Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard by now that the multiplayer beta for Star Wars Battlefront is live and kicking. Personally I was very hyped for this game when I first heard about it circa E3. The gameplay looked phenomenal, it’s Star Wars so that’s a major plus, and it’s been a long while since I gave a shit about AAA first person shooters. This one seemed to change up the formula just enough to be interesting. Did it hold up to scrutiny though?
First off, we have to notate that this is a beta. That means you don’t get the full effect of the game because there are a limited number of maps and game modes, you can’t unlock everything that will be available on release, and other features I would have liked to test out weren’t implemented. The other day my buddy who owns a PS4 was telling me that he had been playing it so I went over to his house to check it out. I had never signed up for a beta on PC, and hadn’t even looked into it at that point, but the game looked like a console shooter right off of the bat. I was pleasantly surprised that the game was pretty and ran smoothly on the PS4. I didn’t detect any lag or bugs, though the control scheme was a little different than I was used to (when did Sony decide that it should emulate the Xbox’s default control scheme? I remember the days when L1/R1 were always the default for shooting controls). My major complaint was with the way vehicles and turrets control, in that they were kind of wonky and didn’t feel natural. The other complaint I have is that there wasn’t splitscreen for multiplayer, but it did work just fine on the lone co-op map provided by the beta. It would have been nice to play with my friend rather than taking turns, but under normal circumstances I’d likely just be playing at home with people over the Internet so that’s not too big of a deal. I should note that the split screen performed just as well during the co-op mission, but there aren’t multiple people connected to those sessions, so it made sense.
The systems of the game are nicely done. There’s an overall account level progression where you gain ranks as you play. This unlocks “cards” that you use to make up a “hand.” The cards are special abilities, items, or secondary weapons. Your main weapon is basically always a blaster, though their are everything from hand guns to rifles to machine guns — shooting lasers of course, but similar enough to the contemporary shooter. Side arms include grenades, sniper rifles, jump packs and other specials like a personal shield or an “ion blaster” that charges your normal weapons up so they do more damage to shields and vehicles. One major plus: all of these have cool downs, including the sniper rifle, so no one can camp in a spot with a rifle for very long without revealing themself. It’s also awesome that instead of having a stationary spot for vehicles and other power ups, they are randomly peppered among the battlefield, just waiting for people to pick them up. If you don’t use the vehicle right away or die while holding it, you also lose control of that vehicle. Power ups persist through death. Heroes like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are also played by picking up their respective power ups. It’s a great way to keep people from camping or having an unfair advantage.
The maps that were available provided 3 different game modes. The aforementioned co-op survival map is a wave based ordeal with a friend against increasingly difficult AI. It was limited to a smaller amount of rounds than what will be in the full game, but gives you a taste. The Drop Zone game mode is similar to Headquarters or King of the Hill, where a drop pod lands in a random spot and the two teams fight over control of it. First team to 5 captures wins. Lastly, the Walker Assault game mode is similar to Rush, where each team starts on one side and needs to push towards the other. The Imperials have two AT-AT’s slowly moving towards their base (similar to the battle on Hoth). Rebels need to maintain control of satellite uplinks so their bombers can attack the AT-AT’s, but also have A-Wings that can be used with tow cables to take them down. This mode seems to be heavily skewed towards an Imperial victory, as in most matches they win out, though I have seen the Rebels win one time. The in-game menus show a list of other maps and game modes so it looks like there will be plenty of variety upon release, and being an EA title I’m sure we can expect a shit ton of DLC to empty our wallets.
One complaint I’m seeing around the web is that the maps are too small, and that the game is just Battlefield with a new coat of paint. Both are true to an extent, though it seems to me that the game is more similar to older Battlefront games rather than Battlefield. It’s hard to tell from this small sample size though, and I imagine that there are many more ranks and unlocks that we haven’t seen yet. One of the things I hate about Battlefield games though, is just how big the maps are. Dying and running back to the battle just to die again is tedious with huge maps. I felt that the Walker Assault map was the perfect size. I will agree that the Drop Zone map is a bit small, but with a game mode like that you wouldn’t want it to be too big. It’s still bigger than most Call of Duty maps.
Yesterday I downloaded the beta through Origin. Having now experienced the game on both the PS4 and PC, I have to say that I prefer the PC controls. Mouse aiming is so much more precise, turning on a dime works so much easier and though I pride myself as being both a PC and Console gamer, I’m beginning to find that I prefer PC controls most of the time. Outside of controls, the game looked exactly the same, performed just as well, and was a lot of fun.
Overall I enjoy the game, but I don’t see the value in that $60 price tag. Had I infinite disposable funds I would definitely pick it up on day one though. I just imagine there will be a sale between now and the end of the year where it will be more affordable, and by then the community will have leveled out as well (I noticed way too many people that just don’t know how to play a team based FPS during my play time).
I recorded some of my gameplay from the PC beta. Here’s the Drop Zone mode:
And the Walker Assault mode:
Have you played the beta yet? What are you thoughts?