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Published October 13, 2015

The Star Wars Battlefront open beta ends today, so you only have a few hours left to give stormtroopers a good name — hey, they can aim too! The beta was a fun one and a good taste of what’s to come when the full game launches next month. Here are my first impressions of Star Wars Battlefront.

  • Let’s start with what make Battlefront stand out among the plethora of first-person shooters: Star Wars. Holy hell, when I play this game I feel like I am in the trenches of Hoth fighting as a part of the Rebel Alliance or on Sullust trying to gather pods for the Empire. DICE did a spectacular job making the player feel immersed in the Star Wars universe with the impressive visuals and audio. Weapons, characters models, and vehicles look authentic to the original movies. Environments are beautiful, from the snowscape of Hoth to the sandy deserts of Tatooine. I love the little details, like the way sparks fly when a blaster shot hits. The developers prioritized framerate (60 FPS) over resolution (900p on PS4, 720p on Xbox One) and the game is easily one of the best looking games of this generation. On top of that, the sound design is especially wonderful. Blasters sound like their film counterparts, vehicle movements sound great, and the classic hum and of a lightsaber brings me back to my childhood when I was obsessed with Star Wars (who am I kidding — I still am!). The soundtrack is amazing and makes me feel like I’m in a Star Wars movie. You can definitely tell that Star Wars Battlefront was made by a bunch of nerds who grew up loving this universe.
  • But we all know that graphics and audio don’t make a great game, just a pretty one. The gameplay is what really matters and Star Wars Battlefront’s gameplay is hella fun. Battlefront feels fast-paced and a little like an arcade shooter as the lack of iron sights encourages players to shoot from the hip. Jumping over an obstacle and into a group of enemies, getting a quick three or four killstreak is very exciting and gets my blood pumping. Those that thought Battlefront would just be a reskinned Battlefield game are wrong. Battlefront is its own game. The blasters have limited recoil and don’t have ammo and instead can overheat (think of the original Mass Effect’s guns), causing the gun to be unusable during cooldown. Star Cards, two of which can be equipped, including grenades, a sniper rifle, and a jetpack, also have a cooldown timer that doesn’t reset during deaths. Even though they have cooldown timers, I still feel like there is a lot of grenade spamming and that the cycler rifle is overpowered as all is takes is one shot from the cycler rifle for you to die most of the time.

  • The beta only includes two multiplayer game modes: Drop Zone and Walker Assault. I personally found Drop Zone to be more fun. The eight vs. eight battles for escape pods are very fun and quick. The way the game mode is designed can lead to some intense fights. Both the Rebels and Imperials will be after the same pod. Whoever captures it first has to defend it from the enemy, who is fighting to claim the pod and start the capturing process all over again. The two sides basically play tug-of-war with the escape pods in intense battles and fast fights.
  • Walker Assault features a team of 20 Rebels trying to destroy two AT-AT Walkers that are advancing across the map with the goal of destroying the Rebel Base’s power supply. The 20-man team of stormtroopers is tasked with preventing the Rebels from activating uplinks that allow their Y-Wing bombers to weaken the Walkers and let the rebels attack them. This game mode is fun when playing with the imperials because they’re sure to win. Escorting the Walkers is much easier than trying to destroy them as the Rebels. The Imperials get pick-ups that let them control the AT-AT Walkers, AT-ST Walkers, TIE Fighters, and, for a lucky someone, Darth Vader. Playing with an AT-ST Walker makes it almost too easy to rack up kills and keep the Rebels at bay. The Rebels have pickups too, but can only pilot X-Wing and A-Wings fighters, as well as take control of Luke Skywalker. They don’t have anything on the ground that can combat the Empire’s AT-AT and AT-ST Walkers, making the game mode unbalanced. It’s still fun to play, but players who play the objective will be frustrated when it’s their turn as the Rebels.

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  • Now, even though Star Wars Battlefront is gorgeous and extremely fun, that’s not to say the game is without faults. For starters, let’s address the screenshot above: Why the hell is Luke in his Return of the Jedi costume on Hoth?!?! I wrote above on how good of a job DICE did with making the player feel immersed in this game, but that immersion is completely broken when I see Luke running around Hoth in his ROTJ costume with a green lightsaber! It’s the little things that matter, guys.
  • Okay, rant about costumes over. One other negative of Star Wars Battlefront, for me, were the vehicle controls. Using an AT-ST Walker was fine, if you could deal with how slow they are, but piloting an X-Wing or TIE Fighter is just not fun at all. I struggled moving them around and could barely get any kills with these vehicles. Turning them around is a struggle and just keeping them in the air can be a challenge — I constantly felt like I had to fight with the game to keep my spacecraft from crashing into the ground, something that happened a couple of times.

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  • I know it was just a beta, but I have bad feeling that Star Wars Battlefront is going to launch with a lack of content. Looking at this game objectively (by taking off my Millennium Falcon shaped glasses), Battlefront is, for all intents and purposes, an online-only game. The lack of single-player offline content is disturbing. We got to play the survival game mode in the beta, which is as basic as basic horde modes get. Sure, it was a nice change of pace from the online game modes, but it still isn’t enough. This is Star Wars we’re talking about. A universe that is begging creative storytellers to come in and craft a great campaign mode. Shit, DICE has done campaigns for their Battlefield games! Even Treyarch takes their Call of Duty: Black Ops campaigns seriously. Just read what Black Ops III director of campaign and zombies Jason Blundell said about them: “Black Ops has always been stories about people. That’s infinite. You can tell so many different stories, and they can come from the past, the future, or wherever you want.” That is someone who is passionate about storytelling speaking. If Star Wars Battlefront gave me some kind of assurance that I would be able to play more than a horde mode day one — don’t forget about Battlefield 4’s launch, people — then I would be excited about this game. Right now, I don’t want to shell out $60 for an online-only game.

Everybody is going to have different takes on that last point, but to me, while it is fun and true to the Star Wars universe, Star Wars Battlefront is not worth $60 as it is an online-only game with minimal offline single-player content. The game is especially not worth a day one purchase when you consider the fact that there will be $50 worth of DLC sold separately. I’ll be content waiting for the complete/Game of the Year edition of Star Wars Battlefront. Unless EA wants to hand it our for free?

Did you enjoy the beta? Excited for the game? Wishing it had more content? Leave your thoughts below!

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