Preview

Star Wars: Battlefront

A New Hope For Star Wars Multiplayer
by Brian Shea on Oct 09, 2015 at 10:58 AM
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: DICE
Release:
Rating: Teen
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

With Star Wars hype reaching new heights thanks to the impending theatrical release of The Force Awakens, DICE hopes to capitalize with its revitalization of the beloved Battlefront franchise. I spent several hours with the beta for one final look at the shooter before it hits store shelves.

Battlefront is undeniably gorgeous. Whether you’re running through the snowy trenches of Hoth or exploring the rocky canyons of Sullust, the details and lighting effects are among the most impressive I’ve witnessed on consoles.

Prior to jumping into the beta, I had my concerns about the experience DICE would deliver, but the gunplay and character navigation feel updated and smooth, whether you’re using the first- or third-person views through the three modes in the beta. 

The first mode, Drop Zone, places online players on teams of eight as they battle for control of pods that spawn throughout the map. The team with the most pods captured at the end of the round wins. Of the three modes in the beta, this was the one ripest for intense firefights between opposing ground troops.

Walker Assault has much larger maps and teams, as 20 Rebels try to fend off 20 Imperial troops and their massive AT-ATs. If the Rebels can take down the walkers before they reach the Rebellion’s defense point, they get the win. Walker Assault is notable for allowing you to fly iconic vehicles like the X-Wing and TIE Fighter. As a fan of Rogue Squadron, the controls for these vehicles was another point of concern going in, but the flight mechanics are accessible from the start.

Rounding out the beta test is Survival mode. Here, players assume the role of a stranded Rebel as they fight off increasingly difficult waves of varying enemy types. The six waves are intense, but I rarely found myself in over my head, even when playing solo. The biggest challenges come when an optional side objective of recovering a drop pod attracts an AT-ST in addition to the group of Imperial troops. With the full game’s Survival mode featuring 15 waves and more enemy types, I’m not as confident in my ability to make it through so easily. Thankfully, Survival allows for both online and offline co-op, so you won’t need to brave the extended version alone.

Battling It Out In Other Modes
While the online beta test only included matches in Drop Zone and Walker Assault, players of the full game can take the fight online in Supremacy, Fighter Squadron, Blast, Cargo, and Droid Run modes. The smaller scale Battles mode also joins the Survival mode under the single-player or two-player offline Missions umbrella.

The only major problem I experienced during my time with Battlefront was some unbalanced matches thanks to the game’s progression system, which rewards you based on your performance across all modes. As you progress, you unlock better weapons and more effective equipment that can tilt battles in your favor considerably. 

It could be due to the limited number of servers in the beta, but it wasn’t uncommon to have completely one-sided matches thanks to one team having more upgraded characters than the other. The community has also raised concerns about the spawn points in Drop Zone. Hopefully DICE revamps how its matchmaking works since there’s no option to browse servers, and addresses the spawn point concerns in the retail version.

Balancing and spawn issues aside, I enjoyed my time with Star Wars Battlefront. The gameplay and graphics are the shining stars, but the modes are compelling and I can’t wait to check out what else is offered in the full game as I hoist my flag for the Rebellion or the Empire later this month.