Star Wars: Battlefront

SWBCoverRelease Date: November 17, 2015 (USA)
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Rating: ★★★☆☆
System: PS4 (Also XBO and PC)
Review Spoilers: N/A
IGN | Gamespot | Metacritic | Polygon

When the new Star Wars: Battlefront game was announced I was absolutely thrilled. I had played a little bit of Star Wars: Battlefront 2 with my friends back in college and even though I was really terrible at it we all had a lot of fun. I was excited to return to the Star Wars universe. As more and more news came out about the new game it became pretty clear that this would not be the same game we had played so much together. But that’s okay. Like I said, I was pretty terrible at gaming in general back then. I was looking forward to hitting the ground running with a brand new one.

So far, I have to say that the experience has been pretty enjoyable.

That said, Star Wars: Battlefront clearly has it’s faults. You only have to spend ten minutes googling reviews online to figure out that it’s a pretty divisive game. The game is rocking a metascore of 72 on Metacritic but the user score is much lower at 5.2.

I was torn when trying to quantify my own review. While I love the game, it had a lot of potential to be better. It still has potential to be a great game. And I think that is part of the problem. It’s a great game… but it gets repetitive fast. And the only way to inject any sort of new blood into the game is shelling out for a way overpriced season pass. (More on that later.)

Still, the game does a lot of things right. There’s a reason I enjoy it so much and that I’ve logged a couple dozen hours online so far. I love that the battles happen on such a massive scale. I love the various ship and hero power-ups that allow you to join the fight, controlling a variety of ships or as iconic characters (like Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Boba Fett, and more). I love a lot of things about Battlefront.

I think that’s probably a good place to start, too. I do like this game and I do think you should give it a try.

So here’s what I’ve enjoyed about Star Wars: Battlefront so far.

The immersion experience is incredible.

From the first moment I played the open beta for Battlefront I was hooked by just the look and feel of the game alone. I went out and pre-ordered it the same day. No matter what anyone says about this game, one thing will always remain true: it looks fantastic. The graphics are absolutely stunning. Everything looks like it has been pulled right out of the movies. Sometimes I like to just run around the maps as far from the battles as possible just to explore the surroundings.

The sounds, though, are probably one of the greatest things about this game. For whatever reason one of my favorite things about the game is the way it sounds when someone lobs a thermal detonator at you and it explodes nearby. It’s such a loud, unique sound. It gets my heart racing when I worry I’ve been caught in the blast while at the same time it sounds so realistic (and immediate) that I can’t help but smile.

Maps are incredibly detailed and varied.

Everything in the game looks and sounds so real and this translates into how the maps have been designed. I know some people aren’t the biggest fans of the maps but I think they are excellent. Depending on the map, your surroundings can change drastically.

Every world has a different sort of environment and the maps cater to that. Hoth is expansive with large stretches of white, open space. Endor is full of ferns and trees that at times offer fantastic cover and at other times start falling around you. Jawas and Ewoks run around until you get a little bit too close. (And there’s a surprise waiting for you in the tunnels of Sullust if you haven’t seen it yet…)

From ice caves to weather chiseled canyons to bases dug into the earth and underground, I personally love the maps. They are different. Some of them offer little cover. Others expand upward and downward in was I wouldn’t have expected. The only downside to them in my opinion is that they are extremely limited with just four worlds and four main maps.

The various game modes keep things interesting.

The two primary game modes in this game are Supremacy and Walker Assault. They pit teams of 20 against one another with each side alternating playing as either the Imperials or Rebels each round. They are incredibly fun – if sometimes hectic – games that showcase the bulk of what this game has to offer. I’ve sunk a couple dozen hours into playing them and I have no regrets. There’s nothing quite like taking the last shot at an AT-AT Walker or using a snowspeeder to down one on Hoth.

But those two modes are limited by the small number of maps. Again, there are just four main maps on the four main planets. Luckily, they aren’t the only two modes.

There are a total of nine different gameplay modes. Some of them, like Blast which involves simply killing as many of the other team as possible, are fairly basic. Others offer different challenges like delivering cargo or droid messengers. Some focus on giving players the opportunity to play as heroes and villains. Meanwhile Drop Zone involves laying claim to supply caches and protecting them from the other team. There is not only an added diversity to the gameplay but to the maps as well. There are whole new maps available for these other modes. They are generally smaller maps but no less varied or visually impressive.

Flying is one of the most enjoyable parts of the game.

One of the best parts of Battlefront is flying. One of the modes included in the base game is Fighter Squadron in which you join a squadron of either TIE fighters or X-Wings and A-Wings doing battle in the atmosphere above the game’s various maps. While it’s not a true space battle like many people were wanting, it’s a lot of fun. There are some minor objectives included in the gameplay but for the most part it’s about flying and shooting one another out of the sky.

Fighter Squadron isn’t the only mode you can fly in, however. Many of the other modes include vehicle power-ups that allow you to fly above the various maps engaging in dog fights with other players and taking down enemy soldiers from the skies. It’s fun and it’s a nice change of pace from the constant chaos on the ground.

It’s great for casual gamers.

