The Star Wars Battlefront beta has come and gone and if you were like me you gripped your blaster, strapped on your helmet, and raced across Hoth living out your childhood fantasies. According to EA more than 9 million people participated in the beta making it the largest video game beta test of all time. It was an open beta on all platforms after all and anyone with the proper system could play but lets face it, it’s Star Wars. Did we expect any less?
From the outside the beta seemed to go rather smoothly for EA and DICE. The online servers were stable the majority of the time and minus a few hiccups and general maintenance, they were up and running the whole time it was available. EA and DICE even extended it an extra day to allow for some more server stress and to let players pour over it for a few extra hours.
So what did we as players learn from it? Well first off we learned that it’s not necessarily a Battlefront or Battlefield game. It pulls elements from each but in the end it finds its own niche that may or may not sit well with fans of those aforementioned games. Battlefront fans will love the chaos of the massive scale battles but will long for the more melee and hero based combat of the previous games. Battlefield fans will also love the large battles but will miss the more tactical engagements and precision of a Battlefield encounter. These seemed to be the sentiments I kept hearing from both of these crowds throughout the test and quite honestly I could see both sides.
Personally I really enjoyed the combat. I think the somewhat “floaty” aim that many hardcore shooter fans complained about added to the overall Star Wars feel of the game. That may seem like an excuse for poor shooting but hear me out. In the films, most Star Wars gun fights are riddled with a constant stream of lasers and missed shots firing over our heroes heads. Battlefront’s shooting mechanic enables this to happen and ultimately makes you feel like you are in the universe. DICE expertly captured the visceral feel of shooting a blaster and created the chaos that these fights often seem to contain.
Coupled in with the aiming mechanic is audio and visuals which just made the inner 6-year old in me cry tears of joy. I truly felt I had become the Storm Trooper that I said I would some day grow up to be when I was young. The game just downright looks incredible. Running at a smooth 60 FPS, the HD assets and lighting effects make it one of, if not THE best looking games on consoles to date. It is truly stunning to witness in motion. I consistently played in third-person not only for the situational awareness around my character, but to just stare at the gorgeous character models. DICE has gone above and beyond in this department if you ask me.
The three game modes we were given for the beta varied enough to have a little something for everyone but also helped convey the depth of gameplay that the retail version will contain. The Tatooine mission we were able to experience was playable alone or in co-op with a friend. This mode honestly was the weakest of the three but still was fun to play. I could easily see the wave-based nature of this mode getting a bit repetitive but with the difficulty increased it would be a blast to play with a friend.
The Drop Zone mode introduced us to the smaller squad, more competitive side of the game. This game mode featured a smaller map with teams battling it out to maintain control of a location shifting control point. These smaller scale battles were intense and a lot of fun to engage with. I was constantly adjusting my loadout to find what worked best against the team I was currently facing. Communication here was often the key to victory but gunplay skills definitely played a hand too because a single death while controlling a point could mean the difference between a win or a loss.
The Walker Assault mode was hands down the shining gem. It was easily the most impressive visually with DICE capturing the Hoth shield generator assault to near perfection. There was constant action on screen and the balance of infantry and air vehicles battling it on the map really made it fun. The vehicle combat seemed a bit lacking for me personally but I saw some rather talented pilots using their skills to help control the flow of the battle on the ground. This mode could probably use a bit more balancing because it seemed a little one-sided towards the Empire (which is fine by me) but through some tweaks with token placement and a well coordinated Rebel team this should help adjust the winning percentage to an even split.
It appears that character customization is going to play a big role in Star Wars: Battlefront. In the beta we were limited to the character models that they gave us however there was a tab labeled “customization” that will surely allow us to customize our character models. The cards we used in battle will also be much more robust in the full game and will allow players to adjust their load outs to their play style within each game mode.
There were a few things that could use some retooling. First up is easily the party system. The UI for this was rather confusing at first and too often I found myself partied up with friends but we wouldn’t matchmake into the same game. A simple fix would be to make a party leader and have the whole party follow them into the game that they launch. I think they should also find a way to explain the Walker Assault game mode. It seemed very confusing to players including myself at first. I had to explain the mechanics over and over to people and even then was in matches where it was obvious that teammates didn’t know what was happening.
With these small gripes aside I had an absolute blast playing the Star Wars: Battlefront beta. EA and DICE appear to have created a great product that will draw in Star Wars fans from both the hardcore and casual gamer crowd. Star Wars: Battlefront is setting itself up to be an homage to fans of the series that should not be missed. After playing the beta I’m really looking forward to the full retail release. Star Wars: Battlefront is set to launch on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on November 17th.
Make sure you check back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.
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