I am a massive Star Wars fan. To say that I was excited for Battlefront would be a colossal understatement. At first glance, I arrogantly cast aside all of the pre-release criticism, chocking it up to people being nefarious fanboys with nostalgia goggles thicker than their quarter scale Boba Fett figurines.
Secretly, however, I kept thinking to myself that maybe all of these complaints have merit. Maybe this game wasn’t going to be the magnum opus I expected. Maybe, it’d be a broken mess, churned out only for profit by one of the most ludicrously greedy publishers in gaming.
To my dismay, the suspicions I shared with those of whom I doubted, ended up being almost entirely correct. There are several key issues that hold Battlefront back from being the game it should’ve been.
But before I delve into what exactly disappoints me ever so much about Battlefront, I must mention that I do not deny that DICE tried. Their love for Star Wars is clear, and the attention to even the tiniest of details in Battlefront is amazing.
This Isn’t An Arcade
Something that I tried to ignore during the beta was the token system. I had hoped that it’d be at least slightly altered upon retail release, but that hope died as fast as the hype for this game has.
In Battlefront, your only means of becoming a hero character or using one of the few vehicles and ships that the game offers is to grab these small tokens that periodically appear around the map.
If you want to fly an X-Wing, you have to wander around the map or camp the spawns waiting to find a token. Once that token drops, you have to run as fast as you can to claim it before another teammate gets his filthy hands on it. You then have to activate the token that causes your character to kneel while an arbitrary meter fills up, leaving you defenseless and unable to move.
This is a tedious and random process, but it is further amplified by the fact that the enemy team will often block your access. And despite what you may think, this isn’t a deliberate action like spawn-trapping in Battlefield or Call of Duty, rather, the game forces it as players stumble across the map. It means that you will not only have to rush through a horde of enemies and turrets – even worse if you’re a rebel – to grab your token but, if you are lucky enough to survive, you still have to deal with the aforementioned metre and all of the woes that follow. If you die while using your token? Well, it just vanishes, and the entire team loses it for 30 seconds.
If I didn’t despise all of this enough, it is all made even worse by the fact that these tokens punish dogfighting. Sometimes you’re actually able to get into an X-Wing, just to find that there is nothing to kill because your team has unintentionally blocked the enemy team from accessing their well-earned ship tokens. Why couldn’t we prevent them access with skill and teamwork via deliberate spawn-trapping or soaring through the skies as a skilled pilot? Why must everything be such a chaotic mess? You can still shoot at infantry units and hope they’re not all equipped with a lock-on missile, but part of the thrill of Star Wars is the crazy dogfighting, not taking random potshots at the ground hoping that a few Storm Troopers will get damaged by the blast radius.
This system is in my humble opinion, an unmitigated failure.
I Can Take On The Whole Empire Myself
One of the fantastic things about the older Battlefront and even Battlefield games for that matter is that they heavily encourage and reward team play. You are given squads to party up with friends and clans, and you are given classes or specific jobs to compliment your squad and team in a way that suits you best.
In Battlefront, however, the entire system has been streamlined to a point where you feel as if you’re just a random soldier running around on a battlefield without any sense of strategy. You technically have a ‘partner’, but you can’t do anything to help them other than following them as they run around the map like a headless chicken, cleaning up after them.
What’s more, there are no class items or classes at all for that matter. You can unlock various cards that give you either weapons or temporary abilities, but nothing provokes any sense of team play or unity. There are no medkits, no ammo resupply kits, no perks that can give you and your partner bonuses, it’s all just personal stuff that really doesn’t have much impact on the game. Sure, there are some neat weapons like the Bowcaster, but why not make that an actual weapon and leave cards to be team items?
Furthermore, all vehicles and ships you can access are for one person only. The T-47 Airspeeder is known to have two seats for two people, and, I distinctly remember seeing two seats in the AT-ATs and AT-STs, yet only one can access it at a time.
Speaking of two people. It would’ve been nice if DICE had implemented matchmaking for the co-op modes, as finding even one friend who wanted to drop $70 on a skeleton of a game is more challenging than the mode itself when done solo.
Is That All You’ve Got?
Battlefront has been criticised for its lack of content in general, and all of the criticism is, unfortunately, true. It’s almost shocking that we can have these big triple-A releases that have less content than a one-man indie game made in Unity.
There is no campaign to start things off. Star Wars is one of the richest most accessible universes in all fiction, and we couldn’t even have a four-hour campaign? In a Star Wars game? Really? DICE tries to patch things up by claiming that the co-op mode is their campaign substitute, but the four maps for Survival with minimal replayability offer nothing but more disappointment.
There are only six heroes in the game to boot, despite Star Wars having about five billion characters to choose from. Where is Lando Calrissian? Chewbacca? IG-88 perhaps? The truth is, they will just be implemented later when you’re asked to pay another 70 dollars (CAD) to buy the Season Pass. The get-out-of-jail-free card that EA loves using when every game that they release comes broken or severely lacking content.
To top it off, here are only a few ships to pilot with even fewer vehicles. For ships, you have the T-47, X-Wing, TIE Interceptor, TIE Fighter, A-Wing, and the Millenium Falcon and Slave I (only one mode). For ground vehicles, you have the AT-AT, AT-ST, and the Speeder Bike (on one map). There are many other ground vehicles and ships in the Star Wars universe and even obvious ones like Tauntauns or Luke’s Land Speeder that are stupidly absent from Hoth and Tatooine respectively.
And this one map, one mode idea that I mentioned in parentheses is something Battlefront is full of. There are four planets, and each planet has three maps to choose from. This wouldn’t be such a problem if you could access all of the maps in every game mode, like Battlefield or practically any other shooter in this era does. But Battlefront instead insists on gating your pitiful amount of content behind arbitrary walls. My favourite mode, Walker Assault, launched with four maps, and while they are the highlight of this game, they wear thin quickly enough.
Do Or Do Not, There Is No Try
While this might not be the biggest or best point to end on, I am so personally disappointed by the Fighter Squadron game mode that I can’t write up such a piece without mentioning it.
We all expected that we’d have those amazing battles from Battlefront 1 and 2, where you’d jump from ship to ship, shooting pilots and taking objectives. Instead, what we received was Fighter Squadron, Battlefield‘s ‘Air Superiority’ mode reskinned. You fly around shooting at AI and enemy-controller ships with the six ships I listed above. Lazy objectives like ‘kill the cruiser before it escapes’ sometimes happen, but they’re simply facades to distract you from the fact that this game mode offers nothing.
In the end, I can only hope that the Season Pass will redeem this disaster of a reboot, but it will need to do something unique to convince me to buy it.