Of all the games of E3 2015, Star Wars: Battlefront perhaps had the greatest amount of hype. There are multiple reasons for this; Star Wars Episode VII launches this holiday, this is the first big Star Wars game to come along in years and it’s being handled by Dice. The company has a history of delivering excellent first-person shooters (Battlefield 4’s launch woes aside) and many, myself included, were excited to hear they would be developing Battlefront. E3 2015 was the first time the game was shown off to the public, and depending on how much you like the Battlefield franchise, was either a glorious or a disappointing showing.
To get this out of the way, Star Wars: Battlefront is not a Battlefield game. Battlefront does share some similar mechanics with the Battlefield franchise, but not enough to say this is Battlefield: Star Wars. If anything, Star Wars: Battlefront is extremely faithful to the previous Pandemic Studios-developed Battlefront games.
I went hands-on with the Walker Assault Mode, a 20 vs. 20 multiplayer mode, on a map set on Hoth. As the Empire, you’re tasked with escorting AT-ATs towards the Rebel shield generators. Meanwhile, the Rebels are tasked with capturing uplink stations that summon Y-Wings. These Y-Wings are capable od disabling the AT-ATs shields allowing the Rebels to open-fire on them. It’s a large-scale gamemode that delivers the action Dice is known for. Whether or not Conquest will be in the game is unknown at this time.
There are two main reasons Star Wars: Battlefront is not a Battlefield game; shooting and vehicles. Star Wars: Battlefront may look like a typical first-person shooter, but it’s not. Much like the previous Battlefront games, Star Wars: Battlefront can either be played in first or third-person. As you can expect, this changes up the gameplay dramatically. No longer is the game about aiming-down-the-sights and making sure you have the perfect shot, but more about moving quickly and making sure you have the jump on an opponent. You don’t have to ADS to get the perfect shot. There’s also little-to-no recoil, making it easier for third-person players to make more precise shots.
Customization also feels limited compared to a Battlefield game. There will be no classes in Star Wars: Battlefront. Instead, players will craft their own classes by selecting a primary weapon, and a Hand. The guns in the E3 demo were split between regular and heavy blasters, which each carry their own attributes (damage, rate of fire, range, and cooling power). You see, the weapons in Star Wars: Battlefront don’t need to be reloaded, but can overheat. An overheated blaster will take you out of the action for a few seconds, though if you nail the active reload then it will cool faster. ‘Hands’ are a set of three perks that a solider can take into battle. For the sake of time, Dice provided me with two pre-set Hands to choose from. The first contained Barrage, Ion Shot, and a jetpack. The second contained a Thermal Detonator, Personal Shield, and an Ion Torpedo. Much like Destiny, each perk requires a certain amount of time to cool down, and some (ex: Ion Shield) are restricted to a certain amount of uses per life.
Vehicles are a huge departure from Battlefield, and even the original Battlefront games. No longer can you just walk up to a vehicle and use it. Rather, you have to collect special holographic insignias that take the form of the Empire and Rebel sigils, which can then be spent on vehicles and powerful weapons. This is the only way to hop into the cockpit of a TIE Fighter or X-Wing. It’s an interesting mechanic, but is bound to disappoint longtime Battlefield and Star Wars fans who would prefer to pilot vehicles.
Unfortunately, playable heroes were not turned on during the demo. Therefore, I was unable to try my hand at Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. Dice did, however, provide a wonderful image of Luke decimating some Stormtroopers.
Star Wars: Battlefront 100% nails being a Star Wars game from a presentation perspective. All the sound effects feel like they’re ripped straight from the films. All the iconic imagery has been faithfully recreated for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Of course, the game looks amazing as well. Not as amazing as that in-engine trailer Dice released in April, but still pretty damn good. There isn’t any destruction, but little details like the snow parting as you run through it do give the maps a sense of interactivity.
Star Wars: Battlefront is a fun game that pays homage to the previous games in the franchise. Whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen. On the surface, it may look like a Battlefield game, but underneath it’s not like any Battlefield game that’s come before. At this moment, it doesn’t look like there’s as much depth to the gameplay here as there was in Battlefield 4, but that’s yet to be seen. After all, I was only able to play one match on one map. Be sure to check back for more in-depth look at the game as it heads towards release.
Star Wars: Battlefront is out November 17 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.