I thought EA would have learned more from Titanfall.
To its credit, the publisher has been pretty adamant from day one that Star Wars: Battlefront is a multiplayer game. There has been little hoopla for its single-player missions – otherwise known as its extended tutorial – because developer DICE has thrown its all into making multiplayer great. And it is. Battlefront is mostly balanced, absolutely chaotic and most importantly, a whole lot of fun.
Thankfully, connection issues experienced on Xbox One during its pre-release on EA Access have been stamped out in its public release. Despite a smaller user base than on PS4, it’s easy to connect to game modes of any type, though a majority of players seem to be playing in Supremacy. That mode is the most Battlefield-like, asking for Rebel or Imperial players to work together in order to capture control points and move up down the map depending on performance.
Battlefront is far more casual than the likes of Battlefield though. Grab a blaster, setup a loadout consisting of a heavy weapon and a grenade and then launch yourself at baddies. That’s it, really. Blasters aren’t too different from one another — some have better range and others higher damage but a slower fire speed — and all have been designed to fire from the hip rather than down sights. There are a couple exceptions; why DICE decided the damn game needed a blaster shotgun is beyond me. Especially considering most maps and modes require running around closed quarters far too often than not.
Online offerings are basic but reasonably varied. Fighter Squadron is the only mode that’ll take you off-planet (off sorts) and into the cockpit of an X- or A-Wing or TIE Fighter or Interceptor. Of the remaining modes, there are a couple more ‘capture the objective’ style offerings and two match types that feature franchise Heroes and Villians. Balance amongst the Rebels and Imperial is largely spot on, though I’ve yet to see the Imperials win a round of Fighter Squardon. Even then, it’s still Battlefront‘s most enjoyable mode by far, even if you’re on the losing side.
I also had a blast in its single-player missions. There, you’ll able to get your ultimate Star Wars fix. You’ll fly around Endor on speeders. You’ll be able to play as Luke, Han Solo or Leia before that kid who plays WAY too much can steal the chance to do so in multiplayer (unless you just opt into playing the Hero-specific modes). Survival missions were dreadfully boring on their own, but incredibly fun with a friend – but the problem is, there are only four maps to burn through. They get old quick.
That same gripe extends to Battlefront as an entire package: there are a bunch of multiplayer game modes, sure, but there’s not much else. A robust title is not made from a handful of maps and hero characters. The whole idea is made worse when you consider how much content has been packaged as Battlefront’s “Season Pass” rather than as part of its base. As a clever reader pointed out, fans are able to purchase Star Wars: Battlefront for less than the price of said “Season Pass”; even then, the combined cost is simply far too high.
There are so many amazing Star Wars moments throughout movies, television shows and books; with Battlefront, DICE has painstakingly crafted all the components needed to bring them to life. The trouble is, they don’t eventuate; cool things might happen in a multiplayer match… but more often than not, you’ll probably just pull off a headshot. Most of the time, classic Star Wars moments are delivered through single-player content but you’ll play through them once and forget about them. Would it have been so hard for DICE to have created a narrative that tied all of the mission-type set pieces together? No. They just didn’t want to. Titanfall even did something half-assed that attempted to tackle that situation.
Straight up, this release seems like its been rushed out to coincide with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s a shame, too; Battlefront is the most Star Wars thing I’ve seen outside of the damn movies. It looks the part, sounds the part and DICE really should be credited for absolutely nailing Star Wars. The problem is, this is a Star Wars game that only a certain type of franchise fan will want to play: the online multiplayer Star Wars fan.
I’m enjoying my time with Star Wars: Battlefront, but there’s an ever-increasing feeling of loss at the same time. Frankly, I expected more. I could lose hours in Fighter Squadron, soaring over canons, pulling aerial acrobatics and locking on to enemy ships amidst the chaos. I could almost do the same in Blast, Battlefront’s Deathmatch mode, but I got bored playing on the same handful of maps. The problem, so far, is that Battlefront edges closer to being the ultimate Star Wars game… but just doesn’t quite get there. One can only play Fighter Squadron repeatedly for so long.
There’s a very good chance most of my gripes will be corrected with the game’s “Season Pass” and associated content, but gamers shouldn’t have to pay $70 AUD on top of a base game to get a full experience. As fun as playing can be, that whole concern of cost proves too much to fully recommend the experience. Worse yet — and just like in Titanfall — this new content will fragment Battlefront‘s player base, making things all the more difficult to get into. That is, until EA perhaps does learn from its mistakes and eventually makes the content free. Won’t that be fun if you forked out the cash beforehand?
Star Wars: Battlefront was reviewed using a ten-hour EA Access trial on Xbox One and subsequent playthroughs using full copies on Xbox One as provided by the publisher.
Review: Star Wars: Battlefront