Star Wars: Battlefront Review
Full disclosure: I am a lifelong, diehard Star Wars addict. Much of my basement man cave is dedicated to the glory of what Lucas hath wrought. I’ve played literally every Star Wars game released since the days of the SNES, from Super Star Wars to Rogue Galaxy to Masters of Teras Kasi (ugh) to Knights of the Old Republic. After twenty hours with this reboot of Battlefront, I can honestly say it’s everything my inner seven year old could have wanted.
The first thing you’ll notice about Battlefront is just how beautiful it is. I’m not kidding when I say this is one of the most graphically-impressive games I’ve ever seen, full stop. I challenge you to dart through the foliage of Endor, through beams of sunlight filtering through the trees, and not have your mouth hang agape at how stunning it all looks. Little touches, like snow accumulation coating your rifle on Hoth, or dust settling on the bodies of the fallen on Tatooine, assault your senses and do a wonderful job of immersing you into the world. To add to that, the game runs at a silky-smooth 60fps with nary a hitch; indeed, I have yet to encounter one iota of slowdown, even during the absolute chaos on the largest, most titanic battlefields. I’d love to know what kind of dark sorcery DICE harnessed to make this possible, because it’s almost unbelievable how impressive the presentation is.
One of the hallmarks of Star Wars has always been sound, and this too delivers in spades. From the sound of lightsaber ignition to the dull roar of an X-Wing, the sound in this game oozes authenticity. They even included the Wilhelm scream! John William’s most iconic pieces from the movies make an appearance, and the nostalgia was so palpable for me I could have touched it. If you can, play this game with a good 7.1 Dolby surround setup or a really nice headset.
Gameplay is simple, but incredibly rewarding and fun. You can play in first person or in true Battlefront style, classic over-the-shoulder. As much as I enjoy the throwback to older Battlefront games, I found myself playing in first person as I simply feel more immersed (and it’s easier to quickly sight down on foes). Game modes include variations on classic multiplayer formats such as Cargo (a variation on capture the flag) and Blast (good ol’ team deathmatch), but mix it up with things like Walker Assault (as showcased in the beta) and Heroes vs. Villains. The latter places the three Rebel Alliance heroes (Luke, Han and Leia) against Vader, Boba Fett and Palpatine and makes for silly, ridiculous amounts of fun. My personal favorites ended up being Supremacy, in which two teams of twenty fight an all-out war for map domination, and Fighter Squadron, which is basically dogfighting between Rebel and Imperial ships. The game also features character progression with weapon, ability and skin unlocks. I really enjoy being able to move up the ranks and unlock new weapon and appearance options, but it seems a bit grindy and the requirements for advancement seem steep. I’m sure DICE plans on having double XP weekends, but it still seems too slow to me.
I know I’m gushing, but just as in life, the game isn’t perfect. Having played past Battlefront games, I wasn’t surprised over the lack of a solo campaign, but I do understand why some people are upset or confused over it’s exclusion. Likewise, numerous voices are raised over a perceived lack of content. I’m perfectly fine with what the game is starting off with and plan to keep playing long-term, but I do understand people who want (and expect) more. Multiplayer-only games haven’t had an easy go of it recently (Titanfall and Evolve are good examples), and there’s certainly concern about what kind of legs the game will have. Still more people have complained about the game not catering to the hardcore FPS crowd. I’m not great at competitive multiplayer shooters, so this is fine for me. In a way I get the complaints, but I’m not sure why people are surprised. This is Star Wars, and it’s releasing right before the most anticipated film of the past twenty years. I’d have been surprised if they HADN’T made it more accessible to the masses.
In the end, what matters to me is: is the game fun? Am I enjoying myself? Pretty graphics and tight controls only go so far; The Order 1886 is a testament to that. I can honestly say I’m having more fun with Battlefront than I have almost any other game this year, and to me, that’s the most important metric of all. May the Force be with you.