Star Wars Battlefront – Initial Impressions

Star Wars Battlefront is a game that’s been out a while, got some good press, got some bad press, and as far as I can tell, wasn’t received quite as well as the original series.

DICE were given the reins (great choice, as their work on the Battlefield series has been excellent over the years!) on creating this huge online experience.

40-player battles, the chance to play as your favourite heroes and villains from the series, and the opportunity to control some of the franchise’s most notable vehicles (X-Wing, Tie-Fighter etc).  What’s not to love?

What does it get right?

Honestly, I think it’s getting a lot right.  But then how can you fail with a massively loved franchise that spans decades?

Most notable to me, and possibly the most immersive element of this game, is the audio.  Everything is perfect, from the score to the sound effects.  It just nails it, and these familiar sounds really help take you into the universe, it sounds wonderful and really touches upon nostalgia.

It looks great, re-creating some of the iconic scenes and places in the universe, with a lovely accuracy.  You feel like you’re actually on Hoth, and you get that sense of cold.  The character models are great, mostly generic, barring the heroes with are nicely detailed and accurate.  The skyboxes are lovely, and all the maps seem to have been put together with great attention to detail, visually anyway…..

When you’re in 40-player battle, you really feel like you’re in the thick of it.  It’s a little intimidating, initially, but you soon get stuck in.  The maps suit it, the gametypes are varied and suit the maps and team sizes, and it’s a lot of fun just diving in and doing what you can to help your team.

The card system works quite well, too.  Giving you a tactical opportunity to select 4 different optional items, which could help you turn the tide of a confrontation.  Do you bring a jet pack and grenade? Then perhaps a rocket launcher?  What about your gun damage boost?  Would that sniper and shield combo be a better choice?  You’re presented with options to help you approach a battle your way, it’s pretty straight forward, and works pretty well, with cooldowns on your cards, so nothing can be spammed too heavily, everyone gets to being what they think is best for them.

Heroes are a treat to play, making you feel like a total badass when you rock-up as Luke Skywalker, or Darth Vader in the middle of a massive battle, and carve your way through the opposing forces.  Different heroes have different abilities and functions.  I’ve found Darth, Luke and Boba Fett to be my favourite so far.  Racking up my kills and having a lot of fun doing so!

What isn’t it getting right?

I have three areas of concern in this game, one of which is pretty fundamental to how I’ve been playing it, and the others are less important, but a pain, non-the-less.

Matchmaking/Party play – I’ve been playing this usually with a minimum of two other friends online, so like any other game I expected to send invites, then we’d all join up and then play the games together.  This is true, but it’s messy.

You get a party together, great.  Then you pick a gametype or playlist and search for a game, great.  Then, then you join a game and everyone in the party is notified and has to choose to join, too.  Ok, on paper this is a novel idea.  Someone might be tweaking unlocks, or perhaps picking a new head for their stormtrooper and unable to join straight away.  But we’re so used to just dropping in and out of games together, at the same time, this is jarring, particularly when everyone joins as quickly as possible, only to find that one of us is in the game, one of us is still at the main menu, and one of us is looking at the “join match” screen.

It’s a mess.  A party should join a game all at the same time, not one at a time, and find that someone hasn’t joined a match until the last 2 minutes of a game!

Levelling – This is ok, in terms of getting XP and credits to unlock stuff.  But at this stage in the game’s release cycle, if you’re a newbie with base weapons and cards, you’re at the mercy of high-level players with better gear.  Yeah, get better and unlock them, I get it.  But if you’re constantly hammered by top-tier folk, you’re not getting the XP you need.  The visual unlocks for player models are pointless, and I still don’t quite understand how it works.  I’ve unlocked stuff and tried to apply it, but I think I’m missing something!

Controls – Ok, the controls are fine for the most part, and I have no issue with the hero/character controls, it’s just the flying.  I like the simplicity of the flying controls, but there’s something a little off about using one stick for power, and one for full motion of your vehicle.

Initial thoughts

I’ve perhaps complained a lot, but I’ve found this to be really fun, especially with friends (when you’re able to join a game together!).

I want to keep levelling up and see what else I unlock, and see if there are any other heroes I enjoy playing as.

It looks good, it sounds good, it handles ok.  Most importantly, it’s fun and the chaos of 40-person battles is exhilarating!

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