It’s been ten years since the last entry in the Star Wars: Battlefront series, an incredibly long time for one of the best selling series on the original Xbox and PlayStation 2. But the wait is over as a new game in the sub-franchise is finally here. EA and DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront is a stunning love letter to the original Star Wars films that is a blast to play.
Star Wars: Battlefront is a predominantly multiplayer focused game that has players fighting either as the mighty Empire or the plucky Rebels across the galaxy on a variety of different planets. The game has a lot to live up to as it’s being compared to both the original Battlefront games and DICE’s Battlefield series, so does it live up to those expectations?
In the marketing for the game, DICE often spoke about how they went to the Lucasfilm archives to look at actual Star Wars props and how they visited the locations where the movies were shot to help make the game look as authentic as possible. Their hard work definitely paid off as Star Wars: Battlefront is one of the best looking games this gen.
The game runs at 720p and 60FPS on the Xbox One, but that doesn’t detract from how gorgeous the game looks. It is amazing how real the environments look and feel, you really feel like you’re running through the canyons of Tatooine or the icy trenches on Hoth. Fighting Stormtroopers in an almost perfect looking Endor while the sun sets into darkness is an amazing experience.
The character models and weapons all look fantastic too; DICE’s time at the Lucasfilm archives definitely helped with the look of the game. All of the details from the actual costumes and props in the films are present in the game; from the look of an X-Wing to the dents all over Boba Fett’s battle-worn armor.
The animations are also a site to behold as everything looks just like it does in the movies. The animation on the AT-ST is particularly impressive as DICE has perfected the odd way it walks, something no other game featuring the iconic vehicle has gotten right.
DICE has always been praised for their sound design and they haven’t let us down with Battlefront‘s sounds. DICE uses direct sound effects from the movies; the iconic TIE Fighter roar, the heavy sounding AT-AT noises, the purr of a lightsaber and even a couple sound effects from the prequels in the form of the bubble shield and Boba Fett’s blaster. Nothing sounds out of place, it sounds 100% Star Wars and it sounds amazing even outside of it being Star Wars.
It wouldn’t be Star Wars without John Williams’s iconic scores and the legendary composer’s music is found in the game. The music doesn’t play all of the time, but it’s incredibly exciting every time it starts up. However, there is some new music in the game that tries to sound Williams’s work and it just comes off as a cheesy knock-off of the real thing; though this should only be a problem with fans who are super familiar with the music of Star Wars, the average fan probably won’t notice.
The sound design is almost perfect in Battlefront; firing off your blaster as a Stormtrooper while the Imperial March is playing is a fanboy’s dream comes true. DICE has done an absolutely fantastic job with the sounds that makes the experience so much better than previous Star Wars games.
Single player is the one area of Star Wars: Battlefront that is lacking in, however this isn’t unexpected as it has always been DICE’s weakness. There a few single player modes that are fun, but won’t hold your attention for long.
There are a few tutorial missions that will teach you the basics of the game; I’d recommend playing these to understand how to use all of the vehicles and the heroes/villains. These tutorials are a bit of fun, but outside of achievements related to beating them in certain ways you won’t want to replay them.
There’s also the “Battles” and “Survival” modes which are both essentially horde modes; “Battles” has one or two players fighting off waves of enemies and trying to gain tokens, while “Survival” is a more traditional horde mode experience. These modes are both fun and may have you coming back to them if you just want to shoot some AI for a bit. Note that both these two modes and the training missions can be played in both online and split-screen co-op.
Sadly, there is no single player campaign which could have been very cool given that some of the tutorials are actually pretty neat. But both DICE and the Battlefront series don’t have a very good track record with campaigns, so maybe it’s for the best.
The multiplayer is the main focus of Star Wars: Battlefront and it’s definitely where the game shines at. The gun play is incredibly smooth and satisfying; the option to switch between first person and third person views is also a welcome feature, as it’s something that the original games featured.
