Star Wars: Battlefront is one of the biggest games of the year. It promises to bring first-person shooter action to the Star Wars universe in a way no previous game in the franchise has. In development at DICE, the game will offer a host of multiplayer gameplay modes, eschewing any story content for all-out online mayhem.
I’ve spent a good amount of time with the beta and have come up with this list of reasons why you should play Star Wars: Battlefront, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan.
Returning to A Galaxy Far, Far Away
Dropping into the Walker Assault mode, which takes place during the Battle of Hoth has to be one of the most immersive Star Wars experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve played everything from Star Wars: Dark Forces to Knights of the Old Republic, but Battlefront manages to top it all.
I was hit by a wave of nostalgia for the original trilogy. The lay of the land, filled with trenches in the snow and massive AT-AT walkers lumbering across the battlefield reminded me of the early scenes in The Empire Strikes Back. I remember being absolutely immersed in the movie the first time I saw it while I rooted for the rebels as they faced three AT-ATs converging on their base. Though the scenes mostly focused on Luke Skywalker’s sortie on the walkers, I always wondered what the scene on the ground would have looked like. Thanks to Battlefront though, I don’t have to imagine any longer. Even though I played the same map over and over, it was still special every time.
Hoth isn’t the only location from the movies. The beta’s co-op mode also includes Tatooine, whose desolate canyons resemble Death Valley, where parts of A New Hope was filmed. It should come as no surprise that the developers traveled to the same locations where the films were shot to design these environments, and it truly shows.
He’s Holding a Photorealistic Thermal Detonator!!
George Lucas’s use of practical effects in the original trilogy was impressive, and had a way of making the movies large in scale without the use of anything more than clever filmmaking techniques. Riddled with CGI, the prequels weren’t as impressive as the originals, and thanks to advancements in computer graphics, they didn’t age half as well. The visuals in Battlefront feel like DICE tried to take Lucas’ original practical effects and recreate them in a photorealistic environment.
Blaster fire hitting hard surfaces causes huge puffs of smoke just like the practical effects in the original Star Wars movies. It’s impressive to see the lengths the developers went to match the graphics with the scenery of the Original Trilogy.
Beyond visual effects, the game manages to capture the feeling of Star Wars through sound and music. Weapons share the same distinct sounds of their counterparts in the movies, and the swoop of incoming TIE Fighters is unmistakable. For fans of the movies, there’s an immediate familiarity to every sound effect you hear.
The character models for soldiers on both Rebel and Imperial sides change depending on the map you play on and resemble their counterparts from the movies. On Hoth, stormtroopers run around in the beekeeper uniforms seen in the early scenes of The Empire Strikes Back and during the Tatooine mission, most stormtroopers wear their iconic white armor, though snipers and other specialists look slightly different.
That isn’t the only impressive detail. DICE also spent a lot of time recreating the armaments of Star Wars. In the beta, both sides have a handful of unique blasters that look and sound like the ones in the movies. For instance, fans will be familiar with weapons like the E-11 blaster rifle, the stormtrooper’s staple firearm.
Finally, there’s the John Williams soundtrack that plays throughout the entire game. I don’t know if it was coincidence, but hearing the more bombastic tracks play during a killing spree feels incredibly appropriate.
Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.
One of Battlefront’s unique aspects is the ability to play as one of the heroes from the Star Wars universe, including the big bad himself, Darth Vader, and his son, Luke Skywalker. You can play as one of these heroes by finding a token on the battlefield and activating it. You’ll be a hero for a limited period of time, making short work of other players with one-hit lightsaber kills.
The heroes differ in ability and play-style. A lumbering giant of a man, Darth Vader moves nonchalantly across the battlefield, gliding upwards instead of jumping as the other heroes would. In contrast, Luke Skywalker is fast, agile, and sprints from target to target. Despite whatever side you’re on, playing as a hero will make you a force to be reckoned with out on the field. Also, it’s always fun to have Vader Force choke the life out of someone before slashing them with a lightsaber.
Who’s the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?
Star Wars has always been about a group of allies working together to defeat the odds. Despite early reports about how the game wouldn’t feature a party or squad system, this absolutely isn’t the case. Large groups of players can form parties and join the same match.
Beyond joining a party of players to group up with, you can partner up with a single friend to borrow their load-out and even spawn close to them, instantly backing them up before they head into the fray. It’s the buddy system in a galaxy far, far away.
Offering more than just competitive multiplayer modes, Star Wars: Battlefront features a full fledged co-op mode that sees you and a friend taking on waves of enemies as you attempt to maintain your position and wait for rescue. This mode can also be played alone, but given the challenge, it’s better to play with someone else.
In the beta, enemies range from run-of-the-mill stormtroopers to enemies armed with sniper rifles and jetpacks. With some orbital drops at your disposal, you’ll even have what it takes to take out an AT-ST or two.
That’s no moon…it’s a space station.
If there’s one thing Star Wars: Battlefront does exceptionally well, it’s the sense of scale. Thanks to the vastness of the terrain and a line of sight to the war between starships going on in space, even battles with few players feel like part of a much larger war. I found myself looking up at the sky to see starships firing broadsides at each other. It’s really kind of awe-inspiring.
In the beta’s larger 40-player mode, Walker Assault, the Hoth map is as huge as it seemed in the movie ranging from trenches to wide open spaces. Thankfully, it’s not so big that you’ll lose sight of the enemy. Battles take place both on the ground and in the air, with X-Wings and TIE Fighters vying for aerial supremacy. There are AT-ATs lumbering across the battlefield that Rebel Alliance players will have to work together to disable, just like in the movie, though players might have better luck taking them out. Aside from Luke Skywalker, most of the pilots didn’t fare so well. The setting allows players to have fun “what if” scenarios for both the Rebels and the Imperials.
Red Leader, coming in hot!
Though the Battlefield games from DICE played at a slightly slower pace, Battlefront feels like the opposite in terms of how fast you get to the battle. I didn’t have to wander around the map for any unreasonable amount of time before I ran into a group of enemies.
Most rounds last 10 minutes and I’ve found it easy to get games going between work, though the temptation to play another round after winning is almost irrepressible, and makes me look forward to playing the full game when it comes out with way more maps and modes in which to fight.
Star Wars: Battlefront is going to be epic, and even more so for faithful fans of the series. If you’ve been pining for some authentic Star Wars action, rest assured, it’s on its way. Star Wars: Battlefront will be out November 17 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.