Star Wars Battlefront ReviewChris Peebles
DICE had their hands full when they had announced they were making a new entry to the popular Star Wars video game franchise Battlefront. After the unfortunate end to Battlefront 3, it seemed fans and critics alike were warier than ever. Instead of trying to make the third in the series, DICE decided to start from scratch, and meld a Battlefront in their own vision. Not quite a reboot, but not quite a sequel, the game we got tries to walk the line of being fresh but familiar, as well as being faithful to the Star Wars source material.
In terms of being faithful, Battlefront more than succeeded. In terms of look and sound, it excels in making it feel and look like Star Wars. Using sound effects from the movie's massive catalog so that every blaster and vehicle sounds exactly how it should. They even added some particularly amazing sound effects on things like the Thermal Imploder that are impressive every time you hear them. Each planet is entirely unique, and looks almost exactly like the sets and locations from the Original Trilogy. The attention to detail in the maps you play on is huge, each bush on Endor interacts with you as you run through the forest, the snow on Hoth sparkles in the sun, and the sand on Tatooine looks like you're actually fighting on a fully desert planet. Battlefront shows what DICE's Frostbite engine can really accomplish, and created not only the best looking Star Wars game to date, but one of the best looking games of the current generation.
While it's clear that a lot of love and effort went into making the game truly a Star Wars game, DICE took the basics of Battlefront and turned them on their head. There are a huge amount of different game modes to play, and while the original Conquest-esque game mode is nowhere to be found (strange, considering it was a staple of DICE's Battlefield games, which the original two Battlefront games are clearly drawing inspiration from) there is a lot of different ways to play the game. Walker Assault, the most unique of all of them, tasks the Rebels with stopping the Imperials AT-AT Walker from advancing across the large maps on each planet, the Imperials of course have to stop them. This mode showcases what Battlefront is, with Vehicles, Starfights, Heroes and the maximum amount of players. It's hectic, fun and manages to be pretty balanced between both sides. Other notable game modes are Fighter Squadron, where each side has a choice between two Starfighters and fights the enemy and AI ships while trying to protect and destroy transports that appear throughout the match. The Hero ships in this mode are also fun to play, but are incredibly powerful.
Every game-mode has its quirks, and they're all fun in their own right, depending on what kind of experience you're after at any specific time. The majority of the time, however, you will be playing as a foot-soldier, on the ground and in the thick of it. In terms of gameplay, it's extremely open to players of any level. The blasters fire where you'd expect them to, needing only slight control when firing for longer periods of time. A cooling system is in place of reloading, this means that you can't fire continuously without needing to vent the heat from your weapon, much like the original Mass Effect. An active system appears that lets you vent this much quicker, based on timing of a button press, and gets harder the longer you live. The shooting itself feels good, and strikes a good balance between skill and ease of use so that even the most casual of players don't need to worry about controlling the recoil or spread of a weapon.
The game feels great to play, and definitely is an improvement of the basic systems of the older Battlefront games. Though the power up system to gain some interesting gadgets is a bit jarring at first, it's a unique system that definitely has its benefits. It allows all players to have something cool to fight with without having to invest hundreds of hours into the game, and it means that the right gadget for the specific situation you may be in is just around the corner, if you're lucky.
In place of classes, you can create a set up for your character of Star Cards. These come in three forms; Two loadout slots that can be grenades, jump packs, or anti-vehicle weaponry, a Charge Card that gives you a certain buff and requires you to collect charges to keep using them, and finally a Trait card, that gives you a bonus the more kills you get in a singular life. You can have two of these hands of cards set up to switch between during games, and a third if you have a partner. Some are definitely more powerful than others, and all can be upgraded to reduce the cooldown of them, so you can use them a lot more often. Certain hands even work well with the many specific blasters on offer.
While the blasters you unlock do have various classes (Heavy, Rifle, Pistol, etc.) the unique weapons among them are few and far between. Though they all act different, the majority of them are just Blasters. One shotgun like weapon and a burst fire weapon are the only truly different primary weapons, and they come with the disadvantage of being extremely situational at times. It can be difficult knowing what weapon suits your playstyle and loadout, and so requires time and testing to see what is best for you.
Although there are many game modes, and multiple maps per planet, it's hard to keep the game from getting stale after long play sessions. It's great to jump in, have fun and feel like you're in Star Wars, but the lack of depth after you unlock the weapons and gear you want means that there's not much reason to keep playing. This also makes the game feel a bit lackluster after some time, as there's not much to do once you've seen it all. There are single-player and co-op missions available, but aside from the Survival Missions and specific Tutorial Missions, they aren't too inspired and are over quickly.
Battlefront is a strange beast. Its aesthetics scream Star Wars, and it is fun to jump into. Unforunately its lack of depth and variety are its own downfall. DICE have promised that after the release of their first free DLC, The Battle of Jakku, there will be more on the way, but at this point there is no concrete information about what free updates will even be. A Season Pass is also available, but the specifics of it are still unknown. At this point, it's hard to recommend to anyone who isn't a huge Star Wars fan, or those looking for a more hardcore experience. That isn't to say it isn't a good or fun game, because it definitely is. It's just that it may not last as long as you're hoping.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.