Hopes and Reservations: Star Wars Battlefront
In the annals of my personal gaming history there stand a number of games of which I look back fondly. As I’ve talked about before Timesplitters: Future Perfect is a perfect game, the PS2 was the best console etc. It’s from the era of the PS2 that I have some of my fondest memories with games and two games in particular are about to make one hell of a comeback, Star Wars Battlefront.
Star Wars Battlefront as a series has odd history, with two excellent games released in 2004 and 2005. A third game in the series was planned but was cancelled when the games industry went through a particular ordeal we’ll refer to as ‘Hazing’. It looked like the series was done for good until interest in the Star Wars series began to grow with the announcement that there were to be three more movies in the series. So it became inevitable that we’d get a game or two out of, and we’re getting one, Star Wars Battlefront 3 (But they’re not calling it 3 for some reason)
With 2015 being a very different time for game development than 2005 was, we can expect to see certain changes to how number three works in comparison to the last two games. Some of these changes make sense, others don’t and other will mostly likely piss-off series diehards such as myself. So let’s talk about what we know we’re getting thanks to some announcements and leaks.
40 player multi-player battles. For my money, 40 is a great number. While I’m not sure how big the games maps will be, they will be designed around this number. So we can probably expect a good variety of game maps in terms of size and type (Large open spaces, corridor fighting etc)
Playable heroes in the last game were a fun addition but were pretty crap in actual multi-player thanks to how threatening they were. It’s likely that when you see Darth Vader running towards you, you (And your team) are going to give it everything you got to take that bugger down. As such I don’t see people playing as the jedi characters in sniper friendly levels. So far the player heroes that have been talked about are Darth Vader and Boba Fett, since these two are both empire characters I dare say we may see characters such as Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan and Han Solo for the rebel side.
In the last few games you got the choice to play as one of four factions Rebels, Empire, Clones and Droids, against their opposing faction. The four faction gameplay was never really possible to have in a world where COD style progression systems make players very attached to their weapon load-outs. You may kick as with your Rebel Sniper build but if you’re stuck as a Driod you’ll be buggered.
As such the game has gone down to a more typical two factions, Empire vs Rebels. Now this was always going to be the two they choose. Visually the two sides are more iconic than they’re prequel counterparts, they’ve also got battles such as Endor and Hoth which have been heavily featured in the marketing of the game so far. I personally always liked the Droid side thanks to the super battle droids that always kicked ass, but I can live without them. Side note, because of the era choice you can stop hoping to see Darth Maul or General Grievous as playable heroes.
Vehicle combat, since this series is basically the cousin of the Battlefield games, vehicular combat was going to happen. Luckily the era they’re going with has some iconic star ships such as the X-Wing and Tie Fighters so we’ve got that to look forward to.
That’s a decent start for any game and certain has me interested in this more than more shooters do these days (Should write about that some time). But what about what’s not there? Well the most glaring omission to me is the Space Battles. Introduced in the Battlefront 2, these games were about taking down large capital ships using fighter ships to take out external systems or board the enemy vessel and take it down from inside. We aren’t going to see those in this game I’m afraid.
Another thing we won’t be seeing is a campaign mode. This was certainly surprising but not all that bad. The campaign modes in the last few games were decent enough but the real meat of the game for me was galactic conquest mode. Unfortunately we won’t be seeing that either so the multi-player is where the majority of this game will take place. For someone who isn’t the biggest fan of multi-player shooters (apart from TF2) I’m sceptical especially given the dodgy history of EA’s Battlefield series and it’s notorious online issues.
So what can we hope to see in the game? For me the main hope is to see some of the old classic maps get a new coat of paint. In the older games, they managed to capture how the battle for Hoth and Endor looked and the maps were brilliant. I dare say the devs will want to put their spin on these maps so they’ll be different. But I would like to see some of the old maps made with modern technology such as the Mos Eisley spaceport and the Cloud Cities of Bespin.
From listening to a hands-on video from Gamespot, it does appear that the game won’t support the typical class system from the Battlefront games (Or Dice’s Battlefield series) as such it’s very likely that we’ll see player customizable load outs that you can tune to fit certain roles on the battlefield.
From the hands on press-demos that are being reported on it sounds like they were shown a vertical slice* of heavily staged managed game play. As such everything that’s being reported on should be treated sceptically. Luckily much of the press seems aware of the this issue so has been cautious of their praise.
As detached as I try to remain, the series fan boy in me yearns for another Star Wars Battlefront game. Will this new entry into the series live up to my expectations? probably not. The games I played in 2005 were quirky and silly games, with gameplay that you’ll never see again in a post-cod world. But if I wasn’t at least excited in the prospect of a new game like Battlefront, I wouldn’t have written over 1000 words about it would I?
*A vertical slice is small section of the game that is heavily polished to in order to show off a game to press/public. Typically these slices are how the developers would like the entire game to play like, however what is seen in these slices can often be unrepresentive of the final product (See Aliens: Colonial Marines)