The greatest strength of this rendition of Battlefront, though, is that it’s really easy to approach for new or casual gamers. There’s not much of a learning curve. The game includes a series of short tutorials to get you ready to play online and once you’ve mastered those it’s easy to jump in. I honestly skipped half of them and had no problems figuring out all the little things. The hardest part is figuring out your hands and how to stack them for best results in-game. But even that’s not hard. As someone who isn’t necessarily the most skilled gamer, it’s been something I’ve really appreciated about the game.

Unfortunately, while the game has been really enjoyable for all the above reasons it’s not the perfect game. In fact, it’s far from it. It’s enjoyable but also heavily flawed. I know I’m not the only one who thinks this and a lot of my problems will pop up in reviews all across the Internet. These things don’t just disappointment but countless other players as well.

Here are my biggest problems with the game.

There is no single player campaign or overarching storyline.

One of the biggest weaknesses of the game is it’s lack of a single player campaign. Oh, sure, there are missions you can complete on your own and a couple modes you can play solo or with just a friend. But there’s no dedicated single player or overarching storyline. You play just to play – there’s no real objective. There are no cut scenes explaining some larger mission at stake.

The best you can do is read the Star Wars: Battlefront – Twilight Squadron novel by Alexander Freed that came out the same day as the game. Otherwise… it’s all pretty meaningless. You have fun, sure, but why are you are on Sullust? Why are you on Tatooine? After a while it becomes just how shallow the whole game really is at it’s core.

Matchmaking can be incredibly unbalanced.

Another huge weakness? The matchmaking is pretty terrible. As I said before, this is a great game for casual gamers looking to have a good time online and live out their Star Wars fantasies. In practice, though, it’s not always as enjoyable as it could be. This is because the matchmaking in these games doesn’t really take into account, well, anything. Gamers who just picked up the game are matched into games with people who are already at the highest levels.

Those players who have leveled up extensively have access to better weapons, better devices, and better star cards. They have an extreme advantage over others who haven’t been playing as long. It’s incredibly frustrating to play in a match and just get repeatedly killed. There really needs to be some sort of ranked versus casual system of joining games. Otherwise we’re going to get to a point where new players no longer want to join because it’s just not fun.

The respawning in this game is equally awful.

Another issue that needs to be figured out ASAP is the respawning. I know that having respawn points getting camped is a sort of right of passage for online shooters. But, again, after a while it gets old and it gets to a point where it can become so rampant it’s not worth playing any more. So far the game hasn’t been too bad. Rather, the players haven’t been so bad. Because the respawn points are very predictable and generally always the same.

The real problem with the respawn points is the inconsistency. Half the time I wind up respawning halfway across the map. The other half of the time I wind up respawning in the middle of a firefight. Repeatedly. It’s one of those things that really starts to take away from the enjoyment of an otherwise enjoyable game.

There is too little content over all and if you want more you’ll have to pay.

Of course, the game itself is it’s own worst enemy even disregarding these issues. There simply isn’t enough content to keep the game interesting for long. Right now we’re all caught up in the nostalgia of it. It’s Star Wars! We love Star Wars. And The Force Awakens is still two and a half weeks away. We need away to get out Star Wars thrills in the meanwhile and this is it. But the limited maps, the repetitive gameplay, and the steep price tag are all working against it.

Now, we do have more content coming. A free Jakku-based DLC pack is releasing on December 8th and with it comes two new maps and a new gameplay mode. That’s pretty awesome. It’ll be a great tie-in to The Force Awakens. After that we’re supposed to have four more DLC packs in the future that will increase the number of maps, modes, and hero power-ups. The problem is that those other packs are going to cost us a lot. A season pass on it’s own will cost $49.99 on top of the game’s $59.99 price tag. I don’t know about you, but that seems kind of ridiculous to me.

As of right now, the good outweighs the bad as far as I’m concerned.

Star Wars: Battlefront has been an incredibly fun online experience and I love spending time exploring the worlds that we’ve been given. With time and practice I’ve gotten better at the game and every day I learn more and more about how to custom tailor my weapons and abilities.

I won’t lie to you all, though. I’m starting to feel the fatigue that comes from the excessive repetition. If the game had been out for a while then that would be understandable. Unfortunately, Battlefront has only been out for about two weeks now. I know that the Jakku DLC is going to get people excited and it will help with that sense of fatigue by giving players something new to experience. But that goes back to the fact that the game itself as it was released is largely devoid of long lasting character and, dare I say it, basically incomplete as far as content goes.

I’m going to shell out for the Season Pass eventually. I know this. Ultimately even without any serious storyline beyond the fact that we vaguely know when and where the battles are happening within the context of the original trilogy, I still want to know what comes next. I want to explore Jakku and all the new maps that come after. Should you? That’s entirely your choice. You probably won’t get as much out of the game if you don’t and that’s a sad thing to have to admit.

So, here is my final take on Star Wars: Battlefront.

It’s a fun, gorgeous game that I have enjoyed playing so far. I absolutely do not regret buying it – but I do perhaps regret paying full retail price. Unfortunately, it gets repetitive quick and if you don’t buy into the DLC packs as they release it’s probably not going to have as much replay value as you think it will when you first start playing. Nostalgia and pretty graphics (and absolutely stunning environments) can only get the game so far. That said, it’s a game I’m sure I’ll continue enjoying with each DLC release and that I’m sure anyone else would have no problem enjoying as long as they can look past some of it’s more serious downsides.

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