To quote the great Han Solo, “never tell me the odds”, seriously, don’t. If you’ve been playing Star Wars Battlefront you’ll probably have noticed that the game is one of the most skewed shooters to have come out in recent years, but this by far isn’t the only problem with the game. Don’t get me wrong, Battlefront has its good moments, even its great moments, but it’s living under a dark shadow that even Emperor Palpatine would think is a bit much.
“Now, witness the power of this fully operational battle simulator”
Star Wars Battlefront really nails one thing, and that’s atmosphere. Each score of music, each sound effect and each setting screams nostalgia.
You’ll be forgiven for losing yourself in the worlds of Battlefront. During my first run through on Endor I spent the entire game searching for Ewoks, and was not disappointed. You can find the fluffly little guys paragliding through the tree tops, hanging out out front of their homes, and occasionally darting for cover. On Hoth you can explore the site of Luke’s crashed snow speeder and a collapsed AT-AT, and both look stunning in the game’s impressive next gen graphics. On Tatooine you can walk around and even jump on top of the Millennium Falcon in a hangar. It’s moments like these that make Battlefront such a great piece of fan service to those who’ve grown up with the Star Wars franchise. The game is even presumably training us for the thing entry in the franchise, as there is A LOT of lens flare, which I can only assume is preparing us for the inevitable lens flare fest created by J.J. Abrams.
The sounds are mesmerising in the game, each musical score is so embedded in the brains of Star Wars fans that you almost have to hum along when the Imperial March plays. It’s not only the amazing John Williams soundtrack that makes the game an audio masterpiece, but the sound of the blasters are incredibly well done. As you battle the roar of Tie fighters overhead is brilliantly done, as are the stomps of an AT-AT and even the hum of nearby lightsabers.
However, whoever is voicing the lightsaber wielder, and the other franchise characters for that matter, seems to be a drunk intern doing an impression of what they assume Star Wars characters might say. Even their movements are a tad off, the Emperor runs around like a raccoon, which is hilarious and not exactly fear inducing from the most powerful sith lord in the universe. Another aspect that is out of place is Luke’s costume. Everything else in yhe game has been painstakingly made to be accurate, yet he’s chilling on Hoth with a green lightsaber and black outfit. Any dork knows his saber should be blue in that battle and he should be wearing a flight suit.
“That’s no map”
After the nostalgia of exploring some well known Star Wars settings, and one lesser known, the reality will hit you that there are essentially only four maps in Battlefront.
Alternating between Hoth, Endor, Tatooine and the previously unseen Sullust, Battlefront soon becomes tiring as the settings become too familiar. Previously Battlefront titles have had an amazing variety of maps and settings from the Star Wars universe, which is perhaps why this is so noticeable. For example the original Star Wars Battlefront had 10 different planets and a total of 17 distinct maps. Whereas this latest offering has the four planets with a total of 12 variants. However these variants for the most part aren’t particularly different, as they are essentially scaled down versions or the same map only at night. The variations also aren’t noticeable when you stick to the two primary game modes (more on that later), where you’ll still be playing the same variation over and over.
As mentioned before, the maps are stunning and the graphics brilliant, but the gameplay is ridiculously skewed to certain sides. For example on Endor when playing as the Imperials the Rebels are near impossible to spot as they are camouflaged, and you completely stick out in your white stormtrooper armour. On the flip side it’s the opposite on Hoth, where the Rebels stick out and the Imperials blend in. This just seems poorly thought out, even if it is accurate to the films. The variant of Endor at night is near impossible to see in at the best of times, so adding the fact that you stick out and your enemies blend in makes it incredibly frustrating to play.
“I find your lack of modes disturbing”
Battlefront has a wide variety of playable modes, but in reality only three of them are worth your time.
There are nine multiplayer modes and four solo/co-op modes. Instantly looking through the solo modes you’ll realise that this game is straight up made for multiplayer. Single player consists of training, survival, battles and hero battles. The survival mode is kind of fun, but is just one of those standard shooter add-ons where you face off against progressively harder waves of enemies. The solo battles and hero battles aren’t like the multiplayer and focus around killing enemies and taking tokens they drop to score points. It’s pretty fun but, has very limited playability. If you were looking to buy Battlefront and not play online, there really isn’t much on offer that makes it worthwhile.
