Nostalgia is both a powerful and destructive force when it comes to gaming. Like many others, I have fond memories of the old Battlefront games. It takes me back to a time of mystery, of being enamoured with the Star Wars Universe and a discovery of shooters. They weren’t my thing back then, but playing with my brother, firing through the campaign missions and the promise of light sabers was enough to get me hooked. It was also enough to get me excited about the series now, so much so that I even decided to pre-order it. But the new Battlefront is not what I remember and its intrinsically shaped how I’ve responded to, and how I’ve played this version. For others, it has turned them off the new title entirely. So what has changed in ten years? For starters you’ll notice that there’s no longer a single player campaign, your options are limited to a selection of multiplayer game modes, as well as single player (v AI or a friend) standalone training, missions and battles. There’s a huge focus on the multiplayer elements, with players able to customise their own rebel soldier or imperial trooper and gain experience and credits to unlock more customisations. There’s enough to unlock to keep you busy for a very long time, but unfortunately you won’t earn any experience from your single player pursuits so you’ll have to spend a lot of time in multiplayer. Completionists will want to unlock everything, the different appearances, weapons, blasters, the diorama and all the single player objectives.
Mutliplayer works on a card system, you choose your hand based on items you’ve unlocked and use them in game. For example you might have a scout rifle or ion cannon attached to L1 and a thermal detonator to R1, as well as a special bonus like a cool down or focus fire on triangle (or Y for you Xbox players). These operate on a timer and you’ll need to wait for them to reload to use them again. These options aren’t necessarily open to alteration in single player, where your character will be based on a class appropriate to the mission. Haven’t heard that name in a while have you? Remember when classes used to include people like engineers, marines, commanders and the decision was very tactical based on how you played the game and what each mission required. The classes are still around, mostly in single player battles where you can’t use your own. The choices don’t feel particularly significant aside perhaps from playing as a shock trooper or imperial guard for someone playing as a hero in multiplayer. You’ll also note that as yet there’s no battle droids, perhaps to come in a later DLC.
By focusing so much on the mutliplayer game modes the franchise has alienated a huge portion of the fanbase. Battlefront has always had that mutliplayer element but there was a campaign and a story you can play out yourself. Forcing (no pun intended) players into multiplayer is unproductive. Experience should be earnable in any way you choose to play and it is strange that there’s so many chances to customise your character and so much to unlock, but essentially only if you play MMO style. If you’re looking for that seamless MMO/FPS cross over that you can play how you choose, you’ll find it in Destiny. Bungie managed an open world, a mix of elements and the RPG customisation that Battlefront is grasping at with relative ease.
Let’s have a look at some of the game modes you can try in the new edition. My favourite by a long shot is supremacy. In this style of play each side fights for control of keys areas on the map, effectively pushing the other back until you control all five. Failing total control, the side with the most zones will win the match when the timer runs out. What’s so great about this game is the tactical control of the zones. You can’t advance without also defending, and you also can’t jump ahead more than one zone in enemy territory. It resonates because it makes sense, and is so fun because of the challenge in taking and maintaining zone control. It’s a full blown battle with the maximum players (40) in multiplayer, with the unpredictability that comes with so many people occupying the same space. While other game modes become repetitive quite quickly, I found Supremacy continued to hold my interest.
Other multiplayer game modes include blast (a more traditional team battle), fighter squadron (for some aerial fun – you can even play the millennium falcon), droid run (these are the droids you’re looking for… Sorry I couldn’t help myself), cargo (basically Star Wars capture the flag), hero hunt (a kind of tag match where everyone gangs up on a hero, whoever wins becoming hero next), as well as heroes v villains (played over rounds so everyone gets in on the action) and finally walker assault and cargo drop, which I won’t discuss because they’ve been extensively covered already since the beta.
The first piece of advice I can give you is to complete some of the training missions before launching into multiplayer, some of the controls are a little unwieldy and it will get frustrating fast unless you have a handle on them first. Some game modes can be very satisfying or not at all, hero hunt in particular has some major faults. With everyone gunning for the hero it’s rather haphazard as to who actually gets the final shot and despite being in the mix you may not ever get a chance at playing a hero. The heroes themselves aren’t fairly matched, as you’d expect, force wielding heroes fared much better than those with blasters, you can practically hear the groans when you get stuck with Leia or Boba. What’s that Palpatine? You can make your own health and hide in tree trunks shooting lightning at anyone brave enough to go near you… and Leia, that’s a great shield, I guess… Other frustrations included being dropped in randomly into a load of enemies and immediately dying, trying to jump over terrain (don’t even bother without a jump pack, it’s pathetic) and the fact that teams aren’t shuffled in multiplayer. If your team sucks you appear to be stuck with them unless you quit the game mode and load into it again, but hey if you’re winning make the most of it I guess? My personal pet peeve was anything that involved flying because I’m just not good at it, kamikaze runs into crowded battlefields or AT-ST’s was more my thing. At times I felt the controls were counterintuitive and despite looking fantastic, the the multiplayer in particular just felt like it lacked substance. If you really want some time as a hero you’ll want to get into the single player modes. There’s training missions with their own series of achievements that get increasingly harder. Don’t even get me started on the walker assault training. Not being very good at flying, this was a form of torture I have no wish to repeat. The real fun is to be had in the battle modes, particularly hero battle, where you can be the Hero or villain of your choosing for the ENTIRE game. I loved this game mode because it allowed me to play how I wanted, but it also wasn’t without faults. The spawning of enemies was haphazard, and as a timed, first to 100 tokens mission, not being able to find enemies wrecks your numbers. Survival mode was also fun and the increasingly challenging waves of enemies kept it entertaining.
If you’re wondering why you should play this game despite its faults, the answer for me at least was simple, it’s Star Wars. It holds the same appeal to me now as it did then, the universe it immerses you in is infinitely appealing. Buy it for this reason and enjoy it for this reason. It isn’t what it was, but for me at least the fascination with Star Wars is enough. At its most basic level we all want to run around with lightsabers in a galaxy far far away and Battlefront allows us this opportunity.
What are you thoughts on the game so far?
P.S. The free DLC Battle of Jakku is now LIVE!
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