It’s been a long time, Skywalker. I used to play a great deal of Star Wars Battlefront growing up, many hours spent playing split screen versus friends and having blaster fights inside the cantina. Now after many more entries in the Star Wars universe, a new film on the way and even one cancelled stab at Battlefront 3, we have Star Wars: Battlefront, out on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
When you first boot this up and give it a go, you’ll notice one thing instantly, this looks, plays, and sounds just like the films! It’s the most faithful and enjoyable recreation of the Star Wars franchise I’ve ever played, and the little kid in me went nuts when I first ran across Hoth firing my blaster rifle. They did in credible job bringing it all to life, from the incredibly dense and beautiful backdrop of the forest moon of Endor, to seeing a tie fighter whizz over your head mid fight, it sounds and feels fantastic to be part of. But lets not fanboy out too much, and get down to brass tacks. What’s in the game, and is it worth your time?
For those who are completely new to the series, let’s give a quick overview of what it’s all about. The game takes scenarios and scenes from the massively popular film franchise and lets you play them out as the foot soldiers and stormtroopers on the battlefields, flying vehicles and sometimes even being the heroes and villains the stories are all about. It’s a team based shooter, with various objectives and differing gameplay based on what mode you pick. The modes themselves vary greatly with nine multiplayer options ranging from huge 20 on 20 fights, to smaller 6 on 6 fights. Your big fights are going to fall into either Supremacy or Walker Assault, fights on a grand scale with vehicles and heroes and lots of lasers going off everywhere, alongside some objective based gameplay. Supremacy is a capturing point’s tug of war, and Walker Assault sees the Empire trying to fend off assaults on their AT-AT’s from the Rebel bomber squadrons, which they gain by holding various moving stations on a map.
Going down in player size, but up in scale, you have Fighter Squadron. Everybody is a pilot, with a few AI mixed in, amd you have to shoot the other team down and protect the occasional transport. This is something that could have been amazingly good fun, but with very little depth to the aerial combat outside of “lock on, pew pew, dodge counterattacks”, it gets boring pretty quickly. You do get to fly the Millennium Falcon and Slave 1 though, so that’s a slight redeeming quality. Then you have the smaller skirmishes, which include Droid Run, a slightly different approach to a domination game type, where a team has to hold all three points uncontested to win. Also there is Heroes vs Villains, where Luke, Leia and Han face off against Darth Vader, Boba Fett and the Emperor in a round based death match, with other troops on each side providing extra support or fodder to kill.
The Heroes and Villains are incredibly fun to play as, each offering different roles to play in the grander scheme of a fight. Luke and Vader are your heavy hitters, they get in there with their lightsabers and force powers, with the intention of cutting down whoever is in their path. Seeing one of them come towards you and hearing the hum of the lightsaber is kind of terrifying. Han Solo and Boba Fett play more of a standard trooper role, shooting accurately from a distance, but also being able to do massive damage up close. They do differ slightly, as Fett gets a jetpack, and Han has an ability which can do massive damage to vehicles. Finally, you have Princess Leia and Emperor Palpatine round out the currently available heroes, who both play more of a supporting the team role. They can usually be seen in a battlefield throwing down consumables and allowing people to spawn in as special units while they are alive, but they are also capable of holding their own and doing their fair share of the shooting/zapping.
The game’s progression and unlockable items differ from previous Battlefront and even Battlefield games. There are no classes to choose from, and there’s no weapon customisation. However instead we get a card system, which didn’t seem like too much of a change, but it essentially plays out like a load out you can choose, offering you the ability to switch equipables and items with each spawn in. They work on a cooldown system, so one use every 10 seconds or so, or on charges you find on the battlefield. Some are even passive abilities that can get stronger as you fulfil requirements on the battlefield. Character customisation is there, but only in a limited form. Heads can be changed, and while there is a large amount of styles to select, the fun ones like being the alien races that are in the Star Wars universe, are only unlockable once you grind out a lot of levels in the game.
The game is not all sunshine and cantina music though, it does have a dark side. There is no meaningful single player content to speak of. Yes there’s a Survival game type for you and a friend and a mode where you just seem to shoot people and grab tickets, but they’re pretty shallow. Wheres Galactic Conquest? That was amazingly good fun, having you team up with buddies to take on your other friends across different warzones would be great fun again. There aren’t that many maps available at launch, a couple of hours over different game modes and you’ve played them all. And this brings us into the worst bit about the game….It’s got a Season Pass.
Yep, like most shooters and other franchises these days, EA want your money and then some. Charging £40 for a Season Pass! Which is just as much as the game at some retailers. I don’t usually like talking about prices when reviewing, but this has to be brought up as it’s plastered on the main menu and reminds you that it does exist, making it look like an integral and needed part of the game. Which if it is, brings the recommended retail price up to £80 plus, which is a little ridiculous. It will contain 16 maps, 4 heroes and 20 or so cards adding to the game, so it’s not an empty thing. But unlike, Splatoon, which released with a small amount of content and added gradually over time for free, we’re getting the same thing but having to pay for it.
I love this game, I really do. The child like glee I get playing as Han Solo is something I’m not going to get anywhere else, and the gameplay itself is great fun. It feels and plays like exactly how I wanted a Star Wars game to play, and then some. But you can’t gloss over the lack of base content and a steep price to get the rest of it from the season pass, regardless of how good the content it provides may be. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some troopers to put down in a galaxy far, far away…
+ It’s like you’re in the films
+ Variety of modes
+ Playing as Heroes/Villains is as empowering as it should be
– Lacking real single player/offline content
– Season Pass pricing