A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .
In the midst of Star Wars-filled holidays, complete with new toys, movie rereleases, and every other type of memorabilia you can think of, comes EA DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront. A spiritual successor of sorts to the original two Battlefront games, DICE’s iteration is a multiplayer only (well, 90%) title that allows players to wage in galactic warfare across some of their favorite locales from the original trilogy to the new film The Force Awakens. While it is easily one of the best looking games this generation and has plenty of material for a Star Wars overdose, the excitement is short-lived and exposes a certain emptiness throughout the title.
Most players will head in to Star Wars Battlefront due to their Star Wars fandom and/or because of fondness and loyalty to the original games. They will be rewarded with gorgeous portrayals of the snowy Hoth, the tree-laden Endor, and the sweeping deserts of Tattooine. The lighting alone as it peers through Endor’s treetops is enough to make every fan smile. You’ll feel goosebumps the first time you control a TIE Fighter and hear its iconic ‘scream’ hurtling through the air. And, you’ll shout with excitement as you take command of the Millennium Falcon during a game of Rogue Squadron. And you’ll do this, if you’re lucky, for a few hours.
The problem with a game that relies so heavily on a franchise’s thematics is that it can expose the true quality of a game once the sheen wears off. Players can only feel that initial joy for a title so long until it becomes systematic and familiar. When that point arrives, a quality game needs to be set in effort to sustain the playerbase, particularly in a multiplayer-only title. Battlefront is by no means poorly made, rather, it feels rather empty and bare-bones before too long. As stunning as the environments are, they soon grow stale as they exist to serve gameplay rather than feeling like a living Star Wars universe. This becomes rather symptomatic of the game’s other features as well.
Most of Battlefront‘s game modes are fought with foot soldiers. Players will be able to select their character skin, loadouts, and power-ups through the form of unlockable cards. All of these unlockable features are purchased with credits that are earned by unlocking achievements such as ‘Destroy 150 X-Wings.’ Players will also have greater access to unlockables as they increase their rank with experience obtained from each match. Anyone familiar with a modern-day shooter will be familiar with these systems. However, the game once again suffers from a lack of content. You won’t actually be able to modify your character avatar in any way aside from selecting one of three hair styles (and facial hair for men) until level 40 and 50. Yes, apparently locking the interesting alien races that every player wanted to enjoy at top tier was a smart move. You can also unlock new types of blasters which range in damage, range, and cooldown (weapons overheat rather than use ammo) as well as special weapons, grenade types, and powerups such as increased weapon stability. All of these are completely fine, and par for the course of a standard shooter experience.
You can control your customized character in a variety of modes such as ‘Supremacy’: a 20v20 battle in which teams jostle for territory, ‘Cargo’: essentially capture-the-flag, smaller team objectives such as ‘Droid Run,’ ‘Blast,’ and ‘Drop Zone,’ as well as the ‘Walker Assault’ mode from the Beta. These objectives are spiced up as the game drops hero and vehicle powerups throughout the battlefield. Obtaining one of these icons allows the player to control either a super-powered hero like Luke Skywalker, or an iconic vehicle such as an X-Wing to provide aerial support. The hero powerups in particular will either fill players with excitement or rage, depending on which side you are on, as they are currently unbalanced and make objective-based games pointless. A strategically played game of ‘Cargo’ can be ended as Skywalker slaughters everyone in three quick jumps. To balance out the insane power of heroes comes the ‘Heroes vs Villains’ mode in which players on both sides can become the likes of Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Han Solo to guide their team to victory. The game also features other objective-based modes and my personal favorite ‘Rogue Squadron’ mode which is exclusively aerial vehicles taking each other down.
Fortunately, the game does feature a few single-player and cooperative modes for players to enjoy. Those struggling with the game can get practice in via ‘Battles’ or ‘Survival’ modes. These modes can be played as one person versus the AI on three increasingly difficult modes, and with or against friends in the ‘Battle’ modes. ‘Survival’ is essentially horde mode, pitting Rebels against increasingly difficult waves of Imperial troops until facing your untimely death, whereas ‘Battles’ earns you points through kills or collecting objectives. But those experiences end there.
The game would offer greater variety in its game styles, however, EA has decided to lock additional content behind 16 DLCs in a Season Pass for the low price of 49.99 after you just paid 59.99 for the full game. Great deal! Some would consider reviewing a game based upon DLC to be in ill-form, but I would be remiss not to call attention to the unfortunate business practices of certain companies. In a game as bare bones as Battlefront, offering more new content via DLC then what’s in the actual game is insulting to the playerbase. Therefore, buyers should be informed.
It is also worth noting that EA’s servers have performed well, for the most part. In a game that is exclusive online multiplayer, this is essential. However, there were the few occasions in which my trooper or X-Wing would spiral into an endless abyss before servers hiccuped and ended the match.
At the end of the day, Star Wars Battlefront is a well-made game that simply feels incomplete. Fans will love all the ways that it pays homage to our favorite series, and nothing compares to piloting iconic vehicles or force-choking Rebel scum as Lord Vader. Accompanied with John Williams’ iconic music, faithfulness to classic sound effects, beautiful graphical display, and tight controls, Battlefront is a game that should deliver more than it does. However, the quick turnover of the title is dressing it up to be much like other disappointments such as Titanfall. Fans of Star Wars enjoy the universe for its extensive attention to lore, detail, and living worlds, whereas Battlefront is simply a Star Wars skin that allows players to shoot at each other. There is a lot of room to improve upon missed opportunities, but few players will be eager to embark on another fifty dollar purchase to see if it happens.