Star Wars Battlefront Review (PC)

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Developer: DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Main Review

Review Context: I owned both Battlefront I & II and have loved them to death. I am also a long time DICE fan starting with Battlefield 1942.
Date of Playthrough: January 2016

PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 10
Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K CPU @ 3.40 GHz
RAM: 16 GB
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
Resolution: 1920 x 1080, 60Hz

Star Wars Battlefront (2015) is a first-person/third-person shooter developed by the creators of Battlefield. A modern day version of the much beloved Star Wars Battlefront I and II from the PlayStation 2, Battlefront (2015) is a visual spectacle of lasers, space ships, and all the sounds and characters from Star Wars that we love so much. Though currently somewhat lacking in content, I believe Battlefront (2015) is a faithful recreation of its source material and a gorgeous splurge of nerdy goodness. There are things to dislike about this game given its current state and circumstance, but I know there is also a lot to love.

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Battlefront (2015) is somewhat of a unique shooter in that it is a weird mix of inaccurate weaponry and high health targets. Killing someone isn’t nearly as fast as Call of Duty, nor is it as slow as Halo, when you don’t have a good weapon that is. A mix that on paper seems frustrating, but ends up creating a fun and exciting fire fight. Battles tend to be more drawn out, so more laser bolts to get thrown in the air, which makes the game feel and look like an epic Star Wars battle. Not only does this make the fighting more high octane, but it also gives it more depth. A sudden 1v1 confrontation isn’t a matter of ‘who shoots first’ wins like in Call of Duty. It takes a second or two of sustained fire to kill someone and as a result it’s a matter of who has the better aim. It’s not getting your reticle on your target for a millisecond to get one or two quick shots off, it’s training your gun on your target for a full second and a half, which is quite difficult when both parties are moving. This is further exacerbated at range when the inaccuracy of the weapons really comes into play. A 1v1 fight at range can take up to 4 seconds of sustained fire from both parties, depending on how good either player’s aim is. Thus the game has a noticeable skill gap, allowing for talented players to show their stuff and do well, but not so much that a ‘noob’ can’t have fun letting loose with his blaster. There is no ammo because all the guns overheat instead. There is also no reloading unless you fully overheat your weapon, in which case you are given a small active reload window which will fully cool off your gun if you hit it right, but will slow down the cooling speed if you get it wrong. Every successful active reload will shorten the window of the next opportunity, so a player can’t get so good at it that they can always constantly fire. It’s fun because the game is so hectic and flashy that focusing on something so quick and minute is hard, however the reward can be extraordinary in the right situation.

Instead of having a primary and secondary weapon, everyone gets one primary weapon and then three “cards” which act like equipment or abilities. The first card unlocked is a grenade but unlike most shooters, you don’t just get one or two. Every card has a cooldown, and after it recharges it is ready to be used again. Some cards require a charge as well, which are granted on spawn and can also be found around the maps. Not including primary weapons, all equipment behave this way. Whether its a pulse rifle, a jetpack, or a personal shield, its all cooldown based. Though personally I would say that’s a bad idea, since it allows players to throw a grenade every 11 seconds without penalty, but explosives aren’t overly powerful. Instead of an over reliance on explosives, we get battles that are full of explosions and laser bolts, almost like fireworks. The way things are unlocked for multiplayer is by level and currency. You have to reach a certain level before something becomes available for purchase, and the points you earn during the game are turned to credits at a rate of ten points to one credit. Apart from cards and weapons, you can also get outfits, emotes, and even upgrades for your cards to lower their cooldowns. Every player also has a 4th slot reserved for power-ups that are picked up on the battlefield. The power-ups in most game modes just randomly appear around the map. These can be powerful equipment or access to a vehicle, but they are also how a player becomes a powerful hero. Just like in the original, you can play as a bunch of Star Wars favorites all with their own powers and play styles. The heroes are strong and in the right hands can turn the tide of a game. The heroes start with 100 health which slowly drains over time but can be replenished by killing enemies. Its not enough to sustain your health indefinitely but its enough keep you alive for a few more precious seconds, which is extremely valuable given how deadly they are. A good player can do great work but get caught in a crossfire and you’ll go down pretty quick, especially since the heroes are extremely noticeable and quickly draw all available attention.

