When I first sat down with the long-hyped Star Wars: Battlefront, I was very excited. The last two Battlefront games were a ton of fun back in the day, and this new version was developed by DICE (who also developed the most recent Battlefield games)… so how could anything go wrong when combining the awesome graphics, audio and gameplay that DICE is known for with the incredible lore, environments, characters, and vehicles that make Star Wars so iconic?
I’m still trying to figure it out, because it definitely did go wrong.
Let’s start with a quick overview of what Battlefront is all about. There’s no campaign (although there is a horde mode you can play solo), and you’ll take control of an ordinary stormtrooper or rebel soldier armed with a blaster and maybe a sniper rifle, grenades or a jet pack (all of which work on a cooldown) depending on how you customize your class. You can control vehicles like the AT-ST and X-wing by finding pickups in the battlefield, and similar pickups will allow you to run around for a limited time as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Boba Fett, Princess Leia, or the Emperor.
There’s no reloading and the handful of guns you get to choose from all feel pretty identical. Combat isn’t really fun, which is literally the most important thing a developer needs to worry about when making a game. The AT-ST is pretty satisfying to control, but flight is an oversimplified joke. The heroes are fun the first few times that you use them, but even they get boring after awhile. Overall, the most (and probably only) fun you’ll have with this game is in the first few hours.
So you know how you’re playing, but what are you playing? Game modes include Star Wars themed versions of team deathmatch, juggernaut, and conquest. There’s also an AI filled dogfight mode, but the truly unique mode is Walker Assault, where the Empire must escort two AT-ATs to a rebel base in order to blow it up, while the rebels in turn try to blow up the AT-ATs before they get there. Walker Assault is the only one really worth playing, which is unfortunate because it’s terribly unbalanced (hint- if the rebels are communicating, they will win every time).
There are only 12 maps across four planets (three planets and a moon, technically)- Hoth, Endor, Tatooine, and the never-before-seen Sullust (it’s a lava planet). This means there’s not a lot of variety in the environments, which is a shame considering how much material there is to work with in the Star Wars universe (there’s not even a Mos Eisley map on Tatooine! Oh, and aside from the fact that flying is boring, why are there no space battles?!)
One positive is that each of the included maps do look fantastic. The way the snow sparkles on Hoth and how the light filters through the treetops on Endor really makes you feel like you’re in these classic Star Wars locations, and when laser blasts are flying past Luke and Vader as their lightsabers clash… it actually looks realistic. The sound is fantastic as well- that trademark whine of a TIE fighter screaming by will definitely give you goosebumps.
Overall, with those positives aside, this is an FPS in its simplest form, with virtually no depth or challenge. Other than graphics and audio, it actually feels like a step back not only for Battlefront, but for video games in general. Literally the only reason to buy this game is if you’re a Star Wars fan or have kids, and even then it’s hard to justify spending $60 ($110 with the season pass) on a game that has about $20 worth of content.