I wrote about betas before. I expressed my opinion on the matters, and using my old article as the template here: Star Wars Battlefront teeters between actually testing out hardware for launch and being a promotional item. The beta doesn't require a pre-order of any sort, and was able to be downloaded from your console's respective marketplace (or Origin on PC). Right now there is a lot of opinions of the game flying all over the place, but we have to remember that this is a beta, and there are still more details that we don't quite know at the moment. I have gathered five important details that I think are very important to this game.
1. This Is Not Your Old Battlefront
The most obvious point. The first Battlefront released a long time ago. We went an entire console generation without a Battlefront game. So it's hard to determine where a game like this should be directed. We have an entirely different system at our disposal now. Most (if not all) the features from the older games are completely gone. There is not a single shred of material that stands from the old games to this one. If anything, the execution of concept is the only thing that makes this game "Battlefront" in name. If you are expecting a game just like what we played over ten years ago, then we will be sorely upset. I put this as a main talking point because Battlefront has a history. It is seen as one of the top Star Wars games of all time. There is also a huge nostalgia factor when you talk about this game. It was simple and basic, and still tons of fun without having to be overly advanced. Re-birthing the series with today's graphics shouldn't have been a problem. But times have changed, and this new Battlefront clearly separates itself from the previous games.
It's like when Ford made the new Mustang with the old style as an homage to the classic car. It doesn't handle the same, it doesn't sound the same, yet the name is the same. That is how Battlefront is, the insides are all ripped out and in it's stead is a new engine that handles differently in the palms of our hands. Is it a bad thing? No, but we shouldn't be surprised of ourselves when we set this bar so high only to disappoint ourselves in the end.
Am I disappointed? No, it's different and I am okay with that.
2. Rank System
Battlefront has taken the bite from other games and included a ranking system as every single other FPS has. The ranking system awards you with more equipment as you level your characters up (typical). Want a heavy blaster? You're going to have to grind a bit to unlock it. But obtaining a level isn't just it, you also have to use an in-game currency in order to purchase said item. You get this currency by playing matches, where bonus currency is granted to the winning team. Grinding levels and currency might be a drawback to the game, but I can see it also giving players a reason to keep on playing. It's a treadmill of rewards. You see something you want, you're gonna work your ass off to get it. Once you get it, you kill things with it, and you either find something else that captures your gaze, or you stop playing.
Currently, the beta has only five ranks, and what we receive seems to be only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to weapons and equipment (or at least I hope). This brings us to:
3. Goodbye Classes, Hello Loadouts
In the original titles we had very generic classes. Assault class, your sniper, and some advanced style classes that had different abilities. In this iteration, we lose all of that. This is yet another product of the modern day shooter. Instead of the pre-packaged soldiers with a set of skills, we get loadouts. It's all about how you decide to loudout your character, but what can you carry with you?
The game gives you a general weapon. In the beta we see two automatic blasters, each one given to their respected Imperial/Rebel side. We also see a pistol, and a heavy laser machine gun. You choose one of these as your main weapon. Then your equipment is earned and made to look like these trading cards. You set these cards into hands that contain a total of three items. It's usually two items that have cooldowns that limit how often you can use them, and a power up that is limited by a number in which you can use it. You can use a thermal detonator and a sniper rifle, or switch either of those for a jetpack. Perhaps you want an ion grenade instead? You decide what you want to use. This gives you a lot of choices. If you want to be a jetpack wearing heavy gunner, then go for it. Unfortunately we are very limited by the offerings of the beta, so we have only seen a small bit of variety in loadouts.
4. Power Ups
Did you kill a bunch of dudes and not get a killstreak package for it? That's okay, because this game doesn't do that. Instead, you'll find power-ups scattered across the battlefield. This varies from flying an X-Wing, Special weapons, to even playing as a hero character or commanding the infamous AT-AT. I'll go over each one.
