Star Wars: Battlefront
As we see more from Star Wars Battlefront, it's become clear that DICE isn't making a Battlefield game in Wookiee's clothing. The gameplay is more streamlined, with fewer tactical considerations. Action doesn't look quite as tight as the military precision of DICE's marquee franchise.
A lot of that is forgivable when you consider EA is shooting for mass appeal with its first Star Wars game under the new Disney license. A heavily tactical game isn't the right fit for an audience that will be hungry for a galaxy far, far away come the release of The Force Awakens.
Announced at Gamescom, the newly revealed Fighter Squadron mode pits two teams of 10 humans against one another with an additional 10 AI pilots in the skies to flesh things out. The first to 200 points wins, with AI kills counting for one, human pilot kills worth three, and major objectives in the form of AI shuttles worth twenty.
Unfortunately, Fighter Squadron mode is currently trending too far toward accessibility. If you've watched the films or played other digital and tabletop games featuring X-Wings and TIE Fighters, you'll know that they control very differently. The TIE Fighter is a supremely maneuverable fighter with no shielding and a paper-thin hull. It survives on its speed and ability to outflank Rebel X-Wings. The Rebellion's primary starfighter, while more heavily armed and armored doesn't quite have the ability for sharp turns and pirouetting barrel rolls that the Empire's core fighter boasts.
In Fighter Squadron, they feel identical. The only difference is the TIE Fighter has a speed boost, while the X-Wing has a temporary shield. Both last for short periods and are on an extended cooldown. They feel equally maneuverable, and both have dial-an-evasion mapped to the D-pad. Left and right barrel roll, while up pulls an immediate 180-degree flip. Both ships can lock on to enemy vessels by pulling the left trigger. This zips your proton torpedoes (X-Wing) or ion torpedoes (TIE) to their targets. Locking on also fixes your reticle for auto-aim laser targeting. The only reason you'd want to let up on this button is that it alerts an enemy when they are in danger. The risk of that is far outweighed by the reward.
You can reset your cooldowns or repair your vehicle by flying through designated pickups. These are far too close to the ground, and even when I thought I was right on target, I appeared to hit an invisible wall instead of the crucial icon. That meant dying instead of flying off to continue the fight, and I eventually gave up on them. These are purposely hard to collect, but flying through the fringe didn't register as a collection and flying for the center cratered my ship.
The most enjoyable moments come when a shuttle is taking off and vulnerable. These create instant hotzones as both sides rush to attack and defend the fleeing ship. Destroying one is worth a significant point reward, which makes them prime spots for getting into fights.
Like the other modes, which feature appearances from fan-favorite characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, there are heroes in Fighter Squadron. Grabbing a pickup will give you the chance to pilot ships like the Millennium Falcon and Boba Fett's Slave-1. Those impressive vehicles have potential to turn the tide of battle with superior firepower.
Despite Han and Chewie swooping into battle at the crucial moment, Fighter Squadron isn't the Star Wars fantasy I've wanted to experience since watching Luke strap into his X-Wing for the first time. Thankfully, there is a bit of time left for DICE to get it right, and it needs to use that to find the balance of the Force.
This mode isn't designed to be a simulation, and makes no apologies for that. If you're interested in reliving the glory days of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, this isn't the droid you're looking for.