For the last week, I sent my Titan to the Tower. I put my Rocket League car in the shop. I even gave the Marvel Superheroes a much deserved break. I played Star Wars Battlefront and let me tell you, it is something. Is Battlefront perfect? Nope. Is it the worst? Absolutely not. Where does that leave it? That depends on the answer to a couple of questions.
How much do you like the Star Wars films/TV shows/holiday specials?
If you answered anything less than “enough”, we might have a problem. This game relies heavily on at least an interest in the Star Wars Universe. Every setting and character skin and vehicle is pulled directly from the films with more on the way from the forthcoming Force Awakens (we assume). While the casual gamer may be able to enjoy the game, there are so many other first person shooters on the market that this will probably not live up to those on a technical level. It is absolutely essential to have a background in the Star Wars movies to keep this game interesting.
That being said, the Star Wars-isms of this game are truly spectacular. The best thing I can say for Battlefront is that it really handles the weight of the franchise well. Levels like Hoth, with giant AT ATs marching towards the rebel base, look like they were pulled directly from Empire Strikes Back. Jump packing from tree fort to tree fort on the forest moon of Endor is immensely fun and really makes you feel like you are part of the films. The heroes and space battles give you a break for the traditional gameplay and really help to establish this as a game that is part of the universe.
There is something very homogenous about many other shooters. Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and even games like Destiny are all starting to coalesce around some sort of FPS Singularity. Case and point: Destiny’s Titans have a ground pound mechanic. It is a novel power to have in a first person shooter and it was so novel that everyone else noticed and now Halo and Call of Duty have a ground pound as well. I’m not saying that those are bad games or that they are copying from one another, but there is always some value in being different and Battlefront’s complete reliance on the Star Wars source material for inspiration did provide a bit of insulation from the rest of the FPS world, which is nice.
Do you already have a favorite FPS that you dedicate all of your time to?
Many people who already own a next gen system also already have an FPS to which they pledge their allegiance, and to them I say “There is a lot to like about Battlefront but I doubt you will be able to see them through many of the glaring flaws.” For instance, there aren’t a ton of maps. There are many game types that have plenty of replay value but those game types are populated with around four maps each. Compare that to Battlefield 4’s 10 maps and you can imagine how the transition may be a difficult.
Do you not like a map like Hoth for whatever reason? That means you don’t like a quarter of the maps available in Supremacy and Walker Assault, the two larger gametypes. With matches averaging 6 or 7 minutes, four maps means in a half hour you are going to see every map once and that can get old quickly.
And the few levels that do exist have their own problems. Remember how I called the game immersive? That knife cuts both ways. If you play as the Empire, on a level like Endor, and you haven’t played the numerous hours necessary to obtain the black Storm Trooper outfit, that means you are practically highlighted and the camouflaged Rebel forces are essentially invisible. The levels are incredibly unbalanced in both design and practice. I can only imagine that the level designers decided to take every detail of the level design directly from the films, right down to the turret placement and I don’t imagine George Lucas had that in mind when setting up the rebel stronghold on Hoth.
Some bases are practically impossible to capture. This is mildly anecdotal but stay with me. In your average game of Supremacy, the Empire has to get so lucky to take the final Rebel Control Point on Hoth that it almost never happens. I have played the level plenty of times and my team, regardless of skill, has had an abysmal success rate with that last base. It’s just the last one. It may have something to do with how arbitrary some of the spawn locations are in the level. It might be related to how many turrets surround the base. And if you’re saying “Well, taking the final base is supposed to be hard.” I agree but not that hard. None of the other bases are even close.
All of that being said, I don’t completely mind the balancing issue. I almost kind of appreciate it, in this situation only. One of my favorite games for the original XBOX was a Marvel fighting game called Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (awful title) which pitted established Marvel heroes, Iron Man and the like, against a bunch of new characters that I can’t even remember save for Johnny Ohm. The developers made a point to make the combat unbalanced. If you wanted to fight as Electra against Iron Man, you were going to have to be either very skilled or very lucky because Iron Man is objectively a more powerful character than Electra. It was kind of cool. If you want a challenge, take Electra. If you want a blowout, pick Iron Man. Battlefront kind of works the same way.
