A new Star Wars Battlefront game is finally upon us, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The world is already in a Star Wars frenzy, and EA’s reboot of the classic Star Wars shooter fits in nicely to the onslaught of products released to capitalize on this month’s The Force Awakens.
The mostly multiplayer shooter eschews trying to complicate things with any kind of story, and focuses solely on battles — you know, since it’s in the title. And giving Battlefront to DICE (the Battlefield series) and putting it on the wonderful Frostbite engine, the game play is smooth and the graphics are jaw-dropping.
Star Wars Battlefront comes with two modes — Multiplayer and Missions. The Missions Mode includes specifically themed battles which harken back to the original games (kill 100 enemies before the other team), with some semblance of a mission story (protect the stolen plans, disrupt the other army from dispatching, etc.) The action is fun and frantic. And hidden gems (five per level) gives players incentive to seek them out all the while a gun fight goes on around you. Each of the four planetary locations (Hoth, Tatooine, Endor, and Sullust) has its own dedicated map, and each battle has a “Hero battle” counterpart where the player selects a hero (Han, Leia, and Luke for rebels; Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Palpatine for the empire) and commences to reach 100 kills first.
The mode is is essentially like Call of Duty’s “kill confirmed,” meaning that each fallen enemy drops a tag that must be collected for the kill to register. Players can also collect tags from fallen teammates to prevent the other side from getting the points. Battle missions can be played solo, or against a friend online or in couch co-op, and each mission has three difficulties. Completing objectives earn stars.
Also included in the Missions Mode are four survival missions, where a player — solo or with a partner, online or couch co-op — defeats wave after wave of enemies, while collecting dropped pods with weapon upgrades. The enemies get harder with each wave and team work is essential. The survival mode is a nice way practice teamwork and get used to the targeting, and the Star Cards, which gives the player extra weapons and abilities. The Star Cards here cannot be switched out, but players can choose between two different “hands” of cards, depending on their play style.
The true bread and butter of Star Wars Battlefront is in the massive Multiplayer Mode. There are nine different multiplayer games, most of which are classic games re-skinned with a unique Star Wars-ism. Domination (or control) is called Droid Run here, and instead of securing points A, B, and C, players fight to secure slow moving gonk droids. The combination of the maps and the paths that the droids take make this a fun and exciting game mode, and one of my favorites. On the flip side of that is Hero Hunt, which pits eight players against a hero. The rub here is that the only way to score a kill is to fire the killshot on the powerful hero character, and I’m not even sure how the game decides who gets to be the hero. I’ve played the mode a few times, and have neither scored a point (no kill shots, though I’ve softened them up for others) or have I played as a hero. This mode is a throwaway, and I’m confident I will never play it again. A large “team deathmatch” type game — here called Supremacy — and a few objective type games (like “capture the flag” in Cargo, and “Hardpoint” in Drop Zone) round out the bulk of multiplayer, save for two incredible game modes that truly make Battlefront feel like a Star Wars game.
These two best modes in multiplayer are Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron. Walker assault pits 40 players against each other, with the rebels trying to stop the AT-AT walkers from destroying their base, and the Empire fighting to ensure the walkers can do their jobs. Think the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, but then add that scenario to three other planets. The action is intense — and a little insane — and the combination of gunplay, vehicle combat, and objectives make this the de facto game mode. But, it’s not my personal favorite. That distinction goes to Fighter Squadron.
I can’t explain how or why, but I was absolutely born to fly a ship in the Star Wars universe. When I play Fighter Squadron, I feel the thrill that Anakin felt in the space battle at the end of The Phantom Menace. When I score a hit on a named enemy (not a bot), I feel like Luke after launching the torpedoes at the first Death Star. I feel the absolute thrill of battle as my fellow combatants zip and swirl past in massive dogfights. Players choose from an X-Wing or A-Wing on the rebel side, or a TIE of TIE Interceptor for the empire. Each side has different star card power ups — which, to date, can’t be customized. Add to that, each side has a “hero” ship — the Millennium Falcon or Slave I — and there are objectives (escort shuttles, take out fleeing transports) that make Fighter Squadron the mode I go to the most.
Star Wars Battlefront has a handful of unlocks in various Star Cards and weapons, and players can customize their load outs. Buying new weapons (there are 11 different weapons in the game) helps open up Battlefront to each player’s style, so earning the credits to buy the unlocks is a worthwhile endeavor. The 24 different Star Cards include traits that give bonuses without burning a Star Card slot. Traits are unlocked at level 15 or so. There are also different heads and emotes that can be purchased and unlocked, and a neat little diorama with Star Wars “figures” that are earned by completing challenges (Kill 100 enemies with a hero, fly in a ship for 10 hours, etc.). This all just adds to the package.
Star Wars Battlefront is a near perfect Star Wars game, putting all the emphasis on the actual battles and leaving the story for the movies. The graphics are stunning, the action looks and sounds amazing, and the various game modes are fun and are enticing enough to keep fans playing. Getting a group of friends together makes the game that much more enjoyable, but playing solo is fun as well. And with a free DLC pack hitting sometime today for those who pre-ordered, and next week for everyone else, with a new planet — Jakku, which will be heavily featured in The Force Awakens — the fun will continue. EA has also stated that more free DLC content is coming, in addition to the criminally expensive Season Pass, which includes four packs with new planets, ships, weapons, game modes, and more. To put it simply, Star Wars Battlefront is great right now, and will be getting better.
Star Wars Battlefront is available now for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. This review is based off a PS4 copy of the game purchased at retail.
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