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Star Wars Battlefront release impressions

Our early impressions say there’s plenty to love, but some reason for concern.

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If viewers dream of being a character from Star Wars, it’s usually not the Wilhelm scream-uttering stormtroopers who serve as cannon fodder. It’s the Jedi and bounty hunting scoundrels that populate a galaxy far, far away.  Star Wars Battlefront, reviving the franchise that debuted over a decade ago, aims to make that former group just as fun to play as the latter.

While it’s too early to render a final verdict — the public just has access to the game, and for a title so multiplayer focused (more on that to come), it’s tough to gather the full scope so far. With that in mind, here’s what we’ve found does and doesn’t work in the game so far.

Likes

The authenticityBattlefront’s emphasis on bringing the world of the films to life captures the essence of a Star Wars battle with such precision that it’s easy to lose yourself around the fringes of battle just investigating the locales. From the forests of Endor to the sandy hills near a stationed Jawa sandcrawler on Tatooine, the hallmarks of the original trilogy are rendered in gorgeous detail, as the sounds of blaster rifle fire and droid bleeps and bloops ring out all around the player. Throw in the classic John Williams score and it’s tough to not be swept up in the chaos of battle, death but a momentary hitch in the tide of war. (The pace of Battlefront is maintained by not penalizing players with much of a time-out before re-entering the fray).

The maps — So far, most of Battlefront’s multiplayer maps have been a treat to explore. New pathways and areas reveal themselves as the focus of battle shifts locations from game to game. There’s a real sense of learning the geography that comes with each match, regardless whether it ends in victory or defeat. Finding new ways to manipulate cover or back pathways to cut across and surprise the opposition makes each match feel fresh and exciting in the early hours of playing.

The force powers — The hero and villain characters will rarely be the primary way of playing Battlefront, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and the rest serving more as special opportunities. But of this unique class of characters, the Jedi are an absolute blast to play. Force pushing or choking a stormtrooper always feels satisfying, and even if lightsaber combat isn’t fully fleshed out, using them for defense is surprisingly fun. Players can block incoming fire with lightsabers for a limited bursts of time, even angling to send those blasts right back at foes. Cutting down rebel scum with their own bullets channels the power and unique abilities of these characters with near-constant satisfaction.

Dislikes

The nonauthentic momentsBattlefront is so devoted to retaining the Star Wars experience that when it fails to, the outliers are all the more noticeable. The in-game music can’t compare to the film scores and voice actors imitating the iconic tones of Darth Vader, Han Solo, and others ring hilariously false. In a training mission, a Princess Leia garbled under radio static that feels designed to mask the clearly different voice gives directions, setting the otherwise authentic experience off on a false note.

Multiplayer, and… — Though EA and DICE have been emphasizing that Battlefront is a multiplayer-focused game, do not boot up the game expecting some secret wealth of single player content to reveal itself.  A few training missions help settle the player into the game, and the wave-based survival missions are fun but turn monotonous on lower difficulties are what you can expect to split up the time between multiplayer matches. This may be avoided if enough of the different multiplayer modes remain heavily populated for weeks to come, but it’s a worry that a few of the favorite modes may eventually rise to the top, leaving little options for the player.

Progression — Players will start out as a Rebel Alliance or Imperial fighter with few weapon and customization options. Players accrue points after every match that level the player up and can be spent on more items. The system may improve as more people have the game and there’s more variety to what’s on the field, but in the lower-level play, a single player with better weaponry or skills can drastically change the tide of war, and players will quickly learn which upgrades and perks used in the game’s card system are actually worthwhile additions to the battle. Again, the game was played with a limited field of players pre-release, so this may very well change as the servers become more populated.

Stay tuned for more Star Wars Battlefront coverage as we play through more of the game.