Star Wars Battlefront: A Retrospective
As of the time of this writing, DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront is what most would consider to be a “complete” game. Since its release in November of 2015, Battlefront has received four major expansion packs along with dozens of smaller updates, all of which have helped to turn it into one of the most comprehensive and immersive Star Wars shooters available to modern gamers.
While it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, Battlefront performed well enough for publisher Electronic Arts to greenlight a sequel which is set to arrive later this year, so I thought now is as good a time as any to look back on my own experiences with the game and offer my thoughts on what I want to see in the sequel.
In A Galaxy Far, Far Away….
Whether you’re a fan of competitive multiplayer shooters or not, there’s no denying that, under the right conditions, Star Wars Battlefront can be an incredibly immersive experience. There’s really nothing quite like plunging into the thick of combat as you engage in massive 20v20 battles (DICE brought the full force of its experience with the Battlefield series to bear) which are themed around iconic Star Wars conflicts like the Battle of Hoth or the Rebel Alliance’s infiltration of the forest-covered Endor moon.
Even Battlefront’s smaller team-based conflicts like Blast (Team Deathmatch) and Heroes vs. Villains can sweep the average player up in Star Wars nostalgia, and that’s in no small part thanks to the game’s high attention to detail and graphical fidelity.
Personally, I took to Battlefront surprisingly well considering my usual aversion for competitive shooters, and for me it was the little things that wound up being just as important as the immersive and chaotic large-scale battles. I love being able to switch between first and third-person and also not having to worry about constantly reloading my weapon (though Battlefront’s heat-based weapon handling mechanics also taught me how to be a more patient third-person shooter player).
The game has a pretty balanced spread of different armaments and auxiliary abilities which means it isn’t terribly hard to improve your skills on the fly, and I dare to you find a secondary ability in any other shooter game that’s as fun to use as Battlefront’s Jump Pack.
However, as great as all of the above is, it took me a while to appreciate it all in full since Battlefront isn’t without its negative aspects, even after being available publicly for a year and some change.
I was initially drawn to Battlefront around the time when DICE announced it would be adding an offline Skirmish mode to the game. Skirmish allows either one or two players (through both online and local couch co-op) to play matches of the game’s two most iconic modes, Walker Assault (basically Battlefront’s version of the Rush mode from the Battlefield series) and Fighter Squadron (pure ship-based combat), but it also doesn’t allow the player to earn any XP or Credits for their profile, making it little more than a fun novelty for most players.
The wave-based Survival mode which shipped with Battlefront isn’t much different, offering paltry Credit rewards (Credits are used to buy new weapons and ancillary items) for reaching certain score tiers. In short, if you want to play Battlefront without partaking of its online competitive multiplayer, there’s really not much meat to chew on.
This problem has been compounded somewhat by the fact that none of the new maps or features introduced in Battlefront’s four DLC expansions are available for use in Skirmish, which means that once the game’s online community starts to die off, they’ll be pretty much completely inaccessible.
Since DICE has moved a majority of its efforts over to the upcoming sequel, it has also been very slow to correct issues in the original Battlefront, much to the chagrin of the game’s community. And, of course, the lack of a proper story-based single-player campaign can be felt keenly, if only because how well-received the story campaigns from the older Battlefront games were.
Bringing Balance To The Force
The silver lining to the above caveats is that DICE has a chance to correct all of it and more in this year’s sequel. It has already been more or less confirmed that the sequel will have a story campaign and that it will likely utilize material from both the original Star Wars trilogy and the newer movies (with the exception of a single map inspired by The Force Awakens and the Rogue One: Scarif expansion, all of Battlefront’s content was pulled from the original Episode IV, V, and VI trilogy).
As for personal recommendations, I would obviously be grateful for any offline game modes which still allowed for full progression gain (a pipedream I know, but a guy can hope) for those times when I didn’t feel like getting fragged by other players. It would also be cool if character customization was expanded beyond its admittedly limited scope in Battlefront and allowed players to pick not only their character’s head and emotes but also their outfit and maybe even their facial features and voice.
Lastly, getting to play as custom Jedi and Sith characters (maybe as some sort of reward for performing well) would be incredibly cool, if only because the amount of playable Force users in Battlefront is so small.
I honestly don’t expect the upcoming Battlefront sequel to have all of the above additions, but it’s comforting to think about how DICE is planning to expand and deepen the already serviceable experience which Battlefront players of today are treated to. It is somewhat unfortunate that DICE’s first Star Wars Battlefront game will likely be most widely remembered as a sort of “dry run” for future Battlefront games, but if DICE’s first attempt can be so compelling, then what follows will surely be a worthy investment for Star Wars fans all over.