|Online FPS||EA Dice||Electronic Arts||November 20 2015 (EU)||PC/PS4/Xbox One|
Star Wars Battlefront is a new-gen reboot of the original franchise and it gets a few things right.
The expectations are strong with this one
The lead up to the release of the hugely anticipated new-gen Star Wars Battlefront game unavoidably gave birth to a mixed set of expectations. On one side, the history of Star Wars video games is far from being a flawless record, so some of us might have expected a degree of disappointment. Whilst we’ve had good time playing the latest third person action series of ‘The Force Unleashed’, we couldn’t stop ourselves from being a bit disappointed at the storylines and the general lack of immersion into the old Star Wars universe made so familiar to us by George Lucas’ original movie trilogy. However and despite a recent history of average Star Wars games, most expectations for the new Star Wars Battlefront where set pretty high, and not without any reasons.
First of all, the Battlefront series is probably one of the most loved and respected video game series within the Star Wars universe, counting endless fans who have prolonged the online life of the original Battlefront series far beyond its expected life cycle. This love for the Battlefront series can be justified by the fact that the original Star Wars Battlefront games where indeed great online multiplayer shooters, offering a wide array of different maps, battles, weapons and vehicles (and space battles!!!) to choose from; whilst also supporting a good single player lifespan. The last original Star Wars Battlefront 2 was released in 2005 and the fans have been waiting for a worthy successor ever since. Battlefront 3 was partially developed but then cancelled around 2008 by developer Free Radical Designs, the named reasons for this cancelation include lack of resources and insufficient marketing budget. Another developer Slant Six Games was working on a title called “Star Wars: Battlefront Online” but the game was also cancelled due to the studio not being able to meet its 2010 deadlines. So yes, there was a build-up to Star Wars Battlefront 2016 which preceded long before the Game was first announced at Electronic Arts’ E3 2013 press conference, some boots had to be filled.
Beyond the original Battlefront series and the general Star Wars fandom, the main reason why expectations are high for this title is because of the chosen developer: EA Dice (or DICE as everyone knows them by). Being responsible for developing the second most known FPS franchise after the Call of Duty Series, it feels like the team who gave us the Battlefield games was the perfect choice for handling this reboot of what is essentially a first-person / third-person online shooter with large battles and pilotable vehicles. If anything, the latest iterations of Battlefield (Battlefield 3 and 4) have excelled at providing players with one of the best online multiplayer experience there is to be had. DICE is extremely technically proficient, offering superb visuals, smooth and responsive gameplay, as well as being able to really nail the audio aspect to almost perfection; which always gives superior immersion to their titles. With such a developer, we felt confident that our game was in the right hands. The more we saw some of the game being teased, the better it looked, and by the time the beta got released, we all knew that DICE at least nailed the looks and the sound; but did they get everything else right?
Multi-player you must
Switching the game on, you are welcomed by the unavoidable title music, which feels good to hear as it puts you straight away into the Star Wars vibe. The menus look slick and simple, offering us little animations of various droids and vehicles, which provide us with a bit of light atmosphere by making use of a few iconic droid beeps and other classic vehicle sounds. After you sign into EA servers, you get a simple menu which offers you the choice between two main modes: ‘multiplayer’ and ‘missions’.
The ‘multiplayer’ option allows you to play online, fighting with other players throughout various different game modes allowing from large scale 40-player to smaller 8-player battles. For example, ‘supremacy’ is a large 40-player mode will have Rebels and Imperials fight for control over 5 key points on the map. Another similar large 40-player mode is the ‘Walker Assault’ mode, where the Rebels have to destroy the Empire’s onslaught of AT-AT’s by using Y-wing bombers. Those who enjoy less populated maps can enjoy the ‘Drop Zone’ mode where 8v8 players must fight over the control of crashed escape pods. Less populated modes such as ‘Heroes Hunt’ will have 7 players pitted against a strong Star Wars figure. In this mode, seven Rebels will battle Boba Fett, or seven imperials will fight against Luke Skywalker. Beyond this, Battlefront also offers modes such as ‘Fighter Squadron’ which focus more on taking the skies and engaging into dogfights. When it comes to different multiplayer modes, the game has enough ways to entertain.
The ‘missions’ menu is the only part of the game which will allow you to enjoy some single player content, though the missions can also be played with other players online. The ‘training’ mode will allow you to go through a few basic operations in the game so that you can get familiar with the game’s controls. You can also access the ‘battles’ mode which will bring you into different large battles which you can play online or offline, and the ‘survival’ mode just pits you against multiple AI opponents (or online) and is all about how long you can last the onslaught of attacks against your player.
