Star Wars: Battlefront Beta Impressions

Star Wars BattlefrontThis week we got our first taste of Star Wars Battlefront thanks to it’s open beta, and many people have been influenced one way or another for it.

For myself, it has changed my opinion for the better, but only to a degree, as I find it difficult to see this game having a lifespan beyond maybe 6 months for the majority players. It manages to do a lot of things correctly, mostly nailing that Star Wars feeling in terms of gameplay, sound and aesthetic, which is arguably the most important thing for a game such as this to get right, but with that there are compromises that may deter the more hardcore audience.

star-wars-battlefront gameplayFor the most part I only played Walker Assault which was the main meat in the beta, and, well, it’s more than a little unbalanced. 90% of the time the Imperials win, as everything is tipped in their favour from the offset thanks to the on-rails AT-AT Walkers raining fire on the heads of the rebels and AT-STs breaking through enemy lines and decimating everything in their path. But what’s odd, is I can’t tell if that’s a bad thing.

Hear me out. The Imperials always have the advantage, because they are the stronger force, and that is the very same in the movies. In the battle of Hoth the rebels had almost no chance of winning, with balance of power tipped heavily in the Imperials favour, and why shouldn’t the game also do that? For the rebels to win it encourages them to hold their positions and fire absolutely everything they have at the walkers once those shields go down, and so long as you do that it doesn’t take long for the walkers to start face-planting into the snow.

While those wins are few and far between, if you get frustrated with the loss you are going to be with the imperials in the next match anyway and that is a cakewalk, so it kinda balances itself out at the end because of the team switch. But the question is what’s that balance like on the other maps? If it varies from map to map then it can and will frustrate people when the are constantly put on the weaker side, which is funny because they removed the server browsers, which has been a staple of PC gaming and DICE for many years, and instead have the skill based matchmaking system because otherwise it wouldn’t be “balanced”. I smell bullshit, and I don’t think it’s off me.

The game really feels like you are taking part in a large scale battle in the Star Wars universe. The sound and aesthetic really help tie that together. It feels great running around the map pew pewing everything in sight, and while you might die, you just respawn and do the same thing again. It’s a lot of fun, but that fun is going to get tiring quickly, especially those looking for a challenge and something to sink hours at a time into. Star Wars Battlefront is great in small doses, but the repetition gets somewhat draining after 2 or 3 matches. Most of ye are probably saying, well it’s probably just because you’re playing one map, but this wasn’t the case with Battlefield 4 as I played game after game of Siege of Shanghai without ever getting bored. The map design could be a reason for my opinion on this, as there is very little to discover. with everything streamlined down 3 main corridors. Maybe on full release there will be better maps, but again, without server browsers you will be forced to play through them all, with no power given to the player.

star wars battlefront fighter squadron modeBattle pick-ups are great, because they encourage players to keep playing regardless of whether or not a vehicle is available. I have yet to see someone camp a spawn location to be beat everyone else to it, and when you do see it you’re like “aww, sweet.” It even becomes a small mini-game when 2 or more of you race towards the same battle pick-up, and when you get there first you can almost hear the rage of your team-mate half a world away. It’s also a sort of risk/reward system as many lay in the middle of the battlefield, so you have to run across open areas to get there then find sufficient cover to call it in, all while trying to avoid getting shot at.

Spawn points are one of my biggest issues with the game, as more than once I spawned right in front of several enemies and every time it is rage inducing. I have also spawned several times behind enemies as I laid them out one by one with ease. This is definitely one thing that needs to be sorted before launch.

Flying is another concern I have. It is really easy, taking little to no skill to wreak everything in sight. I’m playing on PC and I absolutely hate flying with keyboard and mouse, yet still dominated the air after one or two goes. That said, it’s somewhat of a positive also, as anybody can grab the battle pick-up when they see it, rather than just having the one or two people flying around every time, and keeps the sky full of action more often than not because everybody wants in.

I am really impressed with how well it runs. You may have seen the crazy recommended specs for the game last week, but they are nowhere near the reality as they feel more like adverts for Intels new Skylake processors than anything. While My PC meets most of the requirements, my GPU does not. I currently am running with an XFX AMD 7970 yet have been running the game on high settings with little to no issues.

Star Wars Battlefront 3I’ve enjoyed my time with Battlefront, and I will likely pick it up sometime in January or when it will drop on EA Access, but I’m not sure if it is worth a full $60. It is the kind of game that I see suffering from, what I call, Titanfall Syndrome, where it is the talk of the town for a few months then all of a sudden nobody is playing it. Evolve was the same, and I called that months in advance, but wasn’t expecting it to fall off as soon as it did.

I don’t see Battlefront getting insane drop-off like Evolve did, but I see a good 6 – 8  months of life in it, and that should be more than enough for most people who just want to have a game or two after coming home from work. But for those of us who are looking for that game to spend 6+ hours at a time in, I’m not sure this will cut it. There’s no real challenge or tactical play to help keep each game interesting for a long period of time, and feels very simplistic. But that simplicity is also it’s beauty in a way, as that’s what makes it so accessible and fun to so many players.

As always, the internet is in two minds about this game, and I can see the argument coming from both sides. What about you though? What are your thoughts on the beta? How has it influenced your decision on buying the game? Let us know in the comments!

Remember, this impressions piece is done on the recent beta of the game, so come time of full release I could be singing a very different tune. Just take that into consideration.

Leave a Reply