Classic Galactic Conquest Could Revitalize EA's Modern Battlefront Series
One of the defining features of 2004's Star Wars: Battlefront and 2005's Star Wars: Battlefront II was Galactic Conquest, a turn-based strategy mode that thrust players into the heart of an expansive conflict. In the mode, players sought to systematically gain an edge against the A.I. to dominate planets on both the ground and in space.
For many, Galactic Conquest allowed players to create their own narrative campaigns that could have circumvented the relative dearth of single-player content in both the modern Battlefront and Battlefront 2. Like many of my friends at the time, I spent many hours role-playing, tinkering with the various classes and options that the mode provided.
It came as a surprise — and a mighty disappointment — for me and many other fans when 2015’s Battlefront reboot was released with nary a hint of the beloved mode. 2017's Battlefront 2 featured a mode with a similar name, Galactic Assault, but one that reflected very little about what made the original mode so strong.
The Loss of Individual Tales
While 2015’s Battlefront launched without a single-player campaign and 2017’s outing was bland, uninspired, and short, the freedom afforded in Galactic Conquest allowed players to build their own Star Wars stories and narratives to enhance the gameplay experience, creating moments of nostalgia that many still reminisce about today.
I still remember the first time I throttled into an opposing capital ship in a troop transport filled with my allies, storming the control room, sabotaging the shield generator, and destroying the engines before being mowed down by defending pilots.
It was invigorating stuff.
The inclusion of multiple planets and expansive lore from the movies allowed the gameplay to feel as though real stakes were involved. Battling on Hoth and Kamino felt awesome because it felt like something was being won or lost. These would be the rebels' or the clones' last stronghold, the last line of defense keeping you from fully realizing your stranglehold on the galaxy.
Even innocuous planets like Utapau or Mygeeto made battles feel intense if you had just started your campaign as a particular side, up against the enemy force which controlled the majority of the planets you hoped to liberate.
The newer Battlefront games feel distinctly lacking in comparison. When online matches are contested, there isn’t an overarching conflict driving you forward — something to make victory more rewarding or defeat more devastating.
In the newest games, battles are simply maps that host tug of war gameplay, with little purpose outside of servicing that small lobby of players.
A Galaxy In Battle, But Not At War
In its design, Galactic Conquest allowed for variety in gameplay options, something that simply isn’t available in traditional linear campaigns or multiplayer modes, and which is largely absent in modern Battlefront’s single-player offerings.
The skirmishes in the original Battlefront featured ebbs and flows which would change based on bonuses that could be purchased with credits. Strategic use of these bonuses could swing battles wildly in favor of one side or the other.
Couple this with opportunities to purchase new classes of troopers during your conquest, as well as being able to call upon a faction hero (which would vary per map, adding even more variety), and there was a wealth of opportunity in Galactic Conquest on a large scale.
The offerings in the modern Battlefront series could have expanded on this RTS-lite mechanic.
Increasing options for attacking and defending, placing more emphasis on the use of building and managing space fleets, utilizing modern class customization, all of it could have gone a long way to creating engaging content to which players could continuously return.
For multiplayer, expanding the gameplay beyond the simple team deathmatch or planetary assault to a wider strategic element would have given the modern Battlefront games more scope. The recent addition of the Geonosis Galactic Assault to 2017's Battlefront 2 was a step in the right direction but had it been part of a wider Galactic Conquest mode, it could have captured the feeling from those previous games.
Faction Options Are Endless
Most disappointingly for me, however, was how DICE and EA failed to maximize the potential of the new factions introduced into Star Wars lore with the new Star Wars trilogy, namely The First Order and The Resistance.
The original titles made phenomenal use of the source material, with multiple scenarios for Galactic Conquest featuring various factions, the 501st battalion campaign, and a wealth of instant-action variables with which to tinker and experiment. With all-new planets, heroes, units, weapons, and story beats to work from, a Galactic Conquest mode would be ripe for development from the newest trilogy of movies.
Leading First Order troopers with Kylo Ren or Captain Phasma, resisting the onslaught of troopers as Rey or battling in space as Poe was a missed opportunity in the newest Battlefront games. DICE did well to replicate some of those nostalgic moments in 2017’s Battlefront 2, but it would have been all the more enthralling had those experiences played out across a series of battles, conflicts, and tugs-of-war to gain supremacy.
The Past Will Have To Do
The modern Battlefront games are fun.
While they provided some solid gameplay experiences and multiplayer action, I feel the exclusion of the Galactic Conquest mode, and to a lesser extent the instant-action offering, proved to significantly depreciate the value of the titles, rendering much of their potential null.
Galactic Conquest helped fans establish their own stories, engage with unique gameplay mechanics, and develop their knowledge and understanding of the factions and overall lore. The mode's inclusion wouldn't have fixed everything "wrong" with EA's efforts, but it would have made things more exciting.
I still revisit 2005’s Battlefront 2 on Steam, diving straight into a new galactic conquest readily. Despite its age and rust, it still provides the same undying thrill of being part of a large-scale conflict in a galaxy far, far away.
Perhaps there’s hope for the future, that EA and DICE may come to the light side and provide the long lost Galactic Conquest mode. Though it’s more likely it will be relegated to Boba Fett’s fate — lost to a Sarlaac Pit with little chance to escape.