Star Wars: Battlefront
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
The original Star Wars trilogy began almost 40 years ago.
In that time, countless games have sought to bring a galaxy far, far away, a little closer to home. Sometimes failing spectacularly, other times bringing us heartfelt moments of sheer joy, Star Wars games have had a rocky history. If you’re like me, when someone says Star Wars, I don’t think of the much maligned prequels, nor the animated Clone Wars, not even the highly anticipated JJ Abrams’ reboot; I think of the original trilogy. Luke, Leia, Vader, Han, the Emperor, the Death Star, X-wings, Tie-fighters and Lightsabers. This was the stuff of my childhood and it’s with that in mind that Dice have created Star Wars: Battlefront.
The nostalgia cannot be ignored. Everywhere you look in SWB you find both subtle and obvious details, all geared towards creating a game that takes all its ques from the original trilogy and almost none from the expanded universe. The game sets out to provide an authentic Star Wars experience from the lowest possible point of view (no, not Yoda), a soldier for the Rebellion or an Imperial Storm Trooper. Clearly, a lot of work has gone into crafting the levels and no detail has been overlooked. But does the game play in this multiplayer only shooter sustain or do things grow tired and repetitive too early?
After a brief ‘run here, jump over this, shoot that’ tutorial, the game is left open to you in its entirety. There are some single player and local split-screen missions open to you comprising of ‘horde’ style games where you can compete against friends for the best score on the leader boards but they’re really just filler in this very online focused game.
The main game is based around nine different game modes ranging from the epic 40 player ‘Walker Assault’ to the pilots only ‘Fighter Squadron’. Matchmaking is practically instantaneous, which for any gamer is a delight! Taking your first steps into any of these game modes, as a Star Wars fan, is an awe inspiring experience. Ferns and shrubbery rustle and move as you pass through them on the forest moon of Endor, tiny Ewoks run into their tree top homes as you sprint along hanging pathways. Massive AT-AT walkers stomp on unsuspecting players as they trudge ominously towards the rebel base on Hoth. The attention to detail is mind blowing. Not only does the game play feel great but every noise, beyond John Williams’ iconic score, sounds truly authentic.
Playing as ‘hero’, outside the hero specific game types, acts as a pick up. These allow you to play as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo or Princess Leia for the Rebellion and Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine or Boba Fett for the Empire. Wielding these characters certainly gives you a huge advantage in both mobility and firepower, but you are by no means invincible. Likewise, vehicles operate in much the same way. Collecting a vehicle power up on the battlefield allows you to control an AT-ST or an X-wing. All these mechanics have been carefully balanced to allow for an even match.
After about 25 hours in total with SWB, I’m about half way through its progression system. The usual foray of unlockable weapons, grenades and cosmetic upgrades to your character. The main focus being ‘Star Cards’ you can use in-game to give you a weapon boost or jump jet ability. However none of these upgrades are game changers. You could very well spend your time in Battlefront using the basic equipment, cards and loadouts and you wouldn’t be much worse for it.
There is no doubt that Dice have spent considerable time crafting the maps, vehicles and characters of the game. This attention to detail pays off in style. Never has a game come closer to providing a more realistic view of this beloved science fiction universe. I honestly found myself wandering off, mid-game, to admire some epic vista or explore down faithfully recreated corridors. But, after 25 hours with SWB, things are beginning to get stale. Sure, Battlefront will be a game I encourage every Star Wars fan to try but it just doesn’t have the staying power of some of the other AAA shooters out there. The progression system leaves you little to strive for. The ‘end game’ allowing you to unlock a diorama of sorts containing iconic vehicles and characters but honestly, who cares?
At 50, the games highest level, you unlock an Onyx Trooper. Garbed in jet black armour you will certainly stand out from the crowd but it’s symbolic only, providing you with no better or worse abilities than a player at level 1. The promise of three upcoming DLCs (priced at a hefty £49.99!!) will add more maps and content but doubtfully enough to keep the game feeling fresh.
Star Wars: Battlefront is one for the fans. An homage to the 40-year-old Star Wars we know & love. It’s definitely not one for the trade-in pile but I think the clock is ticking on this one. The addition of DLC may push the shelf life a tad but at £49.99, I doubt there’ll be many takers. The inevitable sequel has already been confirmed as ‘in the works’ so let’s just hope Dice & EA take heed of the criticisms for number two. Nit-picking aside, Battlefront is THE definitive Star Wars shooter of the current generation.
4 out of 5 nerds