Star Wars Battlefront Preview: Not The Game You Are Looking For

A trip right back to 2004.

Posted By | On 14th, Oct. 2015 Under Article, Previews | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


Star Wars: Battlefront’s beta just recently concluded, and it was possibly the most successful beta test in history, getting more players interested in a pre-release incomplete version of the game than entire games sell copies through the entirety of their run, on multiple platforms. It makes sense, too- even in ordinary circumstances, Battlefront would have had a whole lot of excitement going into it, being as it is a long requested revival of a dormant blockbuster franchise by a fan favorite studio. But paired as it is with the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII? Well now, it’s just not fair- Battlefront will probably be the highest selling game this holiday season, even against heavyweights like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Fallout 4; it will also probably be the game with the most mindshare at the end of it all.

But all these numbers and statistics don’t make a game great. Great game design makes a game great, and after playing a fair bit of the Battlefront beta, I’m not sure whether the game makes the cut. It looks pretty, sure, and it sounds amazing, but the actual gameplay is just… sort of there, without any heft or weight to it.

I’m not a player too into the modern shooter. When I was growing up, I used to love Wolfenstein and Goldeneye, just like everyone else, and I also obviously was into Battlefront. Today, though, I’m always down for a round of Halo 3 or Call of Duty: Black Ops., and that’s about it. My involvement with the genre at this point is, at best, described as casual, however. In other words, I am the perfect target audience for Star Wars Battlefront- not too into the genre beyond casual play, and a massive fan of Star Wars. But even then, I could perceive the relative shallowness of Star Wars Battlefront as I played it.

star_wars_battlefront_beta_announcement_screen___final

"Great game design makes a game great, and after playing a fair bit of the Battlefront beta, I’m not sure whether the game makes the cut."

The issues began to manifest themselves as soon as I started playing the beta. I started with the multiplayer mode, Dropzone, and while I appreciated the idea of multiple objectives dynamically spread all over the map one at a time, which theoretically encourages and prompts teamwork, I noticed just how terribly off the shooting felt. There was nothing actually wrong with it- the big problem with it, if anything, was that it had absolutely no heft. No substance, and with very few limiters on your shooting (there is no ammunition system in place, though you do have a sort of cooldown if you shoot too much too fast), this became like a lightgun point and shoot shooting gallery- like Duck Hunt on the NES, except there, at least holding the lightgun and pointing it at the TV gave the act some weight. Here the entire thing felt like playing a very primitive arcade game, which was incredibly dissonant with how decidedly un-primitive the rest of the game is.

That is actually the very first thing you notice, and it is very hard not to be impressed by all of it, especially as a Star Wars fan- Battlefront looks and sounds the part. The game looks beautiful, yes, but all DICE games look beautiful. More than that, Battlefront looks authentic. It looks like Star Wars, it looks like the frenetic battles in a galaxy far, far away that we have seen played out on theater screens for years on your TV, and you in the thick of things.

It sounds amazing, too- DICE is incredible with sound design, and sure enough, all the sounds of the shooting and the explosions, and the excellent use of John Williams’ rousing soundscore, all make your hair stand on end- as a Star Wars fan, it is very hard not to appreciate the very careful care and attention to detail that has been put into the game. Battlefront is perhaps the closest a video game has come to looking like a movie- mostly because it looks exactly like the movie universe that it is based in.

Star Wars Battlefront

"Battlefront is perhaps the closest a video game has come to looking like a movie- mostly because it looks exactly like the movie universe that it is based in."

But yes, for all of that, the shooting feels bland and hollow. In a sense, it is still fine- I mean, the game is a Star Wars shooting gallery, yes, but it’s satisfying on that front for what it is. And if that was indeed what Battlefront was, I would have been fine with it, called it a great shooting gallery, and moved on. Instead, the game attempts to sprinkle depth and nuance into its design, and it falls short- and not only does it fall short, it is, in so many ways, it is worse than Battlefront II was back in 2004.

Take, for example, vehicles, which are presented just as randomly spawning pickups on the map. All the best parts of Battlefront – the cool weapons, the vehicles, or even the ability to play as a hero – are in the form of these icon based pickups on the map. It feels less exciting and legitimately worse than unlocking the ability to play as Luke, and finding a discarded vehicle on the map, and getting inside it.

Take the fact that the game tries to go for depth- there is a level system, and better weapons and gear are unlocked at later levels, though options for your loadout seem to be fairly limited, so after a few levels, it stops mattering. Similarly, at the end of each match, Battlefront tries to award players who claimed or defended the most objectives, or those with the most assists- a clear attempt at trying to break away from the norm of emphasizing the Kill/Death ratio above all else, but again, one that falls flat, because the core shooting action is so shallow.

