Now that the Star Wars Battlefront beta is all wrapped up, gamers have been able to reflect on exactly what the hell just happened. Here’s an analysis of the good, the bad and the ugly of EA’s latest triple-A title.
Fair warning, we only played the game on PS4, and understand the experience might have differed on Xbox One and PC.
There Are Serious Balancing Issues
This will come as little surprise to anybody who got royally fucked up on ‘Walker Assault’ by the Empire’s lumbering harbingers of death, the AT-ATs. Playing as the rebels gives a sense of impending doom that even Luke Skywalker can’t counteract. On the flip side, winning as the rebels, knowing that the odds are heavily stacked against you, makes victory all the sweeter. But there’s a heavy reliance on teamwork – something made difficult by the lack of supported voice-chat in the game.
EA and Dice will likely be looking at the balancing issues in Battlefront as a priority, but nerfing the AT-ATs and AT-STs too much could see the same problem reversed. It’ll be interesting to see if other ‘Walker Assault’ maps offer up more advantages and disadvantages to each team with the inclusion of different vehicles.
The Game Looks And Sounds Incredible
It’d be difficult for anybody who played the beta to argue against this game looking phenomenal. Technical glitches aside, the fantasy planets of Star Wars have been recreated in painstaking detail and come to life with vivid beauty. Equally, the recognisable ping of small arms fire to the AT-ATs earth-shaking walk are true testaments to the development team at Dice. Don’t even get me started on the Thermal Imploder, which is about as close to an explosion orgasm as it’s possible to get.
If the developers consider this to be the defining game of their career, then surely the proof of that is in the pure beauty of the dense, atmospheric battlefields they’ve created.
Respawns Can Be Cruel And Unforgiving
Countless times you’d spawn on ‘Walker Assault’ or ‘Drop Zone’ only to be turned into space dust by aimless blaster fire. The respawns can get you into a right pickle as you’re placed directly in the middle of a raging fire-fight, and the invulnerability that comes with new life is far too short lived to make a decent escape.
There either needs to be designated respawn zones and an adequate invulnerability countdown, or a system in which spawn campers can be killed quickly by spawnees. On the plus side though, the fact that the you can jump back into battle quickly after a death keeps the gameplay flowing steadily, and helps negate suicide by limp-wristed grenade throw from being a real concern. There were many of those.
Air Battles Feel Awkward
Maybe I’m just shit at flying. Actually, I’m definitely shit at flying – but I know when flying an X-wing or a TIE fighter feels satisfying, and in the tight confines above Hoth’s battlefield, it just didn’t. We don’t know what kind of aerial maps will be in the full game, but the lack of space battles might make things feel a little too claustrophobic.
And that’s the real worry here – the much anticipated ‘Fighter Squadron’ mode. We’ve been spoilt by years of amazing Star Wars flying games – Rogue Squadron, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter and even the original Star Wars Battlefronts all stand out. The janky and stilted ship controls in Battlefront could really do with being given a once over before the game’s release. While still fun to play around in, the craft presented in the beta don’t do a franchise built around epic futuristic spaceship battles adequate service.
The General Gameplay Is Razor-Sharp
Air battles aside, nothing can quite describe the inane grin on your face as you storm Echo Base or fight fiercely alongside your teammates to protect a dropped pod. What Dice have brought from the Battlefield franchise, is a tightly choreographed tug-of-war in each and every battle. Sometimes you get creamed, sometimes you cream, and sometimes it goes right down to the wire. It’s in these instances that Battlefront really shines.
Unfortunately, the quality of battle dips during the single player and co-op ‘Survival’ missions, which feel like an afterthought compared to the fury of ‘Walker Assault’ and ‘Drop Zone.’ If EA were going to include single player missions, they’d have been as well making a full single player ‘Campaign’ or a ‘Galactic Conquest’ mode to give fans full service. It’s as close as we’re likely to get though, unless something huge is in that infamous planned DLC…
Overall, Star Wars Battlefront contained a mixed bag. At its best, slick, satisfying and unadulterated fun for fans of Star Wars and good shooters alike. At its worst, it felt like a work in progress, with plenty of room for improvement. But that’s what betas are for, and hopefully EA and Dice will be able to take these points and give us the game we deserve come release day.
Star Wars Battlefront will drop on November 19 in the UK on PS4, Xbox One and Windows PC.