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The original Star Wars: Battlefront was released in 2004 and set up the basic structure of the series. You choose one of several factions from the Star Wars universe and battle it out for total control. It was all about capturing command posts and killing opposing troops. Star Wars: Battlefront II was released in 2005 and built upon the existing formula with all new content. No longer was the gameplay restricted to the “king of the hill” game mode. Battlefront II introduced several new game modes, an actual storyline, and, unfortunately, the horribly implemented heroes and villains. Still, it was a bigger and better game than the first in many respects. These games were followed by handheld Battlefront titles but we didn’t get another major Battlefront release until 2015.
Shortly after Disney acquired LucasArts in 2013, publisher Electronic Arts obtained exclusive rights to develop new Star Wars video games. EA DICE, a subsidiary of EA, took over the reigns of the Battlefront series and released the reboot, simply titled Star Wars Battlefront, in November, 2015 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. EA DICE is primarily known for the Battlefield series, a series I haven’t really touched since Battlefield: Bad Company. I primarily played through the PC version but Jeremy and I did play through some modes cooperatively in split-screen on PS4.
While the previous two entries had a campaign to play through, Battlefront 2015 has next to nothing in terms of single player content. The developers clearly focused their efforts on the multiplayer. There’s no campaign, no Galactic Conquest, no Instant Action. All gone. There are a few single player modes but they’re downright terrible. Training consists of a bunch of missions that show you the mechanics. A couple of them are cool like a slight recreation of the Hoth battle as depicted in The Empire Strikes Back and a neat little Speeder Bike chase. Survival is another single player mode where you need to survive fifteen waves of enemies. Battles and Hero Battles are like deathmatches where you collect tokens from dead enemies to earn points. In Hero Battles, you play as a hero character like the Jedi or Sith, among others. Then there’s the single player Skirmish modes – Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron. Walker Assault has the Rebels attempting to stop the Empire’s AT-AT’s by calling in Y-Bombers. In Fighter Squadron you take to the skies and battle it out in ships. Believe it or not, Fighter Squadron is worse than the Space Battles in the original Battlefront II. One of the better qualities this game has is that the game is primarily based on the original three Star Wars films.
The problem with the single player stuff, and the game in general, is that it’s all boring. In each single player mode, you can select from one of three difficulty modes – Normal, Hard, and Master. On Normal, the enemy AI sucks and you can dominate the battlefield without much of a problem. On Hard, all of a sudden AI enemies have pinpoint accuracy. I didn’t even try Master because even the change in difficulty didn’t make the single player modes any more enjoyable. The Battlefront website actually has gall to state that the single player and co-op missions are “packed with action and depth”. Fuck you, EA. That’s a bullshit lie and you know it. You can play these single player scenarios with a friend online or in split-screen co-op, if playing on console. Training, Battles, Hero Battles, and Survival are all part of the Missions category. In these modes you earn stars based on your performance and the difficulty mode. Earning stars grants you bonus credits that can be spent on unlocking weapons, appearance options, and Star Cards, all for multiplayer. Star Cards act as special abilities of sorts. These include things like jump packs, grenades, shields, and even special weapons. They all need to cooldown after use which is actually annoying since you only carry one weapon. You get no secondary weapon. You carry one primary weapon, three Star Cards, and you can also acquire power-ups on the battlefield like turrets, thermal imploders, an orbital strike, an even vehicles.
As you may or may not know, I am not a multiplayer person. Those days for me are over. I haven’t dedicated my time to multiplayer gameplay since my days with Counter-Strike: Source in the mid 2000’s. But in light of the fact that Battlefront’s single player is so utterly terrible, I basically felt like I had to play the multiplayer, otherwise there would be almost nothing to review. I’m going to admit right off the bat, I’m awful at the multiplayer here. I got annihilated but I expected as much. Most of the time it was obvious I was up against veteran players and I only managed to do really well during one match of Drop Zone. Because this is the Ultimate Edition, it came with all of the DLC, but unfortunately, I was unable to find any matches for DLC content. You can search for online games through different categories or through each individual mode. Unlike the single player, the multiplayer is filled with game modes but I was unable to find matches for several of them but sometimes I did get lucky and found matches with more than two to three players. It seems everybody is playing either Walker Assault or Supremacy. I was also unable to try the VR Mission.
Walker Assault, Supremacy, and Turning Point are the three major modes that support up to forty players at once. The objective of Walker Assault is identical to it’s single player counterpart but with forty people running around, it’s much more intense. Supremacy is like the classic Conquest mode with the goal being to take over the command posts. Both of these modes can turn into mass chaos. Lasers flying everywhere, explosions, vehicles, and ships dominating the skies. If Fighter Squadron is anything like it’s single player counterpart, you fly a ship around and try to shoot down the enemy ships. That’s about it. I was unable to find any matches for Fighter Squadron in multiplayer. The other modes support up to twenty players or less. In Drop Zone you and your team need to take control of the escape pods as they come crashing down from the sky. Droid Run is a similar mode where you need to capture and maintain control of three droids for a specific amount of time. I was rarely able to find matches for Droid Run. Cargo is just capture-the-flag. You need to bring the opposing team’s boxes back to your base. Blast is just team deathmatch and I was unable to try Extraction and Turning Point because I couldn’t find any matches. I also noticed modes exclusive to private matches but I was unable to try those as well.
