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Star Wars Battlefront: First impressions from the beta

When it was announced that the long awaited sequel to the Battlefront series would be developed by EA, perhaps you were filled with dread, or perhaps excitement, that the makers of the Battlefield series would be focusing on bringing their expertise with large scale infantry and vehicular combat to the Star Wars universe. Now, the wait is over, and we can all see what became of the deal to bring this beloved franchise back from the dead.

The game modes

It's no campaign, and frankly rather unimpressive, but the co-op mode does let you admire the view without the risk of being shot in the face
It’s no campaign, and frankly rather unimpressive, but the co-op mode does let you admire the view without the risk of being shot in the face

As expected from a beta, not all the game modes are unlocked. Instead, you can choose from either Walker Assault, a co-op/single player skirmish mode, or a fairly standard capture mode. Unfortunately, the skirmish mode is rather generic, and mostly revolves around you and your friend fighting for your lives as more and more enemies descend upon you. The capture mode is also fairly cut and paste, though to be fair every game has a generic mode or two for the purposes of familiarization.

A lull in the fighting is rare, but at least there is no shortage of one of the most iconic ships from the Star Wars universe
A lull in the fighting is rare, but at least there is no shortage of one of the most iconic ships from the Star Wars universe

The unique 20 vs. 20 Walker Assault mode however, plays fairly similarly to Rush from the Battlefield series. In it, the Empire has to prevent the Rebels from calling in airstrikes on their AT-ATs as they advance on a target. While the airstrikes themselves don’t do damage, they leave the AT-ATs vulnerable to all sorts of whittling gunfire. While not the most revolutionary game mode ever, nor the most balanced (as of now), it does capture the feel of being in a Star Wars movie very well. As the Rebels, you get a sense of helplessness when you see the AT-ATs firing at your position, while the Imperials enjoy the ever pleasing sight of Rebel scum being eviscerated by superior firepower.

The audio and visuals

Crushing Rebel scum is hard work on Hoth, as this AT-ST has proven
Crushing Rebel scum is hard work on Hoth, as this AT-ST has proven

Not much to say here. Regardless of your opinion on the Battlefield series, DICE has traditionally done very well in making explosions, environments, sounds, and the general look and feel of their games pleasing.

The unlock and class system

Four kinds of blasters that are similar, but unique in their own way
Four kinds of blasters that are similar, but unique in their own way

In a departure from how classes are treated in both series, this iteration of Battlefront has a universal class of sorts. Regardless of anything else, you spawn with a (faction appropriate) automatic blaster. As you unlock more and more items through playing the game naturally, you can choose which flavor of automatic blaster you want, but gone are the days of being a dedicated engineer or sniper.

While it may sound like a bad idea to give everyone the opportunity to carry a sniper rifle, in practice people have very varied loadouts
While it may sound like a bad idea to give everyone the opportunity to carry a sniper rifle, in practice people actually have very varied loadouts

Instead, you have cards that you can unlock that dictate what you bring into battle. Perhaps you want a sniper rifle, so you can pick the card for that. Or perhaps you want a grenade for every situation, you can pick those as well. Regardless of what you pick though, the core gameplay is the same.

The gameplay

Turrets are incredibly powerful, especially when compared to other games featuring stationary weapons that act more like bullet magnets
Turrets are incredibly powerful, especially when compared to other games featuring stationary weapons that act more like bullet magnets

Of course, the most important thing in a game is how it plays. As expected, it is of a slower pace than games like Call of Duty. You can easily take at least 2 or 3 shots before you die, and the relatively slow moving nature of the blaster shots (which add to the cinematic nature as well as forcing you to lead your targets) put the duration of your average 1v1 gunfight at just above 1 second, depending on the range. This means that most people should have no problem picking up the game and playing it, as you don’t necessarily need the fastest reaction times to win. If you are used to games like Destiny though, Star Wars will definitely feel sluggish by comparison, although frankly that may be a good thing with how many games are emphasizing superhuman movement speeds and maneuvers lately.

Unfortunately, luck does play a small role in the game. Throughout the maps are powerups that reward you with things that can range from a rather useless mine to being able to play as Luke Skywalker.

Not much else that the Rebels can do other than bunker down and hide when there are all those walkers outside
Not much else that the Rebels can do other than bunker down and hide when there are all those walkers outside

No Battlefield or Battlefront game is complete without vehicles though, and this new version of Battlefront made sure it has some of the most iconic vehicles in the Star Wars universe. How it treats vehicles is rather odd though. Rather than having an unoccupied vehicle spawn in at a certain location, you can pick up a power up that lets you call in a vehicle that you control. This includes things like the AT-AT’s weapons (the AT-AT moves on it’s own predetermined path and speed), X-Wings, and AT-STs. While this may take some getting used to, especially for those who played previous Battlefield and Battlefront games, this does present some interesting changes. You can no longer effectively camp a vehicle spawn or steal vehicles, nor can you steal them from your teammates.

So is this Star Wars Battlefront going to be good?

As it stands now, Star Wars Battlefront is solid. There are some rough spots regarding balancing, and the co-op mode feels rather tacked on, but otherwise this version is worth considering, though it is not (and should not be) an impulse buy. It definitely has good audio and visuals and solid gameplay, although the card, power up, and vehicle system may take some getting used to at best, or are plain odd at worst.

About Anson Chan

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