Star Wars: Battlefront looked good as far as a reveal trailer went but I want to see actual gameplay.”
“There’s no way that’s what the visuals end up looking like. They’ll downgrade it before it’s out. You’ll see.”
If you haven’t heard by now, DICE finally showed off Star Wars: Battlefront. It would be more accurate to say it showed its vision for Battlefront, incorporating visuals using the Frostbite engine while throwing off the shackles of previous gen hardware. Most of us thought it was good but we’re reacting in the same way we would if Bioware showed a CG trailer for the next Mass Effect or Dragon Age. That’s the feeling you have when you know the actual gameplay won’t be like this.
"Do I have confidence that DICE will bring Star Wars: Battlefront out with no glitches? Not especially but it will be a far cry from the unplayable mess that Battlefield 4 was."
In the case of Bioware, it was made clear what a promotional tool was and wasn’t. And besides, you knew you were guaranteed awesome gameplay even if it didn’t have CG quality visuals (and that’s no knock on either franchise; the recent Dragon Age: Inquisition is outright gorgeous in its gameplay). With Star Wars: Battlefront, its developer’s history is a bit – excuse the horrible pun – dicey.
It wasn’t that long ago when all of us were impressed with Battlefield 4. DICE made all the right moves and undoubtedly had the most good will. Coming off of the success of Battlefield 3, DICE would be taking the multiplayer experience to a whole new level. It was pushing the visuals to a whole new level, especially with the advent of next generation consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One. Even if it wasn’t the be-all, end-all king of first person shooters, there was the hope that the gameplay would deliver.
To say it didn’t would be a massive understatement. The single-player campaign was even worse than Battlefield 3. The so-called next-gen visuals felt acceptable but nothing revolutionary. The gameplay was bad. This isn’t because of the core mechanics, though there were numerous issues involving balance and gameplay changes for the multiplayer. This was because of the sheer number of issues that Battlefield 4 faced. The issues were so numerous that the game wasn’t “officially” fixed until early 2015.
Do I have confidence that DICE will bring Star Wars: Battlefront out with no glitches? Not especially but it will be a far cry from the unplayable mess that Battlefield 4 was. Every online game is facing its share of issues, some which take months to fix. Some games like Destiny and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare still face connection issues months after launch. Plenty of people still play the former, especially with House of Wolves coming up, and there’s still a fairly strong following for the latter on consoles.
"Battlefront could overcome this. It could offer enough variety and gameplay to keep single-player fans sated, if not satisfied, over a period of time."
Personally, whatever the gameplay for Star Wars: Battlefront ends up looking like or whichever bugs affect it at launch don’t concern me right now. Rather, I’m concerned with a trend that’s been fairly prominent in online games for the year and will arguably result in Battlefront being stifled. This is the trend of offering multiplayer maps with bots and layered objectives under the guise of a campaign mode.
It didn’t work for Titanfall, though it didn’t offer the same scale, variety or bots that Battlefront does. It didn’t work for Evolve, again due to scale and the sheer balance issues that game faced. Both of those games needed a large amount of multiplayer content to last and unfortunately, it felt like too little at launch.
Battlefront could overcome this. It could offer enough variety and gameplay to keep single-player fans sated, if not satisfied, over a period of time. It could balance the gameplay to offer both newbies and veterans a level playing field in multiplayer. It could offer numerous different roles for non-combatants to pursue if they don’t succeed in direct combat. There are numerous things it could do to keep the experience fresh even a year down the line.
However, I do feel that this shadow of a single-player mode will still create aversions for many players. Keep in mind that this is supposed to be a long-term project with plenty of future content and a tie-in to the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. If DICE doesn’t provide single-player fans enough to do or provide enough of an impetus to participate in multiplayer, then Battlefront could see a massive exodus of players.
"It's not even a case where it ultimately comes down to the gameplay. Past games with more novel concepts also had thrilling gameplay trailers but ended up disappointing on release."
Furthermore, if it doesn’t manage to make its content last, it will be in a situation similar to Titanfall and Evolve – enjoyed by hardcore fans but ultimately ignored by the majority. That’s not the kind of long-term response you want for the newest and largest Star Wars video game in history.
Again, those games may not have had the scale and level of content that the Battlefront franchise is known for. But for all intents and purposes, this isn’t the Battlefront fans remember. It captures that Star Wars atmosphere incredibly well but how long can nostalgia keep a fan going without any real sense of purpose?
Furthermore, even if Battlefront has always been about the ground-based wars, shouldn’t a next gen version still be capable of delivering some of the greatest conflicts of all time i.e. the Death Star battles? More than what we can look forward to, we’ve been told what’s not going to appear. No space battles, no campaign mode, certain select locations being absent, etc.
It’s not even a case where it ultimately comes down to the gameplay. Past games with more novel concepts also had thrilling gameplay trailers but ended up disappointing on release. DICE’s multiplayer expertise and lack of hang-ups regarding cross-generation development will aid it in delivering a competent first person shooter.
The question is whether it can account for all the other variables and rise against a trend that’s brought down many other promising shooters. The question is whether it’s development chops, which elevated many games from Battlefield 1942 to Battlefield 3, will be enough to create and sustain an enjoyable experience in the Star Wars universe.