Last month, Electronic Arts hosted a Beta for Star Wars Battlefront, their highly anticipated reboot of the multiplayer shooter of the same name set in the Star Wars universe. At the time, I praised the game for its attention to detail, how it perfectly captured the spirit of the film, but wondered whether there was enough content here to sustain long term play. Now that the game is finally released on consoles it’s time to look at the entire product and decide whether it’s worth your dollars.
For those who don’t know, Star Wars Battlefront is a reboot of PS2/Xbox era multiplayer shooters Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefront II. Those two games are some of the most beloved Star Wars video games ever, and that’s saying something because there really is no middle ground for Star Wars games. They were either fantastic or terrible. But Battlefront offered up the most complete experience that fans of the films would want in a combat game, specifically Battlefront II. We may be spoiled for graphics and content now, but in 2005 Battlefront II was Star Wars: The Game. It had everything. You could fly every ship and fight on every location and as every villain or hero from the series to date. It truly gave Star Wars fans everything. For me personally, I loved a game mode where you could spawn on a Star Destroyer, hop into a Tie Fighter, fly around, blow up a few X-wings, and land on the enemy ship.
So the franchise is beloved by many, and not just Star Wars fans, but die hard gamers as well. For that era, it was a great game. Now Electronic Arts has acquired the IP after the dissolution of Lucas Arts in 2013. This was a mixed bag of feelings for many. On one hand, EA and DICE have proven they can make incredible online shooters. On the other hand, this is a company whose business practices revolved around minimal content for maximum price, and unfortunately, both of these appear to be true for Star Wars Battlefront.
Battlefront plays beautifully. The beta did not mislead in any way. This game looks incredible, and the shooting combat plays great. The ship to ship combat feels better than it was in the beta as well, however, it’s not as fully fleshed out. There is one mode dedicated to dogfights, and it is fun, but there’s only so much. But it’s the most Star Wars feeling and looking game that has ever been, with the notable exception of the heroes voice acting which is terrible.
Unfortunately, that’s really where the positives end. And this is now where this review gets tricky because I think depending on how much you’re willing to spend and how much you love Star Wars will make or break the game for you. As of now, Battlefront has four DLC expansions planned. You can buy the season pass for $50, or presumably them individually for $15 as they release in installments over the next several months. It’s clear that the DLC will flesh out the experience more fully to the point where it could be a fully realized vision.
Because Battlefront is a somewhat hollow game. Again, I need to stress that it is still fun. But it is hollow. There are only four planets at launch, and there will be a fifth planet released for free to all players in a few weeks of the Battle of Jakku, which will be an event that occurs between films six and seven. In reality, you have your choice between playing against a backdrop of sand, lava, ice, or forest. This has actually been a criticism of the films first so perhaps this is a flaw in the source material. The point is, there aren’t enough maps. And for an online multiplayer, you need the variety because games don’t last very long. After a few hours, you’ll have played every map as either the Empire or the Rebellion.
The lack of maps could have been at least made tolerable by a deeper customization system, but that is equally shallow. Unlike Call of Duty where you can level up one of many weapons over time, Battlefront doesn’t give you much to do with a gun after you unlock it. Gunplay in Battlefront is more like Halo where everybody is playing with the same gear, which is good if you want a game to be balanced, but there just isn’t much to do. There is some customization for your soldiers, but very little outside of heads. There certainly isn’t as much armor customization as Halo.
All this is unsettling as Battlefield, the real world combat analog to Battlefront, which is also made by EA and DICE, does give you more maps, more game modes, and more customization for your guns and tags. The games are different and set in different universes, but you could stand for a bit more personalization options stolen from previous games. However, as I said the lack of deep customization for weapons and ships does lend towards fairly balanced gameplay on the field.
There are weapons to be unlocked if you will, but these are in the form of tokens on the battlefield. Weapons and power-up tokens are all identical, so you have no way to know if you’re getting a card refresh or a smart missile. Ships and hero tokens are identifiable though, so if you spot one you better make a bee-line for it.
There is customization in the form of what gear you can take into battle, but there isn’t enough there and you really will likely default to a jetpack, a grenade, and some kind of ion weapon to disable machinery. There are other options such as sniper rifles, and wisely these all are on a timed cooldown system which would prevent one individual with throwing grenades nonstop.
Heroes are fun to play as, but I rarely lasted very long as them. And honestly, I don’t want to play as a hero for the entire match. Not that I ever live that long. It was fun to be a hero in Battlefront II back in the day, but here I just enjoy being a grunt more.
Scoring this game is hard. I quickly get bored playing by myself, but with a friend over it really makes a difference. This game is meant to be played with friends, preferably someone who enjoys Star Wars as much as you. There is a wealth of great fan service and it’s been way too long since we had a new Star Wars game worth playing, and this definitely is worth playing. But I’m going to be hard pressed to play by myself. And that’s EA’s fault. Nobody should have released a game this close to Fallout 4. So in conclusion, it’s everything you expected. It’s fun, it looks and sounds great, and it plays very well. But after that it’s up to you how much the nostalgia will keep you happy replaying the same maps over and over. For me personally, it will depend on my mood. As The Force Awakens fever grows, I may be wanting to jump in and shoot down Tie Fighters on Hoth. But there just isn’t a full enough game here to keep me as invested as I’d like. At the same time, I cannot understate how much fun it is to play. So it’s tough, but in the end it’s up to you and how much you’re willing to invest financially for there to be a complete game in your eyes. Really, outside of Walker Assault game mode, there isn’t anything else worth mentioning that isn’t done by other shooters, and perhaps there should be more.
Great gameplay despite minimal content8
Gameplay score 9
Graphics & Sound score 10
Replayability score 7
Multiplayer Modes score 7