Born out of EA’s acquisition of the Star Wars game license, 2015’s Battlefront marks the first entry in the series since 2005’s Battlefront II, developed by now-defunct Pandemic Studios. Prior to release, there was much debacle about the removal or addition of some modes and features to the title, but should Battlefront be given the reign over the Empire, or should it have been Force pushed into orbit?
There’s certainly a lot of the “Star Wars experience” packed into Battlefront. Everything feels and sounds as though you really were on the surface of Endor, defending a base from the relentless assault of an Imperial Walker, or dogfighting on the surface of Hoth. There’s all these little touches that certainly make it feel like a Battlefront game, from the sound effects of the blasters to the design of either faction, but once you get past the initial honeymoon period, I suspect that many are going to be asking, “Now what?”
Let me be clear about this: the game is downright fun. Even coming off of hundreds of hours spent with Battlefield 4, it’s refreshing to just sit back and be able to enjoy Battlefront. Aiming is generous, there’s not innumerable mechanics that weigh and slow the game down, and it’s almost immediately approachable for newcomers to the shooter genre in general, much like the original games. Games are fast-paced but not frustrating, respawns are almost instantaneous, and the matches feel fair.
Certainly, people looking for a challenging experience that Battlefield 4 can provide might be miffed about the lack of features, but a developer that doesn’t shy away from making their game approachable is commendable, particularly in this day of endless features piled into games.
The card system also allows players to specialize into roles they’d like to play, too. Want to be more anti-vehicle oriented? You’ll probably grab a rocket and an EMP grenade. Long-ranged anti-infantry? There’s a homing rocket and a charging sniper rifle. The list goes on, but players have the option to design roles suited to how they’d like to play.
DICE Sweden has also put in tremendous work to make sure the game looks and sounds incredible. Far are the days where server and client crashes that plagued the release weeks of Battlefield 4, same with the abysmal loading times. Battlefront runs quite well even on my aged hardware, and I suffered no slowdowns, even with the sprays of sparks from explosions, and impressive detail in the environments and weapons available.
But after the new shine of the game is worn off, what happens next? There’s a pitifully small number of weapons to collect, and while the card system is engaging, there’s also not very many cards to purchase with credits. True, you can upgrade cards, and purchase cosmetic changes, but there’s only 12 different weapons in the game, an embarrassingly small number.
I’m left asking where is the incredible number of weapons and maps seen in Battlefield 4 on release, the last DICE Sweden-developed title. In BF4, there was always some new scope or weapon to get and use, but since you unlock one new weapon every few hours after the initial burst, I couldn’t keep forcing myself to play. Not only that, but I have fond memories of playing as different classes and the sheer variety of weapons and maps available in the first two Battlefront games. Cloud City on Bespin, the Tatooine residential district, the massive clone army battlefields and production facilities, they’re all unique and lend themselves to different play styles and the different factions that fight on them. Comparatively, the narrow focus in this instalment of Battlefront feels limiting.
The shooting too, is rather shallow. Obviously, you have to aim at whatever you’re trying to kill, but the game does so much work for you that it’s not entirely satisfying to get a kill on someone. You’re not forced to play differently based on which weapon you’re using, even though the game suggests otherwise; just hold down left mouse slightly ahead of whatever you’re shooting at, and most of the shots will connect, even when it feels like they shouldn’t.
While DICE does make economical use of the locations in different maps, meaning that you play in different areas of the same planet depending on which mode you’ve queued up for, some of the modes and maps are so shallow that you can’t help but feel like you’ve seen it all after a few hours. Compared to previous games in the Battlefront or Battlefield series, there’s just so much missing that it feels as though you’re getting half a game at best. Some of the modes aren’t particularly well-balanced either, and flying the starfighters is a downright painful experience.
I hope DICE isn’t waiting for the Season Pass to fill out the content lacking from the game. More content is coming via a free update in December, but there’s just not enough here to recommend buying the game at full price, no matter how much your love for the Star Wars franchise demands that you do so.
