“The Force Of Nostalgia”
My first moments with the Star Wars: Battlefront beta occupied an overwhelming feeling of sheer joy. I was running alongside the iconic AT-AT walker, as Imperial companions pushed towards a rebel base, and TIE fighters soared overhead. It was an impactful first impression complete with impeccable recreations of Star Wars’ most paramount assets. From the immaculate musical numbers, to the distinguished sound effects, DICE has proven their dedication to detail is unparalleled in the licensing space. Yet, the goosebumps that greeted me as I touched down on Hoth for the first time quickly faded once a few rounds were behind me. Rather than wholeheartedly selling me on Battlefront, the beta raised a slew of concerns with the capability to derail what could have, and still might be, a potentially great Star Wars game.
Three modes were available in the beta, starting with Drop Zone, a frantic 8v8 mode where teams fight to secure sporadically dropped escape pods. Further more, Walker Assault, a large 40-player battle pits Rebels against the Empire’s onslaught of AT-AT’s in an epic battle on Hoth. Lastly, the single-player/co-op offering available in the beta, Survival Mission, dropped players on Tatooine as a Rebel soldier tasked to fend off six waves of increasingly strenuous Imperial foes. Each is elevated by Battlefront’s exemplary representation of its license, with the spectacular attention to detail resulting in a wave of powerful nostalgia for longtime fans and an initially magical welcoming for newcomers. Though when stripped down, DICE’s visually stunning and presentationally enticing shooter appears as an overly simplified and shallow experience; flourishing solely on the embracement of everything the license driving is worth.The Battlefront beta’s initial moments were by far its strongest, injecting an immediate sense of tangible scale and relatable setup for fans. Star Wars fans have dreamed of setting foot on Hoth and Tatooine since the original trilogy’s influential launch back in 1977, and Battlefront successfully presents one of the best ways to due so. Its environments are gorgeous and its effects are well-realized, for the overall presentation will more than please fans hoping DICE paid study to the universe’s smallest quirks. However, the instant I came to grips with the Battlefront beta’s wonderful recreation of Star Wars, the modes I was taking part in became significantly less interesting, slowly but surely revealing themselves as basic and well trodden multiplayer practices. There’s nothing wrong with a capture-based mode such as Drop Zone, but the variation in terms of progression, gameplay, and map design need to sufficiently support what is simply just guiding players through any given match.
As of now, Battlefront struggles to nail down some basic concepts that quickly stem into issues that work against the experience. Unbalanced level design, objectives, perks, and spawning, all consistently broke the back of matches that otherwise could’ve made for a lot of fun. The various selection of maps and modes available in the beta frequently seemed to favor one team over the other, leaving little room for skill to trump design flaws. Unstable spawning also made it hard to fully adjust before exchanging fire, sometimes resulting in a death screen before even having the chance to take a breath. In essence, Battlefront’s core gameplay is strong, if not a little on the basic side. Lack of substantial customization and specific classes are also a bummer, as each match feels limited to only a handful of approaches. This specific blunder may see resolve by the time the full game is ready to ship come November 17, but it seems too near to realistically expect much change. What can ease the somewhat underwhelming opportunity for varied approach, is more diversity in terms of maps and playable modes. What the beta offered was only a glance into what the full package will bring, and I’m optimistic DICE’s remaining content will lessen the blow to some of its more unbalanced material.Conclusion: In many ways, Battlefront is the Star Wars game I’ve always yearned for, yet the beta has risen far more concern than excitement. Despite an astonishing presentation and production value that expertly embraces nostalgia, Battlefront seems to be laden with missed opportunity. Abysmal flight controls, unbalanced objectives, and what appears to be a shallow longterm game, DICE’s gorgeous shooter needs deeper refinement at its core if looking to appeal to outside of a casual audience. Though regardless of Battlefront’s somewhat underwhelming first impressions, it’s still sure as hell better than the prequels.
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