‘Battlefront’ beta: Star Wars Battlefront
Published: October 14, 2015
‘Battlefront’ beta: Star Wars Battlefront, The curse surrounding Star Wars games is notorious: either they’re a fantastic offering of sci-fi brilliance or they go south, Jar Jar Binks-style. Few franchises have so consistently yoyoed between extremes in quality.
Mercifully for Dice’s upcoming team-FPS, Battlefront, I’m pleased to be bear tidings of Ewok-like joy; Star Wars is back and looking sleeker than a Super Star Destroyer. After spending the last four days knee-deep in the corpses of rebel scum – also known as the Battlefront open beta – I can confirm that the hype is real.
The stormtroopers storm, the speeders speed, and it’s more fun than an all-night Jawa disco at the Mos Eisley Cantina.
Two of Battlefront’s game modes have been unlocked during the beta: Walker Assault and Drop Zone. The first is the one you’ll likely have seen already, and sees 40 players recreate first scenes of The Empire Strikes back on the icy plains of Hoth.
The premise is simple: twenty imperials must protect a pair of AT-AT walkers as they make their way toward the shield generator. If the behemoths make it to the other side of the map, boom goes the rebel shield generator and the game is won. In order to stop them, the Rebels must activate uplink stations which call in Y-wing bombers.
As the bombers attack, the AT-ATs become temporarily vulnerable, and the troops can start eating into their health. Destroy both walkers and the Empire’s victory goes up in flames.
Find them and destroy them
What ensues is a constant battle over the uplinks as the Rebels attempt to activate uplinks and the Empire try to shut them down. This keeps the vast numbers of players focused on moving forward and prevents either side becoming entrenched.
In fact, the uplink stations available to the Rebels keep moving deeper and deeper into their own territory as the walkers progress, leading to a slow dance which gently treads back toward the shield generator. Only about a third of the total map’s gargantuan plain are ever in use at any one time, and players have to constantly think about whether they should be securing the area in front or behind the current enemy position in order to either undermine their current efforts or make swing the next ten minutes in their favour. The front lines are constantly in motion, and it feels terrifyingly like a real invasion.
More powerful than you can possibly imagine
As I discovered, after being riddled with more blaster holes than Greedo himself, Battlefront’s secret weapon and greatest source of giddy highs is its vehicles and static weapons.
Power-ups littered across the map allow players to jump into an AT-ST, a TIE fighter, or the monolithic AT-AT itself, assuming that you’re the Empire – the Rebellion only has access to airborne vehicles. It’s fairly likely in any given match that you’ll be given a turn in the cockpit of these, and it’s one hell of a ride when you do.
Blaster fire from the AT-AT is furious and slices through rebel troopers like butter. It even has a secondary gun mode that fires wildly explosive bolts for extra ‘ooomph’. The feeling is one of power overwhelming and allows you to rack up a dozen kills in thirty seconds or less.
It’s a shame that the aerial vehicles, for both the Empire and Rebellion, feel out of place
Equally as important, if not as dastardly fun, are the static weapon emplacements, which can two-shot KO opponents from huge distances. Hop into the right turret at the right time, and you can reduce a whole squad to mush. Grabbing hold of the right turrets is vital – too close to the enemy and you’ll receive a face full of thermal detonator, too far and you’re too removed to make a difference.
It’s a shame that the aerial vehicles, for both the Empire and Rebellion, feel out of place. A-Wings, X-Wings, TIE fighters and TIE interceptors deal out massive amounts of damage, but fly faster than my ailing reflexes can handle, with little or no ability to zoom in on the action. Great for attacking turrets or the AT-AT, utterly hopeless at zoning in on troopers themselves.
Most, if not all of the most astounding moments I experienced playing Battlefront were thanks to these shiny toys. Most FPS games treat turrets and vehicles as added frills, but in Battlefront they’re the centrestage stars.
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