Would you believe me if I told you that it’s been about a decade since the last Star Wars: Battlefront game? It’s true! Battlefront II was released on PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC on November 1st, 2005! Personally, I just can’t believe it’s been that long– I must be suffering from the time dilation effects that come with getting older!
The new entry to the series; Star Wars: Battlefront, will be available soon, come November 17th, 2015. Game developer DICE, of Battlefield fame, is the creator behind this iteration, bringing the Star Wars universe to life with the great looking FrostByte engine, and man does it look great!
This new take on the Battlefront series will have up to 40-player games, complete with Star Wars vehicles and weaponry. Naturally, each battle will be the Empire versus the Rebellion, taking the battle to classic battlefields such as Hoth, Tattoine, Endor, and other planets. You can find some of the most recent Beta footage from the Hoth battlefield here.
The open beta for Battlefront is going on now, available on all platforms! If you are on PC, you will need to download and install EA’s digital platform, Origin, in order to play. The open beta started on Thursday and will go until Monday; however, the exact end time is not known. So, hop on now!
|You can play as a hero character if you happen to find the token for it.|
I actually hopped into the open beta on Thursday, and got a chance to experience some of the action firsthand. While it’s difficult to pass judgement, as there are only two maps and game modes available, I wasn’t entirely impressed with what I played. Granted, this is only two maps, and the overall game may be just fine. The game is still doing some interesting things with the cooldown card system and power-up pickups, so it will be interesting how it develops with these systems in place.
The 20v20 map that is available, the Hoth battle, is extremely one-sided for the Imperial side and results in a lot of deaths upon spawning. If I had a quarter for every time I would spawn and immediately die to blaster fire, well, I’d have like four bucks, because that’s about how long I could stomach the map. Perhaps this is an issue that is still being worked on after DICE visualizes the data they are gathering from this beta. Balancing is an issue that comes with time, so this this issue will probably be resolved in the future.
There is also a territory control map available in the beta that pits you in a competition to claim downed escape pods in a war-torn battleground. I actually had quite a bit of fun with this one. The map is relatively small, so there aren’t many breaks in the action. As most shooters of this ilk, the positioning of spawning could be better, but that’s a challenge FPS games have been struggling with since time in-memoriam.
|The Hoth Assault map has some major balance issues.|
The beta only allows you to rank to level five, so you don’t get to see the majority of the unlocks. However, you do get a glimpse as to how the whole load-out and ‘deck’ system works. As you rank up and play games, you will gain credits, and these credits can then be used to unlock cards for your deck and primary weapons. The cards that you buy function as ‘cooldown’ abilities. You will choose your hand of cards each game you begin.
One of the first cards you unlock is the Thermal Detonator. For those not versed in the Star Wars universe, that’s basically a Star Wars grenade. So, if you equip that card in your deck during a match, you may use a thermal detonator grenade every so many seconds. I actually sort of liked this because in other shooters, if you use up your predetermined grenades, you’re out until the next time you spawn. Now, you can throw your grenade where you suspect a camper is sitting without worrying about not having it available later on! There are other powerful weapons and tools that you can add to your deck as you rank up and gain credits, such as the maneuverable jet-pack or the sniper’s cycler rifle.
|While battlefront does not have a campaign, there is a wave based cooperative horde mode.|
In addition to your primary weapon and your cool-down card abilities, there are also occasional power-ups you will find on the battlefield that are reminisce of kill-streak bonuses. These include mounted turrets you can place, thermal bombs, proximity mines, and even the ability to spawn a vehicle on some maps. I never got the chance to spawn as Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker, but I would imagine those are managed by power-ups that can be picked up, much like the vehicles.
While my first experience with the open beta wasn’t fantastic, I think that Dice has some fun ideas to mix up the competitive multiplayer formula. The game looks and feels like Star Wars–battles are complete with the iconic Star Wars blaster sounds and explosions complete with the epic swooping musical store every fan loves. This game definitely gives that Star Wars feel, and if you were hankering for one, this is your game! I think some re-balancing and some tweaking to the balance and spawn system would make the game much more digestible.
If you try out the beta, let me know your impressions!