Urban Longboard Navigator

“Boba Fett!!? Where?!!”

I must have sounded like a blind Han Solo for the majority of the Star Wars Battlefront Beta. Blasters? Check. Thermal detonator? Check. Teammates…? Looks like it’s just you and me Chewy. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

While, I must say, it was quite thrilling running alongside an AT-AT, blasting away at rebel scum, I now see why the Empire was so easily defeated; lack of teamwork. Teamwork was something that I thought DICE had done a great job with in Battlefield 4. Dice developed squad based play and a squad perk system. These encouraged players to work together; or, at the very least, help themselves by helping others as well. Battlefront is seriously lacking in this department. A “single buddy” is all the team you’ll get, as no one else, even if you’re in a party, is identifiable, on screen, save for a close range nameplate. Calling out an enemy to a teammate is possible yet very difficult. Forget calling for help from a teammate because it doesn’t exist. One can spawn on their partner but, much like in game signaling, an equally difficult task will be finding your one to six other party members.

The randomness, or seeming randomness, of power ups on the map was not a plus either. I have confidence power up control will become more strategic with time, but it was difficult to tell if it was completely random or not.

Having Jedis on the field was definitely fun. Seeing Vader striding across the snow banks, and trying to help/hinder was awesome. It felt authentic.

Even though the teamwork aspects of the game are extremely lacking, as a whole, Battlefront feels authentic. The sound effects, the music, the incredible graphics, even the movement of the vehicles and soldiers, all of it makes me smile. It brings a sense of nostalgia. It makes me feel like I’m twelve, having just bought my very own trilogy on VHS. It feels like Star Wars.

Now just give me a squadron so my buddies and I are a little less rogue.


Sparkly Snow Aficionado

“This is so Star Wars. omg, I’m in Star Wars!”

Those were my first thoughts. And that was exciting. But it’s not the only thing Battlefront has to get right.

The simplified UI and customization options are a breath of fresh air for me. Too often in today’s games are loadouts becoming a meta-game in themselves. Battlefront’s card system will hopefully provide different styles of players with the tools they need, and nothing more.

We’ve only seen two gametypes so far, but both have been confidently objective based. The leaderboard that appears at the end of a match, however, could do with a little re-prioritization.

As a group player, the lack of squad support (beyond your one allotted ‘buddy’) is painful. The ability to simply identify other members of your party in game would be a welcome addition.

The vehicles and special items being dolled out as tokens around the map has been a hot topic – but I think it’s too early to tell if this will negatively effect gameplay. I’m hoping it will force players to act more as generalists.

Haphazard Agent

Well behind enemy lines

There isn’t much that hasn’t been said yet. what follows is a largely unfair impression after the Battlefront Beta:

I began the Battlefront Beta with memories of Battlefront II on the PS2 and original Xbox. Much like its predecessors, this new Battlefront coincides with the release of a Star Wars movie. With past publisher/content owner and game studio, Lucas Arts and Pandemic Studios respectively, what resulted was a masterpiece ahead of its time. Highly acclaimed, with metacritic scores in the low to mid 80s, and a spot at the top of the most played games list for five years, Battlefront II introduced us to hallmarks like Galactic Conquest and playable classes. With new owners Disney and publisher/studio combo EA/Dice what I think we received was a rushed decision to prioritize look and feel over game mechanics, depth, and nuance. A new Star Wars game, in time for the seemingly gigantic release of the Force Awakens, carries virtually no risk for stakeholders involved. As one can gather from numerous online reactions, the wonder and joy of just being in the Star Wars world elicits joy brought on by childhood memories. Without the nostalgia brought on by the sounds and visuals, I believe we’re left with the next gen equivalent of a clumsy arcade game. Those who lack Star Wars nostalgia still praise Battlefront for its basic approach. I attribute this praise to a natural backlash we are witnessing due to an overabundance of competitive shooters.

One cannot locate a review on the Net disputing the visual or auditory appeal of this new installment of Star Wars Battlefront. Indeed, the environment in Battlefront is enjoyable. Dice’s Frostbite engine delivers the goods. As for character controls, I would have preferred the player movement of Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed or Battlefield. Battlefront’s character mass and reflexes felt inadequate due to a sluggish awkward momentum and turning.

