Thoughts on the Battlefront Beta

In between bouts of saving the LEGO universe from the evil Lord Vortech, I got in a few rounds of EA’s upcoming Battlefront. I’ve been looking forward to the game since it was teased two E3s ago and although the demo paints an imperfect picture, I was really happy with what I experienced.

Contrary what people like to crow, Battlefront is not just a reskinned Battlefield clone. It’s a more simplified experience, removing the granular weapon modifications via equipment mods. Instead, the game is more concerned with getting you into battle as quickly as possible. There are no overt player classes and instead, the Star Card system allowes players to make their own builds. A player equipped with teh Cycler Rifle and Sharpshooter cards can effective play the field as a sniper, while another equipped with Thermal and Ion Grenades becomes the team’s grenadier. Only a small number of cards were available for the demo, but I hope to see a lot more so that there can be fun offensive and defensive variants. A nice feature, if playing with a partner, is that you can use their Card loadout before jumping back into battle. It’s a nice, quick way to try out different tactics.

The beta offered three different game types: the 40 player Walker Assault, the 8 player Drop Zone, and a two player survival mode. Drop Zone functions as a King of the Hill-type game where both sides fight to capture and control escape pods as they crash onto the surface of Sullust. The survival game, set on Tatooine, is the closest thing to a single player campaign offered in Battlefront. A lot of folks are upset about the game’s multiplayer focused nature, but I don’t really mind it a great deal. The emphasis here is player versus player which is far more exciting than Battlefront II‘s AI-based Conquest Mode. Since the conclusion of the beta, EA and DICE revealed the remaining game modes that sound like a great deal of fun, specifically Supremacy (Battlefield‘s Conquest mode) and Fighter Supremacy, which looks an awful lot like Rogue Squadron.

Walker Assault was where the beta’s action primarily lay. A 20 versus 20 area set during the Battle of Hoth, the Rebels are charged with activating uplink stations to let Y-Wing bombers swoop in and bring down the shields for a pair of AT-ATs while the Empire tries to prevent them from doing so in what amounts to be an escort mission. Aesthetically, Walker Assault shows that DICE has nailed the sights and sounds of the Star Wars experience. 40 players engaging in frenetic blaster battles as explosions from vehicles, starfighters, and AT-STs rock the battlefield is one of the most amazing spectacles I’ve seen all year. I played it on Xbox and despite the senseless bitching among people offended by its screen resolution, the game looked absolutely gorgeous.

There are plenty of things for DICE to fix before the game goes live (namely adjusting player spawns in Walker Assault), so I hope they came away from the beta with lots of valuable data. The game is going to be released this November and EA has already announced a $50 Season Pass. A pricey sum to many (though most seem to be okay with paying the same for other military shooters) but I plan on picking it up. I see Battlefront as being my premiere online shooter next to Halo, so I’m happy to support the game. Hopefully EA will spill the beans on what the addition content will be made up with so I can have something to look forward to beyond the main game.


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