General Manager Patrick Back and producer Craig Mcleod from DICE, the studio behind the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront game, have opened up to the gaming media that the game will not feature space battles. They claim they are “focusing” more on planetary battles for the games, and there will still be aerial combat with x-wings, tie-fighters and even the millennium falcon but you will not be able to leave the atmosphere. While it is encouraging for Star Wars fans to know that they can still fly some of their favourite spacecraft, they’d be mad to not find the lack of space battles disturbing.
The last Star Wars: Battlefront game was Rebellion’s Elite Squadron on Sony’s Playstation Portable (there was also a decidedly less faithful DS version, by even smaller developer N-Space). Elite Squadron on the PSP featured 16 player online battles where in mid-combat you could hop into a ship, alm0st-seamlessly fly up into space and continue the battle up there while the fight goes on below. This was achieved on a handheld with weaker hardware than the Playstation 2, developed by an independent company. Are you seriously telling me that a subsidiary of EA (aka: one of the world’s-largest gaming companies) cannot accomplish on the 8th generation console hardware what was accomplished on a 7th generation handheld, by a smaller developer no-less?
Does “focusing” on ground battles inherently prevent you from incorporating an important aspect of Star Wars? Are we forgetting we are talking about a franchise called “Star Wars”? Not to mention the opening text of every film; “in a galaxy far, far away” … so far away because the game developers didn’t give us the ability to fly any closer.
Granted, the graphical standards this generation are overwhelming, and from what we have seen so far, the game’s visuals are an absolute feast for the eyes. Fighting alongside 40 other players has never looked so good. It is possible they may have got themselves into a bottleneck where, space battles on top of everything else, is just not feasible on the hardware of current-gen consoles.
The game will disappointingly lack a single-player narrative campaign, although it will have a number of short missions with the option to play solo or cooperatively, online or offline, including split-screen functionality, which is actually something that has been sorely lacking, and missed, in recent generations. And perhaps we can’t entirely rule out space battles just yet- it’s possible they may make a return in these less hectic missions. Here’s my biggest concern, however… downloadable content. We already know that at launch we won’t see familiar locations like Mustafar or Naboo, and whether or not those will be available for download, only time will tell. And whether it will be paid DLC or included in a free update also remains to be seen.
But I am sure that I speak on behalf of most gamers when I say that the over-reliance on DLC this generation is becoming not just a little disconcerting but actually a significant problem. For example, the recently released Mortal Kombat X features micro-transactions to simplify combo moves. In my day, you’d have cheat codes included with the game to cheat your way through it. Why does that have to come at a price now? Is it even reasonable that other players should have an advantage because they are worse with money than you? It increasingly seems as if companies are charging gamers extra for content that is, or at least should be, on the disk, for a full-priced AAA game no-less. So this raises a pertinent question about Battlefront. Will DICE exploit the inevitable disappointment over the lack of space battles to sell gamers downloadable content? That is the big question that needs an answer from DICE or EA.
The game looks phenomenal and many of us are excited, but unless DICE turn away from the dark side of disproportionate DLC and malignant micro-transactions, then it may not be the Star Wars game we are looking for.
Star Wars: Battlefront will release November 17, 2015 across PS4, Xbox One and Origin on Windows PC. In spite of my reservations, I am certainly looking forward to picking up my copy on Xbox One.
If you haven’t already seen it, check out the reveal trailer below!