Star Wars Battlefront is easily one of my most anticipated titles of this year. I have kept up with all updates since the games existence was acknowledged back at EA’s E3 2013 press conference. The game has been through a rollercoaster of ups and downs within the press, the majority of it well received; The fact it was getting made for a start, the Star Wars authenticity it held close and a fantastic reveal trailer allowed the game to make it onto the wish list of many.
Yet there still seemed to be a dark cloud that lingered over it, mainly due to the lack of a campaign, prequel trilogy content and only having 40 player support with no server browser.
Concept art in relation with the first Star Wars Battlefront announcement, back in 2013.
I have already covered various subjects around Star Wars Battlefront – which can be viewed within this blogs archives. I first got my hands on the game at this years EGX. Queueing for over 3 hours in order to play the game for 20 minutes requires a high level of dedication to the series and a small amount of craziness mixed in for good measure. My initial reaction to my firsts hands on with the game was very positive. It’s safe to say I was left impressed and certainly wanted to delve further into it. But 20 minutes is never enough, the 8th of October was the date I was most looking forward too; Beta Day.
After eagerly awaiting, and jumping up and down to try and make the Beta download faster, I booted it straight up. Being a UI/UX designer I was initially let down by the HUD and menu design that I’d seen in previous videos, it seemed a little dated, clunky and not very modern – specifically the HUD. I’m an advocate of flat design and minimal structure and games such as No Man’s Sky and The Division support amazingly designed UI within their games.
The minimal UI works well within the Star Wars Battlefront universe.
However, once I got a feel for the initial menu I actually started to appreciate it. The majority of the design is actually flat and when skeuomorphic design is used within the UI, it is done so in such a subtle way that helps benefit the rest of the design. Once I’d played a few games, I began to really appreciate it.
The User experience was even better, being able to quickly swap out my weapons, change my hand of cards or spawn on my partner with the few clicks of a button, was accepted with open arms. Another great UX feature I liked was the fact that I wasn’t pulled into a game as soon as it started, if I was tinkering with my load out in the menu I could easily do so until I was ready to join the game by my own accord.
Joining a party did seem a little clunky at first. You are able to join a party of up to eight people, but rather than joining within the game it sets the party up through your consoles party chat. I would have liked to have been able to just join a party within the game, rather than going out into my PS4 menu. Once in a party, you could only choose one partner, which kind of restricts the rest of the group. I suppose everyone in the party can form sets of two, but it kind of eliminates the element of setting it up in the first place and then makes it groups instead of an actual party of friends.
I’d like to have the chance to see all of my party on the battlefront, using the yellow colour way that is used to identify your partner. Also having the chance to spawn on any of them, rather than just spawning on my partner would be a lot better and allow the party to interact as a whole, rather than individually. I did like the fact that I could see all of my friends who were playing at the top of the screen, within the main menu, as well as who was in my party and who I was partnered with. (Damn, how many times do I want to say party?)
The visuals in this game are astounding, It has to be one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen run on a console.
The first thing I noticed when I entered a game for the first time, is just how beautiful it actually looked running at an impressive 60FPS. I’d love to see how well it looked if it had the capability to also hold up at 1080p, sadly this is not the case, but rather 900p on the PS4. At least it’s a step up from the Xbox One, which is set at a 720p format, with gradual drops to 50FPS. Still, I can only imagine how beautiful the game will look on a PC at ultra settings.
The first thing I noticed was how heavy the moving and walking felt, I don’t know if it was because I’d just came off the back of Destiny, but it almost felt as though I was walking through Syrup, maybe it was just the heavy snowfall on Hoth the night before?
The handling of the guns seemed to work quite well, although the ADS seemed to take a little too long to achieve, meaning that shooting from the hip gave you an advantage of an extra half a second or so, which can be really beneficial in a fast paced shooter. Hopefully the time to aim down sights can be reduced and that issue can be resolved.
The walker assault game mode was absolutely chaos, in a good way. Although it was always beneficial to go to the dark side if you wanted to win.
