About ten years ago, LucasArts developed and released Star Wars: Battlefront II, which became one of the bestselling games from the Star Wars franchise. Despite its commercial success and positive reviews from both critics and gamers, any plans for a third installment in the game series were thrown away due to a change in leadership at LucasArts.
Of course, Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron and Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron were released in 2007 and 2009, respectively. However, these games, created solely for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) system by LucasArts, were barely even regarded by the gaming community, as the controls did not work well on the handheld PSP and game mechanics were lacking.
Therefore, fans of Battlefront II were left disappointed and without closure, wondering why the game developers would scrap the idea of a future console game, and instead release an awry version on the PSP. However in 2013, the Star Wars YouTube channel released a video titled “Star Wars: Battlefront Teaser Trailer.”
People couldn’t believe their eyes. It had been years since the release of Battlefront II, and all hope seemed to be lost for any release of further Battlefront games. The seemingly random timing of the teaser trailer could be easily explained by two factors: one being that Star Wars: The Force Awakens film was due to debut across the world in December 2015, and the other being that DICE, the creators of the Battlefield series, were to be the new creators of the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront.
From the beginning, DICE knew that they would release the game prior to the release of the seventh Star Wars film. With this huge weight on their shoulders, DICE sought to create a game that would satisfy the demands of old Battlefront II gamers while incorporating groundbreaking innovations and gameplay. Technically, DICE’s installment did not have any commercial or storyline connection to LucasArts’ version of the games, so making an innovative game while pleasing original Battlefront gamers was a tough goal.
However, DICE managed to take strong steps towards this vision. The team created an open multiplayer beta, which helped them weed out weapons that were too powerful or too weak and tweak glitches that could have ruined the game had players not exposed them. It also allowed players to obtain a sense of what the final game would be like, giving them a chance to use a limited selection of guns, maps and game modes before its release. Star Wars: Battlefront was released in November 2015, making gamers’ dreams come true.
But when the final version of DICE’s Battlefront dropped, many were confused about where the variety in weapons, maps and almost everything else was. The 12 guns available in the final game included classics, such as the Imperials’ E-11 blaster rifle and the Rebels’ A280C, which essentially were the assault rifles of Star Wars. The game also included new twists, such as the CA-87 shock blaster, the shotgun and the RT-97C, a long range heavy weapon (much like a light machine gun). DICE included at least one of each type of weapon in the game but didn’t add more than what was necessary, which nowadays is quite unusual in video games considering the power of the new generation of consoles, gaming PCs and laptops. They did, however, add the most essential weapon in anything regarding Star Wars: the lightsaber. And who better to wield a lightsaber than the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe?
Thanks to the vibrant world of Star Wars, there are many of these heroes and villains. The characters of the fictional universe, with their unusual outfits, weapons and personalities, are what make the game so unique. But DICE only added six characters to their installment of Battlefront, including Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo. Once again, the developers added the absolutely necessary elements. Before the game was released, everyone knew it would focus on the Galactic Civil War (the Empire vs. the Rebel Alliance), but even then, there are many characters who could have been added, from the Wookiee, Chewbacca, to the deadly assassin droid, IG-88. Hopefully, DICE brings more characters to the game via downloadable content (DLC). While it’s rewarding to play as main characters from the original trilogy, there should be more variety considering the potential of what they can do.
Even the maps and planets in the game are lacking. There are only 12 locations, some of which are on the same planets. DICE said they will release 16 new maps with DLC, but the money that has to be put into a season pass for the content may not be worth it, as it costs a hefty $50 to simply add a few extra things to a $60 game.
Plus, DLC will likely not include extra vehicles, which are also said to be lacking. Each map has its own set of unique vehicles (if any) — some don’t because of the map being too small for any vehicles. The overuse of vehicles on a small map — a staple throughout video game history — can cause too much madness and even render a map unplayable. Because maps in Star Wars: Battlefront are so small, there is, therefore, an absence of vehicles. However, playable vehicles do include classics, such as the Rebels’ X-Wing, Snowspeeder, the Empire’s Tie Fighter and speeder bike. With upcoming DLC, hopefully DICE will add more vehicles to create a balance between large and small maps while simultaneously bringing more unique vehicles from the Star Wars universe.
The only part of this game that can be considered finished is the multiplayer game modes. The single player game modes consist of training, survival, battles and hero battles, the latter two only being unique because of the characters that can be used. The excruciating lack of maps, vehicles, weapons and protagonists make for a game that does not have a single player that can be played over and over and still be enjoyed by the gamer.
There are, though, a solid eight game modes in multiplayer at the moment. The game modes range from extremely simple, such as Blast, which is a team death match, to the more complex and competitive, such as Hero Hunt, in which one hero/villain is pitted against seven troopers.
While DICE proved their competence in creativity and balance in the multiplayer modes, they’ve yet to show this same capability in the rest of the game. Some believe that EA does a terrific job of recreating the Star Wars world and feel of the original game. However, fragments left out in development, such as space combat and classic maps, leave some veteran players wanting more — it doesn’t feel as strong as the original Star Wars: Battlefront. It’s possible that DICE was so intent on getting the game out before the film to improve commercial success that they rushed the game and left out key elements that would have made it just as strong, if not better, than LucasArts’ Battlefront II.
This is not to say that this game is absolutely terrible. The team made great use of the new generation of consoles and PCs by making the superb graphics, and the motion and gameplay mechanics are smooth and simple, making for a pleasing experience. These positives are not enough to cancel out what is absent from this game, but it does make it clear that the game has the potential to be the best one in the franchise. Ultimately, DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront has not yet lived up to the expectations of many fans of the franchise. But the developers could turn things around with some huge additions in DLC.