Let’s start with an important disclaimer: Electronic Arts has not announced that the third installment in its rebooted Star Wars Battlefront franchise is in development. This November will mark the fourth anniversary of Star Wars Battlefront II, and while a Star Wars Battlefront 3 felt like a surefire thing in the months leading up to that game, a catastrophic launch and downright impressively poor player reviews led to missed sales targets and the eerie sense that EA might opt to cut its losses and shut the door on the beleaguered franchise. A new Battlefront suddenly felt… distant at best.
Star Wars Battlefront 3 is Coming
But even ignoring all the constant unsubstantiated rumors — and we are going to ignore them in this article — it feels increasingly unlikely that we’ve seen the last of the Battlefront IP. Tellingly, EA has surprised the millions of fans who have opted to stick with Battlefront II despite its significant issues by not only completely revamping the game’s widely despised loot system but sticking with the game for years. A steady stream of updates between 2018 and 2020 righted the [star]ship and then some, redeeming Battlefront II‘s legacy and leaving behind a sci-fi shooter that’s worth playing well into 2021.
That degree of commitment doesn’t spring from pure kindness. Electronic Arts could have cut its losses and said goodbye, not unlike what the same corporation has recently chosen to do with Anthem, another launch disaster. There is inherent value in the Star Wars name, and that value will extend to a new Battlefront. Now more than ever, a full-fledged continuation is probable.
This Is Where the Fun Begins
If there is one thing nerds are good at, it’s envisioning the future for our favorite toys. So with all the requisite literary legwork out of the way, here are six things Star Wars Battlefront 3 needs in order to reach its full potential, as well as three things it desperately needs to avoid.
Star Wars Battlefront 3 Needs to Embrace the TV Shows
Few Star Wars fans dislike The Mandalorian, and I dare say even fewer skip it. To label the first Star Wars live-action show as a hit would be an exercise in understatement; it leads the Emmy nominations this year, and its viewership numbers are just as glorious. Pedro Pascal’s helmed antihero resonates with audiences almost as much as his little green friend.
With a dazzling array of Star Wars shows en route over the next few years, The Mandalorian will need to scoot over and let some new friends soak up the Disney+ limelight. New friends like Ahsoka, Anakin Skywalker’s former Jedi Padawan, and quite possibly the greatest new female addition to the canon in decades. Oh, and let’s not forget Obi-Wan, a long-in-the-making miniseries chronicling those nebulous “Dark Times” years in which star Ewan McGregor eventually mutates into the late Alec Guinness.
Shows like these are going to introduce us to characters we’ve not heard of, who will delight us and surprise us in ways we cannot yet imagine. It’s difficult to imagine the demand for any playable characters in Star Wars Battlefront 3 being higher than what we’ve already seen with Din Djarin and young Grogu. Still, for all we know, Ahsoka Tano will bump into a tall, dashing man of a rather blue complexion, and the fandom will go nuts over the prospect of selecting Grand Admiral Thrawn from a new Battlefront‘s Heroes and Villains mode.
It Also Needs to Expand Beyond the Skywalker Era
This isn’t as difficult to imagine Disney doing as it had been a few years ago. While the majority of in-development new Star Wars stories still seem to chart the timeline between The Phantom Menace and The Rise of Skywalker, we’re presently being treated to the opening stages of a brand new era. Known as the High Republic era, this setting is becoming a wellspring of potential storytelling with a regular rotation of novels and comics as well as a Disney+ show called The Acolyte which will take place toward its end.
The High Republic era sees Jedi out across the galaxy in far greater numbers than we’re accustomed to, and their battles aren’t chiefly limited to duking it out against dudes with red-tinted lightsabers. There’s already a pretty impressive medley of villains involved, and things will only get better from here.
There’s also the strong rumor of a reimagined Knights of the Old Republic project on the way courtesy of Aspyr Media. If this bold new vision of Darth Revan and Bastila Shan comes to fruition, you can be sure a whole new generation of gamers is going to be pining for their inclusion in Star Wars Battlefront 3.
And It Needs to Avoid Microtransactions
Microtransactions tend not to delight us as a rule, but their implementation when Star Wars Battlefront II first launched was nothing short of atrocious. Electronic Arts evidently hoped to instill “a sense of pride and accomplishment” in those who clock over 40 hours for each hero character unlock (or better yet, pay more money to buy them outright), but the phrase’s overnight transformation into a meme speaks for itself.
If EA feels the need to sprinkle in ye olde MTXs again, they need to approach this very carefully. Sales of Battlefront II gradually collapsed as bad word-of-mouth spread across the internet. “Pride and accomplishment” memes spread like wildfire, scorching potential customers. But opinions did shift in time. One thing is clear: you do not want to head into a new Battlefront game repeating the mistakes of yesteryear.
Battlefront 3 Needs to Evolve Its Single-Player Campaign
I suppose this ties in well with my bit about having them move beyond the Skywalker era for some of the game’s content since one fresh approach to a Battlefront 3 campaign is to take players along for a journey to eras past and future.
