Our staff played a combined 10 hours of the Star Wars Battlefront beta on Windows PC this weekend and are ready to share their field reports. It should be noted that these are early impressions based upon a beta build of an un-released game and as such the final game may address some of the issues we are about to discuss.
Fionna Fox’s Impressions
IT happened at 11:35 on the second day of the beta, with a slight almost cash register type of sound I bought the last item available for unlock in the beta. I had done it! I had beaten the Star Wars Battlefront beta. But I wanted to keep playing -that’s how good it is, I kept going without any incentives, any unlocks, or even the promise of in game rewards.
Let’s start with the basics, the game is beautiful, on the highest graphics settings it looks like a brand new hi-end game (not really surprising here since it hasn’t seen a retail release yet). I’m playing on a 1080p monitor at 1920×1080 resolution and I still get awed when I take a look at the vista of Hoth. The Sound design is AMAZING, it sounds like you are in a star wars movie. Without even having ever gotten to game play the game already feels FANTASTIC, it has the shiny look of a modern game, with a Star Wars skin on top. That alone will be enough for lots of players, but it manages to back it up with gameplay as well.
Game play is pretty fun, its fairly classic arcade shooter, with more variety added by random power-ups (more on this later), occasional vehicle combat, and (at least in the beta) two different objective types. Of the two modes available in the beta, Drop Zone and Walker Assault, I strongly prefer the walker assault mode, as it feels much more “Star Wars” than the drop zone mode. Both modes are objective based, and rely on capture and hold mechanics, but drop zone lacks the fun vehicle game play. The lasers feel like lasers (low recoil high ROF) and the grenades are a bit more powerful than id like, but balance is something that can be adjusted.
The Walker Assault game mode needs a bit of balancing (imperials are REALLLYY overpowered on this map) but I still have a ton of fun on both sides. I’m not sold on the random power-ups (handled old school as pickups placed on the map is spinney circle things) they take a lot of skill out of the game, but mean that bad players (of which I am one) can still have a fighting chance. The unlock system is a bit silly (cards? Why do we have cards in this game?) But I can understand the idea that its to keep people playing.
My one major gripe, is that I don’t like the vehicle combat. The vehicle combat is 100% battlefield. It’s very hi-skill, relies on aerial dogfighting, and is not easy to do. In this same vein I wish there was a practice or training mode, but I’m sure there will be in the full game.
Overall it could use a little more balance, and some more modes and that we could be looking at the first big sci-fi shooter in a decade.
Rae Michelle Richards Impressions
I’ve been a lifelong Star Wars fan – I know this is going to date me a bit but I can remember watching the pre-special editions at the original trilogy on VHS when I was a kid. So whenever the opportunity pops up to experience the Star Wars universe in an interactive way I will gladly take it. Unlike many other Star Wars fans I don’t really have a soft spot for the original Battlefront games, I simply never got to play them when they were released on the OG Xbox. Going into this weekend’s beta I was literally experiencing what was on offer with fresh eyes.
All told in the 6 hours or so that I’ve put into the beta I’ve spent the majority of my time playing the Walker Assault on Hoth mode – I’ve dabbled in the other modes but not enough to really form a solid opinion on them yet. From my totally subjective perspective it feels like the Rebel faction wins more rounds than the imperials. I’m not sure if that is because the Rebel’s objectives are literally several hundred feet tall or just the player composition of the teams that I’ve placed on but it feels like completing objectives as the Imperials is a lot harder. Destroying the coms sites while routing the enemy teams is challenging to say the least, at least at this point.
In terms of how the ground combat feels – there are some small changes to the standard shooter formula that make this game feel like a genuine Star Wars title rather than say a Battlefield reskin. The removal of reloading the addition of an “active-reload” (Kinda like Gears of War) to cool down your blaster is a fantastic touch. The controls feel tight and responsive and eliminating my foes was rather enjoyable.
When it comes to the vehicles I feel like things fall apart for me quite a bit. My first match I was placed on the Rebel side and I ran towards a snow-speeder expecting a button prompt to allow me to pilot the iconic vehicle but one never came. I’ll never really understand why DICE decided to make vehicles un-exitable pick-ups rather than being placed strategically around the maps. I mean you can get in and out of the turrets.. so why not the X-Wing? It feels like a missed opportunity.
At the end of the day there isn’t enough content in the Star Wars Battlefront Beta for me to make a final call on the game. I was playing on Windows PC and I don’t know if it is just my desktop configuration but boy did I have a lot of issues. I’d get stuttering consistently and had to manually force my processor to over-clock over 4GHZ just to seen any kind of semblance of stability. All of these issues are odd because others are reporting no frame-rate dips or failure to load into the game so perhaps my particular desktop build is just bad because my machine certainly exceeds the minimum specs and all my drivers are up to date.
Hopefully the other modes that are greyed out in the beta are absolutely fantastic but if the beta is indicative of the final quality of the retail build I’m going to be playing this game on PlayStation 4 because I’ve just had too many issues with it.