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Review

Star Wars Battlefront Review

The Force is moderate in this one.

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!” This is the initial response to playing Star Wars Battlefront that you can expect from any self-respecting Star Wars fan. In my case, I may be more of an ‘avid’ fan, still owning all of my 1977 era Kenner figures and having hoovered up most of the Star Wars novels since Timothy Zahn reawakened the franchise in 1991, but then Star Wars seems to evoke that kind of fandom in a large proportion of people. There’s something magical within the mythical tale of the Skywalker family, and in Star Wars Battlefront, DICE have potentially come closer than anyone before them to capturing that feeling.

Without a single player campaign to speak of, you’re able to jump straight into the games multiplayer modes, which are set up for anywhere from 6 to 40 players, but it recommends that you first tackle the Missions mode, either solo or co-operatively. Quite refreshingly, you can play in split-screen as well as online, just as you can play in first or third-person views, and those returning to the series will be pleased to know that the third-person view is wholly successful, ultimately proving to be my viewpoint of choice.

It’s definitely worth playing at least a few of the Missions, as they represent a the game’s tutorial, teaching you the controls, and putting you in the pilot seat of various craft. It’s perhaps no surprise that the first time I hopped on a speeder bike I failed the mission, as I slammed into trees and rocks at every opportunity, but I soon got a hang of the slightly unintuitive controls – the left stick controls your speed, while you steer with the right. The vehicle controls were something I struggled with in the beta, but here, with some explanation, they gradually became clearer and easier to use.

Alongside the training missions, you also have access to Battles and Survival. All of the levels in this mode award you with stars and credits for completing certain tasks, from reaching the end of the level in a set time, to taking out a particular number of enemies. You can also choose the difficulty level here, with a run on Master difficulty boasting the most rewards. Throughout these sections, and particularly when in control of speeders, walkers or spacecraft, the spirit of the Rogue Squadron games came through, which surprised me, given my previous struggles.

Survival mode is a relatively standard horde mode, with wave after wave of enemies coming after you, and supply pods dropping into battle which you have to claim in order to gain access to powerful weaponry to assist you. You’ll need that weaponry if you want to take down the larger enemies like the AT-STs that appear, as without them it becomes a bit of a grind, particularly when you play on your own.

battlefront_leaked_alpha_tatooine_3

The multiplayer portion currently plays host to nine different game types, with Supremacy being the closest to the original Star Wars Battlefront as I remember it. The push and pull as you battle over a chain of control points keeps every encounter tense, and on the whole competitive. Vehicles are utterly lethal in the right hands mind you, and an AT-ST has never prompted as much fear as it does here. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the ‘respawn, run towards objective, die, repeat’ cycle that occurs with Battlefield games, but I never found myself put off. Instead, I was still eager to get back into battle, to try a different tactic or route to an objective.

What is made clear in the rush towards your objectives is the lack of traversal options, which look all the more ridiculous in third-person as you see your trooper struggling to surmount a small ridge. When even Halo has thoroughly evolved its movement system, Battlefront feels outdated, and the unlockable jump pack doesn’t do much to improve things, its overly long cool-down preventing repeated uses.

Of those nine game types, things start to feel very similar. The epic Walker Assault – which you’ll have played if you took part in the beta – remains an unequivocal highlight, especially as it draws together all of the gameplay strands into one mode. However, Supremacy, Cargo, Drop Zone and Droid Run are ultimately all variations on the same ideas, heading for an objective and collecting or protecting it once you’re there.

StarWarsBF-RIL5

Blast is Team Deathmatch by another name, and is successful enough, facing off in teams of ten, with you dropping randomly into either the Rebels or the Imperials. Meanwhile I found myself consistently returning to the Fighter Squadron mode, where, shorn of the land-locked troopers, you’re able to indulge in airborne battles which I found very enjoyable, though some more variety to the available craft such as B-Wings, or perhaps a T-16 Skyhopper, would really have helped to fill it out. These modes do also feature Hero vessels, with the Millenium Falcon and Slave I appearing, and on the whole causing utter chaos while you and your team mates fire everything you have at them.

