Star Wars: Battlefront Preview
Perhaps it’s unfair to simply categorize a game like Star Wars: Battlefront as a first-person shooter. When one sees the “FPS” label, one makes certain assumptions, even if many of those assumptions are based on old-fashioned gameplay structures. Perhaps it makes more sense to simply call it an action game played from a first-person standpoint; typical FPSs don’t have you riding speeder bikes and zipping through the skies in a TIE Fighter. That’s just above and beyond the standard shooter realm, wouldn’t you say? But DICE has been doing this for a while, as those who love the Battlefield vehicles already know.
Now, the team takes a crack at the legendary “Star Wars” universe and the result will be Battlefront, which is now scheduled to arrive in November. Continuing in the “is this a FPS vein?,” let’s clarify: You don’t actually aim down the sights, as you so often do in the genre; rather, there’s just a reticule in the center of the screen. This should give the game a more classic Battlefront vibe, which PC players will undoubtedly appreciate. And don’t forget that you can change to a third-person view if you so choose, making this even more of a hybrid action-oriented production. However, I have the sneaking suspicion that those who play in first-person mode might fare better than those using third-person.
This production is hugely ambitious and honestly, it has a lot going for it. Where else can you pilot AT-STs and AT-ATs? Where else will you throw down in Walker Assault, where the iconic Walkers are at the forefront of the conflict? And did you know that Walker Assault will support up to 40 players? Other maps and modes won’t be able to accommodate that many players but even so, to have that option anywhere in the game is pretty impressive. Walker Assault isn’t just about one famous “Star Wars” vehicle; players can also jump into a TIE Fighter and engage in dogfights high above the hectic battlefield, and you can even call in Y-Wing bombers for airstrikes. It might be the only way to take down the damn AT-AT.
In terms of structure, DICE has decided to forego the traditional class system and give the player a host of general customization options. You can select the weapons you wish to use (including various blasters and secondary weapons), and you can also pick your active abilities. Now, we do know that certain “Star Wars” characters – like Darth Vader and Boba Fett – will be playable, but we’re not sure yet how they’ll be implemented. How do we actually play as Vader? Well, maybe we don’t have the answer just yet, but it’s clear that we’ll have to satisfy certain goals before spawning as a hero character. That alone could prove to be a significant challenge so when the best characters finally unlock, you’ll feel as if you earned them.
Also, while the game won’t boast a standard campaign (damnit), there will be scripted narrative events. The game will give you specific targets and objectives; you just have to work with others to be successful. This is where the Partner system comes into play: Players can choose a single Partner who will always be seen during battle, and who will always be at your side when you spawn. You can even share weapons and items with your partner, so if you’ve unlocked things your buddy hasn’t, he or she will still be able to access them (and vice versa). This will encourage you to team up if you’re new to the game, and it always helps to venture forth with a combat partner.
DICE really went all out with this one. They even visited Skywalker Ranch to study classic concept art and models, and then they used “photogrammetry” to turn these objects into 3D models. That’s why everything in the game will look so darn authentic. Endor will feel like Endor, Tattooine won’t disappoint even the most ardent “Star Wars” fanatic, and other planets – Hoth, Sullust, etc. – and character designs should be spot-on. That’s really the overarching goal, too: They want to cater to both “Star Wars” and shooter fans alike and it appears that DICE and EA will do exactly that. Star Wars: Battlefront is likely to make a gigantic splash when it lands on November 17 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Just make sure those servers are ready, EA!
5/11/2015 Ben Dutka