Whether it’s the volcanic splashes of Sullust, the icey hallways of Echo Base, or coarse-rough-and-it-gets-everywhere sand of Tatooine, I’m sure we’ve all played a lot of Battlefront over it’s open beta weekend (there was 9 million of us who did!). I have my video impressions for you above (my first video for the site!), while my slightly more detailed thoughts reside below along with some of the latest news and some very entertaining clips other players captured.
If there’s one thing everyone will be able to agree on regarding the open beta for Star Wars Battlefront, it’s how the game completely feels like Star Wars. There’s not been a game in the history of gaming that’s truly captured the look, feel, and sounds of a galaxy far, far away like Battlefront manages to, despite only being a beta build of the game. I’m not saying it’s better than Knights of the Old Republic or anything game-wise, but I’m saying it just looks and feels more authentic than what we’ve ever seen before. There’s a lot of love and care that went into this game and I can’t wait to see more of it. But, do I want to play more of it?
The answer to that question is the all important part to a multiplayer only experience like Battlefront. Yes, there’s offline content in the Mission modes, but it makes up only a small percentage of the overall game (maybe not, as these details mined from the Beta’s files just revealed) so the majority of a player’s time will be spent online. Seeing as there were only three modes available to play (Walker Assault, Drop Zone, and Survival) and only one map for each mode (when there should be four for each mode at launch), judging Battlefront‘s longevity from the Beta’s meager offerings isn’t the easiest thing to do. I will say after playing several hours, and reaching max rank early on, I easily began losing interest in the game. Outside of getting enough credits to purchase some of the more glamorous Star Cards (perks like Thermal Detonators, a sniper rifle, etc you can add to your character) or the heavy repeating blaster, there wasn’t a lot to bring me back for more at that point. With the promise of a greater variety of Star Cards (you can even use your in-game buddy’s Star Card layout!) and blasters, player customization options, higher max rank, and more maps, the full game should be able to keep player’s attention for a little while longer.
Because while there might not have been a lot to see and do in terms of game modes in the Beta, DICE was more concerned about testing and showing off the mechanics of the game, giving players a chance to see how well it handles, and it’s surprising throwback quality feelings thanks to picks up instead of “killstreaks.” Controls for ground troops were intuitive and easy to learn, while the HUD wasn’t cluttered and kept the action the main focus while playing. I didn’t get a chance to test the AT-STs, but I did get to shoot from the AT-AT and fly a couple ships (for a few very brief times). I had trouble picking up the flight controls and never lived long enough to get a hang of them anyways. There’s a training mode in the full game which I hope will help me become an ace in the skies as I’m most looking forward to the Fighter Squadron mode. Handling of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the only playable hero and villain characters in the beta, were similarly easy to get a hang of like the ground troop controls, and both were fun experiences. Play as them right and you’ll lay waste to your enemies; attack them correctly and you can save your hide and that of your teammates.
In most modern online shooters, popularized by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s trend-setting multiplayer, players get special perks like airstrikes and special high powered weapons after completing a killstreak i.e. get 10 kills in row, etc. Battlefront eschews that model, instead throwing out perks like Squad Shields (the Gungan’s shield tech from The Phantom Menace), special grenades, airstrikes, hero/villain characters, and more via tokens hiding around the battlefield. Games mostly used that model prior to CoD4 and I enjoyed seeing it here as it allows even players who aren’t doing good a chance to step into Vader’s boots, take over the AT-AT to lay waste to enemies, and other perks usually only given to top players. It can help even out uneven teams and provides more fun factor to the game, as constantly dying moments before your killstreak limit can cause lots of frustration, while here the only frustration comes from not being first to the pickup token.
In case you’re wondering, all the gameplay in my Impressions video above was caught using the PS4’s Share function and edited together using the system’s free video editing app, SHAREfactory. A free Star Wars Battlefront theme released for the app and it includes screenshots, video transition clips, and even some of the full scores from the game! If you have a PS4, I urge you to download the app and the Battlefront theme just so you can listen to the full 10+ songs included (but unfortunately, you can’t export the files), as they are another aspect of Star Wars the team at DICE absolutely nailed. In fact, they sound like a natural extension of John Williams’ film score and I’m hoping the soundtrack for the game gets a release some point down the line because these tracks are a must own!
I also spent a very small amount of time testing out the Companion experience on the desktop, playing its Base Command mode only for a few rounds. Because I didn’t link my EA Account on the Beta with the desktop site, I didn’t get to see any of the stat tracking or other features the Companion experience is supposed to include. But after playing Base Command for 15 minutes or so, I don’t know if I’d ever really play it again. Card battles and turned-based battling aren’t really my cup of hot cocoa, so your mileage will vary with Base Command, especially depending if it gets you enough in-game credits to be worth playing when you’re not playing Battlefront.
Here are a few other things:
- There were tons of Beta gameplay uploaded to the internet and here are a couple links to some of the best ones: The single greatest clip from the beta has to be this one by YouTuber Zephs, who watched Luke get crushed by an AT-AT (which even Mark Hamill saw!); Kotaku has a few posts of various clips, from fails including deadly drop pods to impressive feats like the hotshot who took out both AT-ATs with a snowspeeder, as well as the moment where Vader takes down a snowspeeder with his lightsaber.
- As I mentioned in video, and I’m sure you either noticed while playing or read elsewhere about it, there seemed to be an imbalance issue with the Walker Assault mode. DICE says they noticed it, but Paul Tassi over at Forbes suggests they actually shouldn’t change the imbalance at all, instead giving the rebel team incentive for sticking around while being at a disadvantage. I fully support that bold idea!
- Alex at Far Far Away Radio does an excellent job highlighting both what does and doesn’t work in the beta.
- The folks at Polygon give their thoughts, including how Battlefront is a PS2 game and how that’s actually a good thing (something I noticed and kind of mentioned above).
- There has also been tons of news released since the beta ended: Over 9 million people played; the rest of the game modes were announced, including a Capture-the-flag-esque Cargo, the 7 v 1 Hero Hunt, GNK-heavy Droid Run…check out this page for all the Multiplayer modes; A $50 season pass is here and I don’t know why anyone is shocked, though I hope they reveal it’s contents long before the game goes live.
- There was a recent Q&A on the Battlefront forums where the developers revealed their releasing a weapons hub soon on the site to show off all the various weapons you’ll get in the full game, as well as fixes to AT-STs and a lack of clan support initially (via PSLS)
November 17th isn’t that far away, but whatever tweaks the beta has caused DICE to make to Battlefront should be done by then. We’ll see how the full game plays, and if players want to stick around after their first weekend with it, soon enough. Until then, I’ll have a review up very soon of the tie-in novel, Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company, which I can already tell you it’s been a completely pleasant surprise (and a good read to pass your time waiting for your copy of Battlefront to arrive).
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