It’s everything Star Wars fans want out of a new shooter set in the universe, so long as “everything” involves a disappointing amount of maps, weapons, and overall content. It feels, oddly enough, similar to free-to-play “theme park” MMOs, where everything is cool and fun, so long as you don’t want anything deeper than what’s on the surface. I simply cannot recommend buying this game at full price for what’s offered here.
A Vast Universe: Maps look and sound amazing, and are full of detail.
Newcomers Welcome: Gameplay is fun and easy to pick up.
Endless Possibilities: Players choose the role they’d like to fill.
Ages 3 and Up: The “casualization” of gameplay may turn away some.
An Empty Universe: Very little content for the price point.
More, More!: The gameplay isn’t particularly satisfying or deep.
Battlefront is the latest entry in the long neglected Star Wars Battlefront series of games, up until now they’ve had solid “netcode”, a variety of factions to choose from, varied and interesting vehicles, unique classes, and oodles of Star Wars nerd love poured into them. Battlefront has none of that. The “netcode” is so hit and miss that from second to second your shots may or may not register seemingly at random. Classes are gone in favour of taking whatever weapon you want and a handful of star cards, which is a nice system in that it provides you with unlimited grenades (on a cooldown timer) encouraging you to use your equipment as much as your blaster.
Unfortunately a couple of pieces of equipment are totally unbalanced; the T21 blaster makes scoring kills hilariously easy and impact grenades turn your thermal detonators into instant, easy to aim opponent annihilators, basically the good ol’ “noob tube” of Battlefront. Between the beta and final release DICE have altered the flight controls, and possibly physics, have been tweaked into a crude imitation of War Thunder, just without any of the polish of that free to play game. Also not apparent in the beta was just how cluttered the maps are; Endor and Tattooine make spotting the enemy amidst the visual vomit like what a Where’s Waldo book would be if they had a Dark Souls difficulty setting.
Because of a lack of compelling modes (I personally only enjoy Walker Assault in multiplayer) and a serious lack of content, likable or otherwise, in the initial release it’s a no-brainer to recommend you stay away from Battlefront like it’s the smallpox infested carcass of Jar Jar Binks reanimated with the sole purpose of watching Episode 1 on endless repeat. Though Battlefront has its problems the gameplay core is solid, as evidenced by the seven tutorial missions being the most enjoyable part of the game. With some serious work and rebalancing the multiplayer could be a great game but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no single player campaign or even proper offline bot matches.
Star Wars is making a huge comeback. For the masses the movie is just around the corner and for us silly gamers the new Battlefront was just released. Though there were two games before, this is not a sequel, this year Battlefront is a “reboot”. Handed down to DICE, the developer of Battlefield, the game is supposed to be in good hands. And it being Star Wars it’s hard to go wrong if you just follow the tried and true formula. But this being a reboot the developer started anew.
Few months ago a lot of us got to experience the beta. Even though there were issues the game looked quite promising. Battlefront is extremely gorgeous with unbelievable authentic audio, the shooting mechanics are very straightforward and…it’s frickin’ Star Wars! All this makes for a very solid core but a lot of elements around it lets the game down. The consequence of very beautiful visuals lead to fights where it is difficult to see the enemy and asymmetrical maps make fights harder for one side. The gameplay mechanics are quite casual which makes it easy to pick and enjoy but unfortunately even though you shoot straight most of the time when I got killed it felt unfair. Instead of your nemesis just being better it seemed like he/she was using a better gun, better pick-up, better card or was in one of the overpowered vehicles or heroes.
I really want to love this game. I actually love this game but also hate it at the same time. It is very satisfying when you get to the “right” match but that doesn’t happen too often and you’re just left with anger. It feels like DICE and EA left a lot of missed opportunities that might get explored in the DLC or left aside for the inevitable sequel. But some games get better with time and seeing how DICE is treating BF4, Battlefront might well be worth visiting later down the line.