Take the Walker Assault mode, which is a glorious, epic retelling of the Battle for Hoth from the Empire Strikes Back, a fun, tense game mode that would ordinarily be the central showpiece for this game if it weren’t so unbalanced (it is all but impossible to win this if you are playing as the Rebels). Take the single player ‘modes,’ which again amount to little more than a shooting gallery, and basically serve to make you wish that the game had had a real campaign- a Star Wars campaign with these production values, this engine, and DICE at the helm would have been something else.

star wars battlefront

"The game attempts to sprinkle depth and nuance into its design, and it falls short- and not only does it fall short, it is, in so many ways, it is worse than Battlefront II was back in 2004."

Take the controls, which feel floaty, not just for the shooting, but for the movement and vehicles as well. Take the snipers or any form of long range weapons, which are too slow to be viable. Consider everything else that we know about the game- it has a far smaller number of maps or planets than Battlefront or Battlefront II did, over ten years ago.

You consider all this and, for all that the game does well – on a casual level, even as a shallow shooting gallery, it can be fun with some friends – it’s hard not to be disappointed. There’s a lot to work with here, a lot of potential. We get none of that. Instead, we get something that would have been barely adequate in 2004, let alone 2015. Star Wars Battlefront could clearly have been a great game, but it isn’t, because there isn’t enough here. The framework is all here, but there is no meat on the bones. A bit more time in the oven, and Battlefront could have been great. Instead, all that happened after me playing the beta is that my thirst for the game I have wanted for over a decade – a true successor to Battlefront II – intensified. Somewhere, there is a real Battlefront III waiting. This game is not it. This was not the game I was looking for.

This game was previewed on the PS4.


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  • avi

    I honestly think this game’s going to be a critical disaster.
    I’m not even sure what audience the game’s trying to market to at this point.

    • Hvd

      i feel with the movie coming out no single player story.one sided map walker assult that this game is a cash grab.im not saying its a bad game it was fun.
      shooting blasters and throwing thermal detonator.

      what the point of this games when you have f2p swtor where you can play jedi and pvp as a jedi.the point is a battlefield reskin for a quick cash grab.i still want to see the other game modes drop zone is you destiny control point map.id like to see ctf and others.but with destiny out halo 5 coming soon this wont do well.

    • reallydude?

      I like how people who bash on this game don’t even follow a single thing the developers say. They are aware it was one sided (although near the end of the beta people figured out how to win as the Rebels). They are going to balance the map before release. I guess that means this will fail doesn’t it? /s

      It was a freaking beta! Sh*t is going to be broken and unbalanced. We told them about the problems and they are going to fix it!

      SWOTR is a whole different genre, not sure why you are bringing it up here. Destiny will not take players away from Battlefront because the only players left are the hardcore MMO players, the casuals died off when they learned there is about 0.5% of what the devs promised before release. And Halo 5? Really? Be honest with yourself on that one.

    • Hvd

      halo 5 will be high rated 9-10 score game of the year for xbox one.the hype foe halo 5 is real for xbox one.just wait and see.

      fyi i was refering that you can pvp as jedi in swtor or fso troopers in battle front and swtor is f2p

    • DarthDiggler

      @disqus_6Putk03FJ1:disqus

      I am sure Halo 5 will get some awards, there are many Halo fans out there. The problem is Star Wars has been around since the 70s and is a household name. The ONLY way Halo 5 has a chance of outselling Battlefront is if EA literally did NO marketing for the title.

      I appreciate you really like Halo and that you desire a great deal of success for the series. The problem is your feelings do not jive with reality. Halo’s hayday was Halo 3, did a very respectable 12 million units. Each game after has been less than 10 million units. Given that Xbox One only has about 13-14 million units sold, Microsoft would have to sell Halo 5 to a good 80-90% of the entire Xbox One audience in order to replicate Halo 3’s success. I am not sure if any game that wasn’t a pack-in title ever has sold that well.

      Halo as a series given it’s short lifespan has done well (mostly in the USA). Star Wars in terms of branding is a juggernaut though. Unless Halo 5 is coming to the X360 as well as XB1 I don’t think it has a chance of upsetting Star Wars Battlefront.

    • Knowles2

      I’m surprise we haven’t had any of the big games, Farcry 4, Halo, COD, delayed until 2016 just avoid Starwars juggernaut.

    • reallydude?

      @disqus_6Putk03FJ1:disqus I doubt it will get ratings that high. The previous entry was a button pressing simulator as you pressed more in game buttons than anything else (well except for running). I played for about 4-5 hours and regret wasting my time on running, pressing buttons to open 3 doors then going down an elevator to kill a small handful of enemies, rinse and repeat.

    • Mark

      S’why I’ve been saying for months, I’ll wait for this thing to hit the EA Access Vault..

    • DarthDiggler

      @Dupree82:disqus

      It’s called confirmation bias. Doesn’t sound like you played the beta, so your opinion doesn’t really factor.

