When I was still a youngster, I had this game called Star Wars: Battlefront 2 for the PC. It was probably the game I played the most during my childhood (besides SSB Melee). I grew up watching the original Star Wars movies, and when I got this game, it let me live out my Star Wars fantasies in video game form. I was able to fight anywhere with anyone in multiple different game modes. There was so much in the game that kept me glued to the mouse and keyboard for years. Even now I get on Steam to play a few rounds every once and a while.
Fast-forward to October 8, 2015, when the new [Star Wars: Battlefront](tag:2684021) game was released in beta form for a weekend. I had been waiting for this moment ever since the game was announced. Battlefield developer DICE was the team who was known for its engaging multiplayer and impressive visuals, and they were the ones in charge of making the new Battlefront game exceed expectations. So right when I got home from class, I hopped onto my PS4 and started playing.
Even then, I knew it wasn't enough. I know that 80% of the game is locked down while playing a beta, but I could see the full game from where I was sitting in my room, and it looked shallow. Based on what I'd heard from DICE and EA (bleh!), I knew what was coming in the full game when it released a month later, and now that I had a taste of the gameplay, I knew that I wouldn't touch this game as long as it had the egregious $60 price tag on it. So I waited.
Lo and behold, many other die-hard Battlefront 2 fans had the same reaction. Upon release, Battlefront sparked quite the internet sensation. People claimed it was an unfinished game that cost $60 and EA was only in it for the money (which they probably are). Even more egregious was the $50 season pass for the game, the contents of which no one knew for a little while because EA wouldn't announce it. Still, this didn't stop the game from selling well, EA having sold 12 million copies in 2015.
And that brings us to today, when I saw Battlefront was $30 on the Playstation Store. Tempted and curious, I took the plunge and bought the game, and it was worth it. These are the reasons why.
1. The Atmosphere
I commented before on the prowess of DICE's visuals using the Frostbite engine, and playing on the relatively new console generation that could utilize that engine to its fullest is frickin amazing. Everything looks so polished and otherworldly. It looks like the environments that you saw in the movies when you were a kid. Classic locations like Tatooine and Endor look incredible (especially Endor. Those ferns, man...). Little details like leaving trails through the snow behind you on Hoth really make me appreciate the level of detail DICE put into this game. They even used a digital scanning technology called photogrammetry on real life props in order to make them more realistic looking in the game. It's a visual masterpiece.
But that's not all you nerfherders! Half of the atmosphere is the visuals; the other half is the sound. Sound I think is more important than visuals in gaming, and DICE's sound department did an excellent job recreating the pew-pews of the blaster and the screeching of the TIE fighters. Even when you're playing as the heroes/villains, they each have their own sound design behind the gear they're using. When you walk on Hoth, you hear snow crunching with every step you take. While running through an outpost on Endor, and you can hear trees falling over after a thermal detonator goes off (and occasionally an Ewok horn is heard). Every thing in this game sounds and looks perfect. From the moment you hit the spawn button, you know you're in Star Wars.
2. The Mechanics
The actual gameplay of Battlefront is top-notch stuff. Even the beta was rock solid when I played it. DICE had a record of broken servers and faulty multiplayer matching on their previous Battlefield games, and everyone including myself was worried about how the game would perform on day one. I remember when EA announced DICE was making the game, and a friend turned to me and said, "Day one: broken servers." But amazingly I have had no issues whatsoever connecting to servers and hopping into a multiplayer match. It's almost instantaneous. I have heard that the player database on PS4 was larger than the XBOX One and the PC databases combined, so that may have something to do with it. Nonetheless, when I wanted to play, I got to play.
From the moment you hit the spawn button and are thrust into the world of Star Wars, the gameplay feels right. There are many options to customize your button layout, adjust your stick sensitivity, and switch from first person to third person (you can also switch views with a single button press in the middle of battle). The guns feel great, and not worrying about ammo is a blessing. However, now everything overheats, so you can't go mad and start firing your gun non-stop or you'll have to wait for it to cool down. There is a great little feature called the cooling flush that will let you bypass the wait for your gun to cool down if you hit a button at the right time. If you miss the chance and hit the button at the wrong time, you have to wait even longer for the gun to cool down.
