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Star Wars: Battlefront - Multiplayer Beta Impressions

Star Wars: Battlefront's beta is an impressive effort by DICE that contains an abundance of action but some unfortunate flaws.

I recently had the opportunity to go hands-on with Star Wars: Battlefront’s recently released multiplayer beta and have come away with some pretty strong impressions on how I feel the product is shaping up thus far. 

As a disclaimer, I am not familiar with any of the prior Star Wars video games or DICE’s previous work on the Battlefield series, so these opinions have been derived solely from my experience with this beta and are not referenced against any prior titles or expectations.

An Authentic Star Wars Experience

Star Wars: Battlefront is, above all, an obvious fan service to the millions of Star Wars fans that enjoy the medium of video games.  A significant effort has been placed here on making every object in the game feel authentic to the Star Wars universe, and this objective has been met down to every individual component of the Battlefront experience.  Everything from the weapon fire effects, vehicular designs, and even the visual makeup of each level displays a stunning level of authenticity.

The Frostbite engine is in full force here with some especially impressive lighting and particle effects. While the visual presentation isn’t as consistently impressive as some of the promotional footage would lead you to believe, the product is very impressive and meets every measure of a next-gen title in 2015.

Also deserving of praise is how successfully Battlefront replicates the feeling of being in the Star Wars universe.  Battles rage across large landscapes, and each map contains an abundance of depth and verticality through the use of mountain ranges, trenches, valleys, and indoor bases to consistently change the play experience. 

The beta's competitive game modes make perfect use of this variation by constantly shifting the set of objectives for each team, forcing soldiers and vehicles to cover large swaths of terrain and making the experience feel like a moving war.

Not All Is Well With The Force

With all this being said, it comes as a surprise that Star Wars: Battlefront’s minute-to-minute gameplay feels constricted in a way that belies its huge battlegrounds and large player count.  The game’s mechanics are solid and yet entirely unremarkable.  Characters move with plenty of pace, yet it seems impossible to ever evade incoming fire, especially from AT-AT walkers and turrets capable of killing your character before you can even blink.

Guns react exactly how you would expect from their Star Wars heritage, and yet none feel varied or powerful enough to provide any effective strategies other than just closing the gap on an enemy and shooting straight ahead.  It’s as though the adherence to keeping the game mechanics faithful to the source material has prohibited DICE from adding in the creative weaponry and movement mechanics that would liven up the combat options.

Other design choices that authenticate the Star Wars license seem to inhibit the game’s natural rhythm.  Take for instance the beta's oddly-appropriated soundtrack.  For most of each battle music is absent, whilst completing certain battle objectives trigger in interludes of familiar Star Wars melodies.  These insertions are consistently jarring due to their brevity, and each song is simply too recognizable to compliment the otherwise fresh experience of playing this new title.  

A persistent soundtrack with more originality in the compositions would go a long way towards improving the product in its final release.

Conclusions

Star Wars: Battlefront is a fun and frantic title that will more than likely appeal to fans of large-scale multiplayer shooters and Star Wars aficionados.  While the absence of a true single-player campaign in the final release will be disappointing due to the obvious craftsmanship of its multiplayer component, the beta hints at an experience that will provide at least some level of lasting appeal to fans of its play experience. 

Whether it warrants a full-price purchase is a decision that each player will have to make for themselves, but regardless, EA and DICE have provided a polished and mostly glitch-free multiplayer beta that will provide a fun weekend of play if not a pre-order or full purchase in the future.

Published Oct. 9th 2015
  • Cameron Patel
    Contributor
    I couldn't play more than 20 mins of this game before I had turn my Xbox off. I mean this game feel completely derivative. i was hoping that since DICE was the studio developing this game, they would bring some of Battlefield's great vehicle combat, and balanced maps and class design into this game but there weren't any signs of any of these during the few minutes I played. It may be because I played as Rebel both games I played and from what I hear, the game spawns are heavily skewed against them. This game looks and sounds great, but it just feels boring to play. There is nothing that this game does better than any other shooter.
  • S2riker
    Correspondent
    For me, the beta was admittedly fun to play, but once I finished I had no strong desire to revisit it. Like you said, the feel of a great shooter was really not there for me and I think many other shooters provide a similar gameplay experience with more variety.
  • topher339
    I still plan on buying the game and do believe I will enjoy it. However, it is not Battlefront. I believe calling it Battlefront in the first place was a bad idea. Everyone wants the Battlefront of old, including me. It's not anywhere near the same game but it shares the title. It should not.