Hero Hunt and Heroes vs. Villains also change things up somewhat, placing you in the boots – and cloaks – of the most iconic characters in the franchise. However, the thrill of playing as Darth Vader or Han Solo is easily tempered by spawning as a standard trooper who’s woeful abilities will see you wiped out time and time again. When these heroes appear in the main modes, they promote a real sense of dread, but when placed in the confines of these maps, they can quickly become over-powered and dull.

The biggest draw, of course, is that it all looks and sounds like Star Wars. I know people have talked about it being nothing more than a Battlefield skin, but the detail goes so far beyond that. You get the sense that the development team are truly versed in Star Wars lore, and their desire to replicate the world has been incredibly successful, marrying superb visuals and sound effects with the unmistakeable strains of John Williams’ iconic score.

In one of the training missions you’re piloting an AT-ST in defence of an AT-AT, while Darth Vader gives you orders and you shoot down A-Wings. Then a Star Destroyer appears in the sky. The feeling of being part of an epic battle, set in the Star Wars universe, is undeniably alluring, and frankly irresistible to someone that has grown up with the series, and DICE have nailed the atmosphere perfectly.

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On Xbox One, performance is generally very smooth in-game, though there are some noticeable instances of texture pop-in on vehicles and the landscape, primarily in pre-game fly-bys or in the singleplayer missions. It certainly didn’t cause me to lose focus, but it’s a shame when the graphical fidelity is otherwise pitch-perfect, though it seems to be a common feature of the Frostbite engine running on current-gen consoles.

Ranking up in the multiplayer modes allows access to unlockable ability cards and various blaster types, new character skins, as well as different emotes that become available as you rank up in the multiplayer mode. There’s quite a lot to unlock, though whether you’ll be driven to is another matter.

A number of the eleven blaster’s differences are barely perceptible, and most handle very similarly, though the 24 different ability star cards and collectible special weapons help to broaden the experience. The game’s focus is not in its armoury, though. It’s about putting you in a large scale battle in the Star Wars universe, and at various points that’s where Battlefront excels. You also have the mission modes, and their star rankings promote repeated plays, but they’re too few in number – totalling seventeen – and simply don’t offer enough variety.

While the singleplayer and multiplayer missions take place on a few different maps, you’re limited to four planets – Hoth, Tattooine, Endor and Sullust. I would have loved to see more on offer, and though extra locations will be added later that doesn’t really help with the initial sense that there’s not enough meat on the game’s bones. Oddly, I kept thinking back to Splatoon at launch – another multiplayer game that I love – but which at first had nowhere near the level of content it does now. The problem is that, unlike Nintendo thus far, EA are charging more money for upcoming expansions to Star Wars Battlefront.

The training missions actually showcase what could have been, with different objectives and play-types, all set on a range of planets, evoking memories of playing Rogue Squadron II on the Gamecube. I can only hope that DICE intend to implement more similarly themed missions in the game’s forthcoming DLC.

While it’s likely that following the beta the EA servers are ready for the punishment liable to be dished out to them, for a brief period it’s worth noting that I couldn’t access the public servers on Sunday night, which went live to support EA Access’ early access to the game. While you clearly can’t get into the online multiplayer while they’re down, you’re also seemingly locked out of the offline singleplayer or co-op mission modes, which is yet another example of utterly pointless connectivity simply to retain access to up-to-date ranking leaderboards.

What’s Good:

  • Outstanding visuals.
  • Walker Assault, Supremacy and Fighter Squadron are great fun.
  • Perfect sound design.
  • Solid gameplay.

What’s Bad:

  • Limited environments.
  • Too few missions.
  • Not enough variety to different game modes.
  • Lack of traversal options limits motion.

Star Wars Battlefront owes a great deal to the original entry in the franchise, and has managed to retain its spirit. What DICE have done is create what is arguably the most faithful and graphically coherent representation of the Star Wars universe we’ve ever seen. However, while that alone is incredibly alluring, there’s currently not enough variety to the multiplayer modes, weaponry or the single player content compared with other entries in the series and within the FPS genre. Undeniably, if you’re a Star Wars fan, Battlefront remains one of the year’s most essential purchases – and you can probably add an extra point to the score below – but you will have to rely on, and invest in, DICE’s future plans for it to be an experience you’ll return to time and time again.

