Platform PS4, Xbox One & PC
Release Date Out Now.
You can only imagine that when EA acquired the Star Wars license from Disney there was a mad scramble from all the different studios to get their hands on the coveted Battlefront IP. DICE eventually won the race, and decided to reboot the series with their own stamp rather than make a direct sequel, which has had with mixed results. Rebooting an established, much loved, series comes with both risks and opportunities. You are not building a new IP that needs to be “sold” to a new player base, you are using and established series and that already has an engaged customer base. But you do have to deal with the minefield that comes with player’s nostalgic recollection that places such games on a impossible to reach pedestal, no matter how good you make it.
Without doubt this is the best looking and sounding game you will play this year. DICE have pushed their already impressive Frostbite engine even further with a new photo realistic technology that allows them to capture real life locations and transpose them into the game with stunning quality. DICE set about visiting the real life locations and rummaging through the archives at LucasFilm to ensure a never before seen level of authenticity, this is the Star Wars game world you dreamt of as a kid.
The Forest of Endor is particularly beautiful with the forest canopy allowing light to stream through, the vegetation and streams all bring this map to life. You really feel like you are in a living forest rather than a multiplayer forest themed map. This love for Star Wars is brought home with all the little special touches like hearing the Ewoks whooping, and see them scurrying away as you approach.
The sound design has also been lifted direct from the sound files at LucasFilm. Playing with headphones and hearing a tie fighter scream past overhead gives you goose bumps. The sound of the thermal imploder sucking the air out of the room is a sound you will never get bored with. All the blasters, ships, and droid sounds are direct from the movies. The care taken to ensure this was almost perfect is apparent in every corner of the game (bar the voice acting for the Heroes).
The game ships without any campaign or story mode which is a huge disappointment for a lot of Star Wars fans and straight away puts the game on a negative footing, as in the eyes of many players, especially older players who don’t play much online, this feels like “half a game”.
Multiplayer has three big game modes (since the release of Jakku which added one more). Walker Assault being the big seller, this mode sees the Imperials attacking with two AT-AT’s that the rebels have to battle against the odds to stop. Supremacy is essentially conquest mode, and turning point a variation of Rush. All three offer the main DICE big game experience and are generally where players are spending most of their time. Hopefully DICE work to add more to these modes in terms of vehicles and new maps.
For those coming expecting a Battlefield experience they might be disappointed with the lack of vehicles. Vehicles are limited to a few ships for air combat, and on the ground there is only the AT-ST (if you ignore the largely useless speeder bikes the rebels have they are all essentially foot troops). The AT-AT (from the trailers) is an on rails turret, and none of the vehicles have room for more than one person. Vehicles are acquired by pickups on the map which makes getting them harder and learning how to effectively use them even trickier. The result here is that in the hands of an inexperienced player the vehicles offer very little assistance to your assault, but in the hands of an experienced player they are overly devastating.
There are a number of smaller game modes that offer a lot of variety to gameplay with a varied results. These smaller maps are a lot more hectic due to the tight maps, low player numbers and very short time to die. These modes are limited to short bursts, usually just to hone the skills and boost your cash when you first start playing before moving to the bigger modes. But don;t rule them out there is a lot of fun to be had here.
Air Vehicles do offer some extra gameplay options, Snow speeders, X-Wings and A-Wings for the rebels take on the two variations of the Tie fighters for the imperials. The issue here is that there is a very real separation between ground and air. With the air battles having little impact on the fight going on below. The flight controls are frustrating and very often you last 10 seconds before someone has locked on and downed you making it increasingly difficult to get good at this portion of the game. As all vehicles are picks up rather than spawn options it can be very difficult to get time to practice in the field. Fighting AI bots is not the same as fighting real people.
Of course there is the game mode “Fighter Squadron” that is purely air based dog fights. This is your best opportunity to learn how to fly effectively, although this air only mode offers little chance to learn how to effectively support ground troops. This mode is a lot of fun, look gorgeous but like the rest of the game is entertaining in short 45min burst.
Overall: Battlefront is a lot of fun in short 45min bursts, after that point the frustration of dying so quickly and so frequently starts to set it especially when you first start playing, the pace is quick so it does lend to a “run and gun” gameplay but this is asking for trouble, play it like a Battlefield game, use cover, and use and support your team mates and this will reduce the number of deaths and in turn the frustration from dying. If I can give one piece of advise it is to stick with it until Rank 15, after this point the game changes and becomes much closer to what you expect from a DICE game.
The game is stunning looking and sounding, gameplay is tight and fun and servers are rock solid. Lack of content is very apparent and has been mentioned throughout the community, while I can see this point I’ve yet to hit the point where I am bored of playing the content that shipped with the game. EA plans to add more free content, the question is can they get this content out before the player base hits the point of boredom and start drifting off.