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The starfighters are also awesome in Battlefront (2015). They look, sound, feel amazing, and are so much fun. The ships don’t fly like they do in Battlefield. You don’t have to control pitch, roll, and yaw because the planes stay upright on their own. You only have to control up, down, left, and right. This also controls the aim of your weapons, so it’s relatively easy to fly, but quite difficult when trying to aim, especially when aiming at something that is also careening through the sky. You can also perform stunts to the left, right, and back in order to dodge missiles and get people off of your tail. To control your speed you have to divert power from your weapons to your engine. This way slows you down makes your shots hit harder, but it also makes you an easy target. With this control scheme anyone can fly, but it’s almost always the better pilot that wins. Unlike flying in battlefield, it’s easier to fly with mouse and keyboard than controller, which is good because they give you full control customization for keyboard, but only a few presets for controller. Starfighters aren’t just for dogfighting though, as they can also hit targets on the ground. It’s not too hard to kill people on the ground, and it is surprisingly hard for people to kill you from the ground. Thus having air superiority is very valuable, especially in the Walker Assault game mode.

Battlefront (2015) may lack for content, but one thing it does have is good game modes. Besides classic team deathmatch and capture the flag there’s also Droid Run, Drop Zone, Supremacy, Walker Assault, Heroes vs Villains, Hero Hunt, Turning Point and Fighter Squadron. Droid Run is a 6v6 domination like game mode where players fight over control of three droids that wander about the map. Droid Run is fun because the droids can wander almost anywhere, which brings the heat of the battle to places that don’t normally get a lot of action. Drop Zone is an 8v8 mode where players fight over escape pods that periodically fall around the map. Whats unique about it though is that you have to first activate the pod, like planting the bomb in demolition, and then defend it for an amount of time to capture it. If the pod isn’t captured quickly enough then another will fall. Supremacy is one of the 20v20 game modes with soldiers, heroes, and vehicles all together. In Supremacy, players fight over five control points, but not all the points are active. The game starts with each team in control of two points and the middle point uncaptured. Once the middle is captured by either team all points but the two conflicting ones deactivate. Its like rush from Battlefield, where the game progresses down the map as points are destroyed, but both teams are attacking so it can go back and forth. The game ends when one team reaches and captures the final point, or when the time runs out and whoever has the most points captured wins. Turning Point is another 20v20 game mode that is literally rush from Battlefield, where the rebels must capture points defended by the empire all the way to the final base. The only difference is that only one point has to be captured by the rebels for more time to be allotted and other capture points to appear. Heroes vs Villains is a 6v6 mode where each team has three hero players. The goal is to kill the other team’s heroes to win the round and first to five rounds wins. After 3 minutes the round ends on its own and the team with the most heroes alive wins. This is the game mode to play if you wanna play as a hero. Hero Hunt is an extremely unique game mode where out of 8 players one is selected at the start to be the hero. The hero has to get as many kills on the other seven players as possible before being slain, and the player who scores the killing blow on the hero becomes the new hero. The player who gets the most kills as the hero wins. Fighter Squadron is a game mode that is only space ships with AI pilots also thrown in. The first team to reach the score limit wins. Fighter Squadron is dazzling to watch. Walker Assault is the last 20v20 game mode and it is insanely epic. This mode also has heroes and vehicles and centers around two giant ATATs. The rebels attempt to destroy the walkers before they reach the shield generator while the empire tries to protect them. Battlefront (2015) ‘s game modes are very well done and exceptionally varied with new twists to classic modes and even some entirely new things. I played Drop Zone and Walker Assault the most. Drop Zone is a fun twist on classic domination, but with a little more focus, and Walker Assault is just way too awesome to not be a part of. There is also survival, hero battle, and battle mission for solo and co-op play, but they aren’t anything special. They are great for just having some local fun or honing your skills.

