Review: Star Wars: Battlefront

Star Wars hype is at an all-time high. The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in cinemas is imminent, as well as other releases such as Star Wars: Rogue One sitting on the horizon. People are understandably excited, and Electronic Arts and DICE have seen fit to resurrect an old favourite game series from the Star Wars universe which in itself has generated a fair amount of hype as well. Star Wars: Battlefront has some big boots to fill if it hopes to be seen as equal to – or greater than – its predecessors from over a decade ago. Whilst it certainly does some things better, there are some problems that can’t be overlooked.

Developer: DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Also Available On: PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: Available Now

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Star Wars: Battlefront is a multiplayer game at its core. There’s no real dedicated single player campaign to talk about, however there are missions, battles and survival modes that you can play by yourself or with another player in online or splitscreen co-op.

There’s nothing really special or notable to talk about in these modes. They’re easily forgettable, mundane and ultimately – after you’ve played them a few times – boring. The difficulty can be ramped up and can provide a challenge, but there’s no incentive to go back and replay anything once you’ve had a run through.

Survival mode in particular is very barebones, and plays out the same way every time you jump into it. It becomes too easy to predict the enemy AI, what they’re going to do and where they’re going to go. Star Wars: Battlefront definitely would have benefited from a campaign of some description and the resources that were put into the mundane excuse for a single player experience would have been better spent on one.

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Survival mode leaves a lot to be desired.

The focus of attention for most people playing Star Wars: Battlefront is going to be the multiplayer PvP modes and the main attraction is undeniably Walker Assault. It sees 40 players – 20 Rebels and 20 Imperials – fighting to either destroy AT-AT’s or defend them as they make their way through the map. Walker Assault takes place on four progressive maps – the Forest Moon of Endor, Tatooine, Hoth and Sullust. Rebels need to capture and hold uplinks to allow Y-Wing bombers to lock in and target the AT-AT’s and the Imperials need to take them offline. Games can last anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes if the Rebels are on point, all the way out to 20 minutes if the Imperials manage to advance to the Rebel base.

Whilst there are many game modes available in Star Wars: Battlefront a lot of them feel like throwaways that most people will play once or twice. Blast, Cargo and Droid Run are smaller modes with less players which don’t hold your attention very long and which I’ve only played a couple of times before going back to the game modes that Star Wars: Battlefront was clearly designed around.

The modes based around playing as heroes and villains from the Star Wars universe are fun for a while but the novelty wears off once you realise that most players use less than fair tactics to get the upper hand. Tactics such as waiting for the hero to be weakened by your team mates and then swooping in to snag the kill and play as the hero next at the last second. To say that it’s frustrating is an understatement.

Aside from Walker Assault, there are two other modes worth noting – Supremacy and Fighter Squadron. Supremacy is a tug-of-war style mode set on the same maps as Walker Assault. There are five capture points but you’re only able to capture the point next to the one you own in the direction of the enemy base. Whichever team holds the most points at the end of the match will win, however if a team manages to capture all five points then they instantly win.

Fighter Squadron on the other hand sees you take to the skies for 20 player dogfighting. 20 AI pilots are also in the mix in this mode. An AI kill is worth 1 point, a player kill is worth 3 and taking out Rebel/Imperial transports – depending on what team you’re on – before they escape nets you 20 points. The first to 200 points wins the game. It’s a great way to hone your piloting skills and it’s a tonne of fun to jump into every once in a while.

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There may be a lot of modes, but only three are actually worth your time.

In the run up to launch, many were worried that the game would simply be a re-skinned Battlefield title, but after a few hours of play it simply doesn’t seem to be the case. There are a few familiar character animations which have clearly been taken from Battlefield 4, but Star Wars: Battlefront plays much faster than any Battlefield game does.

The gameplay itself is nothing to really write home about however. Star Wars: Battlefront has been designed for a more casual form of gameplay which anyone can pick up and play, but more experienced shooter players will find something that they can easily get to grips with and master. The game is played from a first or third person perspective – depending on your preference – and you can pick a loadout before each game consisting of your blaster – of which there are a fair few to choose once you’ve unlocked them – and three star cards which make up your “hand”.

Star cards give each player different weapons, equipment and bonuses to help them out in game. You can use jump packs to reach high areas and get around the level quicker, use ion torpedoes to help deal damage to vehicles, use cycler rifles to play the long range game or – if you’re feeling particularly annoying – use the homing launcher to lock onto and kill enemy players from obscene distances.

Once you begin to level up, the star cards become progressively better and – for lack of a better term – a lot more broken and unbalanced. Players who have invested a lot of time in Star Wars: Battlefront will have access to things such as the aforementioned homing launcher, but also things such as explosive rounds for their blasters and grenade launchers that rapid fire. A cause for concern is that once players reach the higher levels on a grand scale the game will devolve into a mess of explosive spam which will alienate newer players. Some game balancing should definitely be in the minds of the developers when it concerns the future of the game.

