Star Wars Battlefront is a treat for the hardcore Star Wars lovers. It is imaginative and playful, driven by a sense of fun and adventure above everything. The developer DICE has made a multiplayer shooter that every Star Wars fan has been waiting for by attempting to improve on the original Battlefront. However, it is necessary to mention right off the bat that this revival does have issues, and is not always sure what to do with itself.
Dice has put a lot of thought, maybe a bit too much, in coming up with its myriad messy modes. The game is at peak quality in the Supremacy, Drop Zone and Walker Assault modes. These are objective-oriented and focused games that make use of a deeply thought out set of sandbox systems that keep the spectacles coming.
Drop Zone is a violent 8 versus 8 race for territory domination that rewards those with quick thinking. You can earn victory points, one-time consumables like sentry turrets and mine, and initiate the next drop by seizing control of drop pods that have crashed. All of the heavy weapons, explosives and buffs that you end up unlocking over time are added to your combat options. Every player brings a customized loadout for every battle, lending greater adaptability to new roles very quickly. The combination of different players using different weapons lends great unpredictability to the game, and it gets progressively impressive as the player count increases in other modes.
The next logical step up from Drop Zone is Supremacy. It indulges combative tactics as two teams of twenty fight for control of the outpost in a large territory. The fantastic drivable vehicles play a big role here. A properly flown X-wing and AT-ST can make all the difference for a struggling team. The dynamic of the infantry combat drastically shifts when you are taking fire from above, driving the players towards protected areas or mounted weapons. Orbital Strikes, Smart Rockets, and other one-time power-ups appear out of nowhere and are a great counter-measure if you have the good luck of finding them. The explosions of these one-time weapons are terrific.
To make your rounds more unpredictable, there are pickups that can turn you into a hero in the next round, and bring a lot of power to Walker Assault and Supremacy. Luke Skywalker can hedge out a danger-free path for his team through the Stormtroopers while the deadly blaster and mobility of Boba Fett’s jet pack are sources of distraction for Rebels. For us, playing as one of the six heroes was one of the major highlights of the game, and there are impressive scenes one after the other. Every hero has new abilities that make him important to the gameplay. The high burst damage of the emperor counteracts his lack of defensive options, whereas Princess Leia’s extreme, but limited damage justifies the use of her protective shield.
Walker Assault mixes up all these elements and throws it off the balance, giving the Imperials a thematically consistent advantage as the AT-ATs march towards victory. There are daunting vehicles, which can be brought down by capturing and holding the points, and striking the walking tanks when they are vulnerable. It felt like a huge accomplishment when we managed to do it.
Between items that can be equipped, weapon loadouts, heroes, vehicles, tactics, tension, variety, and the huge scale of the maps – set across Sullust, Endor, Tattooine and Hoth – Walker Assault perfectly encapsulates everything that the game does well.
While there is no single-player campaign in Star Wars Battlefront, Survival mode is unexpectedly successful. The solo or two-player cooperative missions put aggressive Imperials against Rebel players. New enemies with jetpacks, invisibility, shields and extra armor force you to come up with new ways to react to the attacks. It’s very rewarding on higher difficulties, so skip the default difficulty. As entertaining as these survival missions can be, we did not find any reason to replay a mission after finishing it.
Coming to the bad parts, the remainder of the modes in Star Wars Battlefront just feel like fillers or worse. Cargo is unoriginal and is a standard capture-the-flag mode. Fighter Squadron is a good training ground, and the Millennium Falcon and Slave I are ruthless in the sky, but only aerial fights neglect the infantry on the battlefield and it becomes standard fare pretty soon. Blast is eminently forgettable.
There are some modes that are just plain bad. Heroes versus Villains and Hero Hunt have nothing more to offer than the standard multiplayer. They are hectic and confusing, and hardly in the game’s spirit of expendable soldiers killing each other. Droid Run is the anticlimactic alternative to Drop Zone, a completely unfocused mode in which teams run around in circles as they capture control points. Matches finish before they get interesting, or completely disregard strategy by making only the last few minutes matter.
The attention to detail is terrific and easily makes it one of the best looking games of our generation. Thanks to the modifiable settings, the visual fidelity of Star Wars Battlefront is even stronger on the computer. The improved special effects and lighting and cleaner texture help sell the indelible aesthetic of the game. Star Wars Battlefront looks, sounds and feels like the original Star Wars trilogy in every way.
The original score for the game by DICE blends well with John Williams’ score in some places but is so off in other places that we had to turn it off while playing. At their best, the one-liners and hero performances are distracting and weird. At worst, they are awful and pandering.
Star Wars Battlefront captures the essence of Star Wars well, making use of some of the most memorable and exciting pieces for a spectacular and unique combat sandbox but still lacks in some key areas. Aside from some directionless modes, Battlefront is aesthetically authentic. The lack of a single-player campaign is the biggest drawback and it relies on other game types to make up for it, which doesn’t always work. Although it captures much of what we like about Star Wars, the game applies it to a very haphazard set of modes. On a positive note, the planned free DLC is a nice bonus that can keep Star Wars Battlefront going should it provide some big changes in the future.
•Lack of story mode