Let me start by saying that I love Star Wars. When I saw that first trailer for the new Battlefront game, I was ecstatic. I hadn’t played either of the other Battlefront games, but so what? It looked beautiful. It was Star Wars. It was a name with incredible pedigree. What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, as it turned out.
I’m not here to say that Battlefront is absolutely terrible; it isn’t. But it certainly isn’t the Star Wars game I was looking for.
One of the things that the best Star Wars games do is make you feel like you’re really there in that galaxy far, far away. It’s a rich, complex universe that clearly appeals to many, many people, and I believe part of that appeal comes from the idea that no matter who you are, there’s something in Star Wars that you can enjoy. Do you want to be a part of the Rebel Alliance? An Imperial? A rogue Jedi? A Bounty Hunter? Do you want to play as a famous character, or just someone of your own creation? Star Wars games of all kinds have allowed you to live out those dreams.
When I’m running around with friends in Star Wars: The Old Republic, for example, it feels like Star Wars. Even if I’m just hunting some malevolent creatures that are bothering hapless NPCs, I still feel like I’m an integral part of the world of Star Wars.
The joy is in the details-and that (among other things) is where Battlefront fails.
When the news broke that Battlefront wasn’t going to have a campaign mode of any sort, I was disappointed. Sure, that may not be what the Battlefront series is known for exactly, but I like my first person shooters to come packaged with at least some story. I still held out hope that Battlefront was going to at least create a beautiful, authentic world for everyone to enjoy in multiplayer (despite the discouraging fact that there was to be no online couch co-op).
In fact, the visuals are where Battlefront does things right. The trailers didn’t lie; it’s gorgeous. Tromping through the snowy landscape of Hoth and speeding through the forests of Endor are pretty unforgettable experiences. It all looks so real.
However, the beauty of these planets can only keep me playing the game for so long.
Since Battlefront has no campaign, it’s obviously meant to be a multiplayer game that people play over a long period of time. But what is there to keep players coming back for match after match?
Even if I could look past the underwhelming map selection, the unfortunately imbalanced heroes and the uninspiring variety of game modes, I’d get hung up on this: Battlefront doesn’t feel like Star Wars. It feels like a weird version of Battlefield that someone put a Star Wars skin on. I’ve put up with less-than-impressive scenery to play an older Star Wars game with a great story, but I can’t do the reverse.
Battlefront, for me, has a very limited scope. It fails to provide me with the narrative and extensive world that I crave, but also drops the ball on the actual gameplay. I played Halo 3 for ages after I beat the game because it was fun. Even if I wasn’t the best player out there, I had a great time competing online.
With Battlefront, after playing all the game modes for a while, I just got bored. The only ones that managed to hold my interest at all were Blast (basically a classic deathmatch) and Turning Point (a variation on capture points). The latter of the two was introduced with the free Battle of Jakku DLC in early December.
Battlefront is certainly not the worst Star Wars game that’s been released. But given all of the excitement and expectations that were set, I needed it to be better than it was, and I needed there to be more, especially since Battlefront was a full-price console title.
Is there some joy to be had in playing Battlefront? Yes. But it’s not the fantastic Star Wars game that many of us were hoping for.