Let’s not forget the Hero Modes. At first I thought Heroes vs Villains was literally going to be exactly how it sounds but it’s not. Instead it plays out in rounds with a specific amount of players on each team playing as heroes or villains, and the others backing them up. After the round ends, the other players become the heroes or villains. While the special characters are better implemented here than they were in Battlefront II, playing as them still sucks. Hero Hunt is by far the worst mode of all. One player is designated the hero and the others have to kill the hero. The player who does the most damage becomes the next hero. The problem is, if somebody good becomes the Hero, the match can drag on. Heroes can kill you easily and they can be hard to find and take forever to kill. In addition to the hero modes sucking ass, the voice acting for these special characters is terrible. They shout random lines and they’re clearly not voiced by the actual actors. You can play Battlefront in either the first-person or third-person perspective, and once again, heroes can only be played in third-person.
Now I have several issues with the multiplayer. In previous games, you could choose to spawn at any command post under your team’s control. Well you can’t do that in Supremacy. Because the Supremacy map is usually large, I would usually spawn at the command post furthest from the action, forcing me to trek every two minutes because I would get annihilated from every direction. There’s also the nasty issue of getting slaughtered the moment you spawn in which is really fucking annoying. Then there’s the actual planets you battle on. Because I couldn’t try any of the DLC stuff, I was only able to experience the base maps which are spread out across only four planets – Endor, Hoth, Sullust, and Tatooine. There are multiple maps per planet with variations for each game mode, but the lack of other planets is a big problem. Constantly playing in the same environments gets old really fast.
Previous entries consisted of multiple character classes per faction. In Battlefront 2015, you can choose your character’s appearance and choose your weapon and Star Cards before each battle. It’s one of the few positives about this game. It offers character customization rather than presets. After each match you earn experience points and after earning enough points, you rank up. You also earn credits and like I stated earlier, these credits can be spent on weapons, star cards, and appearance options. The appearance options are cosmetic and meaningless. Hardcore fans may appreciate them but the game just couldn’t engage me long enough to care. Many of the weapons feel too similar, even if they do have different stats, including damage outputs. There’s plenty of pistols, rifles, and sniper rifles, among other types. But whether you equip a pistol or a sniper rifle, yeah, one may do more damage than the other, but they just don’t feel different. Many of the guns do not need to be reloaded manually unless they overheat and then if you time your reload right, you don’t have to wait for it to cooldown. If you miss the reload window, you have to wait even longer than the normal cooldown period. It’s very similar to the fast reload system in Gears of War. In single player you have only a select set of weapons to choose from but in multiplayer you’ll need to buy all of these before you can use them. What sucks is, not only do you have to buy all of these weapons, but they need to be unlocked first, which depends on your rank. And this applies to anything you purchase, including Star Cards. So, really, you need to grind to unlock everything, but I never really felt a sense of progression. It just feels like a generic leveling system. There’s also Hutt Contracts. By completing personal objectives like a certain amount of kills with certain weapons, getting a certain amount of overheat bonuses, kill streaks with certain weapon types, and other shit like that, you can unlock even more weapons and Star Cards. But again, you need to be a certain rank. You normally have a few preset Star Card decks to choose from before starting each battle but as you unlock and buy more, you can eventually build your own deck of abilities which is kind of cool, I guess. But in all honesty, I’d rather have a secondary weapon than this Star Card nonsense.
The only thing Battlefront 2015 was really able to nail down was it’s presentation. This a sexy-looking game. It can look photorealistic at times and it’s truly a visual powerhouse. Watching the trees in the forest of Endor break and fall amid the carnage or battling it out on Tatooine with ships engaged in combat in the skies overhead are truly stunning sights to see. In Fighter Squadron, there’s a cockpit view and when your ship is damaged you can see the dashboard emitting sparks. The audio design is also excellent. Just like previous entries, it has all the Star Wars sights and sounds and the classic John Williams music. The game also performs rather well. I experienced no slowdown or glitches on PC. When I did find matches, my online connection was seamless, and my co-op time with Jeremy on PS4 was solid. The higher frame rate on PC is a bonus and the PC version is clearly the definitive version. If you never actually played the game and have only seen clips, the presentation can really lure you in. But I’m warning you now, don’t be fooled. The beautiful visuals and excellent sound design can’t mask it’s boring nature.
Ultimately, I would not recommend the Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition. This is a perfect example of a multiplayer-focused game becoming more and more unplayable over time. And I mean that literally. Because of the lack of single player content, when the multiplayer scene here is finally dead, there’s pretty much no game left. There’s a good chunk of the game I couldn’t experience because I couldn’t find any matches and the stuff that is here just feels very bare bones. Now I’m coming at this from my time in the Counter-Strike: Source days and while I understand things change over time, it doesn’t have to be like this and that’s the sad part. It looks great, it plays well, but I’m tempted to say this is just a Battlefield game with a Star Wars coat of paint. Unlocking weapons just feels like a boring grind, appearance options are cosmetic and not worth the purchase, almost every game mode besides the ones that support up to forty players are just not that enjoyable to me, the air combat is more boring than the space battles in Battlefront II, and the single player stuff is a joke. Star Wars Battlefront 2015 is an extremely disappointing game and I just can’t recommend it to anyone. From what I’ve seen so far, the new Battlefront II shows some promise so hopefully that means the people at EA pulled their heads out of their asses and seriously re-considered how they develop future titles in this series, otherwise I would declare the Battlefront franchise officially dead.