Vehicles - You'll see a blue coin like item that gives you the ability to fly a ship or ground assault vehicle. These coins look like the actual vehicle you would be commanding. After you pick up the coin by walking through it, you can summon your X-Wing that you will either fly gracefully, or directly into an AT-ST. Since there are no demerits for dying, the X-Wing to AT-ST tactic has been widely used. It doesn't stop there, the Imperials get the chance to help command the AT-AT in the Walker Assault mode. This enables the player to unleash a hellstorm of lasers upon their enemies. The vehicles have a health bar, but commanding the AT-AT is only for a certain amount of time.
Power Ups - These look like coins with an asterisk in them. This gives you a random weapon to use. You could get a smart rocket launcher to a thermal igniter, the choices could easily turn the tide of battle. Leaving such an item to be random is a very big decision and a drastic change from form. This also makes fighting the AT-AT's in the Imperial Walker mode incredibly hard for the Rebel side.
Charges - It looks like two side-by side triangles. This just gives you an additional charge for your special ability.
Heroes - It looks like a lightsaber, and this enables you to play as a hero character in the game. Luke and Vader are both on Hoth, and they can be killing machines. They are also fragile in their own way, since a single thermal detonator can take a hero character out in a single shot. It doesn't make them any less intimidating.
So as you see, you don't need any sort of skill to get these. Anyone can use them. You just gotta be the first person to see and run to the power-up before anyone else does. In the past games, being an actual pilot class gave you an advantage to flying and repairing ships. Now it doesn't matter what you play as, everyone is put on a similar playing ground when it comes to these power ups.
5. Teamwork and Strategy
You don't understand what it's like to have the odds stacked against you until you are the Rebels on Hoth. Granted in the movies they lose the battle, but in the Imperial Assault mode, I have only seen the Rebels win only once out of ten matches. Not only do the Imperials have two heavy AT-AT walkers assaulting your base, but they are shielded from conventional blaster fire. That is until you capture and defend two points in the map that allow you to summon Y-Wings to take down the shields, which then you can lay down the fire upon the enemy AT-ATs.
Does that sound easy? Let me throw in some AT-STs. Oh, and Vader is running around somewhere. Also there are Tie-Fighters just laying down some support fire. You are also blinded when running outside of the Hoth base and can't see a single snowtrooper run in. Your turrets are under-powered, it takes too long to call in the support of the Y-Wings, and it easily becomes a one way battle. I have sighed in relief to see myself pay as the Imperials when I play this mode.
As I said before though, the key to winning as the Rebels is to use the strategy presented before us, but no one wants to do that. We want to play Star Wars. We want to run around the field trying to rack up the kills like in Call of Duty. Teamwork and strategy are two incredibly hard tactics to use when 19 other people just want to get the Luke coin so they can kill troopers quickly. In scenarios like this, everyone has their own objective. Some people care, others don't. You are very much punishing the Rebel side for not having a solid strategy when the strategy to playing the Imperials is "go out and kill guys, oh, and make sure our super heavy shielded walking tanks don't blow up."
I have enjoyed what I played, but I can see why many other people didn't like the beta. There seems as if there are key missing items that are hopefully in the full game. The lack of heavy firepower makes the Rebels on the losing side of the Walker Assault mode, and leaving heavy weapons up to a coin flip is a terrible design choice. I can tell that it was hard enough to get the game to this point, and a lot of people were upset that it wasn't the same as the old Battlefront we got to see when LucasArts closed down a couple of years ago. At a certain angle, we have to let it go. We are holding onto this idea of perfection and the honest truth is that DICE can't make everyone happy. In order to really enjoy this, you had to walk in with zero expectations. If the past Battlefield games never existed, and this game was still made, we may have different opinions on the matter. After the beta, I'm still keeping my expectations low. We have about a month left to go before this game hits shelves, and hopefully at that time the game would be much improved due to the effort that we are all putting into this game.
I love Star Wars, and hearing the theme music as I flew a snowspeeder over Hoth, trying to take down an AT-AT was a moment I never thought I would get to experience. I am looking forward to the awesome moments that DICE and EA has in store for me come November 17th.