I’m Cautiously Optimistic About Star Wars Battlefront

First let me set up the scenario for you. A lot of us were excited to see new Star Wars news, and some of you were probably even lucky enough to be upfront and in the middle of the chaos at the event. Right before the reveal of Battlefront we just saw the new trailer for Star Wars The Force Awakens and overall we were on edge about what could come next. We haven’t seen Star Wars Battlefront in years, and the time finally came to actually see something… anything!

This excitement makes things seem way cooler than they are sometimes. Think about past games you thought looked amazing, then a few days later you realized “ehh, it looks alright now.” Or perhaps you saw a cinematic trailer only to find out the game is nothing like that. Hell, remember when Star Wars was making a return with The Phantom Menace and how insane people went and now complain about that trilogy today?

So for me, I was not caught up in the celebration and was instead watching the game from afar. This meant I could cool down and watch it a few more times until that “magic” died off and really grasp an idea of the game. Thus I’m still reserved on how the game will turn out.

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I watched the entire panel for the game, even though we already had all the news they had to offer and then some, and one comment really stuck out. The group stated that while the entire trailer is “in-game” renders, the trailer was a “cinematic experience that obviously would be hard to replicate.” Understandable, but according to press that were at the event, pre-played gameplay similar to the teaser is all they got.

The game was “shown behind closed doors” which normally means someone is playing the game for you as a person explains every little detail to you. This happens all the time at E3, nothing new to me. However according to press the presentation was once again pre-recorded gameplay that was showing off all the latest features, and most outlets said beyond the visual Star Wars appeal, there was nothing too special. It was a 5 minute “trailer” followed up with the team talking about the technical aspects of the game.

Granted this game is still in early development and has a few months left before release, but it aligns with my overall opinion of the trailer. It’s a Star Wars skin to a standard Battlefield game. EA noted already that it will be different, but I’m left to wonder how different? The teaser was playing very similar to that of Battlefield 3. Imagine the bikes as Jeeps, the fighters in the air as standard jets, and so on. Is a re-skin in the universe of Star Wars enough to make it different? 


The only real difference so far seems to be the AT-AT perk which seems to be some random game-changer that teams try to unlock. According to the behind-closed-doors presentation, the AT-AT will actually give a losing team a chance by obliterating the opposing team until air forces can take it down. EA has basically been shoving this AT-AT perk in our face since the reveal, trying to make it seem cooler than it is. Yet we just got information that the AT-AT we see is “on rails” and we only control the guns. It basically works as a giant Call of Duty style kill streak perk. Which makes me question, does it play like Battlefield or does it play like COD? It’s a big deal to me.

This is good news if you enjoy Battlefield, but I personally took that “it will be different” to heart. For starters, Battlefront is more about ground battles and normally separates the air battles from the ground troops. This is good because it’s a massive problem I have with Battlefield, I can’t stand getting owned by air vehicles in open maps. It gets old fast. Next Battlefront is a bit faster and more dynamic feeling than the slower and more “clunky” Battlefield titles. We already learned DICE struggles to adapt to this nature with Medal of Honor.

The gameplay really needs a lot of attention is basically what I’m getting at, but it seems the team is a lot more dedicated to making the game look good. Their entire trailer featured no gameplay, and their closed door event was mostly showcasing the “big” feeling the battles provide. When talking about the game they are quick to jump to how they utilized “actual props” to sculpt their in-game models, etc… Yet I don’t think I heard them truly talk about gameplay a single time during the entire Star Wars event. Instead we get a repeat of what they already said at E3 last year, with the same assets they showed there being put into a trailer.

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Details are slowly coming out now ever since the reveal with very short remarks, and so far those details are not helping. EA/DICE has noted that the game will be “similar, but different” than past Battlefront titles. AKA, DICE engine perks. There will be little to no destruction, something DICE is known for, but it rules out feeling like Bad Company. Lastly there will be “no air battles” and instead the battles take place “above the ground battle,” so does that mean they will interfere with the ground battles?

This game has been in development for a while now (Announced back at E3 2013 with an AT-AT) and so far we only have 4 planets with at least 8 maps on launch. (Don’t worry, I’m sure there will be a “Premium” option for more) Yet no single player at all, and no Clone Wars story to intertwine anywhere. According to their statements they are “aiming for 60FPS” which if they are anything like past games with that statement, it means “30FPS.” Plus absolutely nothing to show off to the public just yet?

