STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT Review
I love Star Wars. As a child, I was Luke Skywalker (Rebel pilot) for Halloween six years in a row. I watched the original VHS trilogy so often that the tapes broke and my parents had to buy the gold box edition as a replacement. I had a Star Wars themed room, and at one point, my collection of Star Wars books, Legos, and action figures took over five storage boxes to contain. KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC ranks among my favorite games of all time and BATTLEFRONT II is one of my top Star Wars titles. So it should be no surprise that I’ve been hoping that DICE’s STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT reboot measures up to its predecessors.
I discussed my impressions of the BATTLEFRONT beta back in October and I had several issues with the balance of multiplayer. I’m happy to say that just about every gripe I had with the game was addressed. Walker Assault is no longer horribly stacked in the Empire’s favor (though the one-walker Endor map is clearly fixed for the Alliance). Now that bombing runs generate faster in this mode, the Empire now has a reason to work hard to shut down Rebel transmitters, making the mode a lot more fun for both sides. Star Card inclusions like the Ion Torpedo and Pulse Cannon are unlocked early, allowing the Rebels a fighting chance against Imperial vehicles, as well as solving the lack of specialization from the beta.
Core gameplay is also just as satisfying as it was in the beta. Blasters all feel great, vehicles are a joy to pilot, and heroes kick all kinds of ass. Sound is amazing and the graphics are even better, with extremely rare cases of texture pop in. Atmosphere also stays true to the movies, with Jawas and Ewoks cowering during shootouts and a plethora of Wilhelm screams ringing out in each battle. This new BATTLEFRONT is one of the most genuine Star Wars experiences out there, and it is a great game on top of that.
You could call it…a blast
It’s a shame then that there is so little of said game within BATTLEFRONT’s package. Months before release, a large chunk of the internet was outraged that only four planets were included in the base lineup (three of which are the done-to-death Tatooine, Hoth, and Endor) and that all things Clone Wars would be dropped entirely. As angry as they were by this emaciated frame of a BATTLEFRONT successor, no one could have predicted just how narrow the range of content present is. Everything about BATTLEFRONT screams barebones, from the next-to-nothing singleplayer experience to the minimalist HUD and menus that look to be lifted directly from the Apple store. Map rotation is a joke, as there are only three locales per planet, with each one being shared across multiple game modes. It doesn’t matter how good the levels are; after four rounds, you’ll have seen the entirety of the locations available for that mode.
Speaking of modes, there’s not much to see here either.There are nine multiplayer gametypes available, but odds are you’ll only stick to three of them. Walker Assault and Supremacy are large 20v20 player affairs where BATTLEFRONT really shines, complete with combined arms engagements, playable heroes, and the best set pieces. Drop Zone, my favorite mode from the beta, returns for 8v8 control point action, and is the other playlist that plays well.
Everything else, unfortunately, is nothing but filler. Aircraft exclusive Fighter Squadron sounds cool, but it lacks any structure, with matches entailing nothing more than killing the enemy team. Blast is the same, but for on-foot action. Cargo and Droid Run are your typical Capture the Flag and King of the Hill modes, respectively, but matches drag out into tedious tug of wars that almost always end due to time limit rather than score. Hero Hunt has seven soldiers taking on a lone hero, with the mook who bags the kill assuming that mantle. Players need to reach 50 kills as a hero to win the match, but the constant switching of who gets to be that hero ensures that no one ever reaches that limit within the ten minutes allotted. Heroes vs Villains suffers a similar problem, with three heroes and three troopers on each side trying to eliminate the other team’s leaders. Instead of being a best of five setup, however, one side needs to reach five victories to win, an already difficult goal compounded by the fact that running over the clock results in a draw that awards no points to either side.
And no TIES are allowed
Cooperative modes don’t fair any better. Aside from matchmaking, there’s also a selection of Missions, divided into Training, wave based Survival, and versus mode Battles. All of these can be played alone or with a friend, online or splitscreen. Training missions are easily the best, with custom scenarios such as a dogfight and a speeder bike chase letting players get a feel for the game. Too bad there are only five, and as they are anywhere between two and 10 minutes each, they take less than an hour to complete with no incentive to replay. Survival is a generic horde mode, but Star Wars. The four maps offer a decent challenge, but no real draw. Battles mode is so awful that it’s simply embarrassing. Players kill wandering bots, who drop tokens. Collect 100 and you win. No objectives, no vehicles, no time limit. Even bringing a friend does nothing to spice up the experience.
There are a paltry dozen blasters available that are shared between both sides, with nowhere near enough variety between them. Credits earned from matches can be spent unlocking these guns, Star Cards, or aesthetic options for your character. Completing challenges will unlock figurines in the Diorama tab. And that’s that. This is literally everything there is to do in BATTLEFRONT. Future, paid DLC will add more, but this review is for the base game that is out now, not one year and 20 gigabytes of data later.
I’m Fett up with this nickel and diming
BATTLEFRONT’s problem isn’t that it’s not good enough, it’s that it’s not enough. The lackluster choice of material to work with here is worth $30 at most, not for the $60 asking price, and certainly not the $110 edition that comes with the season pass. For that much money, you’d be better off buying two other games, rather than for half a game with a Star Wars license. And not even a week after release, EA has already announced plans for a sequel, meaning it’ll only be a year or two before the game is rendered obsolete by another overpriced, underdeveloped BATTLEFRONT. There’s simply too few good things here, and too much tacked on filler, to justify a purchase of this title. I hate to say it, but the Force is not strong with BATTLEFRONT.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend
Reviewed on PlayStation 4, also available on Xbox One and PC.