The anticipation for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, and the franchise in general, is at an all-time high. Old and new faces in the galaxy far, far away are coming to the silver screen, waves of comics and TV shows have been paving the way for a new extended universe and there is, somehow, even more Star Wars merchandise than before.
Video games are, of course, part of the growing Star Wars fever – not that they ever left. One of the upcoming games, Star Wars: Battlefront, is a reboot from Battlefield developer DICE. The first two Battlefronts received acclaim from gamers and critics, so the hype level and anticipation is quite high for the first big game to come from the series in 10 years.
A couple of weeks ago, Battlefront publisher EA released an open beta for the whole world to bask in. Newbie Analog Addiction editor Devon McCarty and I were merely two people out of the 9 million-plus players who tried out the beta during its four-day run.
There was much to discuss from the beta, from the Walker Assault mode to the stunning production values and much more.
Robbie: So Devon, if there was one standout thing you could tell someone about your Battlefront experience, what would it be?
Devon: That it’s the most fun I have had playing an EA shooter since Battlefield 3. When I played Battlefield 3, there was this resounding sense of freedom I had. I could run or fly anywhere I wanted and find points to sneak around in to ambush people and tear them up. That’s the same feeling I had while I was playing Star Wars: Battlefront.
Robbie: I felt that sense of freedom as well. Even on a smaller map like Sullust, there were so many positions I could pick to defend or take over the pods from, but there weren’t any spots that were too safe either. I think that made it well-balanced.
Now, if there’s one thing I would tell people about Battlefront based on my beta experience, it’s that it does not feel like Battlefield in terms of gameplay. I can understand this warranted worry given that Battlefield developer DICE is behind the title, but the two feel quite different, especially when you consider third-person view as an option — one I preferred, too. Battlefront is admittedly more simple in multiple ways compared to Battlefield, but it’s not a bad thing at all. The gameplay still feels tight like a high-budget shooter should while simultaneously allowing more people to jump — or should I say jump pack? — in on the fun.
With that said, do you think those who aren’t Star Wars fans could get into Battlefront?
Devon: I think that anybody who is a fan of a first-person shooter would have fun with the different elements that Star Wars: Battlefront offers. The only issue I see would be for the gamer’s that are used to wide and varied load outs to choose from.
Granted, we were only given a small selection of upgrades from the beta, but anyone who plays Call of Duty is used to a wider variety of weapons to upgrade, unlock and take onto the battlefield. That is one place that SWB seems to be lacking in. The option to only select three items to take with you seems almost lazy. It makes selection faster and gets you into the game quicker, but I felt cheated when I couldn’t have a Booster Pack, Long Range Rifle and a grenade with me. How is it possible to not have a grenade as your core equipment?
Robbie: Agreed. Like you said, Star Wars has so many elements that can truly make a great game.
I not only hope we see more weapons, but more variety in how they shoot. Everything was essentially a fast-shooting rifle, even the pistol, which I found to be the weakest among Battlefront’s laser arsenal. I’d rather see something like that as a semi-automatic weapon.
In turn, I think this could also be a strength to the game for the casual audience. I’ve sat down with friends who played Call of Duty for their first time, and they were too overwhelmed from the numerous options. I think the Battlefront beta showed a good unlock progression without overwhelming the player.
Something else I want to point out is how weak the Survival mode was. I don’t necessarily mean it was bad, but we should have been given a better sneak peak in the beta. Instead, we got the easiest difficulty, which only has six waves and lasts 10 to 15 minutes tops to complete, and that’s if it’s played alone. What did you think of Survival?
Devon: I definitely agree that the Survival mode was very weak. Why is Hero mode only unlockable in Walker Assault? I would have loved to have a pod open toward the end of the wave, grab Luke Skywalker and go bananas on the waves as they came in. It just seemed like a very limited game mode to me. I played several times by myself, and with a friend, and we didn’t even have to help one another – not that either of us are die-hard shooter fans, but still, it seemed to lack a lot.
