I activated Star Wars Battlefront on my Xbox One Elite Edition console…
I armed my soldier from the Rebel Alliance with a standard-issue blaster and a thermal detonator.
I entered a battle in progress on the ice planet of Hoth.
I got picked off in about 12 1/2 seconds.
It was entirely my fault.
See, as soon as my solider materialized on that remote ice planet, my jaw dropped to the floor, I was completely dumbfounded, and I just sat there completely in awe.
Let’s respawn and try this again.
In the distance, an AT-AT Walker fired its turbo lasers at us with a wave of stormtroopers headed our way.
Lasers whirled past us. Explosions all around.
Up in the sky, a snowspeeder rocketed past us, got hit by a laser, and crashed into the snow right in front of us.
Suddenly, our general made a stunning announcement.
“All rebels stay on alert! Darth Vader has been spotted in your area!”
And sure enough, there he was.
I watched Vader decimate soldiers with his lightsaber, with his trademarked “force choke.”
The situation surely was grim.
But then came the cavalry.
One lucky player, probably a 13 year old from Wisconsin, stumbled onto a “Hero” icon and was able to become Han Solo. Armed with his blaster, with a platoon of rebels behind him, the tide of the battle slowly shifted.
We concentrated our efforts on that AT-AT and brought it down with a volley of laser fire.
Then we turned our attention to those pesky stormtroopers that had us pinned down, and after some patience and perseverance, we prevailed.
The Rebel Alliance had won.
Star Wars Battlefront is an achievement on multiple levels.
With the LucasArts gaming division shut down, Disney wisely turned to DICE to spearhead this newest incarnation of it’s Battlefront series that always struggled to find its footing.
Earlier versions were always filled with promise and hope – of playing on recognizable worlds from the movies, of being able to pilot an X-Wing or a Tie Fighter, but graphics limitations and glitches made these frustrating experiences.
Under EA, all of this has been remedied. The gaming experience is fantastic.
It hones in on the original trilogy primarily, allowing us to return to the familiar planets of Tatooine, Hoth and Endor, and throws in some new worlds and original environments to keep things fresh. Some may say another Star Wars game that goes to Endor gives the game a “been there, done that” feel, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
We haven’t experienced these worlds in such an immersive and realistic way as we do now with the new Star Wars Battlefront.
Endor is staggering with its detail as you traverse through the thick forest. When a speeder bike whizzes by, it sounds like a speeder bike from the movie. When it fires its lasers, they sound like the lasers from the movie. This attention to detail allows you to finally feel what its like to be inside Star Wars.
When my stormtrooper was running through the snow on Hoth, I noticed shimmering sparkles on the ice from the sunlight beaming down. Inside the ice caves, everything became blue and freezing cold. A stark contrast to Tatooine, where our group of soldiers were on the hunt for stolen cargo in the middle of a sandstorm on the desert wasteland.
To satisfy even the most skeptical of fans, the worlds the game creates take you into very specific, very familiar places from the original trilogy. On Tatooine, I emerged from a cave at one point only to find myself literally in the crater where Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru lived. When going through the ice caverns on Hoth, I entered a spot that was so clearly where the Wampa took its victims – the spot where Luke was hanging upside down and had to cut his way out with his lightsaber.
The graphics are just so spectacular and so realistic.
Perhaps even more importantly, the game simply works!
In an online multiplayer arena of 20 vs. 20, there were no frame rate issues, no stuttering or glitches. When the system seems to be getting taxed to the max, it still runs smooth as molasses. What a pleasure.
I’ve heard some critics complain about the game for its lack of single player campaign and its one-note emphasis on battles, destruction and carnage.
Yes, this is all true.
Because this is Star Wars Battlefront.
The intent of the game is to make you a soldier on the front lines in the middle of an epic battle, and you’re going to have to face real opponents if you’re going to appreciate the nature of this game.
When you occasionally stumble across a hero card and get to play for a short time as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia or the Emperor, for example, these are just bonus experiences that accentuate an already fantastic game.
Make no mistake though.
To get the most out of the experience, you’re going to have to have patience. A lot of it.
I’m starting to sound like Yoda.
This isn’t a game where you can start up right at the beginning, plug into a battle, and instantly achieve any sort of success. You have to know going in that there are kids who pick this stuff up faster than you can, and you’ll get blasted, sniped from afar, and blown up faster than you can say “scruffy looking nerf herder.”
The key is to stick with it and commit to it for a while.
With every “kill,” and with every successful mission, you’ll earn experience points that translate into credits, which you can use to upgrade your weapons and skills. You’re going to need these upgrades to succeed in the game. Big time.
It’s the diversity of player characteristics in the game that make it both spontaneous and challenging, and you really have to find a combination that works for you, with your personality, with what you find the most effective.
If the standard-issue blaster isn’t cutting it for you, you’ll want to upgrade to one of the other varieties of weapons. If you prefer to stay away from the trenches and get up to the higher elevations to pluck off stormtroopers from afar, try a DLT-19 long range blaster.
Or after finding some success, you’ll be able to purchase a DL-44, the very blaster Han Solo wields, extremely powerful in bursts at close range.
More credits earns you the ability to purchase “star cards” that compliment your arsenal of weaponry. Here, there are a variety of options to choose from. Swap out your standard-issue thermal detonator grenade in favor of a jet pack that lets you rocket over far distances quicker or leap out of trouble when you’re engaged in a firefight.
If your blaster of choice is a close-range weapon, you may enjoy the Homing Shot, which lets you take out enemies from a far distance.
Purchase a “Berserker” trait which helps your health regeneration or a “Bounty Hunter” trait that gives you more in-game Power cards.
“Purchasing”, by the way, comes from in-game credits that you’re going to have to earn through achievements, so you don’t have to worry about your kids racking up credit card debt just so they can play like Boba Fett.
Once you upgrade, you’ll see better results, your play will be much more effective, and the game will become more rewarding for you. If you can make it through those newbie rookie frustrations, this is a game you will thoroughly enjoy.
Star Wars Battlefront is a remarkable achievement, succeeds on multiple fronts, is a thoroughly entertaining, spontaneous, and thrilling gaming experience, and is a must-play for any Star Wars fans with a PS4 or an Xbox One.
The Force is strong with this game.