Inside Pulse 12

Impressions: Star Wars Battlefront Beta (Sony PlayStation 4)

Star Wars Battlefront Beta
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: DICE
Genre: 1st or 3rd person shooter
Playable dates: 10/8/2015 until 10/13/2015

A beta test for Star Wars Battlefront was live on PlayStation 4 this weekend. I spent some time running around and shooting Rebels and Imperials. Fellow Die Hard GameFAN contributor Aaron Sirois joined in on the shenanigans. I managed to put in four to six hours and came away with some mixed feelings.

Three modes were available, with one map each. Drop Zone was played on Sullust and is a capture and hold mode using infantry on small maps. Walker Assault took place on Hoth and saw the Empire pushing toward the Rebel base to disrupt the communication towers the Rebels were using to call Y-Wings to perform bombing runs on AT-AT walkers and took place on large expanding battlefields. Co-op missions were on Tatooine, and was a pretty standard wave based mode for one or two players on a mid-sized map.

Never has a game looked or sounded so much like Star Wars. Visually this is a stunner and it continues developer DICE’s streak of really pushing hardware to get amazing results. The snow sparkles in a very pleasing way and the Stormtrooper armor looks so perfectly plastic and glossy. It all just looks right. Hoth looks downright gorgeous, and the skies above Sullust feature a fantastic space battle to distract you from the task at hand. When the music hits on Tatooine it draws you in and makes the entire thing more exciting. Aside from some wonkiness in the menus, the presentation is looking top notch. Shooting feels really good, as does moving your soldier. The flying vehicles feel a little odd and not like what I am used to from previous Star Wars games.

Hopping into any of the modes solo never clicked. When Aaron and I teamed up it was much more fun. We ran a handful of each type of match, with the co-op mode being my favorite. Taking out an AT-ST with your foot soldier is incredibly satisfying. There really wasn’t enough available to judge it fairly though. Drop Zone was enjoyable when the map was populated with players. We dealt with a pretty awful team for a while, but we started getting better and so did our team. Once we really started feeling a grove we ended up in a 3-on-1 match, and that was just kind of silly, but it did give us a chance to goof off and learn the game a bit.

Walker Assault I want to love. It has so much potential and is similar to Battlefield’s Rush Mode. It is where the graphics shine the most and the most epic battles take place, but something went wrong. The game balance is completely out of whack. The Rebels may be able to win one out of ten matches. The Empire just has an easier path to victory, often making your almost predestined win a bit of a bore. Playing as the Rebels however, can devolve into despair thanks to some of the most terrible player spawns I have encountered. You often spawn at the convergence point of two rushes for the Empire. At one point I died eleven times in a row without even having a chance to move or fire a shot, then I managed to get away to get a few kills, then have the same thing happen again. It wasn’t fun, it was frustrating. Now and then things conspired and it worked out for you, and when it did, it felt so good. When it doesn’t work, well, let me just say that Aaron and I let some colorful phrases fly.

Looking Forward
Star Wars Battlefront’s beta has a lot going for it, but the drawbacks it has are huge. It looks and feels more like Star Wars than anything since the original trilogy, the gunplay feels good, and when it all clicks into place it can be a blast. When it doesn’t work it is an exercise in futility, often leaving your poor Rebel soldier feeling impotent. We still have a month until release which isn’t much time to fix things for the retail disc. A day one patch may do wonders though, we have to wait and see. I am hopeful – DICE tends to work hard at fixing their games, even if it takes a while to get there.