After spending about two hours with the next installment in the most beloved Star Wars‘ video game franchise I am pleased to say it has surpassed all of my expectations. Dice nailed the look and feel of Star Wars and specifically the look and feel of the Battlefront games that came before. It’s obvious that a great deal of love and care went into designing this game. There is a palpable reverence for the Star Wars universe in Battlefront. Every detail, from the sound the blasters make to the opening overture that plays when a match starts, made me nostalgic for one of my favourite childhood movies.
The three maps that were playable in the beta were Hoth, Sullust, and Tatooine. On Hoth I played Walker Assault where Rebels were attempting to destroy an Imperial AT-AT by calling in fighter planes to disable its shield. Then every ground troop would barrage it with fire. Meanwhile the Imperials were protecting the AT-AT from the Rebels using AT-ST’s and Storm Troopers. This was my least favourite mode of the three I played. While running around Hoth hopping in and out of trenches was cool there was a definite edge in each game given to the Imperials. It could possibly have been due to the skill of the opposing team but defending the AT-AT definitely seemed easier than attacking it. Hopefully this will get worked out before the game ships.
UPDATE: Dice has confirmed in a tweet that the Rebels were at a disadvantage during Walker Assault and that this will be fixed before the game ships.
That said Hoth also created a lot of cool encounters between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. These two masters have their own epic battle amidst the chaos. Seeing these two meet and duel it out to epic light saber battle complete with those familiar swooshes caused me to stop what I was doing and watch on in awe. It was even more awesome assuming control of one myself. Hearing the deep breathing as my camera panned around Lord Vader (in glorious third person, thankfully) and then proceeding to plow through all the rebels I encountered felt epic. Whether or not it becomes repetitive the more I play wasn’t clear from the beta but I do know it is a jaw dropping moment the first time it happens.
The second game mode I played was Drop Zone on Sullust. Drop Zone consists of the Rebels and the Imperials battling for control over supply drops. It’s a pretty basic domination mode that anyone who has played a multiplayer FPS game will instantly recognize. Sullust as a map was the least memorable of the three. The black rocks jutting out everywhere and fiery background are very forgettable and reminded me of countless other games I’ve played. The only thing remotely Star Wars on Sullust is a crashed X-Wing in a corner solemn Imperial drop ship in the middle. The mode itself though is quite fun as teams meet around a fixed point on the map instead of being more spread out like in Walker Assault. This allowed for a more creative use for grenades and specials. Zooming over a group of Rebels in my jet pack and throwing a grenade down to clear out the enemies is just one example of the combat that happens in Drop Zone.
Last but certainly not least I played Survival on Tatooine. This is pretty much what it sounds. The player, either alone or with someone in split-screen, takes on a number of enemy waves trying to survive to the end. I played this mode solo and it was probably my favourite one of them all. As a fan of Battlefront II on the PC the single player campaign was my favourite part of that game. That’s why I was so disappointed when I heard Battlefront was omitting a campaign entirely. But all hope is not lost for those who want to experience Star Wars without the online. Survival gives you that epic battle everyone craved in the earlier games, only without the epic story to go with it. While still not what it should be it’s better than nothing and I’ll take it. Along with being my favourite mode, Tatooine was my favourite map. As with many Star Wars fans I find Tatooine to be the most fascinating planet explored in the Star Wars universe. It’s the setting of some of the greatest scenes and the focal point that is returned to time and again. I’m happy to say that Dice absolutely nails Tatooine in Battlefront.
The Battlefront beta left me wanting more. I want to try all the modes, unlock all the weapons and visit every single planet I can. This beta acted more as a demo for me to confirm that this is the Star Wars game I’ve been waiting for and the one fans everywhere deserve. Star Wars Battlefront launches in North America on November 17th.