A few days ago, we were all blessed with the beta release for Star Wars: Battlefront, a new First Person Shooter developed by DICE and published by EA Games. Now, despite the all-too-common publisher and developer hate that comes with ANY new title released these days, I haven’t heard that much in the way of overly negative comments. I was expecting a slew of hate and guile from both the shooter fan boys and the overly critical Star Wars aficionados, but the volume has been significantly less then expected. Maybe I haven’t been looking in the right places, but the net has been somewhat quiet. I find this a tad unusual, but maybe they are all just playing SWBF instead of flaming it? Who knows.
What I do know, is that a good part of this last weekend was devoted to me playing the SWBF beta, so I thought I would share my thoughts and my over all impressions on the experience. Take these words for what they are, just one gamers opinions, nothing more. Ultimately, you will have to decide for yourselves whether or not this game is up your alley. Me, I’m still on the fence about it all, but more on that later.
First off, I will admit, I’ve been pretty hyped for this game. Around here and with most of my friends, the wait has been killing us! This game hits the shelves on Nov. 17th making November a pretty big month for our gaming addiction. (I also have Black Ops 3 and the DLC for Bloodborne to look forward to). As we anxiously approach release date, Gamers are jonesing for a Star Wars fix. This beta release came at a perfect time and I’m sure it was just want the doctor ordered. However, is this game really deserving of all of that hype? Here are my thoughts …at least for the PS4 version…
Let me say that SWBF, it’s a beautifully rendered game with a ton of Star Wars flair. Everything just bleeds Star Wars: the music, the weapons, the sounds, the costumes, the level designs, the ships…it is ALL really cool. Seeing an imperial walker up close and personal is a terrifying sight! It is a monstrous thing! Witnessing the excitement and hearing those blasters is just music to my Star Wars geek ears. Even though we were only given three modes of game play and one level each, it was still really fun.
After fumbling around in the menus and trying to join a friend in the co-op mode, I was soon blasting imperials left and right, blowing up AT-STs and watching jet pack Stormtroopers fly out of control and explode! I thought “Wow this game is sweet!” Even though the co-op was limited to only 5 rounds, the overall game play was very exciting and I legitimately wanted to play more. It isn’t surprising, since I love co-op, but I couldn’t help but wonder, would multiplayer PVP still hold my interest? I decided to find out.
The beta gave us two multiplayer modes Walker Assault and Drop Zone. I decided to level up in the Drop Zone mode. This is where you play as either the Imperials or the Rebels and try desperately to secure drop pods and hold them for a set amount of time. A strangely familiar concept, but pretty fun, none-the-less. Unlike the co-op mode’s two player limitation, this mode saw myself and a small team of buddies join up with 14 other players and just wage war on one another. We played for around 5 hours and by the end of a few matches I had already leveled up to the maximum allowed for the beta (level 5) and unlocked all of the weapons and cards that we were given access to.
Initially I was having a blast. Gunning down the enemy with blasters is strangely rewarding. But after a few hours of the same stuff, over and over again, monotony began setting in. As I thought about it more and more, I realized that underneath it all, behind the music, the visuals and the sweet nostalgia of Star Wars, this is just another shooter. It was a sobering realization. Yes, I know there are different game types and modes, weapons and vehicles, but none of that matters. Deep down, it’s still just a shooter and being a shooter means that it will suffer from the same basic problems that all shooters eventually run into, repetitive game play.
After my initial few hours of gaming, the newness began wearing off and I started to notice a basic pattern, at least with Drop Zone. (I do apologize for this mini rant). My sessions started to go like this:
—-Spawn. Run to the objective, get shot in the back and killed.
—-Spawn again. Run back to the objective only to get killed the moment you enter into the contested area.
—-Respawn and get killed immediately by someone spawn camping.
—-Get angry at the game and the players, then start accusing everyone of hacking.
—-Respawn and try and kill the spawn camper only to be killed once again, even though I was pumping tons of rounds into his chest.
—-Get angry again and start accusing that player of lag switching.
—-Rinse and repeat.
The more I played SWBF, the more angry I became. It was then that I realized that this game is the same basic formula as every other COD, MOH or Battlefield game. It has all the same basic game modes, weapons and objectives, it’s just wrapped up in Star Wars clothing. Now, according to EA and DICE, we will be getting other modes in the final game, such as: “Droid Run,” “Cargo,” “Blast,” “Fighter Squadron,” “Supremacy,” “Hero Hunt” and a few others. This sounds great, but the question remains, are these going to just be your standard game types like Domination, Death Match, Capture the Flag, Assault, etc? Or are these going to be fun, new, unique experiences? If recent history serves, my assumption is that these are likely to be the same modes we have always had, just with Stormtroopers and Rebels, instead of modern military soldiers.
Let’s be honest, I love Star Wars. I grew up watching the original movies and loving every moment of them. I would play the old video games back on SNES and drool over the PC releases of X-Wing and Tie Fighter. Star Wars was and still is an amazing franchise. Now, with this new SWBF being released next month, I can’t help but feel drawn to it, like a Jawa is to old droids (“Utinni!“).
I would recommend if you can, play this beta. Immerse yourself in the fray and see what comes out. It is a beautiful game that needs to be experienced. Do it! If nothing else, watch videos on YouTube. Its the only way you will know if it appeals to you.
Will I be picking up this game? I want to say yes, but the fact is, I am going to have a very difficult time convincing myself that it is worth the initial $60. And now, with EA announcing that the Season pass will be a whooping $50 for the rest of the game’s dlc content, I’m a bit concerned. If the game offers only what I played in the beta, it will be very hard to justify the games $60 price tag. As it is, I am already getting Black Ops 3 for the Zombie mode and its 4 player co-op.
Considering how I feel about the FPS genre and competitive multiplayer games in general, SWBF is going to have to offer something unique, above and beyond a simple reskinned COD game. If it wants to hold my attention and keep me playing, it has to be more than just a pretty face, it has to take me away and immerse me into the world of Star Wars. I have to feel like I am doing something epic and being rewarded for my efforts. Most importantly, I have be able to team up with friends, reliably and consistently. I feed off of that excitement that team based games usually offer and if it doesn’t deliver, I could be looking at another Destiny, just a flashy game that I wasted money on and ended up hating with a passion. I wouldn’t want to do that to my love of Star Wars. Will I buy this one? That has yet to be seen, but rest assured the decision will not be simple.