Star Wars Battlefront

Star Wars Battlefront's Beta had its fun moments and a great atmosphere but its oversimplified gameplay may affect the full game's longevity.

By Woozie, Posted 15 Oct 2015

It shouldn’t be any news to anyone at this point, but there are just a few months separating us from the release of the long awaited Star Wars Episode VII.  It’s not just the movie fans that will get their fill of Star Wars this winter, though, as DICE have been working on Star Wars Battlefront for a while now. Prior to the November release EA and DICE have given everyone the possibility of taking a look at how they’ve envisioned the new Battlefront, in the shape of an open beta that concluded on the 13th of October.

Star Wars Battlefront, Preview, Screenshot

Star Wars Battlefront is built on the most recent version of DICE’s Frostbite engine, which is not difficult to notice. The game looks absolutely gorgeous, everything from the lighting to the texture work being top grade. Never before has a Star Wars game looked as good as it does now. Furthermore, the sound design is also top-notch. The beta soundtrack featured familiar themes from the movies, while the effects replicate those we saw and heard on the big screen quite well. The battles’ atmosphere is intense with blaster fire going by you while TIE Fighters chase X-Wings overhead. Battlecruisers skirmish against Rebel ships and, although they were not accessible to players, seeing them in the sky contributes to immersing oneself into the battle. There’s really nothing to complain about in these two departments.

Star Wars Battlefront has undergone a process of streamlining in DICE’s hands. Gone are the classes, the classic vehicle spawns, as well as any concerns regarding ammo. In the beta, you could play a standard trooper on either the Rebel or the Imperial side. Players get to choose the weapon they wield alongside a set of loadout items represented by Star Cards. The four weapons available in the Beta were the two iconic blaster rifles largely used by the two sides, one blaster pistol and a heavy version of the blaster rifle. The main difference between them was mainly reflected in their effective range; otherwise feeling a tad too similar. Each side starts with its trademark weapon but, through unlocks, every weapon becomes available to everyone.

Star Wars Battlefront, Preview, Screenshot

Crouching does no longer affect accuracy and, as far as I could tell, zooming is not always required to kill targets at a distance. Ammo has been replaced with an overheat mechanic. The size of the overheat bar depends on the weapon. When it fills, you won’t be able to fire for a few seconds unless you hit the reload button when the markers on the side of the bars reach the yellow area. Think Gears of War and you’ll know what this is about. The Star Cards are unlockable loadout items that range from a portable sniper rifle to anti-personnel or anti-vehicle grenades, to portable shields or jump packs. Each of them has a separate cooldown and you unlock them by using credits which are earned at the end of the matches.

These Star Cards offer some variety, however they never felt like impacting the game in a meaningful way. Items like Ion Bullets (anti-vehicle rounds) or Personal Shields are fueled by charges. You start with ten charges when you first unlock the item. Once they’re depleted, charges can be either bought from the unlock section or picked up from token drops on the battlefield. The token drops are perhaps one of the more visible changes added to the Battlefront formula. Not only do they affect certain Star Cards, they also represent the sole way players can obtain access to heroes, vehicles and fighters, or, to proximity mines, stronger versions of grenades and equipment such as rocket launchers.

Star Wars Battlefront, Preview, Screenshot

As far as one could notice, these tokens drop without regard to player actions. You can pick up hero tokens just as the round ends as well as during the round. While, undoubtedly, a better idea than allowing just top players to give heroes and vehicles a go, the tokens do have their downsides. For instance, when a token spawns, there’s a high chance that every teammate in the area will renounce whatever it was they were doing to rush the token. This could easily result in getting mowed down by enemy fire and having to wait for another spawn. Relying on tokens to obtain vehicle access means that, although vehicle controls are anything but complex, your first few times will be unproductive as mountains don’t get out of a beginner pilot’s way as he’s trying to figure out how to fly his ship. Furthermore, vehicles are an inconsistent presence and don’t really seem to be of any meaningful impact to the battle.

The beta brought forth 3 of the available game modes. Aside from two multiplayer modes, one mission that could be played either solo or cooperatively was the most underwhelming of the three, relying on classic wave-based gameplay. In order to reach the end, you had to eliminate 6 waves of Stormtroopers and AT-STs. With only one difficulty available, the enemies felt like complete pushovers, rendering the overall experience bland.

Star Wars Battlefront, Preview, Screenshot

Drop Zone, an 8v8 mode, falls in the capture/defend category of game types. The goal of this mode is capturing and holding drop pods for a given amount of time. The one map available for this mode, Sullust, while visually stunning, felt limiting in its design. The map had loads of tight corridors with some added verticality aimed to provide a different dimension to the combat. The problem is that you find yourself too often in scenarios where enemies are either firing at you from all sides as you desperately try to scramble to cover, or just fill the corridors with more people rendering you helpless. In this sense, Drop Zone had me believing I was playing a slower paced, unfulfilling variant of Call of Duty.

The beta’s big kahuna was obviously the Walker Assault mode taking place during the famous battle of Hoth. Just as I mentioned before, atmosphere-wise there is nothing to reproach. It looked amazing and it sounded intense. Even when far away from the battle, you could still hear blaster fire and fighters skirmishing in the distance. The 20v20 mode’s increased scale could be felt, however due to the slow movement of the AT-ATs, you never get to experience the entire map at once. Rather, it felt cut into two, or maybe three, sections where the Rebel uplinks spawned. While playing the Rebels, you have to capture and defend the uplinks thus allowing your Y-Bombers to target the enemy AT-ATs, rendering them vulnerable to attack. Playing on the Imperial side meant that you had to stop the Rebels from holding uplink stations. Really, the final phase feels the largest, as the AT-ATs get closer to the Rebel generators and you have to fight on a snowy expanse littered with trenches and stationary defenses. Also, I cannot avoid expressing disappointment as to the lack of Tauntauns.

While Star Wars Battlefront is perhaps the most authentic videogame rendition of battles from the Star Wars universe to this date, the gameplay’s oversimplification and streamlining coupled with the token system leaves one wondering whether the full game will be able to provide an amount of entertainment that ultimately justifies its price. Judging by what was seen in the beta, the state of Battlefront is worrying, at least in regards to its potential longevity. This depends on how varied the unlock system will be as well as on the way in which maps will be managed. In the meantime, we’re holding our fingers crossed in hopes of a good outcome in November, when the game is set to release.

MateÈ™ Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): DICE
Genres: First-person Shooter
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2015-11-17

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