    • Mark

      So no real campaign, no lobby and in game voice chat support…..means I’m biased because I’ll wait on it. Haha. That’s what we call facts.

      Pay ur 60 bucks on it and have fun, because I won’t….I’ll get it in the Vault.

    • DarthDiggler

      @Dupree82:disqus

      It doesn’t sound like you played the beta, and you already kind of confirmed that give that you didn’t refute that when I said it earlier.

      So you have absolutely no idea how the game plays first hand and you are likely reading and watching videos that just confirm your bias.

      Confirmation bias.

    • Mark

      Dude I don’t care about what the heck your saying. Lol. The game’s mediocre. Pay EA that full price if u wish and leave me be.

    • Hvd

      i think it will be fun.but with halo 5 coming fallout 4 coming thig game will be on the back burner for a while.it will last longer on console then pc imo.like cod id dead usually 6months after release but is still going strong.on console a year later.

    • DarthDiggler

      @pharmassist:disqus @disqus_6Putk03FJ1:disqus

      This game will do great this holiday. It fits a good void, it’s Star Wars, no Battlefield this year and COD Black Ops 3 looks like more of the same (bad netcode with new game mechanics ripped off from Titanfall).

      If you want deep systems and a grand single player experience Fallout 4 will be your go to title. If you want a break from all that, Battlefront will be a great way to change things up.

      Destiny is long in the tooth so people are just playing the same game with different backgrounds (I say this as a daily Destiny player). Halo is Xbox Only so there is NO POSSIBLE WAY it will out sell Battlefront — NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. You can wish all you want, but come December 25th Battlefront will have moved more units than Halo 5.

      I bet you $100 this game sells at least 5-7 million. I’d even put $50 on 8-10 million.

    • Hvd

      i said it was fun and i mite get it for those reasons.i cant put 400hrs in to a single player game like fallout 4.ill be watching twitch tho.i never been a cod fan. i have battle firld 4 and passed on hardline.i just want to see the other modes in sw battlefront.

  • DarthDiggler

    I appreciated the idea of multiple adjectives dynamically spread all over the map one at a time

    Adjectives? Who is your editor are they asleep? I think you mean objectives.

    I noticed just how terribly off the shooting felt. There was nothing actually wrong with it- the big problem with it, if anything, was that it had absolutely no heft.

    Blasters don’t really have recoil. I was killing people in 3-5 hits people were killing me in about the same amount of time. Perhaps you are used to Call of Duty where you empty a clip into a guy, but I like it that the guns are somewhat lethal so I am not even sure where you come up with the opinion the guns have no heft. They have more heft (in terms of damage) than your average shooter.

    I don’t have time to get into all your points so let me rebut this one. This one is the biggest myths about Battlefront which stems from people playing on stupid teams.

    Take the Walker Assault mode, which is a glorious, epic retelling of the Battle for Hoth from the Empire Strikes Back, a fun, tense game mode that would ordinarily be the central showpiece for this game if it weren’t so unbalanced (it is all but impossible to win this if you are playing as the Rebels).

    It’s not impossible at all, if you are playing rebels AT-ATs are easy to take down if you save your orbital strikes for the AT-ATs and use Ion Bullets and Grenades. You can easily get 1 Walker down with only a few Y-Wings doing their bombing runs.

    Likely DICE was balancing the mode which may have made things more difficult for the Rebels.

    That being said this was a beta so you can’t criticize the balance issues that much because the whole point of the beta was to sort out some of those issues. Why don’t you wait until the game releases and get a review copy before you do a proper review of the game.

    • Knowles2

      The rebels should always be the most difficult side to play for. They are set up for guerilla tactics, not to face the fall might of the empire ground armies.

  • Knowles2

    I suspect DICE was just ask sometime last year to quickly get a game ready to take advantage of the release of a new star wars films. An this what they manage to throw together in 18 months.

  • lagann

    Played the beta. It was fun….but not full price fun.

    Being that it seems to lack quite a bit of content and that it’s built around BF4 engine and game…i would say that half the work was already done for them.

    I’m no game dev, but since the backend is already done, I’m guessing they would have needed new art assets, animations, tweak values, and add new things here and there. Sounds should have been taken care of as Disney has terabytes of it. So maybe tweak existing sound files. I mean, DICE themselves said their schedule was full and managed to squeeze the game in.

    All in all, this game should have been 39.99 full price as it has no campaign and multiplayer is very basic.

    • reallydude?

      You can’t say it lacks content when you don’t even know what the final product is shipping with…

      Game engines are also a lot different per game. Everything behaves in no similar way to Battlefield 4 so they cannot reuse much. And all of the assets were made from scratch if you watched the announcement way back when (plus what game matches it in fidelity? Nothing is reused).


 

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