As a huge fan of the original Star Wars: Battlefront games released on PlayStation 2, very few games have made me anticipate their release more than Star Wars Battlefront. My love for the original titles also made me go into playing Star Wars Battlefront with a much more critical mindset than normal. I wanted a Battlefront that I could fall in love with again. One that would bring back all of my fond memories of playing the originals and make me excited to create countless more. I wanted a Battlefront that improved the flaws of the originals and built upon their successes. I wanted a Battlefront that felt like you were really fighting in the iconic battles of the films. I wanted a better Battlefront. After seeing it in action for myself, I am excited to say that that is exactly what the good people over at DICE have done.
At this year’s E3 I had the good fortune to play the new Battlefront, and never before have I seen the universe of Star Wars come to life quite like this. I felt every step my Stormtrooper took, felt every blaster bolt that my Rebel Soldier fired, and felt my heart sink a little every time one of my alliance members fell before me in battle. Never have the Star Wars films been so faithfully recreated in games. From gameplay, to animation, to sound, to environments, and overall atmosphere; Star Wars Battlefront is near flawlessly executed.
I was able to explore two different maps and two different game modes. The first was a massive 20 vs 20 battle on the frozen wasteland of Hoth, recreating one of the most memorable events in franchise history. As a Stormtrooper in this particular battle, it was my job to fight alongside my fellow troops for the Empire and destroy the rebel shield generator protecting the enemy base. In order to do so, we had to push our way forward into enemy territory and protect our giant AT-AT Walkers from enemy Snowspeeders. I was disappointed not to have been able to use any vehicles in the battle, but it honestly didn’t dawn on me that I missed out on it until after it was all over. I was having so much fun on the ground exploring new controls and features that I didn’t even think about finding a TIE fighter, AT-ST, or AT-AT. I even took time out away from the fighting to just run through the icy hallways of the rebel base, hearing my footsteps echo through the corridors on the metal sheeting covering the ground.
The fact that I unintentionally ignored one of the game’s biggest features because of how good the core gameplay felt is a testament to what DICE has been able to achieve. It felt like a perfect blend of old and new. You still need to lead your shots for blasters bolts to connect with moving targets, third-person mode is back, and there is no cover system. You also have a wide selection of weapons and gear to choose from before heading into battle, and you can freely switch your equipment before every respawn. First-person mode is also making its first appearance in Battlefront franchise history, and players now have more ways to tactically interact and work together than before. A new perk pick-up system is now available as well, where you can pick up weapons and gadgets – like rocket launchers and large shield packs – that will aid you and your team on the path to victory.
Hardcore fans of the original Star Wars: Battlefront games will be happy to hear that third-person mode was not just an afterthought that was tacked on as a selling point. I personally spent most of my time in third-person view, and I felt right at home. With the little time I did spend in first-person, I found both first and third-person views to feel equally polished. Having the ability to switch between view modes on the fly at the push of a button is extremely nice as well, and also a great way to keep battles even more interesting and challenging.
The second mode I got to play was a co-operative wave-based mode in the desert canyons of Tatooine. Myself and our own Senior Editor Adam Byrne became rebel soldiers, trying to survive through ten waves of Stormtroopers and the occasional AT-ST. It was during this fight that I really saw how beautiful Star Wars Battlefront truly is. Not only is it visually stunning – potentially the best looking game I have ever seen – but its level of detail to character animation and visual effects is second to none. Watching sparks fly off the armor of Stormtroopers as I shot them with my blaster and seeing them fall down while hearing the classic semi-comedic screams from the original trilogy felt as though live actors were performing right in front of my eyes. It looked that good, and I still almost can’t believe it.
Even the level design of the totally new area on Tatooine we played deserves commendation. The open verticality of the desert canyon with its land bridges and tunnels created a great challenge for trying to anticipate enemy movement. It also made it extremely easy to get backed into a corner and overwhelmed by your enemies if you weren’t careful. This map also was great in maximizing use of the jetpack, which can be used in any load out and is no longer restricted to a single class. I can’t wait to see where else in the galaxy we will be fighting, but I hope we will see a return to Mos Eisley and Cloud City.
Since its announcement, I have always been cautiously optimistic. The potential for a new Star Wars: Battlefront was huge, but in the back of my mind I always felt it would deviate too far from what made the originals so special and just end up being another first-person shooter. After playing it, I am confident to say with absolute certainty that Star Wars Battlefront is everything I wanted it to be and more. It’s the game that fans have been waiting ten years for, and I can’t wait to play more of it.
Are you excited for Star Wars Battlefront? What do you hope to see in this new start for the franchise? Sound off in the comments below!
Star Wars Battlefront is expected to hit shelves on November 17 later this year, and will be playable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.