The lights are on
We lay out our best-case scenario for the long-awaited sequel. The Force could be strong with this game. It’s been a long wait. Star Wars Battlefront II released to consoles and PC way back in 2005, and the past six years have only given fans two PSP games and a host of rumors about a true console sequel. Variously rumored to be in development by Free Radical, Pandemic, Rebellion, and Spark Unlimited, the actual fate of Battlefront III is shrouded in mystery. Even so, an enthusiastic fan base remains. Perhaps someday soon we’ll receive definitive word on a new installment, but in the meantime we’ve wracked our brains for the best ideas we could come up with for Battlefront III. We’ve combined some of our favorite features from previous installments with new ideas, some of which are inspired by other games on the market. How would the Battlefront formula have changed to respond to recent changes in game development and design? What technical innovations would be possible? How many TIE Fighters would we shoot down? Read on to find out, and share your own personal wish list in the comments below. The Classic ExperienceBefore we start talking about all the new-fangled craziness we’d love to see included, it’s worth noting what made the series fun in the first place. In the first installment, Battlefront aimed in many ways to emulate the fun of the Battlefield games, but transferred into the rich sci-fi backdrop of the Star Wars universe. Battlefront III should maintain that classic large team experience in at least one of its core modes. Team battles between two opposing forces should still sit as the centerpiece of the Battlefront experience, at least on multiplayer. Keep the experience pure, and free from the hero characters that populated Battlefront II – though those same heroes could show up in a separate, more story-focused mode. Single-Player IndependenceBattlefront II attempted to make single-player gameplay feel meaningful by tracking the experience of the 501st Legion through its many battles. It was a cool idea, but one that ultimately felt limited by shoehorning a single-player campaign into a gameplay experience designed for large numbers of simultaneous players. Instead, Battlefront III should feature a complimentary single-player campaign that’s fun on its own merits. Instead of copying objectives you’ve played a dozen times in the multiplayer experience, introduce situations that are uniquely shaped for a narrative experience. Perhaps a Bothan spy must sneak into the enemy base. Maybe a Jedi needs to save some prisoners before execution. What if your smuggler has to fly his ship through the imperial blockade? Using the technology and visual style of the multiplayer game doesn’t mean that single-player has to take a back seat. If LucasArts makes the single-player campaign meaningful and feel different from multiplayer, but offers touch-points between the heroic actions depicted in the single-player campaign and the events and objectives that unfold in the multiplayer maps, then players will enjoy both all the more.
Surprising StoryThe Star Wars universe is vast and varied, and it’s time to let it breathe. Tight creative and story constraints from the top levels of LucasArts have often hamstrung developers seeking to tell their own story within the Star Wars mythos. Take off the training wheels, and let Battlefront III explore some new territory. Making the Star Wars universe feel fresh shouldn’t be too hard. Give players choices and objectives that change the familiar course of the story. Travel into areas of Star Wars history that have yet to be fully fleshed out. Alternately, explore battles and moments from within the history of the movies or books that have yet to be seen. Heck, if it’s done well, we’d even be happy to see some twisted mirror universe of Star Wars where everyone’s roles are reversed. No matter what direction the game takes, let’s stop reliving the same battles and cinematic moments we’ve seen for years. Everyone loves the Battle of Hoth, but it’s time to experience some new battles, character moments, and locations that are equally exciting and memorable.DestructionModern game tech has shown the potential for insane onscreen destruction, and Star Wars would be well served by the new possibilities. Vehicles, turrets, and even pieces of the environment itself should exhibit persistent damage over the course of a match. If the map looks the same at the end of a battle as it did at the beginning, then there’s something wrong. Imagine traveling across a field filled with shattered AT-ATs, or navigating your space fighter through the debris left behind by a decimated Star Destroyer. Persistent damage makes the battlefield feel more real, and helps players believe their efforts make a difference. In addition, destruction should have gameplay possibilities. Blow a hole in the side of a ship with a thermal detonator, and enemy troops could get pulled out into space. Give players the opportunity to use environmental destruction in meaningful ways, and the fights become more dynamic and less focused on who can pull the trigger fastest.
[Next up: 128 person battles in a persistent galactic war]
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.