Star Wars Battlefront
Everyone was excited when Star Wars Battlefront was first announced at E3 a couple years ago. Now it's time to finally play the game and all that excitement bubbles upward with joy as the sweet Star Wars sound effects and visuals fill your room...But then it fades. It fades so fast that you might even take the game out and return to one of the many other titles released at the same time.
I’m not going to say Battlefront is a terrible game. It isn’t, but it isn’t a super fantastic game either. I was super pumped for Battlefront, but upon launching the final game I was met with disappointment right from the get go. The game has no single player so I assumed that meant a lot of effort put into making the online experience good. I was wrong. There are more game modes available than maps, and all of them play out basically the same. There are slight variations like air combat or playing as a “hero,” but at the end of the day the game consists of Star Wars style battles and pushing the enemy team with a few unique perks.
What the game does well is bring you into the world of Star Wars, and (my goodness!) do they do an amazing job. All the maps feel like the movies were brought to life in epic fashion. There is a ton of detail around every corner, maps are designed fairly well to make you feel like you are bringing epic movie moments to life. You can take a Snow Speeder and race through crevices and get a real thrill. You can even enter air combat and be fully engaged in combat.
All of this is sold well by the incredible use of sound effects. The blasters, the vehicles, everything sounds phenomenal. They even make you get that nostalgia feeling in your stomach every time you jump into an air ship and hear the sounds of air combat. The score behind the game sounds like one you would expect in the movies too. You combine all of this with something DICE has always done well in their games and that is changing the tones and effects based on your location. If you go into a bunker the entire environment changes compared to out in the tree’s on Endor, or out in the open on Hoth. It makes me sad that they didn’t try to explore additional areas like the Death Star (which would awesome for air combat) or something more unique and explore additional sound effect in the environments.
I wish all of this effort to game look and sound nice was put into actually making it a great game. Once you get past the Star Wars appeal you realize just how bland the mechanics are. Maps look fantastic, but mechanically they lack some drive. Hoth is a big open map with a few bunkers, but it’s easy to run up and pick people off. Endor also has some bunkers in the middle of the map, and most matches will end up stuck in these areas because it’s hard to coordinate a push in such a small area. Tatoonie also has several points where an opposing team can easily spawn camp the heck out of the other by taking high ground.
One of the other main issues is the lack of community features. It’s really hard to communicate with a team, in fact you probably won’t hear anybody talk at all because the game has no dedicated voice chat. Instead EA insists you utilize PS4 or Xbox One’s party chats, and on PC you need a third party chat. Next there are no squads like you expect in Battlefield, so there is no real way to team up. Instead we get a single buddy who will probably die the same time as you, or be off wondering the wrong side of the map.
There is no way to tag enemies, locations, or direct your team in these big open worlds. So unless you get on a team that knows what they are doing it normally ends up with people just shooting each other and slowly creeping to the goal. DICE prides themselves on team based gameplay, and its clear Battlefront is heading in that direction, yet it lacks all assets to actually allow you to work as a team. For a game so focused on team aspects it makes no sense to me.
The gameplay itself isn’t much better either. Every gun is basically the same with slight changes to distance or speed of shot. There isn’t much customization to make you feel unique at all, and there are no classes. Gun play is rather simplistic and according to one tip within the game you don’t need to aim because it doesn’t change your accuracy, and it doesn’t. Picking off people in a distance is easy, and your K/D can easily be inflated with a few easy kills. The game lacks any real challenge to you as a player, and never feels rewarding.
Instead of classes we get “star cards” which are basically various things to equip your character, or perks. You get two equipment or attribute cards, and then on main card that does something more like allowing you to leap, hide from radar, or protect yourself a little more from vehicles. To me it is a great idea, but the assortment of options is rather bland. You can choose to have a sniper rifle for example, but it only takes one shot before it needs to recharge. I’ve hit a few enemies dead on with it and still didn’t get the kill. Overall there are a few cards that really help you, but most of them are basic load outs you’d expect to have. One thing that bothered me is that there are no standard loadouts for new players. You start out with absolutely nothing, and while the cards don’t feel like they are adding much, you realize how important they are early on when everyone else has a substantial edge on you.
