A long time ago in a generation far far away, Star Wars: Battlefront was released on various platforms including Playstation 2, Xbox and PC. It instantly amassed a large following, giving players the chance to play as some of their most beloved characters of all time in familiar settings. Unfortunately 2005 saw the end of both the Star Wars films and the Star Wars: Battlefront series… until now! Star Wars fans have obviously been praying hard for the last 10 years, as they are not only being treated to a new trilogy, but Star Wars Battlefront has also been released! With many citing it as their most anticipated game of the year, has Star Wars Battlefront managed to live up to its incredibly high expectations?
Firstly I’d like to address one of the biggest concerns that people had for the game following the reveal that DICE would be developing it. As DICE has become well known for developing the popular Battlefield series, many cynics suggested that Battlefront would merely become a clone of Battlefield with a Star Wars skin. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Star Wars Battlefront does a fantastic job at creating its own identity. With game modes such as Heroes vs Villains and Walker Assault, Battlefront feels like a genuinely unique multiplayer experience. The lack of physical ammunition also sets Battlefront apart from most multiplayer shooters, with blasters overheating instead. This means that timing is more important and scourging the warzone for ammunition less so, which contributes to a faster paced game. Special items such as grenades and homing missiles also have unlimited ammunition, but have a lengthy recharge time. This does mean that the battlefield is often full of explosions, but this only makes each game more exciting.
Star Cards are one of the most underlooked elements of the game, considering how much of an impact they play on the tide of the battle. Star Cards act as power-ups, and can range from grenades to jet packs. You are able to select three before each game. Picking the perfect combination can be the difference between failure and success – this cannot be emphasized enough. You can purchase them with the in-game currency, called credits, that you earn after each round. Buying weapons and Star Cards with credits may not be anything groundbreaking, but works well to add a sense of progression. You can also use credits to change your appearance or buy more emotes/taunts.
While the game installs you are able to play as Darth Vader and slaughter as many rebels as you like. This was my first time playing as one of the heroes/villains and I was left with mixed feelings. Using force-choke to suffocate my enemies was extremely satisfying (dark side here I come…), but the up close combat sometimes felt slightly awkward. Too many times did I miss my target with my lightsaber and felt this was more to do with the game’s mechanics than my poor Jedi skills. The close combat felt even more awkward when Luke Skywalker and Vader would meet in battle. At no point did the clashes feel like the fast flowing action sequences that we love to watch in the films. Because of this, I actually preferred to play as other Heroes/Villains such as Han Solo and Boba Fett with their long ranged attacks. Despite having a few issues, playing as Heroes or Villains can be pretty fun, especially in the Heroes vs Villains and Hero Hunt game modes. Although these modes do have their flaws, such as balancing issues, they offer a great variation in gameplay which is extremely refreshing.
Unsurprisingly, the game is at its best when playing as a FPS. While game modes such as Drop Zone, Supremacy and Cargo are fancy words for traditional multiplayer modes, they are still incredibly fun. Then you also have modes such as Walker Assault, which is probably my favorite, where you must either destroy at least one AT-AT or protect it, depending whether you’re on the side of the rebels or empire. In Walker Assault two factions fight over territories containing uplinks which allow the rebels to call in Y-Wing bombers to stun the AT-AT’s. Players can take control of the Y-Wings, but personally I soon felt pretty bored flying the airships and repetitively firing at the AT-AT’s when I could have been on the ground raising my kill-count. This is just a personal preference though, as Fighter Squadron seems to be popular with some people, which is a game mode where you take to the skies in a crazy dogfight. This is the great thing about Star Wars Battlefront, you are never forced to do anything you don’t want to. You always have the choice to play the game mode that you prefer and your play-style is also completely down to you.
Another aspect of the game that I do not believe to have been commemorated enough is Survival. With Halo 5 omitting couch multiplayer, it seems to be a dying mode, which is frustrating when friends come over. Fortunately, Star Wars Battlefront allows you to battle 15 waves of stormtroopers with a friend either online or on splitscreen. I have spent many hours on this mode and have had a lot of fun doing so. With three difficulties, you can either have a casual killing spree or take on a real challenge. AT-ST’s will show up on the more difficult rounds and if you’re not careful they can take you out in a couple of shots. Drop pods are your greatest allies, as securing them will earn you useful weapons or items. I did encounter the majority of the game’s bugs in Survival, such as my friend spawning without the power of sight, or becoming wedged between the pod’s door and ground, but fortunately the bugs were infrequent enough to remain amusing rather than frustrating.
One of the biggest congratulations I’d like to give EA is how stable their servers are. They have gained quite an infamous reputation for terrible servers on launch, despite multiplayer being a central element to games such as with SimCity, Battlefield and FIFA. I have come to expect an EA game to have bad servers now, but with Star Wars Battlefront I had no such problems. Even when I was experiencing my own internet connection issues, it didn’t seem to hamper my experience too much and I was even warned of potential disruptions to my game in the top right corner of the screen which I appreciated. But while I praise EA for solving one well-known issue, I must also criticize them for another.
A controversial decision was made early on to exclude a single player campaign from the game. I agree with this decision, as I believe a campaign mode would only have acted as filler rather than to enrich the game. Multiplayer-only games are actually becoming more common on consoles with Evolve and Titanfall as recent examples, but what few developers fail to grasp is that they need to justify the blockbuster price with more multiplayer content once removing the campaign. Star Wars Battlefront is an excellent game, yet feels like a starter game rather than the complete package. There are only 12 maps in the game, and this number seems even smaller when you realise that not every map will be available for each game mode. There are also no customizable options for your weapons, which is quite disappointing. A lot more content has been promised and some even for free, but after paying $60 for the game and then finding out that the season pass was a further $50 I felt pretty cheated. With games such as Destiny receiving abuse for pushing gamers to buy expansions, I feel Battlefront has done even worse with so little content in the original game. The only reason I think that Battlefront has gotten away with it successfully is because it has the Star Wars logo slapped on the cover. Basically, it’s a trap!
Credit to EA, Star Wars is presented very well. From Ewoks fleeing for cover in the background to Admiral Ackbar shouting commands, there has been a lot of detail put into creating the Star Wars universe in Battlefront. The sound effects of the blasters and vehicles are perfect and sound exactly like they do in the films and the visuals of the planets are astounding. This is one of the prettiest looking games out there and having Hoth and Tatooine as planets for the design team to work on rather than war ravaged cities of Earth was probably a great change for DICE. EA know well enough that fans will be squealing with delight from anything Star Wars related and so they’ve worked hard to recapture the nostalgia within the game. Unfortunately, the power of Star Wars is so great that it means many gamers are willing to pay the extra dollar to get their hands on this game despite the limited content.
Although I think that this game needs a lot more content to justify the hefty price tag, I do still believe this to be an excellent game. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Star Wars Battlefront offers one of the greatest competitive multiplayer experiences on consoles. It’s just a shame that its flaws could have been so easily avoided, perhaps with a lower price tag or simply to include more content.
+ Fun and addictive online multiplayer
+ The nostalgia is strong with this one
+ Couch multiplayer
– I find your lack of content disturbing
– No customizable weapons
– These aren’t the lightsaber fights you’re looking for
Star Wars Battlefront offers one of the most fun online multiplayer experiences on console, but feels like an incomplete package. Best to wait for game bundled with DLC.
Ryan Jones is a writer for The Game Bolt. Being a Welshman doesn’t mean he only has sheep in his heart, as he loves film, tv and video games. Follow him on Twitter.