At E3 2015 this week we had the chance to go hands-on with [easyazon_link identifier=”B00W8FYFBA” locale=”US” nf=”y” tag=”furiofanbo-20″]Star Wars Battlefront[/easyazon_link] multiple times, and here’s what we thought of the long-awaited shooter.
Most Star Wars fans are hoping this is Battlefront III, as in a direct continuation of the other two games with similar gameplay and modes. It isn’t that. Some shooter fans were hoping it would be like Battlefield with complete freedom where you can run to a ship or vehicle on the map and just get in it and fly. It isn’t that either.
Star Wars Battlefront is more of a EA DICE reboot of the franchise, keeping the name and general theme, but making it their own. This will likely enrage people who have been waiting years for a true Battlefront III, and is why you may be seeing some very disappointed impressions coming out from E3 this week.
The game isn’t Battlefield either, despite what some people have been claiming. In Battlefield, the vehicles are available on maps that support them and any player can walk up and pilot them. That’s not the case in Battlefront, as the vehicles spawn as random power-ups and when you use them you just respawn inside it already. The only similarity to Battlefield is that it uses the same engine as BF4 and the general feel of combat is close in the two games.
EA was showing a Tatooine-based Survival Mode in the PlayStation booth and the Battle of Hoth in their booth. We played Hoth a couple times, being able to try out both the Imperials and Rebels.
In that mode the Imperials have two AT-ATs that are storming Echo Base. They need to stop the Rebels from activating arrays that will allow the Y-Wings to fly in and disable the walkers with ion cannons. When the walkers are disabled, the Rebels can damage them. If they’re destroyed, the Rebels lose. If not, and the walkers breach three fall-back positions, the Imperials win.
There are two different classes of power ups. One, which appear as your faction symbol, provides a one-time use weapon or other item (like a shield). The other, vehicles, spawns your character in either a air or land vehicle. On this map the Rebels have X-Wings and Snowspeeders while the Imperials have AT-STs and TIE Fighters. An Empire player can also gain a temporary power up that gives them control of one of the AT-AT’s canons.
Power ups are activated by hitting the top two triggers on the controller, in the case of the PS4 version that was playable that’s L1+R1. The Snowspeeder’s tow-cable is activated the same way, and you just have to keep the ship level while it spins around the AT-AT for it to work. It will remind gamers a little of Shadows of the Empire, but it’s even simpler than it was in that game.
And that’s a good description of Star Wars Battlefront. Simple. Instead of the freedom DICE gave people in Battlefield, which led to some really fun and unpredictable emergent gameplay on the wide-open maps, Battlefront feels like a dumbed down shooter. It’s very console-like, almost to its detriment. The random nature of the power ups can keep things unpredictable, but the lack of vehicles on the maps makes everything feel more restrictive and scripted.
It’ll be interesting to see the reaction when the game launches in a few months. With no single-player and a multi-player mode that is lacking compared to EA DICE’s other marquee shooter, Battlefront could face some serious backlash from gamers. Trumpeting how authentic the Star Wars theming is can only get EA so far if the gameplay disappoints people.