The game features twelve maps that take place across four planets; the deserts of Tatooine, the snow fields of Hoth, the forests of Endor (technically a moon) and the volcanic Sullust (a planet that wasn’t in any of the movies). The maps are split between small scale maps and large scale maps, each planet has atleast one of each. The maps are all well designed and balanced; there isn’t any map that I think favors one side over another and there’s no spots that a team can force the other team into and then dominate them. The maps are also full of nice little bits of Star Wars, that makes players feel like they truly are in the Star Wars universe; Ewoks and Jawas run around the battles on certain maps, the Millenium Falcon is docked in some maps and you can even fight inside houses similar to Luke Skywalker’s home on Tatooine. Though, one or two more planets with a couple of maps would’ve been appreciated; the lack of Cloud City and the Death Star is disappointing, perhaps we’ll see those locations as DLC?
There is a decent amount of content to unlock including weapons, character skins and emotes that your character can do. There’s only around 15 weapons in the game, but they all seem incredibly balanced; I haven’t run into a weapon that I feel is 100% better than all of the other weapons, each gun has it’s strengths and weaknesses. This makes it so that you have to figure out which weapon best suits you and also so that everyone isn’t running around with the same gun destroying people who haven’t unlocked that gun yet. The character customization isn’t the best, but it’s better than nothing; there’s a decent amount of human options to pick from and a couple of aliens to play as that you unlock as you rank up. However, the option to play as a Stormtrooper without a helmet is a bit annoying as a die hard Star Wars fan, it just seems wrong.
There are 9 game modes available at launch and they’re all pretty unique from one another. Walker Assault is the game mode that’s received the most attention and it is incredibly fun; the mode features the Rebels trying to take down slow moving AT-AT walkers as they try to move along a large map and blow up a Rebel base. The game mode can get very intense, especially if players are using teamwork to coordinate their attacks. There’s also Supremacy which uses the same maps from Walker Assault; this mode has the two teams fighting over control points to try and push the enemy back to their starting base. Like Walker Assault, this game mode can get insanely hectic and intense under the right circumstances. Fighter Squadron takes players to the skies as it is a spaceship only mode that has two teams dog fighting in various ships; there’s even a bunch of AI ships to make the mode even more crazy than it could’ve been with just human players.
There are also a bunch of smaller game modes based on the usual modes found in multiplayer games but each has a Star Wars-y twist. Blast is the game’s version of Team Deathmatch, Cargo is Capture the Flag with cargo replacing the flags, Drop Zone is Domination but with players fighting over drop pods instead of control points and so on. These game modes are basically what you’d expect from a multiplayer game, but they’re still pretty fun. A couple more unique game modes like Walker Assault would’ve helped the game’s multiplayer stand out more though; perhaps a game mode recreating the attacks on the Death Star?
There are also two modes centered around the game’s playable heroes; Heroes vs Villains, which pits three heroes and troopers vs another team of three villains and troopers, and Hero Hunt which essentially VIP except with players turning into heroes. There are six heroes in the game; three for the Rebels (Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo) and three for the Empire (Darth Vader, Boba Fett and the Emperor). Each hero has unique abilities that plays differently than the others. However, each side has a character that fulfills a role that the other has; Luke/Vader are both close quarter combatants, Han/Boba are ranged characters and Leia/The Emperor are support characters. This creates a good amount of depth in the game modes centered around the heroes (the heroes are also available to play in Walker Assault and Supremacy), as the heroes must work together to combine their strengths and weaknesses if they want to achieve victory. I played a match of Heroes vs Villains that lasted fifteen rounds because of how well both teams worked together, this resulted in several rounds that were ties. The heroes are incredibly fun to play as and are a central part to the game’s identity; running to an objective with your team only to run away in the opposite direction when you come face-to-face with Darth Vader isn’t something that happens in other games.
Star Wars: Battlefront is fantastic both as a game and as a love letter to the Star Wars movies. The game’s graphics and sounds are incredibly well crafted, if I could I would just walk around the maps looking at the sites and listening to the sounds of the battles. What the game lacks for in the single player department, it more than makes up for with its multiplayer; Battlefront‘s multiplayer is the most fun I’ve had with a multiplayer shooter in years, I’ve played it for nearly ten hours and I’m still eager to jump back in.
Star Wars: Battlefront is a must-buy for Star Wars fans and people who want a great multiplayer game; but if you’re looking for a single player experience then you might want to wait until Visceral’s Star Wars game. May the force be with you…always.