept coming back to the most, as they were certainly the droids I was looking for. In the 6 versus 6 mode, your team must capture and hold little traveling droids (who don’t seem entirely fazed by all the commotion around and will happily plod along across the map) capture all three and win you the game. With less players It meant tight close quarters combat adding a sense of urgency that requires you to work as a team.
Of course, it’s not all about stepping into the shoes of a stormtrooper or a member of the Rebel alliance, heroes join the battle as well with the power of lightside or the darkside at their side. Within Walker Assault and Supremacy, if found, players can grab a hero pick up allowing them to pick among three iconic heroes. For the alliance you can mark the return of the Jedi as Luke, shoot first as Han Solo or lead the Rebellion as Leia. As for the empire, strike back as Darth Vader, collect some bounties as Boba Fett or have unlimited power as The Emperor.
Playing as a hero is overkill and trying find one of the pickups before another teammate is almost a game in itself. As a hero you’ll have free reign to use their powers, only limited by a cool-down, their health is also much higher making them playable bosses. There is nothing more exciting than grabbing a pickup and play as your favourite hero decimating the opposition, with the only downfall being it can be short lived, depending on well you utilise their powers. Fortunately if you want more opportunity to play them you can try out Hero Hunt and Heroes vs. Villains. In these you can take up the role of a hero and defend yourself against seven opposing players, or work as a team either as a soldier or hero and defeat the opposition.
The last mode is one that I didn’t play much of, simply because I’m a terrible pilot. Fighter Squadron lets you take to the skies and fight in an all out dogfight with up to 20 players. You can take control of X-wings, A-wings, Tie Fighters and Interceptors. If you’re lucky you can even attempt to take down the enemies in less than 12 parsecs in the Millennium Falcon or continue the hunt in Boba Fett’s Slave 1. Fighter Squadron is more or less team deathmatch, but does have added bonuses towards winning, such as defending your own transport ships while destroying the enemies. With the lack of space battles, this mode by far feels the least authentic as it just yearns to be up above and to galaxies far far away.
For those who like to play something that resembles a single player or co-operative experience, then you're in luck. There are short tutorial missions that play like scenes from the movies teaching you the basics and challenge modes that you can play alongside and against bots. The co-op mode lets you partner up and survive against waves of incoming enemies becoming increasingly more difficult the longer you survive. They’re a nice addition, but in no way is it a recommendation for purchase alone.
Battlefront isn’t a mere Battlefield reskin, saying that would be an understatement. DICE designed the game with casual players in mind and while it isn’t a bad thing, it does leave the game with a huge lack of depth. Afterall it is for all the Star Wars fans so accessibility was priority and this is where it falls into disappointment. Movement and combat plays very much the same as any other shooter. There isn’t anything complicated here; you run, shoot and use the equipment etc. Vehicles and certain weapons such as the rocket launcher or portable turret are limited to pick ups found throughout the maps in the same way as the heroes.
The only thing which sets it apart from other shooters is the choice to play either in first person or third person. Though, this neither provides an advantage or disadvantage being entirely personal choice, I myself preferred third person, but at times some scenarios felt better suited in first as you can switch on the fly. Players can be pick between wide variety of weapons from blasters to pistols, each having a cooldown rather than ammo, they overheat putting them out of use for a short period of time, but fortunately you can cut the cooldown with an active reload similarly to Gears of War.
Throwables and boosters are in the form of cards, these can be customised and can range from thermal detonators to the use of a jetpack. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of unlocks available as well as some basic character customisation too, which can be unlocked from ranking up and purchasing using in game credits. However, the system itself isn’t very engaging to warrant much attention as the game can so easily be picked up and played, I found myself just sticking with the standard loadout, but at times having the right hand can make a difference.
Now, without a doubt Star Wars: Battlefront is a visually stunning game and is its high point, you could happily stand stare in awe and bask in it all. DICE have done an outstanding job capturing the cinematic look and feel of the movies, whether you're speeding through the forests of Endor seeing Ewoks above in the treetops or Jawas scamper into hiding on the plains of Tatooine, the cinematic attention to detail is throughout and with everything else being so polished as well, you can clearly tell that their time at the Lucasfilm’s vault was time well spent. With a crystal clear audio mix, the sound design is also astounding whether it be from blaster fire, the swing of a lightsaber or the explosive awe of an implosion grenade. If you have the option, this deserves to be played with a surround sound system on full.
Unfortunately, while the gameplay is fun and the visuals are gorgeous there isn’t much longevity to be had here. The lack of depth isn’t the main problem it’s the repetitiveness of it all. With there only being four planets, the largest of playing field being found on Walker Assault and Supremacy all the other modes are locked to smaller sections of those landscapes and after sometime they become too familiar, even after dozen or so hours I found myself getting bored because of this. It was clear from the beginning that things are held back for the season pass, which is a worry, as EA know people will blindly purchase without question because they want more, a true temptation of the dark side and it only further removes value from the base game. I can not recommend it as a title at full purchase because of this even with the additional free Battle of Jakku map arriving early December.
Personally If this was any other shooter it’ll be ridiculed, but this is Star Wars and it’s clear that the love for the franchise is far greater than its faults and it makes it very difficult for fans to ignore. If you want an experience that offers the closest you’ll get to be being part of the original movie trilogy then this is it, but If you're looking for something more in-depth and offers longevity similar to Battlefield then your looking in the alderaan places.
Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
If you want an experience that offers the closest you’ll get to be being part of the original movie trilogy then this is it, but If you're looking for something more in-depth and offers longevity similar to Battlefield then your looking in the alderaan places.