The cool down time of the grenades, cycler rifle and other various cards seemed very acceptable. I never felt as though I was waiting longer than I should have or that they were available too quickly. One power up that I felt should have lasted longer is the hero ability. I found that once I’d acquired this power up, I’d spend half of my time, or lose half of my life I should say, just travelling to where enemies were stationed.
Once I was in the vicinity of a few opposing troops, I was soon slain where I stood, only managing to bag a handful of kills due to my lack of health from travelling. This also applied to when I was on the receiving end of being attacked by the hero. I found that I killed more heroes than I did die from them attacking me. This kind of made the hero ability less intimidating, in a bad way. I think the timer should be scrapped all together. The hero’s should be really feared and a lot should be done in order to diminish their health. I really want them to be a well feared, opposing force.
I also found the respawning to be very poor, I’d often find that I’d respawn in front of the opposing team and within seconds be obliterated from blaster fire, however I’d also reciprocate the gesture and mow down the opposing side myself, as they respawned straight in front of my gun fire. Textures would cut out at various times and characters would float in the air after death, but with it being a beta this was as to be expected. I’m sure those creases will be ironed out before release.
I was going to address the balancing issue on Walker Assault, seeing as though the rebels were at quite a disadvantage if you were in it to win it, however this has recently been addressed by DICE, who are working on a solution to that as we speak. Climbing out of trenches on Hoth could also be quite frustrating, as there wasn’t any animation in place to simply vault over them, most of the time you just aimlessly jumped until you eventually found a ledge small enough to disperse over.
“You will not defeat me you unscalable trench ledge!”
From what I’ve seen so far there are many aspects I’m very curious about; the diorama for one, the fact that DICE have brought in a toy collecting feature is amazing, as many Star Wars fans love to collect merchandise from the series, myself included. I’m curious to see exactly how that pans out. I’m also hoping to see a vast library of unlockable weapons, cards, perks and traits; along with extensive character customisation options.
I’d like extra customisable options which could only be unlocked through dedicated time and effort. I’d love to see some extremely hard to acquire unlockables listed – maybe for killing over 50,000 rebels, for example. You could maybe even receive some special imperial armour or fancy blaster for doing so, which others could gawk at in awe. To carry on with that feature, I’d also like this to apply to the trophies/achievements available with in the game. I really hope they concentrate on tying most of the trophies to the online multiplayer portion of the game, as opposed to having the majority feature in missions or survival.
A brilliant achievement list I had in mind was “ShadowRun” for the Xbox 360, The game was mainly online, similar to Battlefront, and contained a fantastic set of achievements – I’d like to see something similar from Battlefront.
Remember back in the day when you had to achieve 10,000 kills in ranked multiplayer to unlock the “Seriously…” achievement in Gears of War? I loved working towards that achievement and felt a strong sense of pride in obtaining it. The fact that it allowed you to download an exclusive avatar once obtaining it was even better. I’d love to see something like that in Battlefront – very tough challenges, something that requires great effort, but also gives the user an incentive in doing so, which then in turn would allow them to reap the reward.
As much as I may have raised a lot of negative points within this article, the game itself seems to be shaping up to be fantastic and I for one am definitely looking forward to the main release. But I suppose that’s why the Beta was essential, as now DICE can polish every aspect of the game and make it something special. Hopefully from this they can do all they can to make this a contender for game of the year.
Through the timeline of Star Wars Battlefront I have never once felt let down by DICE or EA, it seems as though they really are putting a lot of love and effort into this game as well as being extremely considerate of the community voice, within reason. I know a lot of people may disagree with that, but that is how I have personally received the way they have marketed the game.
The beta has left me wanting more and I can’t wait to see how the likes of Endor and the other game modes fair. Hopefully they can nail the launch this time round, as opposed to the disastrous one Battlefield 4 received.
Fingers crossed. I want this game to succeed as much as those who have created it do. But only time will tell.
If you’d like to see some funny clips from the beta as well as me honing my skills in Dropzone, check the video’s below… Oh, and a sub’ to my Youtube channel wouldn’t go a miss either.
May the force be with you.