Star Wars: Battlefront is Fun But Slight Shooter

Star Wars: Battlefront
Star Wars: Battlefront. EA

Star Wars: Battlefront is the first game based on George Lucas’ holy trilogy (and its prequels) that really makes you feel like you’re in the universe that has inspired millions. The graphics and audio presentation are stunning, and there’s a childhood glee in using Darth Vader’s force grip for the first time or blasting a Stormtrooper in the head. How many of us saw Star Wars or played with action figures in our backyard and imagined joining the rebels in their fight against the dark side? On a presentational level, Star Wars: Battlefront deftly replicates that nostalgic wonder. The first ten minutes are glorious.

Then another feeling settles in.

It’s not unlike how those first few minutes of The Phantom Menace worked purely by tapping into a sense of wonder that we hadn’t felt in over a decade. But that lasts only so long. And Battlefront has a significant problem once the wonder fades in that you’ve seen literally everything it can do after about 30 minutes. Sure, there are map packs to come and weapons/gadgets to unlock. But, for the most part, this is a game that empties its entire bag of tricks on the table and then just moves them around for the rest of the time you will spend with it. In the end, it feels like Battlefront is designed for a younger audience than Battlefield: Hardline or Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and that demographic doesn’t care about repetition or short overall length. Just keep that in mind as the magic fades.

USE THE FORCE, LUKE

Now comes the time when I give you the numbers and​ Battlefront sounds extensive. There are four types of missions, nine multiplayer modes, and 13 multiplayer maps. There are numerous playable vehicles, including AT-AT, X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and more. There are heroes and villains from the original films, including Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Darth Vader. The primary multiplayer mode that seems to be getting the most play is the straightforward “Team Deathmatch” mode of “Blast,” in which the first team to 100 kills wins. 9 maps are available in this mode, and it’s the best place to unlock “Star Cards,” which is the unlockable/upgrade system for Battlefront. You have three Star Cards slots, in which nifty gadgets can be equipped as you rank up.

“Supremacy” is the Battlefront variation on Battlefield’s “Conquest” mode. Each team starts with one control point and one neutral point in the middle of the map. You can only take the other team’s control point if you take the middle one first. It’s a clever, accomplished mode but it can only be played on four maps. “Walker Assault” is pretty self-explanatory; as is “Fighter Squadron.” I’ve had the most fun in “Drop Zone,” in which pods fall in random spots on the map and have to be taken. There’s some strategy here, especially in that it doesn’t really matter who controls the pod for the majority of the time in that the point goes to whoever has the pod when a timer expires. (Save your Star Cards toys and unleash fury as time expires). “Droid Run” is a bit clunky for my tastes – moving control points in multiplayer are typically disastrous – and “Cargo” is essentially a variation on “Capture the Flag.” “Heroes vs. Villains” is where the “Star Wars” all-stars come out to play and where you can see Boba Fett battle Han Solo.

JOIN THE DARK SIDE

What constitutes the single-player portion of Battlefront are the Training Missions, Battles, Hero Battles, and Survival modes. That’s right—there’s no single-player campaign. Some have pointed to the fact that a ton of hardcore CoD and Battlefield players never touch the campaign, but there’s a difference between that and not even providing the option. It’s also damaging that Battlefront’s multiplayer mode isn’t nearly as dense as those two games. There’s no class system, weapons feel interchangeable, and the maps get repetitive and often non-descript. I’m stunned that there’s not more detail and the “Levolution” dynamic that DICE developed for Battlefield would have helped this title feel more complete.

It’s funny that the year started with criticisms of Sony for producing such a short title in The Order: 1886 but people are giving Battlefront a pass. As I argued then, I’ve always been someone more interested in quality than quantity, but this is a tough time of year for a game that feels as ultimately thin as Battlefront when it’s up against full meals like Black Ops III and Fallout 4. I’ll come back to it and take a bite every now and then, but I don’t think it will ever fully satisfy me. 

Disclaimer: The publisher provided a copy of this game for review.