There are also three power-up cards that you can take with you into battle. I like my jump pack card and my thermal detonator card. The former covers ground fast and the latter is a handy grenade. These cards recharge after you use them, but the other card is an ability that's limited. You only have 25 of these cards so you can run out of them over a few matches, and these don't automatically refuel. But don't worry, you can find extras lying around on the battlefield and save them up until you have 100. Then there are power-up cards you can only find on the battlefield, and these can be a sentry-gun, super-grenade, squad shield, smart rocket, or other usable objects. Other cards can put you in a X-Wing and have you fly above the battlefield in aerial combat (which is super fun btw). There's also the rare hero power-up that spawns randomly. If you get that then we get to choose from 3 different heroes and start tearing through enemies like butter.
You get points throughout each match based on your actions and the mode you're playing in. My favorite mode is Cargo (capture-the-flag). Yes, it's a old game type but one that is so intense I can't stop playing it. Nothing is more rewarding than finally getting to the enemy's flag and sprinting back to your base dodging blaster fire and fighting the in-game clock. Because of my heroic actions, I start racking up the points. At the end of each match, there are three players who are recognized in their achievements based on the game mode (i.e. "Most damage dealt to transport"). Your points that you earn are translated into currency, which allows you to buy more guns, power-ups, etc.
While the mechanics are overall solid, there are two things that bug me from time to time. One is where you spawn. Ninety percent of the time, I spawn outside the action zone in complete safety and run into battle, pistol a'blazin. The other times I spawned literally 10 feet from a member of the opposite team. These weren't partner spawns either, which let you spawn next to a buddy who's already in the hot zone. Each time it happened it felt like a cheap death (because I suck at shooters, I never got the upper hand). The second gripe is the AI. Most of the time you don't fight any AI, but on single player mode and Fighter Squadron mode (aerial combat), there are AI that you can fight against. The AI just don't respond in the right way when I'm shooting at them. I'll be flying behind an X-Wing riddling it with laser bullets and it just flies in a straight line like it doesn't have a care in the world. I end up skipping killing AI and try to find real players who are a lot more fun to chase. These two issues don't break the game and shouldn't worry you, but they are noticeable.
3. The Moments
The brilliant atmosphere and great mechanics allow for pretty great moments to happen, and these moments are what keep me attached to this game. A small moment is when I hit the spawn button and immediately look up to see a TIE fighter and an A-Wing wreck mid-air and explode in spectacular Star Wars fashion.
Like I said before, I generally suck at fast-paced shooter games, but every now and then I play a match where I just completely outdo myself. There have been 3 matches where I have been recognized in all three categories at the end, and I feel like the best player ever. There are other moments were I don't get recognized, but I know I made a difference in the match. There's a mode called Droid Run, which is capturing a base and defending it, but the bases are droids and their walking around the map. All I do is defend in that mode. Yes, I am the guy who sits behind the tree on Endor and watches people come up to the droid to capture it, only to gun them down where they stand. I may not kill the most people, but my team won because we captured all the droids and defended them for twenty seconds.
Another big moment for me was when I was playing Walker Assault on Hoth. I was on the rebel side, which means we had to activate and defend uplink stations to call in Y-Wings to bomb the imperial walkers (I'm such a nerd). The longer you held the uplink, the more bombers you got. So I'm moseying around shooting Imperial shmoes, when I spot the hallowed hero power-up and start sprinting towards it. I get it, and decide that today I'll be Luke Skywalker. So for the remainder of the match, I run back and forth between two uplinks killing anything that's in my way. I wanted to make sure we didn't lose either uplink, and because we didn't, we got the maximum number of Y-Wings in to bomb the crap out of the imperial walkers. Even though I didn't get the most kills or defend a single uplink for the longest, I knew I had done my part. Plus being any hero in the game is super fun.
The Big Question
Should you buy this game?
I think that if you can get this game for $30 or less, get it. That's the actual value of this game and I've had a lot of fun playing it.
The problem comes with the season pass. For $50 you're gonna get a whole lot of DLC, including two new areas and four new maps, maybe even more. And yes, you can pick and choose which DLCs you want to buy, which is probably what I'm going to do (can't wait to fight on the death star). The point is by the time I've paid for the DLC I want, I will have spent somewhere close to $60, which I think would be a fair price because I'm getting the DLC on top of the base game.
That's where I think EA screwed up. They might be money-grabbing lunatics, and if they had any decency, they should have released this game later this year with most of the DLC in the game already, and had the season pass not cost $50. It's pretty outrageous that they released it this early when it was valued at half of $60. Oh well... The past is the past and now you can get the game for it's actual value. And there's my two cents about Battlefront. It's great...if you get it for $30.
P.S. The voice acting for the heroes is terrible. Doesn't affect anything just thought I'd throw that out there.