Star Wars Battlefront: can the new game live up to old favorite?
The first Star Wars film released in 1977 catapulted the franchise into a multi-billion-dollar empire that covers media from film, T.V., books and gaming. With Battlefront 2 nearing release and fans hyped to once again battle across famous planets and The Last Jedi just around the corner, perhaps it’s time to reflect on the past games that gave players so many hours of enjoyment.
Star Wars Battlefront’s name first entered households in 2004 and the arcade-style 3rd person shooter produced by Pandemic allowed for players to conquer several planets in both the Clone War and Galactic Civil War eras in the famous Galactic Conquest and create quick matches in Instant Action either alone, with a friend or to compete in online instant action.
Its sequel, Battlefront 2, came in 2005 and expanded in every aspect of the game. There were more planets, space battles, playable heroes and a small, but enjoyable campaign that followed a Clone-Trooper of the 501st Legion, the eventual Vader’s Fist, from the Battle of Geonosis to Order 66 and beyond. I can’t fathom the hours I spent conquering the Galaxy as the Empire or defending the beaches of Kashyyyk, the Wookie home-world, as the Republic. Or when my cousin used a leader bonus as the CIS on Polis Massa, allowing him to play as Darth Maul, and the terror I felt as his red dual-bladed lightsaber cleaved through swathes of clones, including me. I eventually got my revenge as Obi-Wan on Utapau and turned the tide of that PvP Galactic Conquest, which culminated in the Republic’s victory.
This nostalgia is what hyped Star Wars fans like myself and my cousins because the films, books and games were a large part of our childhoods and having a new film and a Star Wars Battlefront series stirred up excitement to once again travel to a galaxy far, far away.
However, nostalgia can only hold a fan base’s attention for so long before cracks and flaws begin to appear in the once perfect image of a renewed childhood experience.
Image from starwars.com
A principal complaint of EA Games and Dice’s version of the franchise was the lack of content for a full-priced game. Namely, the first Battlefront lacked Galactic Conquest, space battles or any real campaign mode and there was a small number of maps. Single-player and co-op was lacking as well by comparison with only a few modes such as Battles and Survival. Another complaint was the size of the multiplayer matches capped at 20 vs. 20 in whereas the original Battlefront 2 allowed 32 vs. 32.
However, EA’s Battlefront 2 seems to have taken some of these complaints into account and added all eras from the Clone Wars to the New Trilogy with 11 heroes/villains, space battles and single-player campaign that tells the story of Iden Versio, an Imperial Special Forces pilot, after the destruction of the Death Star II. All of this is exciting, but there are still missed opportunities that EA and Dice could have taken advantage of to expand the depth of Battlefront such as adding in single-player/co-op Galactic Conquest, perhaps even online Galactic Conquest and allowing battles to be seamless between space and land with larger match lobbies and maps.
Image from Game Axis
I imagine two fleets orbiting a planet, the attacker sends down landing craft and vehicle support, while the garrisoned defenders do their best to set up their positions. Meanwhile, waves of fighters and interceptors engage in space and the skies while the capital ships and their frigates start pounding each other with heavy cannons and missiles. The destroyed fleet would crash into the map, much like the Jakku map on EA’s Battlefront, and change the landscape. Perhaps even the hero combat could be more fluid like the highly acclaimed Jedi Knight series’ where lightsaber moves and force powers were controlled by button presses, positioning and direction the player faced and moved.
These mechanics would make EA’s Star Wars Battlefront series a great successor to the originals and appeal to new and old players with more depth than a rushed product that lacked most of the components that made the franchise great. It might even revolutionize the idea of sci-fi multiplayer shooters as more focus is given to gameplay and being player and consumer friendly with a fully fleshed out game. Perhaps it is time for gamers to start demanding finished products with compelling expansions instead of sections of a game being stripped out and resold in season passes. And perhaps what gamers want is long-form stories that show characters interact with the galaxy and change over the course of a conflict rather than a 6-8 hour campaign that just offers a sliver of what could be a ground-breaking narrative with amazing multiplayer to boot.
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