The open Beta for Star Wars: Battlefront became available on Thursday. After extensive time with it, we were able to give you our initial thoughts.
Harrison: At the risk of sounding like an obnoxious, close-minded fanboy, Star Wars Battlefront is the best thing ever made and anyone who disagrees is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Tempering my excitable tendencies a little, it’s true that the open beta isn’t perfect, but it is the most fun shooter experience I’ve had in a long time. Managing to nail both the jaw dropping scale of a proper Star Wars battle, as well as the little details, such as the way water glistens on a rock, the game is an audio-visual marvel. But graphics do not make a good game. What gives Battlefront’s incomparable visuals their edge, is that almost everything you see is dynamic or player motivated. When you’re an infantry soldier running through the trenches and you gaze up to witness a dazzling dogfight in the skies, you know that that’s other players up there doing that. It could even be you.
And yet, even with all of the vehicles, spaceships and hero characters, it feels like a remarkably balanced product (no matter what anyone else says). Some have complained that the Hoth map is skewered in favour of the Empire, but in reality the win/loss ratio seems fairly even. No matter what your skill level is, you’re going to have at least of couple of moments where you feel like a total badass, be it by landing a long distance head-shot, clearing a whole base of enemies with an AT-ST, or by utilizing Vader’s iconic ‘choke’ ability. This separates it from the likes of Call of Duty, where experienced players can easily walk all over newbies by exploiting certain strategies.
Going back to those little details, it’s evident that the developers have gone to extensive lengths to craft a properly authentic Star Wars experience. Lucasfilm’s sound library has been raided for all of the original sound effects, and the quality in the audio department is every bit as good as you’d expect from the people behind the Battlefield series. All of these minute little things show that a genuine reverence for the material has gone into making this. The smokey impact of a blaster, the screen swipe transitions, the musical cues. Everything adds up to make a really satisfying game.
Best of all however, is the game’s ability to make you feel like an excitable little child again. I can’t go through a single match without grinning profusely or exclaiming “that was fucking cool” at least once . So in essence, if you didn’t like it, then you just don’t like fun.
Matt: For all intents and purposes, the long-awaited return to the Battlefront franchise is just another shooter. Made on the DICE engine, it plays exactly as you’d expect it to (you press the shoot button, and you shoot, and you miss, and someone pops up behind you and you die). This much is true, except for the fact that it just isn’t. It’s Star Wars. You are literally in Star Wars. You have a blaster, you can shoot Storm Troopers or Rebel Scum, you can jump into a claustrophobic, brutal struggle on a rocky planet, or else run screaming through the insanity that is Hoth. You can be Darth Vader (Darth fucking Vader), fly in an X-Wing, drive an AT-AT (giant robot camels), and do the cool tie-a-rope-around-the-big-robot’s-legs thing. The Hoth battle is incredible in that it forces you to actually strategise with the people you play with in order to win, rather than just running in headlong and shooting wildly (though by all means, do that too). The maps are stunningly pretty. It’s even got Admiral Akbar in it. The Battlefront beta is almost as polished as a fully released game, but that’s not its draw. What makes it spectacular is that it’s a first person shooter whose every inch exudes Star Wars.
Tobias: Given the reputation of the previous incarnations of the game, Star Wars: Battlefront had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, in the bite-size chunks we are given in the newly released beta, it does just that, offering rich visuals and engaging gameplay. The graphics on this game (PC on 4K ultra) are gorgeous and really portray the alien worlds on which the game is set brilliantly, from the icy Hoth, to the desert wastelands of Tatooine. The world is dynamic, with all of the visual effects required of any AAA title these days. Singleplayer survival mode offers a quick introduction to gameplay, although you find the enemies you are provided with seem to die after one shot, and the difficulty setting can’t be raised in the beta. Not to worry though, I’m sure that once the full game is released, singleplayer combat will improve mightily. Multiplayer combat is just as expected, a cross between the Battlefield series and the original Battlefront games. DICE have really done a good job in keeping lots of combat elements similar to the original series, whilst adding a more modern twist to it. On Hoth the AT-ATs seem to offer a big advantage to the imperials, but I’m sure once people learn to fly the snowspeeders and X-Wings, the playing field will become more level. All in all, a good start.
Star Wars: Battlefront is released on 19th November on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.