Do you want the real Star Wars experience? That isn’t balanced either. The Empire is going to crush the Rebels on Hoth. The Rebels are going to be completely overpowered on Endor. That’s just how it goes. Perhaps with a little bit of level polishing with respect to spawn locations and hero drops, it would be fun to play in a level where you expect to lose. You get to be true underdogs and that’s what Star Wars is all about. Never tell me the odds.
That being said, the vehicles on large maps could use some balancing. Each large map has the occasional spaceship that is borderline impossible to control the way you want to and you end up crashing into some mountain range when you attempt to pick off enemy ground troops. That’s not great. But there are other ground based vehicles. The Empire has the AT STs and sometimes speeder bikes. The Rebels have absolutely nothing. Give the Rebels something. They love to ride things. Put some Taun Tauns on Hoth. Put that weird reptile Obi Wan uses in Revenge of the Sith onto the Endor map. One thing that Battlefield excelled in was the vehicle combat and apart for the aforementioned spaceships, is almost non-existent.
How much are you willing to spend on a game?
This is a tricky one and a bit of a touchy subject for some. I don’t blame you. At this point in video game history, I cannot imagine anyone expects a first person shooter to NOT have a fair amount of downloadable content. You want the ability for the developers to expand the game in the future and add things they wanted in the original release but couldn’t afford to put in because of time restrictions and Battlefield does deserve some credit for that. The launch was pretty large and I haven’t heard of any real issues with the actual functionality of the game. In fact, it is rendered pretty flawlessly and might be the best looking game I’ve ever seen.
Here’s my issue with the Star Wars Battlefront DLC. It seems like all or at least some of it could have been available at launch, as it the case with many games, but they are pretending that releasing the levels and heroes would spoil the forthcoming Force Awakens movie and that seems like a ton of BS. If that really was the case, they could easily just release the Jakku level for free along with whatever other TFA related DLC comes out after the film but that’s not what they’re doing. They’re taking a big chunk of the game the putting it behind the DLC wall but pretending that if they dared show us the levels JJ Abrams would feed them to the Rancor. A 60 dollar game is fine when it has 8 large maps. Even 6 is acceptable. 10 is great. 4 is not.
$110 is a lot to spend on a game which you can only see half of now. At least with games like Battlefield and COD, you know what you’re getting. Battlefront might as well be the first in a new series and should be acting like it. (I acknowledge that technically it has the same name as some very fun Star Wars games from the 2000’s but bears very few similarities besides the source material.) We don’t know how fun the new maps are going to be. Here are some things Battlefront is missing. Yoda, Chewbacca, Obi Wan, Qui Gon, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Ashoka, Captain Rex, Mace Windu, Darth Maul, General Grievous, Count Dooku, Jango Fett, Greedo, Bossk, Cad Bane, Taun Tauns, Rancors, Starkiller, The Separatist Droid Army, the Gungans, Rey, Fin, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, Poe Dameron, The Death Star Trench Run, Any interior Death Star Level, Jabba’s Palace, Cloud City, Coruscant, Geonosis, Naboo, and of course Lando Calrissian. I have to assume some of this will end up in Battlefront as DLC in the future. Which things make the cut is anybody’s guess and if you don’t want to risk 50 extra dollars on it now, I don’t blame you.
In closing, Star Wars Battlefront is a pretty good Star Wars game that probably won’t replace your first person shooter, but will entertain you at least until the new film is released.
Star Warsitude – 9/10
FPS Quality – 6/10
DLC-iness – 3/10
Overall – 6/10
Matthew Nando Kelly is an incredibly cool and handsome staff writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he focuses on film, television, music, and video games. Matthew also has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he discusses pop culture related brackets with fellow Pop-Break writer DJ Chapman. He has an unshakable love for U2, cats, and the New Orleans Saints. His twitter handle is @NationofNando. Did we mention how handsome he was?