We’ve waited a long time for this, folks. Star Wars Battlefront is here.
Before I even settled in to play this game, I knew it wouldn’t meet fan expectations. Heck, I knew it would fall short as soon as it was announced. Why? Not because of the game itself, but because of the distance between this title and Star Wars: Battlefront II. That game dropped in 2005, and that decade took a fun game and turned it into a masterpiece in the lens of nostalgia.
The new Star Wars Battlefront simply can’t beat the game we all think we remember. There’s no way.
DICE tried, of course. They did fall short, though for reasons I don’t think I personally would have predicted. This game is shallow, something you can’t say about Battlefield, DICE’s other main franchise. That superficiality will hamstring any chance for Battlefront to really get out and run the distance. Will we be talking about this game 10 years from now? I don’t think so.
As for the here and now? Star Wars Battlefront scratches the great Star Wars warfare itch, but it doesn’t cure the rash. Is that how that metaphor goes? It is now!
Beauty on a weak foundation of progression.
One of the first things you’ll notice when it comes to Star Wars Battlefront, regardless of the platform you play it on, is just how good it looks. I’ll expand on this more later in this section, but I mention it now because noticing the looks first is sort of the trouble with this game.
Star Wars Battlefront is very superficial. It’s gorgeous, it has a Star Wars skin, you’ll recognize names and sounds, but the genuine depth doesn’t really exist.
Character progression happens simply enough. You’ll start with a very limited set of options for you character. Slowly, over the first few hours of play, you’ll unlock grenades, new blasters, special perks and, eventually, the ability to specialize in certain styles of play.
As for the look of your character… For the first 30 or so levels, it’s all pretty plain. You’ll have a host of heads and hair to choose from, as long as they’re in the human species. Once you hit level 40, you’ll open up a few alien species from the Star Wars universe, though there are only a handful of choices.
That’s really it. The blasters largely feel the same, with the difference really hanging between speed of fire, range and damage. There are only one or two that feel genuinely unique, though their unlock rate is far too slow. Either that, or there aren’t enough of them. You can’t modify the guns once you unlock them, either. The blaster you unlock is the blaster you have. There’s no way to change its color, its reticle style, whether or not it has a scope, how it fires or its stability. Your guns plain old don’t progress.
The graphics do a really great job of masking Star Wars Battlefront’s simplicity problem. The textures look incredible, the lighting is sublime, the art style is a perfect match for the original Star Wars trilogy and what destruction effects that actually are present in the forest moon of Endor levels look wonderful.
However, the game is far, far too simple. I recognize that the Star Wars name sort of pushes the audience to a wider field than purely hardcore gamers with tons of large shooter experience. However, those used to DICE’s penchant for diverse and customizable classes, soldiers and weaponry will really feel cheated with Battlefront.
As gorgeous as this game is, its odd card system, lacking gun diversity and inability to truly progress a class is Battlefront’s biggest issue. Below the beautiful, Star Wars-themed exterior lies a really shallow multiplayer shooter.
The good news? The shallow game is still quite fun.
Battlefront still manages to be a whole lot of fun.
In spite of its shallow nature, Star Wars Battlefront is still a fun game. DICE managed to put forth a strong variety of modes across several compelling maps. It’s also Star Wars to its core, so much so that it’s obvious the developers have all had a lifelong love affair with the franchise.
I adore Walker Assault, though now it’s almost too easy to win as the rebels. I play the crap out of Supremacy, and I really like getting down in Fighter Squadron mode. The game also offers a few moving king of the hill modes, deathmatch, a way to battle heroes versus villains and a squad of soldiers versus one villain.
The single/cooperative missions are a complete throwaway as far as I’m concerned. If you want this game as a solo player, you’re going to be bummed. Online is where it’s at, and you should have a few dozen good hours with that component.
It’s really fun to battle in such distinctly Star Wars environments. Battlefront absolutely survives on that fact. The sound effects, the heroes and villains, the tiny little Easter eggs and nods to the trilogy, they all push this experience to another level of fun for diehard fans. It works, and the result is a really fun, almost arcade-like shooter.
I have some minor nitpicks that I wish DICE would address. First, I hate that vehicles are on the map as little medallions. With the exception of the speeder bike, all the vehicles are tokens that you pick up and activate. Even worse? The ships all spawn in from the exact same spot, so enemies in other ships will camp spawn and collect free kills that way. Holy smokes, that is awful.
If I’m in a party with a friend, that friend should automatically be my partner in the game. I should be able to spawn on my friend every time. The way DICE has it now, the partner is random and completely separate from your friend. Please fix that.
I also got stuck in the environment probably once every three or four matches. I’d jump into a small gap between rocks or trees, and I’d find myself completely immobilized, waiting for death. Again, this can be patched.
My only real, genuine issue, then, is that this fun probably won’t last. EA’s already indicated that the only way gamers are going to get the full Star Wars Battlefront experience is by paying an additional $50 for the season pass. All the extra DLC, which will probably include guns, maps, modes and characters, should be a great injection of fun. The launch game? Too shallow to support play for more than a month or so.
In an age where developers and publishers are learning that the best way to support a game is to make sure updates are fast, constant and cheap or free, EA and DICE went the other way with Battlefront. $50 is extremely expensive for DLC. The truly frustrating thing? EA publishes Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, and all of that game’s DLC was free. Titanfall‘s DLC is now free. This publisher knows better, but I suppose they just couldn’t let a titan like Star Wars be too fan-friendly. They’d potentially leave too much money on the table.
Should the DLC be free? I don’t know. If it’s huge, massive, game-changing DLC, I don’t mind paying for it. $50 is like buying a whole new game, though, and that’s far too much. There is a free map coming in December (pictured at the head of this section), but that’s it for the free train as far as we know.
Star Wars Battlefront is beautiful and true to its namesake. It’s fun, but it’s shallow, and we’re not sure it warrants a $60 price tag.
Star Wars Battlefront is a well made game. Sure, it offers a few glitches and problems, though those are pretty much to be expected in today’s climate of game releases, as frustrating as that it. By and large, this is a AAA title that stinks of production value and a massive budget.
The game is beautiful. It’s probably one of the best looking video games of the year. It’s also one of the more shallow major titles. Really, I don’t think I’ll be playing Battlefront in January, regardless of how big of a Star Wars fan I am. There’s just not enough progression or actual game to fuel me to that distance.
This is a fun affair. You will probably enjoy yourself. However, I don’t think it meets its $60 price tag, and I really don’t think the $50 cost for its Season Pass is justified.
Star Wars Battlefront gets a “Wait” from us for exactly that reason. It’s pretty, it’s fun, but it’s not worth $60. $40? Sure. $30? Absolutely. Just wait, the price will dip before Christmas.
Disclaimer: We received a code to download and review Star Wars Battlefront for the PlayStation 4 from EA on release day.