Star Wars Battlefront (Xbox One Review)
As gamers we are gluttons for nostalgia, especially when it comes to great space battle in the sky. Tales of galaxies far away and space wizards with pulsing wands always hit the right spot and EA have channelled in to this want to appease our inner child and went after arguably the biggest nostalgia trip in the geek stratosphere with Star Wars. As the announcement went up we all heard that familiar fanfare and salivated for a more interactive take on the Star Wars universe, in fact some of us knew we would buy the game before we had even seen a modicum of game footage. And therein lies the problem.
With a troubled past in development and a quick succession of leaked images and demos scattered around the internet about the now dead and buried Star Wars Battlefront 3 there was little hope for the series. Fortunately the series was broken free from its Carbonite prison by DICE. With DICE’s experience in massive warzones through Battlefield they were a natural pairing for the franchise going forward. And thus Star Wars Battlefront was born.
Like every great piece of Star Wars memorabilia you are greeted with a wave of relics from the past as lightsabers, droids, rebel insignias, and familiar faces flurry by before you even start the game. Wait around long enough in the menus and Star Wars Battlefront reminds you exactly why you bought the game, the hum of lightsabers in the background and the distant echoes of blasters fire. Even the menu and part system are streamlined and slick from the get go with simple palettes as Star Wars Battlefront bears all as soon as you start.
Although once the initial, and overwhelming, feelings of nostalgia are washed and you lower you rose tinted glasses you might notice that Star Wars Battlefront is more hollow than Luke’s beloved Tauntaun in The Empire Strikes Back. A once rich experience with a great footing in offline cooperative campaigns and countless scenarios has been replaced with a more online focussed iteration. With a world as full and brimming with stories to tell the lack of any form of campaign is more than disheartening. Sure we can play some familiar battles, but even the small amount of effort to glue them together in a coherent story would make a massive difference to the experience. That being said it is possible to indulge in some scenarios that double up as basic tutorials for Star Wars Battlefronts and there are a select few survival missions to play split screen, but they are woefully short on anything that would warrant a purchase, even with the inclusion of the offline AI battles. Although these offline modes do give you a better chance to investigate the worlds DICE have created and they are beyond sublime.
Even with absolutely no story or campaign to sink your teeth in to, it is abundantly clear that DICE’s attention to detail in Star Wars Battlefront is unrivalled in any movie to game transition to date. Every world you touch down on is perfectly adapted from the big screen to the online war ground of the internet. The abusive messages from young and ferocious teens are sent off to the Sarlacc pit and lost in the forests of Endor. Jawas scuttle around fleeing from blasters firing overhead and Ewoks hide high in their tree houses. Even with a limited number of maps the worlds of Star Wars Battlefront are living works of art that are astounding to navigate, even if you get stuck in the scenery from time to time.
You can run about the majestic worlds of Star Wars in a great number of game modes. In fact there is a generous helping of game modes ranging from standard deathmatches to all out dog fights and the infamous Walker Assault missions from the beta alongside some more objective based variants. You can even play in Hero orientated modes that allow you to try out the 6 heroes of Star Wars Battlefront; Luke, Leia, Han, Boba Fett, Vader, and Palpatine with more additions promised in the near future. A personal favourite has to be Heroes Vs. Villains which puts all the special characters against one another while they fight to eliminate each other while extra players act as fodder in the crossfire. There is a great variety available for those heavily invested in the game and you can earn a great deal of points to upgrade your load outs through playing through the modes.
The ranking system in Star Wars Battlefront is where you will find the meat of the game, starting off as a generic stormtropper with little more than a default load out you will fight your way up through the online rankings and earn tokens to unlock new items, grenades, and additional streak bonuses that give way to an easier road to the top. With enough time invested in Star Wars battlefront players are able to unlock special items with reduced cool downs, extra stealth from radars, and even snipers that kill enemies in one hit. Unfortunately this does leave new players at a tremendous deficit, in fact they are sent packing without so much as a grenade to get them started. So the long grind feels like an endless show to prove yourself that you are worthy of items that allow you to even fight on even footing with those who have countless hours under their belt, and it quite frankly makes the experience unbearable at points as the opposition gets countless bonus items for kills and you are left wondering just how many match bonuses it will take to unlock enough credits to buy the right grenade to take on the AT-STs that trample you constantly.
And it’s that sentiment that really sums up Star Wars Battlefront as a whole. There is so much to do and play and see, but it all feels empty and worthless. The shooting isn’t particularly great and the dogfights can be boiled down to players being trounced by whoever was in the lead enough to go the Millennium Falcon or Slave-I. As much as it looks the part it doesn’t quite feel the part. It’s another exercise in bending Star Wars fans over for whatever they have and offering as little as possible, the season pass is a testament to this. Obviously the most avid of Star Wars fans have already ran out and handed almost £100 for the full experience, and that’s OK. Star Wars Battlefront is fun, I just don’t know if it is much more than that.