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opinion

Opinion – I'm Disappointed In Myself For Forgiving Star Wars Battlefront's Shortcomings

by Mike Futter on Nov 23, 2015 at 02:53 AM

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In the lead-up to Star Wars Battlefront, I was transparent that I didn't think the game was shaping up well. My experience at Gamescom with the then newly announced Fighter Squadrons mode was dripping with disappointment. Everything pointed to a shallow experience that would sell in huge numbers because of gorgeous visuals and sound and the potent Star Wars license.

I stand by my statements. Star Wars Battlefront is shallow. It takes less than an hour of play to see the meager offering of four large maps, which EA has cleverly reframed as "locations." You'll visit Hoth, Endor, Tatooine, and Sullust in short order before restarting the war all over.

The smaller modes pare off some of Battlefront's most exciting offerings: heroes and/or vehicles. They don't hold attention like the big battle modes, Walker Assault and Supremacy.

And for all of its shortcomings – its shallow progression arc, its dearth of content, and its unimpressive smaller modes – I still keep coming back for more.

Executive editor Andrew Reiner and I have teamed up on multiple occasions, mostly sticking to Walker Assault. The scale of the enormous AT-ATs, the surprise appearance of heroes and villains, and the scramble to take and hold uplink points is enjoyable start to finish.

Still, after an hour or less, one of us will snarkily comment on how we've seen everything already. That doesn't usually mark the end of play, though. We'll continue for just a bit longer, getting sliced up by lightsabers and pulling off one-in-a-million shots against impossible odds.

While Star Wars Battlefront doesn't do much, it excels at what it does. It sells the galactical conflict. It's rife with nostalgia, including the relatively frequent Wilhelm Scream of a soldier dying. And there is something pretty spectacular about a come-from-behind win as the Rebellion thanks to talking down an AT-AT with a speeder tow cable.

It’s moments like these that highlight that Battlefront is primarily about delivering fan service at a time when Star Wars is front and center in the media. It isn’t a core shooter, nor is it designed for perennial Battlefield players. It's too thin to hold people looking for squad tactics, class-based abilities, and even a useful melee strike. Sorry, you won't be knifing and nabbing dog tags here.

Star Wars Battlefront is about delivering an accessible extension of the movie hype with authentic visuals and sound for Madden and Call of Duty gamers. I was hoping for something deeper (as were many others), which is why I’m disappointed in myself for letting the lack of content and weak progression system off the hook, even if not entirely. What Battlefront does come to the table with is enjoyable. There just should have been a lot more of it.

I concur with everything Reiner said in his review, which pinned a 7.5 on the game. In a world where bad licensed games like The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct can make the NPD top 10 list, EA has nothing to worry about with Star Wars Battlefront. DICE has made fantastic use of the license, even if that doesn’t amount to the studio’s best shooter. And it’s going to pay off in huge sales, reminding us all that the gaming market is much bigger than the core often believes.