For a total of six days from October 8 to October 13, Electronic Arts released the beta of its highly anticipated addition to the “Star Wars: Battlefront” series. Scheduled for release on November 17, the game will be available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Visually, “Star Wars” has never looked better. Science fiction games always carry the burden of attempting to create a believable and immersive environment out of fantastic, out-of-this-world concepts, and “Star Wars: Battlefront” is no different. While the previous games in the series were visually impressive for their time, the new “Battlefront” presents a revamped look that adds an element of reality to the experience, which is good news for gamers who demand more graphically intensive shooters.
If nothing else, what “Star Wars: Battlefront” brings to the table is an intense wave of nostalgia for fans of the previous games and films. Much like its predecessors, the game’s release is strategically situated around the release of the next film installment this December. “Star Wars,” at least in recent history, hasn’t just been about the movies, but also about all of the shamelessly rampant merchandizing.
In terms of actual gameplay, some of the more complex combat elements found in other first-person shooters, such as “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty,” were dumbed down and streamlined, making the experience easy to pick up. While this sounds nice, it’s a factor that really doesn’t allow for dynamic gameplay. Many gamers enjoy the ability to create and customize their characters in a way that projects their individuality and play style into the matches, and “Battlefront” doesn’t really allow for that.
While the beta was only a partial demo, the shocking lack of diverse gameplay is something that hopefully will be remedied in the full game. The beta did allow you to alter your load-out to some degree, but the selection of weapons and specials was rather unvaried. Each of the four available blasters may have had different specs, but they didn’t do much in terms of mixing up how you play the game. Without dedicated and diverse classes of weapons (lightsaber, anyone?), you wind up playing every match in the exact same way.
The two different multiplayer maps exhibited in the beta were both interesting and impressive in their own right. It seems to be that in the full game, each of the multiplayer maps will be resigned to a certain game mode, which is different from most shooters today. Instead of a simple team deathmatch between the Rebels and the Empire, the developers created an interesting set of story-related objectives that must be pursued in order to win multiplayer matches.
With the focus on objective-based multiplayer, players might be disappointed by the lack of opportunity to act strategically. For the most part, the game feels like one big dog fight, and the streamlined combat makes it feel as though whomever shoots first will win. It seems like a lost for opportunity for a dedicated sci-fi shooter.
At its core, the “Battlefront” beta is just a simple shooter in a “Star Wars” skin. The benefit of this approach is that it will make the game much more accessible to kids and parents alike, but it’s bound to underwhelm serious gamers once they get off the hype train.
Still, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, a beta is just a demo. It’s a test to see what’s working and what isn’t. The “Battlefront” beta may have been far from perfect, but it was a nostalgic and appreciated return to a galaxy far, far away.