Score: 7/10

Version Tested: Xbox One

24 Comments
  1. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Great review, well done though I’ve only had time to scan it. Love the tag line, the force is moderate in this one! I’m half tempted by this but I’m hearing a lot of similar reviews so I may leave it alone for now.

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 07:15.
  2. Crazy_Del
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Fantastic I knew it wasn’t going to be enough after playing the Beta and getting info about the game. It does lack something like you said Multiplayer modes, Weaponry and Story.
    I am glad I cancelled this pre-order and will await for it later on when it is cheaper or if they add DLC when it should have been already in there!

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 07:56.
  3. Jim Hargreaves
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Pretty much what I was expecting to hear but I’m still excited to play Battlefront. It’s just a shame DICE could give players more at launch without stashing content behind a season pass.

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 08:10.
    • Lieutenant Fatman
      Member
      Since: Jul 2013

      Agreed, poor show to hold content back like that. Very off putting.

      Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 10:41.
  4. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    Great review, thanks! I’m incredibly disappointed to hear that you couldn’t play offline while the servers were down, not only is my internet on the blink but I want this game to sit on my shelf for years after its servers shut down as a way to tap into the Star Wars experience, much like all the old Star Wars games allow me to. On the other hand, the beta was amazing and although it’s an expensive game for what sounds like limited content I have a feeling the bloody-massive-grin rating is off the charts, so I’m happy I preordered!
    That’s no moon… Jabba wanker?

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 08:38.
  5. zb100
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    As an extremely infrequent FPS player, this actually sounds perfect. I don’t have time to work through loads of perks – I just want to dip in occasionally.

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 09:51.
  6. Avenger
    Member
    Since: Oct 2012

    It’s pretty much as I thought, great overall but not enough variety. Having this confirmed now, I’ll plunge into the ten hours I get on EA Access and see if I feel like buying the game then (I somehow doubt I will though).

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 10:21.
  7. double-o-dave
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    Looks like a ‘Bargain Bin Buy’ for me. It wouldn’t surprise if EA announce another Star Wars game soon with heavy emphasis on a single player campaign which should have originally been sold with this.
    Once you get over the sound and visuals, the beta didn’t seem to great to me.

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 10:55.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      We already know that Visceral are working on a Star Wars game (and with Amy Hennig on board as part of the writing team), but chances are that this single player narrative driven game would be very different in terms of gameplay compared to Battlefront.

      Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 11:19.
      • Kris Lipscombe
        Team TSA: Writer
        Since: Mar 2009

        Very much so. You’re not going to be playing as a random grunt on the battlefield.

        Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 11:23.
      • TSBonyman
        Member
        Since: Dec 2009

        That sounds more my like my cuppa Sapir.

        Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 11:52.
    • double-o-dave
      Member
      Since: Nov 2008

      I wasn’t aware of that. If it uses a different engine & 3d models etc, I guess thats fair enough. My game dev knowledge is pretty poor, so I have no idea how these things work, but if through EA, Visceral were able to use Dice’s bits & bobs/engine they’ve already developed, it would seem a tad bit cheeky – Less in respect of having a decent single player campaign, but more in the way of releasing a multiplayer without a single player campaign and charging full price, then even more for a season pass.

      After a quick google, there seems to be talk of the new game being similar to an Uncharted – that would be pretty cool and completely different enough from the Battlefront multiplayer I guess which is what you’re getting that.

      Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 11:39.
  8. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    My experience of the beta was that the force was strong in the back of the head.

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 11:20.
  9. zb100
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    One point I noticed with the beta, for the Missions Co-op split-screen, it wouldn’t allow me to use a guest account for the second player – ie you had to log in with another account. Does this still persist? In other words, will I need to set up another PSN account for my non-PlayStation friends to play from my sofa? And does this require an additional PS+ subscription or is that just for the physical machine online?

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 14:34.
    • ron_mcphatty
      Member
      Since: Sep 2008

      Dunno if this helps but my nephews use my U.S. account to log in when they’re playing split screen, no Plus, it’s always worked online :)

      Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 14:56.
      • zb100
        Member
        Since: Aug 2008

        Thanks Ron, reckon I’ll be doing the same. Oh & that’s my copy arrived. Shame I’m busy this evening…

        Comment posted on 18/11/2015 at 14:47.
  10. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    I feel that i would have been disappointed even if it got a 10/10 due to the mere fact that there is no space combat. No. Space. Combat. Just why? Did Dice seriously have trouble using the current gen consoles to do that when the bloody PS2 could handle it?

