Way back at E3 in 2013, DICE and Electronic Arts showed a short teaser trailer for their upcoming Star Wars Battlefront. The trailer had the first-person view of someone walking through a harsh snow environment. A quick flash of red appeared followed by a laser cutting across your path just feet in front of you. Then a spiraling snow speeder barrels across the screen crashing right beside you, followed by the thunderous clunk of the foot of an AT-AT dropping right in front of you. While this teaser was only 34 seconds long, I found myself ecstatic about what I just saw. I have always been a huge Star Wars fan, even to the point where I can tell you that twin J-77 Event Horizon engines are what the A-wing uses for propulsion. I was even more intrigued that this was a project taken on by Dice, which handles the popular Battlefield titles. Star Wars battlefield style was certainly something I would like to give a shot. The open beta for Star Wars Battlefront just dropped this past Thursday and here’s the run down on my impressions of the game.
Star Wars Battlefront has 3 playable game modes in this beta: Drop Zone, Walker Assault, and Survival. In Drop Zone players are tasked with defending drop pods that fall to the map in varying locations for a set time limit with an 8 V 8 player count. Once the pod is either defended or lost to the enemy a new pod will drop for the process to be repeated. The Sullust map this mode is played on is rocky and tight. Close-quartered battles are a given with several vantage points available. Power ups become available once a new pod drops and there’s no vehicle play here. As one can imagine teamwork is key here. I enjoyed this mode substantially more when playing with friends that communicated effectively as a team.
Next up is sure to be the most talked about mode, Walker Assault. In this 20 vs 20 player match, you will traverse the planet of Hoth as either the Rebels or the Empire. The Empire’s goal here is to stop the Rebels from activating two up link stations in each of the three separate sections of the map while two AT-AT’s make their way to the main power generator. These up link stations are used by the rebels to call in Y-wings which will disable the AT-AT’s shields allowing them to be destroyed with concentrated fire. Varying vehicles are available to both sides such as A-Wings, X-Wings, Snow Speeders, Tie Fighters, Tie Interceptors, AT-ST’s and even the AT-AT. Heroes are also available on this map in the forms of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader allowing you to cut down your enemies with your light saber.
The last mode, Survival, has the player facing several waves of enemies increasing in difficulty with each wave. In Normal mode, only 6 waves are initially available on the Tatooine map, in which the player finds themselves waiting on a pick up from Admiral Ackbar. This is a good map to play on your first go around with the game. It gives you a chance to get yourself acclimated to the gameplay, weapons and types of enemies. Star Wars Battlefront will have no traditional “Campaign” so this is as close as you’re going to get in that regard.
Here’s what I liked: The game is gorgeous. With the exception of not being able to feel the weight of the blaster in my hand or the cold against my skin, I felt like I was on Hoth while playing through Walker Assault. It seemed like I was right there in that scene from The Empire Strikes Back, running through the snow trenches as blaster fire scorched the areas around me and snow speeders zoomed by overhead. This game will make it feel like you’re apart of the Star Wars cinematic universe. Now I have to admit I’m a bit torn on how I feel about one thing – the balance issue during Walker Assault on Hoth. This match immediately begins to feel one sided if you’re the Rebels. I think it took me about four or five times playing as the Rebels to finally win a round and when we did, it was in one of the coolest Star Wars ways possible. The Empire has practically everything to throw at you, which is what you would expect from a Galactic Empire facing a small band of Rebels. And, in theory, this really should feel one sided like a lot of these matches do. I was expecting another loss to the Empire when both AT-AT’s reached the final area in front of the main power generator. We were going to destroy at least one AT-AT with its health down t0 10%, but the other one was at 80% so there was just no way we were going to do that kind of damage. After the first walker was destroyed I came across the snow speeder power up and accelerated my way into the battle. During my first pass I realized I was able to fire a tow cable when the shields were down! I immediately looped back around and fired it and found myself with a mini task of keeping my ship level with my right thumb stick as I continued to loop my cable around the legs. I did this successfully and just like that the walker went down face first in the snow and the words “Victory” come across the screen. At this moment that I felt like a real hero in the Rebel Alliance.
What I didn’t like: The balance issue in Walker Assault. Here is the flip side of the Empire being so overpowered. Players want to win, and furthermore they want to feel like they at least had a chance to win even if they end up losing. Walker Assault can make you feel like you don’t have a chance at all as a Rebel and that can be a big turn off. To be a Rebel with 30 kills and 7 deaths at the end of the match and still lose hard can be pretty frustrating. I also would have liked to have a little more of the game available in this beta. I really felt like there wasn’t much more for me to do after about two days of play. There are also no preset classes to choose from to have your player a little more evenly matched against other players who have already been in game for several hours and ranked up several times. You can easily find yourself outmatched when first beginning to play. At times, the spawn locations on Hoth brought on brief bouts of rage as I found myself spawning in front of hordes of enemy soldiers only to then be turned into Swiss cheese by blaster fire.
Star Wars Battlefront will certainly wet your appetite for the franchise, but you may find yourself wanting a bit more as I did. Die Hard Star Wars fans will no doubt enjoy the authentic experience the game will seem to provide, however, this title may not be the one that brings balance to the force. The full game releases on November 17th, 2015 for Xbox One, PC and Playstation 4 and only then will it be certain if this game is a total blast, or one that’s just going to deflect on the surface.
Former professional wrestler, father of entirely too many kids but a gamer forever. I live just south of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. I went to school for Game Development and have been following my passion for gaming in top gear recently.
–Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever