The return of the much loved Star Wars Battlefront series to our screens has been long awaited. Much like the upcoming film there was an air of excitement and cautious optimism surrounding the release. With DICE’s early behind the scenes videos and teasers throughout the year, I was ready to take off into what I was hoping would be a serious contender for game of the year.
Battlefront brought something to shooters that I forgot was in there, fun. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of tense games spent hunched over the controller, but on the whole Battlefront is a fast and fun time. A variety of game modes set players up to choose whatever experience they want, be it a long, involved firefight in Walker Assault or a quick blast through the skies in Fighter Squadron. With each mode bringing something unique to how you’ll have to play, its refreshing to jump from one to the next and take on a totally new challenge and use the map and your weapons differently to ensure victory.
A trove of unlockable blasters, grenades and character customisations are there for players good enough to earn the credits for them. The game lets you decide the race, gender and hairstyle of your Stormtrooper or rebel soldier, and if you reach the highest level you unlock the likes of Twi’lek and Zabrak skins for the rebels. DICE kept in line with the Empire’s xenophobic ways so only human heads for them. The Card system gives you the choice of two weapon cards and a booster card to fill for your loadout. With such a huge level of customisation it brings a whole new element of tweaking and perfecting your setups to each map and game type. Doing away with class types and instead leaving it to the player to customise their trooper down to their skin colour can’t be praised enough.
Whether you start on the tutorials blasting through Endor and Hoth, going solo in a few missions or taking to the online battles; Battlefront will hit you in the face with brilliantly stunning visuals. Every environment is exceptionally detailed down to scrap piping by a Jawa sandcrawler. The movement is crisp and seamless, these are environments that feel very much alive. Battlefront is unapologetically bright, striking and fantastically colourful. The streams running through the forest moon of Endor pop against the melody of greens and browns surrounding it. The warm skies at dusk on Tatooine might well be the most picturesque and serene setting I’ve seen in a game.
The detail doesn’t end with the environments. When DICE originally showcased their methods for creating the likes of X-wings and blasters in game by scanning the original models from nearly forty years ago, I was intrigued to see how that would impact the game. The attention to detail, down to the markings on the Millenium Falcon or the smallest of pistols ties things together wonderfully. DICE really stuck to their tagline of “live your Star Wars fantasies” seeing as you’re running into battle with an actual E-11 rifle in hand. Its undoubtedly something you’d take note of (again, it’s an impressively beautiful game) but even if not, it’s that kind of dedicated detail that contributes in no small part to the unmistakeable feeling that this is Star Wars.
Battlefront is enough of something new so that it isn’t aligned with the old series, and peculiarly different from the Battlefield series that there isn’t much comparisons to draw aside from the genre. It’s a redefined Star Wars shooter that has carved out its own space. Keeping all the elements from the previous titles, including the much loved hero battles (even this has been brilliantly restructured and makes for a tense twenty minutes!). While I was sceptical over the lack of space combat included, and it’s a real blow to the game they weren’t included, the ‘Fighter Squadron’ mode almost makes up for it. Instead of flying around homogenous space maps as was the case in Battlefront II, players take to the skies across four maps, blasting through the cloud cover and taking care not to crash through a canyon or fly too close to the ground. ‘Fighter Squadron’ gave me exactly what I wanted, ten minutes of dog fighting in the skies of Hoth, and with the occasional spawned objective to keep players on their toes, it’s easily my favourite game type.
While I can’t overstate how much fun Battlefront is and that DICE have created something brilliant that any fan can dive into, it’s incredible that what many of us bought is not the full experience that DICE worked on. The notion of a season pass for DLC that stands at fifty euro for a game selling at sixty five is nothing short of ridiculous. It’s a shadow that looms over the game itself and stops any full enjoyment, because its not a full game. Season Passes and DLC are common place yet when it comes to promising sixteen new maps down the line when the disc comes with the same, its insulting. The Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition stands at One-hundred and twenty euro and its clear from that that we didn’t pay for a full game.
Battlefront is a shooter like no other for me, its years since I’ve had this much fun just bouncing around a map popping shots off. I’m happy to have it beside the now classic Battlefronts as it’s a well deserved spot. But whatever marketing tactic EA is taking with this does no credit to the game itself. Taking players to a space where a sixty euro purchase can turn into a one hundred and twenty purchase is abject greed, and it leaves me with a bitter taste. I would certainly rate this higher, it’s tricky to balance how much fun I’m having with a well made game and the shameless exploitation of fans and their wallets by EA.
Battlefront is undoubtedly a good game, but it could’ve been great and it’s not hard to see why it wasn’t.