This might just be the most under-whelming game in DICE history. Seriously.
What happens when the most greed-ridden company in all of PC gaming acquires the rights to produce a new entry into a beloved game franchise based on the most popular movie franchise of all time, and then hands it over to a development team that hasn’t made a truly excellent game in ten years? The answer is three words: Star Wars Battlefront.
This Is Not The Battlefront You’re Looking For
Anyone who played the original Battlefront games, made by LucasArts in 2004 and 2005, knows how great those games were. Even though they prominently featured the three terrible prequel movies rather heavily, they offered up some of the most memorable experiences a player can get out of a movie-themed game series. Exciting action, a brilliant sense of adventure, epic battles… those games had it all.
But that was a decade ago. Today, Disney Interactive is running the show, and for this modern iteration of Battlefront, they’ve partnered with a game studio that turned to the dark side many, many years ago. A company as similar to the Empire as a company can become: Electronic Arts. And compounding the problems, EA handed the franchise over to DICE, a once-beloved studio that used this title to drive one more coffin nail into the souls of their former fans.
“It Needs To Be More Generic!”
We can sum up Star Wars Battlefront with one word: “Generic.” It’s so generic, in fact, that it’s almost as if EA’s staff were barking at DICE, saying “No, that’s a terrible idea! Don’t you see what we’re trying to accomplish here? This game needs to be more generic, not less!”
The gameplay is about as run-of-the-mill shooter as run-of-the-mill shooter can get. Aerial combat (I say “aerial” because space battles don’t exist) is dry, unresponsive, and tiresome. There’s no real sense of urgency to participate in team play; the game lacks any mechanics that prevent the boring lone-wolf gameplay that plagues every shooter on the market. It’s essentially the same gameplay as DICE’s Battlefield 4, but watered down and wrung out.
The EA Is Strong With This One
If there’s one thing you’ll take away from this game within the first few minutes of playing, it’s that EA definitely contributed here. It’s as if millions of voices cried out that they loved these games and wanted them to feel like the originals, and suddenly fell silent.
Microtransactions? Check. Lack of a story mode or cooperative gameplay for more than 2 players? Check. No privately-owned servers or server searching? Check. Offensively-priced season pass for DLC you probably won’t stick around long enough to even try? Check. Yep… this is an EA game, all right.
The lack of server-hunting or community server creation means queuing with several friends is more difficult than it needs to be, and said queues can get pretty atrocious. There are entire game modes, plural, that I haven’t had the chance to play yet, because I sat in lobbies for more than twenty minutes before giving up for a whole other game mode. That might be resolved if a lot more players were engaged, but instead, the game is a ghost town, for obvious reasons.
If you loved Battlefield 4, but thought it was too complicated and wished it were made for a less-initiated audience, and were also themed loosely after Star Wars, this is definitely the game for you. Otherwise, Star Wars Battlefront is a bargain-bin title in the making, like Battlefield: Hardline before it. If it’s not urgent that you play it, I’d say wait a few months or a year, if you get it at all. This game will be on sale in no time.
Final Score: 4.5 /10
Gameplay = 4
Another generic, brainless shooter that refuses to take risks and fails to capture the excitement of earlier Battlefront titles.
Story = 3
We’re giving this 3 points for story, simply because it’s based on Star Wars, one of the greatest epics ever told. The game itself doesn’t have any kind of story mode, though, so this is as high as we can go with a straight face.
Ingenuity = 2
This is Battlefield 4, but dumbed down and with a few nods to the original franchise. DICE played it extra, extra safe here, and the game genuinely suffers as a result.
Visuals = 8
Again, this is Battlefield 4, but based on Star Wars. The graphics are fairly generic for modern games, though it does earn some high marks for level aesthetics and some of the more visually-appealing worlds, like Endor.
Audio = 7
The music and sound effects are exactly what you’d expect from Star Wars. The game comes up short, however, with its lackluster voice acting. I know at least ten people who can do a better Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker impression.
Learning Curve = 9
If you’ve ever even heard of a shooter game, this is as simple to pick up as possible. Flying feels a little wonky and takes some time to get used to, and learning how to acquire vehicles isn’t explained very well (hint: pick up the little discs to hop into a vehicle, become a hero, etc.). That stuff is only worth one point, though.
Online Features = 3
Lame lobbies. No private servers. No server-searching. And let’s not forget the miserably small lobby sizes. 20 vs. 20 might be great for consoles, but I’m a PC gamer. I expect bigger battles, especially out of the DICE team!
Community = 7
Thankfully, most players are either too busy or too young to troll. That, mixed with a healthy dose of players who put their love of Star Wars above their desire for a high KDR, makes this game’s community decent, bordering on “good.”
Developer Trust = 3
It’s EA. You knew this was coming.
Wow Factor = 2
I genuinely expected a lot more out of this game. It gets two points for surprising me a lot, but in all of the wrong ways. Battlefront was my biggest gaming letdown of 2015. For shame, DICE. For shame!