”I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened…”
Star Wars: Battlefront is the big budget revival of the ‘Battlefront’ games made by Pandemic Studios in the mid 2000’s. This time DICE has taken over the reigns of delivering the next game in the beloved series. So Star Wars: Battlefield then? Sort of. This is more Battlefield: Lite.
With five tutorial missions, nine multiplayer game types and two single player modes, spread across twelve maps, ‘Battlefront’ feels massive yet most of its modes wind up feeling like filler.
The two main game modes that EA are pushing in their advertising are the two 40 player modes, Walker Assault and Supremacy.
Walker Assault sees one side escorting a giant AT-AT towards a rebel base on the far end of the map while the rebels defend uplink stations long enough to complete a transmission so the Y-wings can begin a bombing run that makes the AT-ATs temporarily vulnerable to damage. If the Imperials can capture the stations and disrupt the transmission, the AT-AT will continue its march to the rebel base.
Supremacy is basically Conquest from the Battlefield games, with 40 players waging war to capture points on the map.
These two modes are very fun to play but they are hampered by the fact there is only four maps that support these two modes. Yes. You read that correctly. FOUR maps for the main two game modes. The other eight maps are smaller maps designed for the other modes. Fun as Walker Assault and Supremacy are, things get very boring very quickly. As a note, Battlefield 4 shipped with ten maps that supported 64 player battles in the conquest mode.
The other major disappointment is the progression of your character. As with any other online shooter you earn experience points for kills, capturing objectives and completing challenges such as getting 25 kills with a certain weapon or destroying 10 AT-STs. Each new level unlocks new weapons and secondary items such as grenades, jet packs and personal shields. You can also unlock different character skins to change up the look of your character.
The problem with the progression is all the weapons are not that much different from each other and there are no classes so you never feel like you are progressing your character the way you want. In my playtime I haven’t changed from the starting weapon or the initial secondary items and I still do fine. A good progression system has players wanting ‘just one more game’ to unlock that sweet piece of gear they want. Not here. Star Wars: Battlefront definitely falls under the casual game category.
A harsh thing to say but when you look at the target audience of this game you begin to understand the decisions DICE made. The audience is of course Star Wars fans of all ages. Players who might not even play shooters or not even game and this will be their first game. It’s easily accessible for anybody. Most of the technical stuff from the Battlefield series have been removed. Gone are player classes, squads, spotting and the ability to choose spawn points. You can play in first or third person mode but it doesn’t matter as there is no penalty to shooting from the hip or down the scope. To new players this is probably the best thing ever, but to veteran players there is nothing substantial here.
For the other modes which play out on the other smaller maps, only Drop Zone is any fun. This mode is designed for 16 players and sees pods dropping into the map at various locations. Teams must capture and then hold the pod for a certain time to ‘win’ that pod. The first team to collect five pods win. It’s a fast and surprisingly competitive mode which offers a nice and varied distraction from Walker Assault/Supremacy. At least it has a descent map rotation that prevents it from becoming dull very quickly.
The other modes are sadly not very interesting at all and the amount of players in the playlists show this. Flight Squadron mode seems only to exist to appease players who complained that the space battles were removed from Supremacy/Walker Assault modes. Heroes vs Villains is a 6v6 elimination based game mode that is pretty dull as the special characters are way overpowered and it usually sees Luke and Vader standing in the middle of the map hitting each other with light-sabers until one falls or one player gets tired of button mashing.
It’s sad when I can’t remember the rest of the modes. They are that forgettable. I’m sure there is a standard team death-match mode and I did try some mode that features escorting a droid to some part of the map. It all just feels terribly tacked on. Which brings me to the so called ‘single player’ content.
You can play solo or if you choose with a friend in a number of skirmishes against AI bots in two different modes. In the Battles mode you’ll try to beat a team of bots to 100 by collecting gold tokens that drop when you kill an enemy. Survival mode dumps you into a large map and asks you to hold out through 15 waves of increasingly difficult enemies and vehicles. Both modes are to be honest terrible. Too easy on lower difficulties, and crazy hard on higher ones but the main killer is the horrendous and nonsensical AI. They face the wrong way, shoot at walls and stand still just looking at you…the list is endless.
On the plus side the game looks jaw dropping and the sound design is spot on. It all runs at a silky 60fps with no hiccups. I just wish there was more of it. I can live without a single player campaign mode (but how sweet would a Star Wars campaign be!) if the multiplayer suite was substantial but it is not. With four DLC packs announced that will increase the number of maps available for the Supremacy/Walker Assault modes you can’t help to think that maps were cut from the game or they just weren’t ready and EA didn’t want another Battlefield 4 launch debacle.
Look at the content Call of Duty: Black Ops III has for the same price. A lengthy single player campaign. A Zombies mode that is big enough to be a game on its own. A huge multiplayer suite. A free running mode. Nightmare mode where you can play the campaign again this time with zombies and new cut scenes and dialogue.
Now look at Star Wars: Battlefront. It’s embarrassing.
In six to eight months Battlefront might be worth playing because it has content to support it but the content or lack of content it has now borders on criminal. As it stands the game is great to jump into for 20 minutes at a time but anything longer becomes a dull chore.