Whilst the ‘multiplayer’ menu offers multiple game modes, we can’t stop ourselves from noticing the short amount of content offered by the ‘missions’ mode for single players. Furthermore, one huge thing stands out: there is no single-player campaign. Now sure this is something we knew before buying the game, but this aspect did not become apparent until the later stages of promoting the game. Throughout most of the early days of the game being announced, we were rubbing our hands and looking forwards to a new Star Wars FPS single-player campaign, so we still feel that this aspect is really missing here. Furthermore, we get to realise that even though there are many multiplayer aspects and maps, all those modes only take place on 4 different planets: Endor. Hoth, Sullust and Tatooine. This feels a bit short, especially when the original Battlefront games offered so much more places.
The other parts of the menu are mainly linked with player customisation and other game options. Don’t expect too many options for building your player though. You can choose from a medium range of weapons and side-weapons, as well as character customization and emotes which can be unlocked as you progress though the game. The choice is fairly limited, and we get the feeling that DICE is trying to simplify the game in order to make it easy to use to a broader audience, perhaps for the more casual gamers rather than the hard-core FPS fans. As we progress through Battlefront, we can see that this simplification of things also seems to dominate other aspects of the game.
Is this the game we were looking for?
As soon as we start playing, we cannot but be impressed by how great the game looks. The graphics definitely look next gen, with superb looking environments, great lighting and really good looking character and vehicle models. The lasers and explosions look awesome and have this particle effect found in the original Star Wars movies. The game runs at a reduced resolution of 900p for the PS4. The quality difference between the full 1080p looks isn’t too noticeable on most screens, though purists will obviously prefer a full 1080p resolution. However this compromise works well as it looks great and allows the game to run at a solid 60fps, which is good for a new gen title as most modern games (e.g. Fallout 4 and Arkham Knight are capped at 30fps). Xbox One owners will have to contempt with a 720p resolution on this one so that it can retain its 60fps, but this should not stop Xbox One owners from enjoying a truly great looking game.
Not only does the game look great but the sound design is amazing. Between the music and all the Star Wars battle sounds (blasters, explosions, vehicles…), the game does a superb job at immersing you right into the world of Star Wars. This is an aspect of the game which DICE absolutely nailed, and the way the sounds are dispersed really add to how great the battles feel.
One surprise is that you can now pilot vehicles by selecting pickups laid across the map, rather than let’s say picking up the vehicle straight from the hangar. Those pick-ups spawn at certain places on the map and are easy enough to find, so whilst you won’t need to grind to be able to pilot a ship, you will still need to make sure that you grab those pick-ups before other members of your team do. Flying is a bit simplified, and you cannot really use your second stick to make proper rolls or spirals. Once again, it feels that flying has been dumbed down to make it easier for the casual gamer. Don’t get me wrong flying is still fairly fluid and it is a lot of fun, but we expected a bit more, especially after what DICE offered with Battlefield 3 and 4. The other big let-down is that there are no space battles, instead you only get to fly around the map at fairly close proximity to the battle. As for the ground vehicles, they are fun and easy to use, though it is worth noting that you cannot actually control where the AT-AT walks, instead you can only fire its guns. Other vehicles like the AT-ST and the speeder bikes are enjoyable and easy to use.
The game also offers pickups which give you the ability to transform your player into a well-known and more powerful Star Wars character. If you are on the Rebel side, you will be able to play as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. On the imperial side, you will be able to play as Darth Vader, the Emperor and Boba Fett. Each character has its own set of abilities and you will be able to play those until they eventually get killed.
The different multiplayer modes are a blast to play through, though it can be difficult at times to make the difference between which modes you are using. Ultimately it is an online shooter and a lot of people will play it for their kill count, meaning the game’s objectives get left behind and people focus on shooting each other instead. Another thing worth mentioning is that online match-making is OK, but can sometimes be a little messy, with the sometimes inability to join friends online.
Star Wars Battlefront 2016’s gameplay is smooth and addictive and we find ourselves playing this game regularly, despite its fairly short amount of content. We cannot help to wish that there should me more to this game as we feel that it is a bit expensive with regards to how much content it brings on the table. If anything, we would love to see more planets and more maps. We know that there will be more content added soon, but seeing as the DLC prices are quite high we are a bit worried that we are being let a bit short-changed. Also, we really regret the lack of any single-player campaign, this would have made a huge difference at making us feel like we got our bang for our buck.
Star Wars Battlefront 2016 edition is a fine new gen reboot of the original franchise and it gets a few things right. However good the game looks, there are a few caveats we just can’t quite get over.
- Looks great, sounds great, DICE did a superb job at using the Star Wars assets
- PC and console versions are very well optimised, allowing consoles to run it at a solid 60fps
- Battlefront is easy and addictive, you find yourself coming back to it often for a quick few games
- Lack of single player campaign
- Little amount of content
- No space battles
- Dumbed down gaming mechanics
- Match-making could be better
- Expensive DLC