On the flip side there is a chance that it plays like Battlefield, but the correct one(s). I absolutely loved Bad Company (1 and 2), and 2142 also had awesome perks that could translate well into Star Wars. 2142 still has a fighting chance, but we already pretty much ruled out Bad Company above. Battlefield 3 was pretty good, but 4 is where I started to lose interest. If Battlefront plays more like a FUN shooter with big open battles, then I’m sold. If it plays like a game where snipers are annoying, and air vehicles make playing alone a pain, then I’m passing it up. If anything they need to look at COD and Destiny and use that inspiration, not Battlefield. How dare I tell them to look at a rival! Okay, how about Titanfall then? If all else fails, return to their roots and see what made 1942 so much fun!

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This is why I’m still reserved on getting too excited. Again, yes it’s awesome that Battlefront is back and we finally got to see something. The problem is they are not ready to show anything, and thus they didn’t show anything. The trailer was nothing more than a “concept” and you could easily put up concept art on a screen and say “this is what we are aiming for.” The “presentation” was nothing special to someone that has been there and done that. “Our game is a great technical experience and it’s so fantastic, and we put a lot of time into it.” Been there, heard that. Very few of these presentations have sold me on the game because they show nothing and say the same thing as the booth next to them. So with that, I completely tuned out for almost everything else the crew was saying. “From Lucas himself” whatever, cool story, where’s the game?

It’s the fluff that is turning me off. Again this is early stages and we truly haven’t seen anything yet, so perhaps their plan was to just talk visuals for the time being, again.  (And trust, I’ll agree with you every day of the week when you say this game looks visually stunning. It really did.) However unlike the movie counterpart you can’t sell us the game with a pre-rendered demo. This isn’t the early 2000’s anymore; we need to see the game actually being played and perks slowly revealed to us on a stage with players actually experiencing that game. Take Rainbow Six’s reveal for example. Was it all pre-planned? Yes, but at least their team was playing the game and showing you it can happen. Konami did something similar with Metal Gear Solid V, and the scope of their game is massive. WB’s team did an AMAZING job at E3 selling us Mortal Kombat behind closed doors. They had all kinds of characters ready to go at certain stages of the fight, and when they talked about something game specific they had someone play that aspect of the game. (“We have amazing new Fatalities!” *Player completes Sub-Zeroes Fatality on screen* )You can tell it was live gameplay because they MESSED UP several times, who cares, it’s a game and we are gamers. We understand.

Perhaps I’m still feeling the pain of being burned with Killzone all those years ago?

Again, it’s early, I know. So why am I “hating on it” you might ask. The truth is, I’m not. I love Battlefront, I know DICE is a very capable team, and overall this game could be absolutely amazing! I’m super excited for the return of Battlefront, I’m just reserved on how great it may be because what I have heard so far isn’t that jaw dropping, and I want it to be better. This is a game that will benefit from a true beta experience so I expect a beta/alpha to be announced around the time of E3, and hopefully it goes through stages that improve it. Yet the game seems to be restricted to meet a deadline of releasing alongside the movie and is in overdrive right now with very little to show for it even after years of development. We keep hearing “more will come” every time we ask about anything, so I guess we are still playing the waiting game.

Star Wars is a name brand at this point. Anything Star Wars related normally means it’s “cool,” so “re-skinning” things into Star Wars is an easy sell. That’s why Disney spent so much money to buy the license, and why EA desperately wanted their 10 year deal for Star Wars games. They are (after all) a genius when it comes to marketing, both of them. Yet this is Battlefront, we have high expectations and I’m not going to sit by and get all giddy just because you slapped Battlefront on a box and threw in some Star Wars models in a Battlefield game. It needs to be awesome! I want to be enjoying this game even after the “awe” of it being Star Wars wears off. I want to be able to start the game a few months after release and truly say “this game is awesome, not just because it’s Star Wars, but because it’s truly a fun experience.” 

Now get out there and blow me away with the next presentation so I can really get excited! Until we see the game actually in action I think it’s safe to have reservations about it, but it’s also safe to say they have the ability to blow our minds when they do eventually show it.