    There's no campaign (which, granted, was rather limited in previous installments), there's no conquest, no playing against bots, no space battles, few released heroes/villains, and no online splitscreen. Plus you can't pilot AT-ATs (I mean, come on, that's a must).

    I'll enjoy it, but it is no Battlefront.
  • S2riker
    Correspondent
    Good points! I haven't played the other Battlefront games so I had nothing to compare this one to.
  • Si_W
    I found the beta very boring.
  • S2riker
    Correspondent
    I did have fun playing the beta, but the game mechanics seem quite shallow and I'd suspect I would get bored of it pretty fast.
  • NeedsFoodBadly
    Ignoring the obvious laziness of no campaign mode whatsoever, SWBF also boasts no server browser, matchmaking only and obviously imbalanced gameplay.
    Well, at least all that time they saved by not making a campaign mode and only a handful of multiplayer maps could go into making some epic space battles right? Uh no. No space battles either.
    Well at least Battlefront 3 will have up to 40 players! That's uh...let's see...24 less than Battlefront 2. Technology!
    But hey, you'll be able to play as Luke, Vader and Boba Fett! Wow. In Battlefront 2 you could only play as...let's see...20+ heroes.
    Great stuff.
  • S2riker
    Correspondent
    All good points you bring up, it's as if the game needed another year of development to live up to its predecessor.
  • KaosuDrake
    Contributor
    I like your review Revicide, and would agree that this is a good fun game. Except for the fact that it is suppose to be the next iteration of Star Wars: Battlefront games. I know I'm seeming to want the old games back but this just feels like I have to play multiplayer no matter what. What made the old Battlefront games fun was that I could go play by myself against computers or play with friends on the couch or online. That is my biggest problem there are others but that is for an article writing.
  • S2riker
    Correspondent
    Thanks! I agree with you, I would have a much more favorable impression of the title if it were including a single-player component. There's only so long a multiplayer-only shooter like this will hold people's attention before they switch to something else with more depth.
  • edaW enaywD 3
    Excellent write-up, Revicide! I'm no Star Wars buff, but your summary is pushing me to give the beta a go this weekend. You should play with me and I'll teach you a thing or two about maintaining a respectable K/D ratio!!!

    Thank you for your insights!
  • Matt_6783
    I hear he need some work when it comes to K/D's...let's show him that it's not always smart to run off by himself. Play for the team!
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    You mentioned one of the points which annoys me too, but the worst part is the holograms, and the fact EVERYTHING is on a cooldown.
    While the guns make sense, and I like that (well they overheat is what I mean).
    But grenades? Everything, and the holograms to teleport into something? It's just bad... It really saddens me, because I really love Star Wars, and just ehhh... everyone about this game (except looks and sounds) is just mehhh... ehhhh.... it could be good... but isn't.
  • S2riker
    Correspondent
    You know, that's something I never really picked up on as a problem, but then again I'm not too familiar with how prior Star Wars games handled that sort of thing. I'd assume if enough people criticize the cooldown timers on the forums then you'd see changes being made before the final product is shipped.
  • Matt_6783
    Revicide, thanks for this in-depth look at a game that I'm thinking of trying but just haven't had time to download yet! You certainly make a thorough argument for me to at least try the game out and give it a chance.

    Your explanation of the "moving war" was fantastic and is a breath of fresh air from some of the usual FPS games centered around immediate objectives. I am curious as to some of the points you mentioned such as the ability to evade and ease of movement.

    Guess I'll have to give it a try! Thanks for the writeup.
  • S2riker
    Correspondent
    Thanks for the comment! As far as the movement and evading is concerned, its a combination of the weapon kill-times being extremely quick and a lack of ability to move into trenches or cover while taking fire. It's very different from something like Halo where it takes many bullets to kill another player and the first person to shoot doesn't always come away with the kill.

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