Star Wars Battlefront review: a second opinion
This is our second opinion review of Star Wars Battlefront. One month on from release, how is the game standing up? We’ve gone back to take a look.
As soon as that big AT-AT foot dropped in front of the camera in the E3 2013 teaser trailer for Star Wars Battlefront, I was on board. Money was on the table, and all I needed was for EA to deliver the disc and place the controller in my hands.
That excitement was through the roof right up until release – I’d loved the original Star Wars Battlefront games (especially the second one) and was stunned that the franchise appeared to have died a premature death.
The lure of throwing yourself into the Star Wars universe and experiencing the action close-up is irresistible. Becoming a participant in those sprawling battles we love from the films makes so much sense. But part of the problem with Star Wars Battlefront is also what defines it: you’re rarely a pivotal member of these battles.
You are the cannon fodder – you play as the disposable, nameless Stormtrooper or Rebel solider, and your only purpose is to shoot at the enemy and try not to die too quickly. You’re not the chosen one, you’re not a Jedi, and you’re certainly not a hero.
Cannon fodder simulator
When it was announced that Battlefront would focus on online (there is single player, but it’s limited to wave battles, and there’s no story mode) my heart sank a little. I’m a fan of the online multiplayer shooter genre, but there’s only so much I can get out of that space – especially when there’s so little depth.
I’ll probably dip into it for a few hours every month – if that – but it needs more meat on the bones if it’s going to earn any more of my time. One month in, it’s lacking, even with the Battle of Jakku DLC.
And the more I play Battlefront, the more it feels like spawn, shoot, die, repeat. It’s a repetitive formula.
Booting up Battlefront for the first time was one of the most exciting gaming experiences of 2015 – but after a few hours I was already growing tired.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the problem. The combat system is on point, weapon selection may be lacking but feels OK to me, and I feel fully immersed within the experience.
Battlefront is also one of the best looking games I’ve ever played. The only way in which it falls short of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is its smaller environments. Every time I play on Endor, I’m astounded by the huge, gorgeous space battle happening overhead.
All the little touches give you the feeling you’re a part of this massive universe, albeit a highly disposable part. The sound editing deserves special mention: the screech of a TIE Fighter, the sound of a blaster firing, even the noise of an AT-AT crawling along – Battlefront gets these things spot on.
In our original review, Hugh Langley claimed that Star Wars Battlefront didn’t need a separate story mode and online modes were enough. I couldn’t disagree more.
With this entire world built up by DICE, I don’t see why a single player story couldn’t be integrated. The gameplay, the world, the sound design – everything is here but there’s nothing at the heart of it. I want one coherent story at the core to work through, one that won’t make me contemplate the fragility of life.
DICE has tried to create something a little different with Survival mode, where you play against waves of enemies with various objectives along the way before getting a star rating telling you how good you are at shooting things. However, it’s hardly a worthy replacement for a full single player campaign.
Even though I’ve been playing for weeks, Survival mode is still my highlight of the game. But it could have been so much better.
However, local multiplayer fares much better. The fact you can play with a friend who is sat on the same sofa is a great feature and something sorely lacking in the main online mode.
Survival mode also highlighted one of Battlefront’s biggest issues to me: you have to play with other people.
When in the normal online mode, DICE has clearly tried to make each game mode different, with objectives being the only way to win a match. The amount of kills you get doesn’t really matter.
However, players don’t have any reason to complete those objectives, so it often just ends in everyone shooting each other anywya in an attempt to sort out their kill/death ratio.
It’s rare you ever get to focus on objectives, and the lack of in-mic support could show that DICE didn’t really mind that it would be an issue. I’ve never missed mic chat more in a game before – without it there’s no real way to communicate with your teammates and achieve a win.
After a month with the game, I still feel the players aren’t getting the point of these game modes. It’s all about shooting at the other players and ignoring the objectives, and that’s not the way the game was designed.
If you’re into the kill, rinse, repeat game play of Battlefield or Call of Duty, this will likely keep you engaged for longer.
But even for big shooter fans, the lack of character and weapon customisation means interest wanes much faster here. Call of Duty and its counterparts give you the reason to repeat play the same missions. Unlocking new weapons, kill streak bonuses and equipment changes the way you play the game – something Battlefront sorely lacks.
I’d hoped Battlefront would have a similar depth to Destiny after playing for a month or so, but it doesn’t. There’s not enough depth in the character system here. When you initially pick up the controller and jump into Destiny it feels light, but after a while you discover all the customisation elements and fall deeper into the world.
The problem here is that Battlefront doesn’t even have the framework on which to build more sophistication with DLC and updates. Instead it’s a run-and-gun shooter without any of the complexity of the competition.
Which brings me to the Battle of Jakku DLC. With only four planets to explore from launch, I was excited about the launch of the Jakku and the new battle mode.
But jumping into the new map, I realised it’s much the same as Tatooine. There’s nothing really to distinguish the environment from everyone’s favourite dessert planet, and it feels like a wasted opportunity.
The Battle of Jakku DLC also comes with a brand new battle mode called Turning Point. In this, the Rebels have to fight against the Empire and take away checkpoints to earn more time on the clock. It all ends in the Empire’s home base as the final objective, and when the team works together this is one of the best game modes in Battlefront.
But without cooperative comrades, there’s not enough to make it stand out. The battles are chaotic, and throwing in airspeeders and AT-STs only adds to the frenetic action.
Plus, it still suffers from the fact that most competitors on this 40-player match will be more focused on shooting others than achieving the actual objective.
Although I understand why Battlefront is avoiding the prequels, there are elements of those films I’d love to see adapted into the games. Imagine being able to fight on the streets of Coruscant, Naboo or whatever that planet General Grievous lives on is called.
Battlefront lives deeply within the Star Wars universe. It’s not just a tie-in game, and EA has made it clear that it has more life in it – even if it’s already talking about sequels.
In Battlefront, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader die on a regular basis. This isn’t canon Star Wars. Instead it’s a toy box, and I don’t feel it’s letting us play enough. I hope in the future Battlefront will realise the sandbox potential of this complex world.
DLC is still to come, and we’ve been told to expect at least four more hero characters within that. But adding in the odd character, a new planet here or there, and a new game mode isn’t going to cut it.
Considering the lack of content you’re getting for your money here, it’s also a travesty EA has decided to charge you the same amount of money again for the DLC. There’s free DLC planned for the future, but right now it’s not clear what that will include or why it wasn’t included in the original game.
Credits just won’t do
I want to love Battlefront more. I want to be playing it every night, but for that to happen it needs more Bantha meat on its bones. Every time I put the disk in I get excited to enter Star Wars again, but after 10 minutes of being there I realise I’m a disposable red shirt and I just want out.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, you need to play Battlefront. Just don’t expect to be thrilled for the next 200.
I was hoping for something with a bit more depth. My love of the Star Wars universe should be enhanced by playing this game, but instead I find I only sort-of like it because it’s based on some of my favourite characters committed to film.
Techradar verdict: Play this
Buy it, but don’t expect to get the hours of gameplay you would from something like Fallout 4. It’s fun to enter the world of Star Wars, but once you’ve spent a few hours as a footsoldier, it grows extremely tiresome.