I was just on Hoth half an hour ago. The empire was pushing through our defence as our plucky rebel alliance was overrun. It wasn’t exactly going well for us, as gargantuan, invincible AT-AT’s tore up everything around us. I was crouched in a small trench, next to the now useless uplink that had allowed our Y Wing bombers to open a brief window of vulnerability on the monsters. They were suddenly weak, able to be hurt.
But now, they weren’t. And the empire spawn points had gotten a lot closer. I focused my blaster rifle down on the column of storm troopers coming through the small valley, and opened fire, players scattering towards cover as the lasers pew pewed. I even got one I think. I was very proud of that. Then the bolts started reflecting away as Darth Vader strode forwards. Implacable. Terrifying. And then there was a flash of red as his lightsaber flew from his hand and went straight through me.
And then I respawned a few seconds later and went right back to the fight.
Battlefront is exhilarating and fantastic, a sensory overload of an experience. I have spent the last day or so playing the beta for the followup to the games that pretty much define what Star Wars is for me. I really hope that the rest of it is this good.
A lot has been made of the development team going and using all of the props and equipment from the films as a means of ensuring the games feel authentic. It’s worked as far as I can see.
From the moment I fired a blaster, I was entranced, and the locations look incredible. Hoth’s snow twinkles slightly in the bright sunlight, Tatooine is filled with tusken raider tents that look like they came right off the set. It is absolutely gorgeous. Overhead, you can see capital ships and cruisers in the skybox, as fighters soar and sweep closer to the field. Dice know how to make an environment, and fill it with character through sound and design. This is one of their best so far. No technical faults as far as I can see either. On PC I never went below 60fps and the only bugs I could see was random ragdolls being blasted around in explosions. In addition, the online suffered no lag or problems during any of the matches I played.
Controls are intuitive, with the transition between turret, vehicle and spacecraft being seamless from ground controls. No more classes, but a series of pickups dotted around the map ensure that everyone gets to play with toys like deployable turrets, vehicles and special explosives. Pickups are nice, and it does stop some people hogging the special weapons and vehicles throughout the game.
One complaint however is in the hero characters. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader appear as upgrades through the pickup system, but while cool, they’re slow, easy to target and normally spawn far away from the action. This wouldn’t be so bad, but they have a timer to decide how long you can stay in the role. While this does solve the issue of one player dominating the field and no one else experiencing the hero character, it has issues where the timer means you might end up wandering around looking for a fight and then pointlessly falling over.
The feature that I find most interesting are the partner system, Chewbacca and Han style. You can spawn on them, and share their equipment load out. This loadout is a choice of three items, like sniper rifles, grenades and jet packs. It’s interesting, and when the game places you with a new partner, you get some interesting exchanges where you can experiment with new kit.
And, to confirm, there is an option to play in classic third person or in first person. Personally I preferred third, but I can very much get behind opening this game up to play up any way you want.
Now, this is concerned with the beta, and I’ve played on both PC and PS4. There’s three main modes,
Survival (Tatooine): Horde mode. You’ve got single player, local Co-op. (Which is nice to see) and online Co-op. It’s waves of varied storm troopers and AT-ST’s. Hold the line till you can be rescued.
Drop Zone (Sullust): King of the hill, capture a single objective around the map and hold on to it. People try to stop you. 8v8 on a fairly well sized map.
Walker Assault (Hoth): The ur-battlefront level. 20v20 as you recreate the battle of Hoth. It’s fantastic. Reminiscent of Rush mode in battlefield as you either attack or hold the line. Objectives scale across the map in a set pattern as you move across the expanse.
All three are fun in their own way, and providing you vary up your aims, you can enjoy each of them for a fair while. This Beta was far better than I expected. Battlefront means a lot to me. It’s not the same. I have to say it. It’s a different beast now, no multi man vehicles or space battles, but it is fun. It has heart, and DICE clearly want this to be a labour of love. I’m hopeful.
Since I think this game is so dependent on sound and visuals, video footage follows, Not the best quality, and you do have to listen to my voice, but you get an idea why i’m so enthusiastic about this.