The cooperative party implementation taken in Battlefront is perhaps one of its worst parts of the game. Spawning exists as a haphazard endeavor. Pray you have a reliable partner or else you’ll be flung from one random spawn point to the next. Also, why have 8 person parties if one only has access to their partner while in game; there’s no differentiation on one’s mini-map between one of your party members and the rest of the players on your team. This would be an easy fix since one’s partner is marked as a yellow dot; Dice could easily make other party members green dots. On Hoth, however, the chances of cooperating with other party members before a sniper from across the map, the AT-AT you just spawned under, or the massive blast radius of a thermal detonator takes your life are minimal. I, like many others, suggest, at least, four person squads.

Two positives. One, loading from one match to the next was quick and easy. I like this a lot. Two, holding the top of a hill with my partner, in the Drop Zone game mode, was very very fun.


Live from the Feedsites

First thought: Fucking awesome. Feels perfect.
Second thought: Already bored. Prolly not buying.

They nailed star wars. Rest of the game felt too light to buy at all.

Maybe there’s a baller ass campaign/co-op/something that’ll flip that.

For now, just not much depth at all. I walked right in, which felt good.

But then I walked right back out. Too bad, because I was initially excited.


Stays alive longer than you

I loved the original Battlefronts. I still dream of one day of having a 16 man galactic conquest LAN. I’m also a pretty big fan of the Battlefield series, so when it was announced that the creators of those games (DICE) got the rights to reboot those Star Wars games I was ecstatic.

Jumping into the beta I was instantly grabbed by the atmosphere. The sound and visuals just felt right. I was giddy running around my first match and even though I died more than I wanted I was smiling. The game brought me in and I felt like a kid again. Running around pretending to be part of this conflict and fully committing to the world in my head. Except this time I was not alone and it was not just in my imagination. The first time I saw/heard a thermal imploder go off I might as well have squealed with delight. That first half hour or so with the beta was some of the most fun I have had gaming this year. Unfortunately the next series of half hours were not repeats of that.

The Progression System
I was not a fan of Battlefront’s style of progression. Granted it was a beta and I’m pretty sure it was bare bones on purpose. The snap shot though was not flattering; an ill advised drunken bathroom selfie in video game form. Maybe this is just a matter of preference, but when I play a game I want to feel like something was earned. I have never connected with games where I can just save up in game currency and buy the best gear. In Battlefield, you needed to play a certain class to unlock weapons and gadgets then you needed to use those weapons to further unlock all of their attachments. It took some time but felt good when completed, and gave me an almost endless meta game of trying to unlock everything. It seems like Dice was terrified of just making a Star Wars skinned Battlefield, so they tried to go in the opposite direction.

You earn in game credits from playing and winning matches and can then spend them on weapons and special cards. I really disliked the card system. You could only have 3 special abilities. With grenades and the Star Wars version of a sniper being considered special for some reason it limited the variety of the loadouts you could create. My main gripe with the card system though was that it just wasn’t fun and did not feel like Star Wars. I want to feel like a soldier in a war for the stars and not some guy playing a video game. The card system reduced the immersion that the audio and visuals had created for me.

I’m not sure how you can fix this, but the weapons all felt too similar. Laser gun that shoots faster and hits with less impact or Laser gun that shoots slower but hits harder. They had different styles of weapons in the old Battlefront games so I don’t know why they wouldn’t here. Maybe we will see more variety in the full version.

In Game Power Ups
I hated how arcadey the power ups felt. Why are there turrets and bubble shields just sitting randomly around a battlefield? Why do I have to run away from my base to find a vehicle? I feel this could have been solved with classes like Battlefield has. Just make the power up gadgets something that certain classes can deploy. Make vehicles spawn at bases like they should. Again, it takes away from the immersion and just wasn’t fun.

This game is too big not to have squads. You spawn in random locations and your team all looks the same. How are you ever supposed to keep track of your friends? You can partner up with someone, use them as a spawn and even see them as a different color on the map. Except I have more than one friend and DICE knows that, since I can join a party with 8 of my friends… I just don’t even….

The beta was just okay. The gameplay felt good and smooth enough. The guns, although lacking variety, were fun to shoot. The atmosphere was very well done even if the rest of the game tried its best to remind you it was a video game. My final thoughts are that I wish DICE hadn’t been so afraid of making a game closer to their bread and butter. It could have used a little more Battlefield and a little less random.