No Bothans died while writing this review.
The Star Wars Battlefront series is among my most cherished memories of online gaming. When Xbox and PlayStation 2 led the charge of online console gaming, there were a number of classic online shooters to choose from, including SOCOM, Halo, and of course Ghost Recon. Battlefront offered something else though. Massive battles featuring my favorite characters; it never got old. I played those games until the servers shut down, so when EA and Dice announced they were bringing it back, I was immediately on-board.
Star Wars Battlefront carries a lot of what made those games so great, but also one of the most impressive graphics engines I have ever seen. Endor has never felt so lush with fauna, while Hoth remains a cold-desolate battleground. Jumping into this game felt familiar, like putting on a favorite pair of shoes; within minutes I already felt like a kid on the playground. This is the Battlefront I remember.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
Multiplayer: 2-40 players
There are two core areas of Battlefront: Multiplayer and Missions. The missions are one or two player affairs that can be played online or locally split screen with a friend. There are three types of missions here, the first are training grounds which introduce players to the systems. While novel, they are extremely brief. Then there are battles, where players can fight alongside AI partners against their friends or solo, or even take on the role of the hero characters in the game. Finally, there is survival, which is by far the most fun.
These levels pit players against 15 waves of enemies, increasing in difficulty. There are collectibles and power-ups to collect, and the challenge really ramps up past normal. These are fun diversions to familiarize players with the basic mechanics of the game.
Of course the heart of any Battlefront game is the multiplayer, and Dice has delivered a healthy offering. There are nine modes scattered across thirteen maps on four different planets. The modes range from large-scale battles, to more intimate affairs. There are massive landscapes with vehicles and hero power-ups, to smaller deathmatch-size levels. All of which add some variety to the core game play.
I mostly enjoyed the larger battles such as Walker Assault, which pits one side against the other in a tug of war to stop impending AT-AT Walkers from taking out a transport ship or shield generator. I was also a big fan of Drop Zone, which is a control mode where players rush to various pods to claim and defend. There is even a flying-only mode called Fighter Squadron where aerial battles are the focus. Whenever I would grow tired of one mode, another one would satisfy my want to keep playing. I really enjoyed the diversity.
The leveling system is fairly simplistic. Players earn XP for matches, which allows them to rank up and earn credits. Credits can be used to purchase new loadouts and blasters, as well as customization for their characters. The menu system for the character customization is a bit wonky though. There are far too many options, as opposed to just letting players pick a skin and customize it from there. The Hand system serves as a loadout, and players can pick three cards to use during battle. These unlock at various ranks and range from thermal detonators, to the game-changing jetpack.
While thirteen maps sounds like a lot, they suffer from being derived from only four planets. Some of the maps feel fairly similar in tone and design. This is further accented by the fact that the ensuing season pass will include new areas. I love the areas available, but I can definitely see how they could get old quickly due to familiar locales.
The shooting is sublime. Being able to toggle between first and third person is a big plus for me. I prefer third, and love that it can be set by default in the options. Vehicles control great, and there is never any lack of exciting things happening when playing. This is the first game in ages that really got me into the action, and feeling like my efforts were actually helping the overall cause.
No review of this game would be complete without discussing the incredible visuals on display. This game might be the best-looking game this generation. The detail is outstanding, and the frame rate is nearly rock solid. It is a technical masterpiece on both the XB1 and PlayStation 4. The sound is also stellar. I tested the game using a set of Astro A50s with 7.1 surround sound and it was incredible. Dice is known for their sound design, and Battlefront might be their best work yet. Blaster fire in all directions, and the soundtrack that snippets pieces of the original score. The only drawback is the hero voices, which range from bad impressions to sounding nothing like their counterparts.
Star Wars Battlefront is easily my favorite multiplayer shooter of the year. I can’t stop playing it. It finds a perfect balance of strategy and diversity, and most importantly, it is extremely fun, something I find lacking in a lot of online shooters. I can definitely see myself sticking with the online mode for months to come, and here is to hoping the season pass delivers even more content to keep players engrossed. The Force is certainly strong with this one.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.