Hands-on Preview: Star Wars Battlefront

B_RAYMONDOver a decade ago, the Battlefront series debuted with the release of Star Wars Battlefront (2004), which was followed by a sequel the following year. At the franchise’s heart: the ability to participate in major battles within the Star Wars universe.

Intended as a reboot of that franchise, Star Wars Battlefront builds on the elements that have been core in its predecessors, resulting in a new and fresh game suited to the current generation.

At EBX, I had the opportunity to try out the game’s new Walker Assault game mode, which will be playable across a range of maps. During the demo, we were treated to a recreation of the famous Battle of Hoth.STILL_SW_0003_Layer 2As one of the Rebels, my job was to defend Echo Base against the AT-AT assault. To that end, we were tasked with capturing and holding Uplinks scattered throughout the map. Once secure, our attention turned to defending each particular Uplink until Y-Wings were cleared for a bombing run on the nearest AT-AT. These bombing runs temporarily stopped them in their tracks, and made them vulnerable to conventional weapons fire, or from defence turrets.

In many ways, the new Battlefront is certainly an improvement on the earlier games. For one, maps are larger in scale, with players able to take part in 20v20 battles on maps several times the size of their earlier counterparts, as well as a number of new ones. With the objectives outlined above, there is now much incentive for players to work together to attain victory, as going lone wolf is unlikely to get you anywhere.

Players are also once again able to make use of vehicles to traverse the map. Given that it is Hoth, snowspeeders make a welcome appearance, and can also be used to bring down the mighty AT-ATs. In a change from previous games, players have now the ability to make a trade-off between committing power to thrust, weapons, or balance them out. In addition, faction-specific heroes are playable, but only when a player locates a pick-up on the battlefield.STILL_SW_0002_Layer 3Respawning could be a bit problematic in some situations. In one particular case, I respawned inside Echo Base, just in time to witness the poor soldier in front of me get gunned down by a stormtrooper just to my left. I’m sure most would appreciate not spawning in the path of an oncoming hostile.

As a huge Star Wars fan, and still occasional player of the first instalment, I look forward to seeing what else the game has to offer.

Set for release on November 19, Star Wars Battlefront will be available on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

B_JULIANAlthough it is a multi-platform title, Sony are promoting Electronic Arts’ and Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment’s Star Wars Battlefront like a first party exclusive. The game is, as you would expect, a love child of the Battlefield franchise with explosive combat, large scaled maps and teams and strategies emphasising teamwork, and the Star Wars series and its many galactic warfares from a galaxy far, far away. 

Players take control of rebel or empire soldiers, and fight in a classic grand map with vehicles and destructive environments. The environments are breathtaking, with the sun reflecting light against the pure snow and multicoloured lasers from enemy’s and allied soldiers’ weapons flying in the air. STILL_SW_0001_Layer 4DICE have also included classic vehicles from the Star Wars franchise, such as TIE fighters and All Terrain Armoured Transport vehicles. Players will need to co-operate to take down these colossal machines, as a debriefing video by the iconic Star Wars character, Admiral Akbar explains.

Players can also take control of characters from the films for a short period of time. Much like a killstreak reward in Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, players can take control of a hero or villain from the series, such as Luke Skywalker. Each character feels distinct and similar to how they are characterised in the films.

“[Luke Skywalker’s] jump is based on a normal biomechanical jump, but it’s augmented by the Force”, said the game’s Senior Producer Jamie Keen. “You see this in the films as well, such as when he’s jumping out of the carbonite pit or when he’s training on Dagobah.”

STILL_SW_0000_Layer 5Players can unlock the character in battle by finding a ‘pick-up’ item. To make this system fair, your selected hero’s or villain’s health is constantly depleting, and can only be refilled by defeating enemies.“[Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment’s] goal was to give an average player around two minutes as a Hero or Villain”, said Keen.

“If you’re good enough, you might stretch that to around five minutes [and] in theory, you could play as Luke Skywalker for a whole match, but that is extremely unlikely.

Star Wars Battlefront also features co-operative missions although the game will not include a single-player campaign.

“Very few people actually play the single-player on these kind of games”, said Electronic Arts’ Peter Moore in an interview with GameSpot.