e3 2015

Star Wars: Battlefront

Five Things We Learned Playing Star Wars Battlefront
by Matt Bertz on Jun 16, 2015 at 01:25 PM
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: DICE
Release:
Rating: Teen
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Since its announcement last year, fans have been abuzz about Star Wars Battlefront. Many questions have dominated the conversations online about the direction of the franchise. How close to the original Pandemic games would new developer DICE stay? Would the game have the depth of DICE's flagship Battlefield franchise or skew more mainstream? We finally got our hands on the high-profile shooter at the EA booth to gain a better understanding of what Battlefront is all about. Here are the five things that stood out most to us.

Battlefront Is Not A Battlefield Clone
It only takes a few minutes of play to realize that Battlefront is a much different experience than its modern military cousin. Spotting, teammate revives, ammo drops, and hardcore mode have been left behind. The same goes with four-player squad play and classes, but Battlefront does include a way to partner with one other player. Like Medal of Honor Warfighter's fireteams, players can respawn on their buddy. While you are moving across the battlefield, your partner is highlighted in yellow.

Since blasters don't need extra ammo, DICE replaced it with a cooldown to the weapons if you shoot continuously for too long. If a weapon overheats, it initiates an active reload system not unlike Gears of War. Timing your "reload" correctly can get your weapon ready for battles much quicker. 

The gunplay feels much more forgiving and accessible, as well. An enhanced auto-aim makes it easier to get a bead on an enemy than Battlefield, and you spawn immediately back into the action after you die.

Most Vehicles Are Not On Rails
We read a lot of speculation (based on early trailers) that Battlefront vehicles are on rails rather than player-controlled. That's largely not the case. When finding power-ups littered throughout the environment, players gain access to various vehicles. Once you have a power-up, you can take control of the vehicle by holding L1 and R1 simultaneously. Players have full control of X-Wings, TIE Fighters, speeder bikes, snow speeders, and AT-STs. The only vehicle we currently know about that players don't navigate directly is the AT-AT. When in the walkers, players instead control the weapon systems.

The power-up system is the same way that players gain control of heroes. Only Luke Skywalker, Darth Vadar, and Boba Fett have been announced, but EA says it has a few more surprises up its sleeve. 

Don't Expect Deep Customization Options
Battlefield games are known for their intricate collection of weapon modifiers that let you tweak your rate of fire, accuracy, scope, etc. Battlefront doesn't have this type of system because according to an EA rep, the publisher wants to stay authentic to the Star Wars universe. The collection of guns in the demo was relatively scarce and no options exist to modify the weapons, but that doesn't mean you don't get to put a personal stamp on your play experience. As you level up and gain experience, this is translated into a currency that lets you purchase Star Cards.

Star Cards are essentially loadout options that let players mix and match skills and secondary attacks. Options we saw in our hands-on time include thermal detonators, a mortar barrage, a temporary shield, jump jets, and a weapon enhancement that momentarily strengthens your firepower. EA says Battlefront features "a lot" of Star Cards, and players can prepare multiple loadouts to switch between during respawns. 

Players can share their Star Cards with friends, which is a great way to help new players integrate into the game instead of them feeling underpowered and overwhelmed.

Multiplayer Modes Feature Both Large And Intimate Battles

Thus far we know of only two multiplayer modes: the 40-player Walker Assault mode we played on the Hoth map (which is essentially a Star Wars variation on Battlefield's Carrier Assault), and a close quarters, infantry only 8-player mode called Drop Zone. EA plans to reveal more multiplayer modes as we move toward the November 17 release date.

Offline Modes Appear To Be Scarce 
At the booth, we tried our hands at the survival missions EA showed off during Sony's press conference yesterday. This mode, which is bracketed by cinematic looking sequences and features the orders of Admiral Ackbar, challenges a team of two players to overcome 15 waves of increasingly difficult Imperial enemies. The fireteam shares a respawn pool, with begins with only two extra lives. More lives can be found in the environment. To gain some extra firepower you'll also want to capture downed pods as they appear. These pseudo treasure chests grant you special power-ups like an orbital strike, which can help fend off large vehicles or Stormtroopers grouped together. Survival mode features three difficulty levels to test the mettle of seasoned Rebels.

Beyond survival mode, options aren't great. A tutorial mode called Trials serves as a way to introduce prep players for online battles. Beyond that, the only option is the Battles, which is essentially a bot battle. You can either face off directly against the enemy A.I. or take on a friend as each of you are buttressed by CPU controlled armies.