Within the game itself there are numerous pick-ups which don’t feel nearly as overpowered as some of the star cards. These pick-ups will grant you a random item such as a thermal imploder grenade, vehicle and infantry turrets, droids, orbital strikes or smart rockets. As well as random items there are vehicle pick-ups in Walker Assault and Supremacy mode which allow you to pilot AT-ST’s, Tie Fighters/Interceptors and X-Wings/A-Wings.

However, the main pick-up that most players will be on the lookout for are the ones that let you become one of the six heroes/villains. Rebels are able to play as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo or Princess Leia whilst the Empire will be able to play as Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine or Boba Fett. Each hero has a unique set of abilities that they bring to the field. Luke and Vader are up close and personal with their lightsabers, Han and Boba Fett are based around decimating the opposition with blaster fire and Leia and Palpatine are more support based heroes who provide extra pick-ups and cover to allies. Certain heroes see more play than others, Luke and Han are the most common picks for the Rebels and Boba Fett could be widely regarded as one of the best heroes in the game from a gameplay standpoint.

In Fighter Squadron mode you can also collect a hero pick-up that will let you play as either the Millennium Falcon or Slave I, gaining increased armour and firepower to help turn the tide in your favour.

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Fighter Squadron allows you to pilot Slave I and the Millennium Falcon.

I’d have ideally liked to see more heroes in game, but I can see why these six characters were picked. They’re well established and most people will know who they are at a glance. Perhaps we’ll see more heroes in future content down the line.

The attention to detail in Star Wars: Battlefront is absolutely staggering. Everything has been designed to be fully in line with the original Star Wars trilogy. From the Ewok horns blaring out across Endor to the thud of AT-AT’s advancing across Hoth and the recognisable shrieks of Tie Fighter engines overhead. The scenery in the game is absolutely jaw dropping, seeing a Super Star Destroyer rising in the distance on Sullust still makes me giddy and watching Ewoks in gliders flying between the trees on Endor hasn’t got old yet. Star Wars: Battlefront does the Star Wars universe incredible justice and looks absolutely stunning. If you’re even remotely a Star Wars fan then you’re going to love this game. Even on console the game is absolutely stunning from a graphical standpoint, you might even go as far as to say it’s one of the best looking console games to date.

On top of this, John William’s iconic soundtrack is here in full force in the menus and in-game as well. It’s simply brilliant.

The only drawback many fans will find a problem with is the atrocious voice acting on some of the hero characters. Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine and Han Solo have some very questionable dialogue and sound almost nothing like they do in the original trilogy of films, which will likely annoy the most hardcore of fans.

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Star Wars: Battlefront is definitely impressive from a visual standpoint.

The main concern that I have with Star Wars: Battlefront however is the sheer lack of content. With only three game modes worth playing, a less than stellar single player offering and an extortionate season pass available to download which seems to offer more than the base game there’s not really much to do with the game once you’ve played everything.

There are only four maps for Walker Assault – and these are the same maps for Supremacy and Fighter Squadron – and a handful of others for the smaller modes. I’d have much preferred if resources had been allocated in making more Walker Assault maps and including a single player campaign of some sort. Previous games in the franchise such as Pandemic’s Star Wars Battlefront II from over a decade ago offers far more content in the way of heroes, maps, and modes. Whilst Star Wars: Battlefront brings the series into the modern era with intuitive controls and updated graphics I can’t help but feel that it’s lost some of that charm that made the decade old games so great.

A brilliant homage to Star Wars
Visually impressive, excellent sound design
Walker Assault, Supremacy and Fighter Squadron are great fun
Not nearly enough content
Single player experience leaves a lot to be desired
Hero voice acting is terrible

Star Wars: Battlefront is not a bad game, it’s far from it. It’s every Star Wars fans dream come to life. There is so much attention to detail and love that has been put into making it seem authentic. Anyone can pick up and play it, and it’s undeniably fun to jump in for a couple of games here and there. It’s visually stunning too. But it feels like a throwaway title that is going to be forgotten a few months down the line in a similar fashion to other multiplayer only games such as Evolve and Titanfall. The £40 season pass will undeniably fragment the player base, generic gameplay will become boring and the lack of content won’t sustain people for very long. Star Wars: Battlefront is unfortunately a victim of style over substance and quality over quantity, which is a real shame. If you’re a Star Wars fan, then you’re going to love it and I could easily recommend Star Wars: Battlefront to you – especially in the run up to The Force Awakens. But if you’re not a fan, this isn’t the game you’re looking for.

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The review copy of this title was purchased by the author.
Official Game Site

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