Battlefront Beta impressions – this is the game I’m looking for

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-Tom Heath

As many of you probably know, the Star Wars Battlefront beta launched last night. If you’re like me, you were super keen to rush in and blast some nerf herders all across the snowy hills of Hoth and taste a glimpse of what is to come when November 19 rolls around.

While we have some video content from the game coming up soon, here are my impressions of the game so far.

PRETTY

Star Wars Battlefront is beautiful. There’s no other way of saying it, the game is just beautiful. I was playing the PC version on Ultra settings, and the detail in the snow as people trample around blew me away. The character models, particularly faceless Stormtroopers, look stunningly detailed; the level of fidelity from the original Star Wars films is ridiculous.

The visuals aren’t perfect; to be nit-picky there’s some jaggedness around the edges of weapons and terrain sometimes even with anti-aliasing enabled. But the very fact I got killed multiple times because I’d suddenly notice the sun peaking over the edge of an orbiting Star Destroyer and gawked at how gorgeous it was like an idiot is tantamount to how pretty this game is.

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I also stared at stuff like this for too long to…

Dumbed down weapons a smart choice

This will be the most prominent point of contention for most first-person-shooter fans I imagine. The few weapons I’ve managed to get my hands on in Battlefront (mainly the primary rifles) have all been simplified to function as all-rounders, working well at close and long range, but also have been reduced in accuracy. That’s not to say they’re inaccurate, far from it, but the weapon’s sights form more of a tight triangle than the dead-centre targeting seen in games like Call of Duty.

What does this mean? Well, it gave me a better opportunity to play the damn game because it’s harder for those crazy players who’ve somehow already clocked a million hours in the game to instantly headshot you. I love intricate shooters like Battlefield 4, but my lord I spend more time watching my respawn counter tick down than I do actually playing because some people are just freaks with those twitch aiming skills. Twitch shooters need not worry though, there is a sniper rifle perk you can use that is super accurate and incredibly over-powered; DICE have got you covered.

My point is the lack of iron sights and the slight worsening of weapon accuracy lets more casual players have a better time, and that’s a great thing.

Battlefront beta

It also better simulates the experience of shooting as a Stormtrooper.

There are also some cool power-ups, all of which are tied to a cool-down meter rather than a limit on ammunition. There are also random tools to be found around the map, such as gun placements, ion grenades to take out vehicles and even the opportunity to play as a Hero (Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker in the beta).

It feels like being in Star Wars

As well as the visual fidelity I mentioned earlier, it is also the sounds that sell Battlefront. Much like how the last trailer for The Force Awakens brought Matthew Mcconaughey to tears, I got pretty damn close once I started hearing my blaster shots ringing out and the screaming of the Tie Fighters battling overhead. I almost hit the tearjerking point again when I found myself running between the gigantic, hulking feet of an AT-AT, dodging its earth-shaking stomps. Seriously, this was nostalgia overload.

The only real un-Star Wars aspect of the whole experience, for me, was some of the voice-work. I don’t know about you guys, but hearing Rebel troops shouting things like “for the rebellion!” felt really weird, given they never said things like that in the actual films. Also, Darth Vader says some weird things too, for example: “nothing can stop my lightsaber!”

…yeah, very un-Darth Vader-like.

But those are minor grievances in what is essentially a very carefully crafted Star Wars experience.

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I have a bad feeling about this…

Wrapping up

Thumbs up for Star Wars Battlefront right now. If the beta is anything to go by it will be an awesome online game as long as it can maintain the variety between all its game modes. The two featured in the beta, Walker Assault and Drop Zone, are good fun and each have their differences but everything can get boring eventually. But if other modes such as Fighter Squadron and Supremacy (billed to feature ground vehicles such as speed bikes) can also change up the formula a bit then I can see Battlefront maintaining a good sense of fun.

FPS purists might not be impressed, but I think Battlefront is shaping up to be something pretty awesome.

Find the droids you’re looking for on Tom’s Twitter: @tomdheath. You may also find them by following LoadScreen on Twitter, @load_screen, and liking on Facebook, but you’ll more likely find more gaming news.

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