    Oh and the £40 season pass gets you crap content. I’m sorry, but Battlefront is just giving off too many negative vibes. I would have preferred for Dice to salvage the leaked concepts a few years ago if, by some mere mircale, Disney did not have that code destroyed. I mean, it’s Star Wars, the very first shot is in space! How can you have a multiplayer game in Star Wars without space!? NO SPACE! ARRGH!

    Sorry, just really want Space in Star Wars MP games. Also, £40-£100 is too much for an MP game. Yes, they are charging up to £100 for it. (Due to editions and it not really being worth it)

    Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 14:57.
    • Avenger
      Member
      Since: Oct 2012

      More than space combat we should have Ground to Space conflicts which is what everyone fancied, plus more expansive interiors on the space vessels. I thought it would happen on the fancy new hardware of 360/PS3. An entire generation later and they seemingly can’t do it. Makes me think how much this game is so behind Battlefront 2.

      I suppose I can only dream of that legendary Hoth conflict where everyone is fighting on the ground, snow speeders are trying to trip up the AT-ATs, ground troops fighting over control of that Ion cannon that can help the players in the space battle above. All in a competitive 32v32 environment. It’s technically possible, we all know it.

      Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 16:16.
      • ron_mcphatty
        Member
        Since: Sep 2008

        I dunno if they can’t do it, I reckon this environmental photography and scanning to boost the realism has led to the concept of a consistent look throughout. Obviously you can’t scan space, hah. Maybe capital ship battles will happen in DLC, in some format like Battlefront 2. In fact a Rebel biased map over Endor would be good, with a moving battle like the Walker Assault, Imperials trying to stop the destruction of the Super Star Destroyer. Dice, make that please, chubawumba!

        Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 18:02.
      • Avenger
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        And then rebels win, the super star destroyer plunges into the death star (as seen in space), and the death star explodes (as seen on the ground). If the empire wins I don’t know, maybe Vader shouting noooooo!!!! forever, or a Darth Vader that is now Luke!!!

        I did try to scan space with a Canon document scanner held up to the sky, but I just got back a distorted darkness. If not ground to space conflicts, I do rather like the idea of doing a rush style game mode on a star destroyer or a death star, where you have to attack the outer defenses, land in the hangar bay to set up a spawn point, and then navigate the corridors New Hope style to take out the main reactor. Knowing me I’ll charge at the enemy Han Solo style, and then leg it away screaming from a hangar full of stormtroopers.

        Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 18:21.
      • The Lone Steven
        Never heard of him.
        Since: May 2010

        This. Either EA gave Dice Frostbite 3 and went “Battlefield clone.” or Dice can only develop Battlefield games and Battlefront is just BF with a Star Wars skin on with a few minor bits thrown in. 32 x 32 is viable as the consoles can cope and i doubt many people would complain if space wasn’t as detailed as the planets as chances are, they would be more concerned with the imperial army or the rebels trying to shoot them into pieces. They could have shoved as much content as possible in from the 6 films or just split the game into 3 eras and create modes tailored to that.

        Comment posted on 17/11/2015 at 21:00.
      • ron_mcphatty
        Member
        Since: Sep 2008

        Hmm, I dunno about the 6 era thing Steven. Given that the new films follow on and a lot of older fans generally disapprove of the Jarjar era I think it’s actually a lot better that the focus is on the original trilogy and post Endor bit of history. I say history because that’s what it is, from a long time ago, right?
        Avenger, loving the idea of capital ship rush! That’s sort of what happened in Battlefront 2 right? Except because it was two way and the visual cues were awful no one could ever tell who was winning. One way rush would be beautiful and could even take place on two different ships so each side get a go and it’s part of one space battle!
        I cant wait for the game to arrive now, Amazon say it was dispatched last night, it could be at home as I type! Although I’m not gonna get a chance to play yet as my wife and I had twin girls on Friday, yay, and with some luck should be taking them home from hospital today! Star Wars and babies, good times.

        Comment posted on 18/11/2015 at 10:37.
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