The multiplayer’s nine modes are varied, but only boil down to three modes that people will likely play, which are supremacy, walker assault and drop zone. The others are there, and sure people play them at the moment, but they consist of tiny maps with tricky objectives that feel empty and unfulfilling. Take hero hunt for example, the mode has a group of eight players with seven searching for one hero or villain. The person who lands the killing blow then takes control of the hero/villain. What this mode is great at is destroying your kill/death ratio. When playing as a soldier you are repeatedly cut down by the OP individual you’re hunting. In my play through despite getting the award at the end of the round for dealing the highest amount of damage to the heroes, I only landed a killing blow once.
The fighter squadron mode in particular isn’t very good, mainly because the controls for air vehicles are atrocious. When we have intricate dog fighting in games such as Battlefield 4, it’s hard to go back to an overly simplified air combat system. Locking on to enemies is as simple as just holding down the left trigger (on PS4) and the computer does the rest. This isn’t to say that it makes the mode easy, far from it, everyone is an absolute gun at flying, so it’s more a game of who can auto target first.
Ultimately the bread and butter of Battlefront is supremacy and walker assault. These modes offer chaotic fun and some of the tensest combat moments I’ve played in a online multiplayer in some time. However, walker assault is tough as a rebel because the imperials have such a whopping advantage. Not only are the AT-ATs incredibly powerful, but they also have AT-STs running around, which can one shot you. This can be forgiven as it makes it all the sweeter when you rarely do win as the Rebels.
“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”
In the majority of games I’ve played of Battlefront, and that’s probably a good 15 hours worth, there is usually the same players coming out top, and the reason sure as hell isn’t skill.
In the main two modes I play (walker assault and supremacy) hero tokens spawn in the same spots, which of course means that people will camp the spots and repeatedly end up playing as an incredibly overpowered hero or villain. This winds up being incredibly frustrating, particularly in one instance where a piece of human garbage repeatedly played as Vader and camped in the rebel spawn point. Four times in a row I spawned to be struck down immediately. How is this even a thing? EA Dice really need to implement a limit on the number of times you can spawn as a hero in a round. Even better, make playing as these characters a kill streak reward.
I’m not saying that I play the game like a saint, far from it, what I usually do is double equip impact/thermal detonators and hide in tunnels, throwing them after each cool down. Doing this you can really rack up some amazing kill streaks, but it’s cheap and very easy to do. I was playing with one of my friends and we ended up laughing hysterically at how easy it was to just hide out in a tunnel bombing the shit out of the enemy.
Not only are the special characters and grenades overpowered, but there are a whole load of turrets in each map that can one hit you, one particular master of garbage I faced was alternating between turret camping and snatching up hero tokens, they ended up getting a 43/2 kill death ratio for that round. Someone really needs to bring back balance to the force.
“Search your feelings”
Despite all the criticisms, what Star Wars Battlefront delivers is still for the most part an incredibly fun and addictive experience that is made to be played with friends.
Playing Battlefront by yourself is okay, but I found that you really notice every fault with the game when playing alone. However with friends the game really shines, it’s a far better experience playing with a partner that you know and can strategise with. In every game I played with friends I also noticed my score was far better than when alone, which had the added benefit of allowing me to unlock more gear.
The unlock system in Battlefront has got me hooked. Each new star card (perks/special weapons with cool down that you can equip three of), blaster and player skin requires credits to unlock, credits which you earn by playing. Meaning that those who want everything are going to need to sink a lot of playtime into the game. It has that whole Destiny vibe of grinding for gear in a way that isn’t always enjoyable, but you still grind nonetheless. I actually feel anxious right now because writing this has taken a large chunk of credit earning time away from me.
“Only at the end do you realise the power of the Dark Side”
Overall Star Wars Battlefront feels like an incomplete game that needs the controversially priced season pass to be worthwhile. As the pass is offering to pad out the experience it seems essential to to give this game a long shelf life. Each new map, hero and blaster that you don’t have in the vanilla version will become incredibly noticeable as the game starts to feel complete with each DLC pack. Call me cynical, but this is a particularly nasty way to release a game.
Although the core elements are fun, Battlefront is proving to be very hard to review. It has so much wrong with it, but does quite a lot right. In the end if it were released with all the season pass promises and had some balancing issues fixed, I think it could be up there as a game of the year pick, but in its current state it falls short.
Pros: Sounds and looks like authentic Star Wars. Nostalgic. Addictive leveling up system. Spamming thermal detonators is funny.
Cons: Feels incomplete. Not enough variety. Lack of single player. OP heroes/villians. Season pass content feels like it should be essential, not an add on.