While I like the concept of the waves, I would love for them to give us something more of a raid style. I would love to form a raid party like I did in Destiny and take my team through different phases of a mission. Start in the air and dogfight my way through TIE fighters until I could safely land, then move on to a base to clear the area as AI try to keep my team out. Fight through to a huge boss battle against General Greivous, or even Darth Vader, and end up rescuing Ahsoka Tano or Chewbacca, or someone.
My biggest problem with this game is that there isn’t any narrative whatsoever, whereas when you play Destiny, it’s wholly online, but you have the option to mix it up in multiplayer, or throw down some story content with your friends. It just doesn’t make sense that we all know that it’s possible. EA has the resources to make a game of that caliber, and they sure as hell have the property licensing to do it, but they didn’t.
I know I’m putting a lot of weight on Destiny, but they sort of set my first person shooter bar for what an online multiplayer game should look and feel like, and while Star Wars: Battlefront gets a lot of things right, I can’t help but feel like there is a chunk missing.
And I want to run an assault on the freggin’ Death Star. Is that too much to ask?
Robbie: I hope the ultimate result is better than what we got with Survival as well.
With all that has been said, do you think you’ll purchase Battlefront when it launches?
Devon: Guaranteed. I am an avid Battlefield guy, and since this is my alternative mixed with Star Wars, I’ll be getting it for sure. I just really hope they have done their time stress testing their servers. I’m sick of having online-only games struggle at launch.
Now, if you could have the developers add one thing into the game, what would it be and why? Also, will you be grabbing this game on launch day?
Robbie: Well, I miss a lot of things from the older Battlefront games, and to be honestly, I wasn’t terribly disappointed when they said space battles wouldn’t be in Battlefront. That part of 2005’s Battlefront II was never fun to me.
Anyway, if I had to pick one thing I wish was in the Battlefront reboot, it would be adding in the Clones and Trade Federation – and to take that a step further, mixing and matching teams from different eras (i.e. Clones versus Stormtroopers, Rebels versus Droids, etc.). I always loved playing as the Clones in the first two games, and even if the prequel trilogy is unquestionably inferior to the original trilogy, it’s still an important part of Star Wars’ lore.
I understand DICE wants to focus on the original trilogy everyone knows and loves, especially with The Force of Awakens on the horizon, but I was pretty bummed when I learned about the Clone’s absence. Can you also imagine how fantastic places like Kashyyyk and Camino would look with the Frostbite Engine? Pinch me.
Well, I will likelu be neck-deep in Fallout 4 by the time Battlefront releases, so I won’t be picking it up – at least on launch day.
Devon: I definitely agree that it’s too easy to shirk the prequels. It’s a cop-out. That period in the timeline sets up everything that people loved about the original trilogy. Was the execution perfect? No, but it gave us Darth Maul (which is a Hero Coin I would love to find in Battlefront), explained the backstory with the droid army and Stormtroopers and broke down why Luke becoming a Jedi was so rare: His freggin’ dad murdered the future of the Jedi Order.
If the Clone Wars animated series wasn’t so popular, Disney Infinity 3.0 wouldn’t have wholly been based upon it, but that’s the route they chose to go. That alone tells me that there are so many fans of the series prior to the original trilogy. You could comfortably add different eras, like you said, and people would respond very well.
Walker Assault gave me a taste of the huge warfare the game could provide. I think it would be even greater if we could see some of the bigger Clone vs. Droid army battles realized and fought on either side of it. There is just so much potential here, and the visuals using the Frostbite Engine would be fantastic.
Those are just our thoughts, but we want to know your impressions of the Battlefront beta. Was the Force strong in the multiplayer demo, or was it worse than a scruffy-looking nerf herder? Let us know in the comments section below, and be sure to check out more of Devon’s thoughts on the beta.
Robbie Key is the Nintendo editor for Analog Addiction, Assistant News Editor for The Daily Sentinel and former editor-in-chief of The Pine Log at Stephen F. Austin State University, where he is now an alumnus. Follow his completely relevant Twitter updates, watch his awesometacular YouTube videos and view his LinkedIn profile.