But there’s more to this than that! DICE, the developers of Battlefront and the more down-to-earth Battlefield series, have not been known to craft exceptional story campaigns. This is precisely why, with the news that Battlefield 2042 will lack a campaign, groans of discontent appear to be outnumbered by careless shrugs from fans. It’s not that single-player campaigns inherently disinterest so many players, but we’d generally prefer to see those from… well, companies that aren’t DICE.
That said, Star Wars Battlefront II’s campaign does have its moments. By tapping into the power of EA’s proprietary Frostbite engine and leveraging its beautiful attention to detail with the great vocal performances of actress Janina Gavankar and her voice-acting companions, the narrative has me wiping away a couple of tears by the game’s end. The broader issue is that DICE tends to struggle in providing a remotely diverse campaign gameplay experience; instead, several levels here feel like you’re playing… horde mode Duck Hunt or something. It’s pretty rote.
Give us gameplay stages throughout the Star Wars canon, woven together like Battlefield V War Stories. Give us a brush with the wild side, set during the wild times.
But It Also Needs to Encounter Iden Versio
Maybe this reads oddly given everything I’ve just said, but Battlefront II protagonist Iden Versio ought to return as well. Not in a starring role, but surely in a handful of stages? Gavankar really has breathed life into the character, and Iden has been canonically referenced in multiple publications since the conclusion of her story.
In short, Iden’s a pretty cool, complex character who should pop up at some point in the Star Wars Battlefront 3 campaign if the chronology allows for it. Certain moments in her campaign that ought to feel impactful come across as rushed, and most of the locations players control her in have an unimpressive level design, but she’s far from a hated character. Iden can serve as an icon of the Battlefront franchise.
And It Needs to Avoid Myriad Technical Difficulties
Gods be praised, as the Skyrim blacksmiths often say, because this is one area Battlefront II isn’t too bad about and never really has been. This is not to discount the valid complaints folks make about character animations clipping, skills not properly triggering, or getting stuck inside a wall; all these things have happened before, and all of them will happen again. But on the whole? Pretty, pretty good.
What we need to be cautious about is the potentiality of Electronic Arts telling DICE to swap their Frostbite engine out with something newer, like Unreal Engine 5, for example. There isn’t any reason to suspect this is probable at the moment, but when it comes to a new Battlefront, anything can happen. And while Unreal Engine 5 looks fantastic, it would nonetheless be an extra hurdle for DICE’s team to overcome.
DICE may also wish to imbue Star Wars Battlefront 3 with every last bell and whistle they can uncover via the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X hardware. This would continue the rebooted series’ commitment to graphical awe, but there’s the danger attached that overreaching might make things messier than anticipated.
Battlefront 3 Needs to Either Go All-In Or Downright Ditch Starfighter Modes
When I first booted up Battlefront (2015), I instantly figured out how to hop aboard a starfighter and pew-pew my way across the sky. Battlefront II addressed the first game’s lack of real space maps with a slim but welcome assortment. Yet, for all the innovations and content streams Battlefront II received between 2017 and 2020, starfighters have been left behind almost completely.
I wanted something like X-Wing versus TIE Fighter or Rogue Squadron back in my life.
I’m happy as a clam to be the proud owner of Star Wars Squadrons, last year’s hit from none other than EA Motive. As it happens, the studio moved on from Battlefront II to handcraft a richer and more feature-complete space sim full of the depth we’ve not seen in the subgenre since the halcyon days of LucasArts.
What this means is that Star Wars Battlefront 3 is at something of an impasse on the matter. With the success of Squadrons, Motive has proven that this kind of game can sell all on its own again, just as it did decades in the past. Should resources be spent here during the production of a new Battlefront when instead they can be used to bulk up the game’s meat-and-potatoes soldier modes? Or should Electronic Arts let Squadrons do the heavy lifting from here on out?
Any New Battlefront Needs to Enhance Its Maximum Player Count
Here’s a simple one, and it ties back to Battlefield 2042 — many of us salivated as soon as DICE spoke the words “64-versus-64” this past June, our mouths watering at the thought of 128 players spending time together on huge maps, blowing each other up accordingly. I’m not nearly as well-versed in Battlefield as I am in Battlefront, but I do feel pretty satiated by Galactic Assault’s 40-player, 20-versus-20 lineup. The thought of more than tripling that in a similar form of combat is downright epic.
Now let’s envision ourselves as one stormtrooper among 64, marching toward an equal number of hard-luck rebels, the Imperial March music echoing through our helmets as the fuchsia skies forecast so much slaughter. Yes, please.
More Than Anything, It Needs to Avoid Missing the Point
We’ll wind things down by praising DICE for offering us the kind of Star Wars fantasies we love at a time when not every franchise production team seems to fully understand what makes Star Wars so great. I’m not saying that Star Wars should be little more than a combat simulator where established characters shout done-to-death one-liners at each other. This is just one aspect among many others, including tales of hope, heroism, and the reminder that the seemingly smallest among us can cast the grandest shadows.
But for all its recent string of successes, it’s clear that Disney isn’t quite hitting constant home runs with the beloved brand. The films are beginning to feel tired, tired enough to take a four-year break between movies shortly after the company first made it clear we’d be seeing things on an annual basis ad nauseam.
So long as Star Wars Battlefront 3 doesn’t overextend itself to the point that we get a line like “somehow, Palpatine survived,” I reckon we’ll have another great game on the horizon.