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The online experience was extremely enjoyable as well, except for one instance where on a late Wednesday at around 10:00 PM EST, I was unable to join any of the large game modes. There were people constantly joining the lobby, 1 or 2 every second, but just as many people kept leaving the lobby because they were too eager to wait. The player count just wildly fluctuated at around half of what is required to start the game. Clearly it wasn’t due to a lack of traffic, as players were joining at a decent rate, but I still couldn’t play those game modes. Other than that weird instance the online design is super well done. The time it took to get in a game, barring the aforementioned instance, was pleasantly short and navigating the customization menus was a snap. There wasn’t any major lag or lagging players and the spawns were functional, if not sometimes extremely unlucky. Some games have absolutely awful spawning systems, but Battlefront seems to work on the premise that as long as no one can see you it is safe to spawn. However, that doesn’t mean the second you walk out of cover there isn’t someone there ready to murder you. It’s impossible to get a spawn system perfect since there are so many variables, but Battlefront does a respectable job. My favorite part though is that when a game is loading, or even if the game has started, it doesn’t pull you from the load out customization menu until you say your ready; no hurriedly trying to change something before the next round starts and getting stuck with the wrong gear. Honestly, every single online multiplayer shooter needs to do it that way, I’m not sure why no one has figured this out before, cough cough, Call of Duty, cough.

There are a lot of people who say that Battlefront (2015) is a bad game because they were expecting Battlefield and didn’t get it. Battlefront (2015) was never supposed to be a Battlefield, it was supposed to feel like the originals on the Playstation 2. Battlefront II (PS2) was so popular because of its solid shooting mechanics, awesome Star Wars feel, and because it was grandiose and action packed. Large maps with many players, tanks, explosions, and all of it faithfully recreating the Star Wars universe. Well Battlefront (2015) does all that and then some. Every game design choice was made in order to make the game high flying, high octane, and fun as hell. Fast and flashy blasters with those iconic sounds, gorgeous space ships that fly like a dream, a cooldown system that keeps the explosions coming in droves, and all while being the most high definition, accurate, and beautiful simulation of the Star Wars universe to date. The game is a joy to play in its own right, but it really does feel like a modern day version of the Playstation 2 classics. The other main issue people have with Battlefront (2015) is that there isn’t enough content for it to be worthwhile. The game released with only four maps and it has no story mode, but I believe this is the start of a new business model. Developers only have so much time to work on their game. Deadlines are an unavoidable fact of the video game industry and have ruined innumerable games by forcing them to be released before they were finished. So what Nintendo did with Splatoon is spend all the time they were given on making sure that the engine ran perfectly and the game itself was high quality, instead of making enough content to meet consumer demands. So on release day we had a game that plays like molten gold, but doesn’t have enough to do in it. However, this issue was quickly alleviated by a slew of free DLC packs that that were created after the release deadline. Yes there are only five maps right now, but those maps are amazingly well crafted and jaw droppingly gorgeous because they put tons of effort into each of them instead of some effort into each of twelve.

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There are many people who get upset at the idea of paying for a game that doesn’t have a lot to it, but is having twice the maps and a story worth it, if as a result the game isn’t nearly as good? I think that this type of development structure is brilliant because the result is a much better game, and as long as people continue to play it, the developers will continue to add more content. It seems as though DICE is attempting the same strategy, however, it seems increasingly likely that the only reason they released the Battle for Jakku free DLC was because they didn’t want anything that could spoil information on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This is evidenced by the fact that their next DLC is not free. If DICE is using the same technique that Nintendo did than eventually we will have a game that is amazing and has plenty of content. I guess we will just have to wait and see, but as it stands, Battlefront is an extremely well built shooter and achieves everything it set out to do, if not with a little less extras than we we were hoping for.

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Time Splitters (PS2)
Battlefield 4 (PC)

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