Nothing in the game is limited at all either. The game basically boils down to run up to a vantage point, fire your gun until it overheats, then wait and hope you don’t get fired at. There is no real motive to strategize your way around a person on a 1v1 style approach, or spend your time going after a particular enemy. Everyone is normally in groups and you normally are part of some push. The strategy is getting with your team and making that push, but again with the lack of team features even that is rather basic. It feels like the game is stuck between Call of Duty and Battlefield and it is unsure which one it wants to be.
Battlefront also has Mission(s) mode which is the only mode that can be played alone. The mode consists of waves of enemies that you can take down alone or with a friend, either on your team or against you. Or more objective based modes that also involve the AI. In a way I enjoy the mode because this is something past titles in the franchise did well and made fun, and yet it feels like stepping back in time and playing those games again.
The AI, when I was playing on hard, was rather dull and uninspired to do anything. They were gaining points, but I was unsure of how they were gaining points. Most of the time when they spotted me all enemies on my screen would stop and shoot at me. Meanwhile I enabled teammates of my own and they wouldn’t pick up power ups or points for me, and were often stopping and running blindly too. Just like the core game this felt extremely easy and I honestly felt like I was doing chores to finish the round after I played it a few times.
And yet the spectacle always seems to find a way to save the game. When you start getting bored of the gameplay, then something cool happens. Huge explosions destroy a satellite, a TIE Fighter crashes into an enemy that is about to kill you, or a Jedi cleans out a bunker to save your team. This is how the game shines by making you amazed at the Star Wars feeling. When you first start the game events likes this will totally blow you away, especially if you are a Star Wars fan. Yet the question is, how long can events like this keep you going before they get old?
My absolute favorite map on the game is Endor and if you pay attention to the E3 outings, this is normally the map they jump to showcase the game. There is a reason for that. Endor consists of a jungle like world with small bunkers blended in. Not only that, but there are wooden bridges and tree top lookouts above too. What makes Endor so great is that the trees can be shot down, you have enemies hiding in brushes, the bridges will explode, and the map is really intense. The coolest aspect is the lighting effects of the map. It isn’t totally bright so you can truly see the shots from blasters light up areas of the map and explosions really pop! Unlike maps like Hoth, Endor also actually feels like it has some strategy to it and isn’t so open so you actually feel like you can create an upper hand. Honestly if the entire game had the same feel as Endor with this level of gameplay and visuals it’d be amazing.
My favorite mode in the whole game was actually the air combat. There is a mode entirely dedicated to air combat that feels totally different than actually flying within a mission. In this mode everyone has air vehicles of some nature and you are taking down the other team using whatever equipped weapon your ship has. It is fun chasing enemies and weaving through areas of the map to escape. The controls feel great because it was easy to target and easy to escape, which leads to some thrilling chase sequences. The mode also feels a lot more personal than randomly shooting enemies.
As for flying in regular missions things feel a little different. I feel as though ships explode too fast within missions, while in the specific game mode they take a little more damage. Also within missions the ground area becomes too small so you end up focusing on air objectives instead of actually helping ground troop’s advance, in most instances. This is both a good and bad thing because you won’t have enemy air ships camping your spawn, a common problem of the Battlefield series. Air ships are also granted via a coin found in the battlefield so players won’t be camping at base waiting for one to spawn, also a plus. If you see the coin you can’t resist trying to get it because flying the ships is seriously the most thrilling aspect of the game.
Overall I was expecting more simply due to the fact there is no single player or story implemented in the game. I was expecting more maps, more content, and more importantly more social features. Almost every EA title released lately has some in-depth social features to help you compete with friends, and yet a game totally dedicated to online has absolutely none. The game also has some really thrilling maps and then some no so great maps. The leveling system is simplistic in nature, and there is no reward to leveling at all. Overall once you get past the Star Wars details the game becomes a bland repetitive experience quickly. Yet as a Star Wars fan I highly suggest at least playing it for a few hours because visually (and sound wise) the game is absolutely brilliant! It’s just a shame the content can’t keep pace.
Star Wars fans should absolutely check the game out just to see how authentic the experience is. Just don't expect the game to have too much depth and it will grow old quickly with the repetitive nature behind it. A few of the maps are absolutely amazing, but the game can't live up to that level of quality overall. For being a pure multiplayer experience it does lack some depth to keep you going.