I love video games, but it’s rare for me to play them right when they are first released. Normally it takes me a somewhere from a few months to a few years to get around to playing to a game. I’ve got a considerable backlog of games that I’ve been meaning to play and it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve had the time to start chipping away at the list. With that in mind, I’ve created a new series of posts called Late to the Party, wherein I discuss the games that came out in the preceding years that I’m finally getting around to experiencing. Today’s entry in the series is Star Wars Battlefront.
I’m intentionally going to keep this commentary shorter than some of my recent ones, as I only dabbled in Star Wars Battlefront over a single weekend, so it would be unfair to do a lengthy post that might give the impression that I had played the game in depth. It would also just be difficult to write a longer commentary based on such a limited experience.
Learning how to fly
Star Wars Battlefront is primarily an online multiplayer game, though it does have a few singleplayer and coop missions you can play to practice your skills. The whole game is set during the general time period of the original Star Wars trilogy, so you either play as the Empire or the Rebels. The maps will have you battling it out on Hoth, Sullust, Endor, Tatooine, and Jakku with each planet having a number of maps, and which maps you play on depends on what game mode you are in. After trying out a few of the multiplayer modes, Walker Assault stood out as my favorite. In it, the Imperial team is trying to escort one or two AT-ATs from one end of the map to the other, while the Rebel team is trying to destroy them. Another fun one was Fighter Squadron, where everyone is in X-Wings and TIE Fighters and a giant dogfight ensues. With my limited time I didn’t get to all the game modes, but with the few hours I put in I got a taste of what Battlefront has to offer.
Aside from being a Star Wars game, there are a few game mechanics that distinguish Battlefront from other shooters. In certain game modes, players on both sides can acquire tokens that allow them to transform into hero characters. The Rebels can summon Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo, while the Empire can bring in Darth Vader, the Emperor, and Boba Fett. I never got the chance to turn into one of those characters in a multiplayer match, so I can’t say what it’s like to play as them. Another unique thing is that you don’t reload your gun. Instead, as you fire your weapon it heats up, and if you overheat it then you have to give it a second to cool off. This seemed strange to me at first, but then it occurred to me that even though some of the guns in Star Wars clearly have magazines, I don’t remember anyone ever reloading in any of the movies. Battlefront also gives you the option of playing in either first or third person. While playing, I frequently switched back and forth between the two and I found advantages in both. In third person I had better situational awareness with its wider field of view, whereas in first person I felt more confident in my aiming. I’m not sure if one is definitively better than the other, but at least you have the option to play the way you like.
The best way to break a missile lock? Crash your snowspeeder.
The audio of Battlefront is phenomenal. I don’t have a high-end sound system, or anything beyond the speakers in my TV, but Battlefront makes me wish I did. The video clips in this blog post capture a bit of it, but I don’t think you can fully appreciate how good Battlefront sounds until you’ve played it yourself.
Walker Assault on Hoth (Empire)
Battlefront also perfectly captures the look of the original Star Wars trilogy. The soldiers, weapons, and vehicles look exactly the way they did in the original trilogy, and even the blaster fire and the sparks that are created when something gets shot are dead-on with how I remember them being in the movies. Battlefront’s developer, DICE, should get a special commendation for being so faithful to the original material.
If you’re a Star Wars fan and enjoy online multiplayer, you might like this game. The one caveat I need to mention, though, is that if you’re starting late, like I did, you’ll find yourself going up against a whole lot of people who are already highly leveled up and carrying the best equipment. This doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance against them – indeed, your starting guns are fairly good – you’ll just be at a slight disadvantage until you gain a few levels.