Star Wars: Battlefront – Review

Title   Star Wars: Battlefront
Developer  EA Digital Illusions CE
Publisher  EA
Platform  Windows PC, PS4, Xbox One
Genre  Action, shooter
Release Date  November 19th, 2015
Official Site

battlefrontrev1Star Wars means a lot to me. That’s not an unusual thing for a geek to say, generally speaking, as quite a lot of us are fans, but for me (for the first time) it’s that one single item in geek culture that I love every single thing about. It’s important. The action and drama of the movies captured what older generations must have felt watching the old black-and-white swashbuckler movies – a sense of escape to a place where every day was a strange new daring adventure.

In any case, for decades games developers have tried time and again to capture that same sense of action and adventure producing countless games set in the Star Wars universe. One of the few that really tried – and some would argue succeeded – to capture that sense of war in Star Wars was the Battlefront series.  In Battlefront, the objective was simple: take control of the map from the enemy, either on the ground or in space, with the support of a variety of heroes and vehicles. Damn, was it fun to play. So when the news broke that EA and DICE were bringing back this classic series with next-generation, near-photorealistic graphics, I was, for want of a better word, excited.

Star Wars: Battlefront is a reboot of this series, but with more of a focus on the visuals over the expansive gameplay of its predecessors. Battlefront isn’t really set in any fixed point in the Star Wars universe that I can tell; it’s more a collection of famous battlefields glued together behind a fancy menu screen. For example, on the Battle of Hoth (a scene from The Empire Strikes Back for all you kids out there) the fully trained Jedi iteration of Luke Skywalker can be seen flying around, modelled after the character from the sixth film, Return of the Jedi.


Now, okay, I understand this isn’t a major issue; it’s just a game, and if you want to play as Luke Skywalker you’d clearly want him at his most powerful. He also has to balance out against the other heroes who may appear on the map; Hoth Luke would get his ass kicked against Vader. For a fan like me, though, it’s just lazy; why not have two versions of Luke – the Hoth version that fits with the movies, and a version of him on Hoth. Give them all different powers, who cares if they balance.

The loosely tied-together maps of Battlefront cover most of the more memorable locales of the original three movies… and Sullust. The forest moon of Endor, sand dunes of Tatooine, and ice tunnels of Echo Base on Hoth are beautifully rendered in incredible detail and on an epic scale. That same attention to detail and the source material can be seen across a lot of what is on offer in Battlefront. Everything from the wide array of weapons to the plating on the sides of the AT-ST is presented perfectly.

battlefrontrev3Maps are not just static environments in which players battle it out, either. In Battlefront, other battles rage in the skies far off in the distance, aircraft swoop and dive overhead, and the smaller details, like destructible rock cover on Tatooine or exploding computer consoles in Echo Base, add a level of realism to the fights rarely captured outside of the film industry. This level of detail also carries across to the character animations and effects. Blaster fire sparks and fizzles off surfaces and enemies; explosions are rich and rewarding; when you take down that enemy AT-ST with a final rocket, you really feel the impact as the chicken-leg walker topples over. Don’t believe me? Fire a few more shots in to that fallen AT-AT and watch for explosions straight out of the movie. DICE really have pushed the limit of what you can expect to see in modern gaming.

This, combined with a masterful use of the sound effects and score from the original movies, brings together a Star Wars experience more authentic than any other game in the decades of attempts before it. Blaster fire sounds right, the screech of TIE fighters overhead, and even the pop and fizzle of the lightsaber blade as it deflects lasers; all of it sounds perfect and drags you right back in to that world of action and adventure.

Sadly though DICE, despite building this beautiful and exciting space for players, have filled this game with old-style gameplay mechanics; the type you might find in Call of Duty or Battlefield. It’s difficult to know where to start with the gameplay. On the ground, you will find yourself running around from spawn points which are either way too far away from the enemy, or far too close. This leads to either a very long run in some maps, or an instant death as you spawn in the middle of a fire fight. Some maps and gameplay types, such as Walker Assault on Endor, have a real issue with this where players would have to defend a single walker but spawn a mile away from it.


Spawn points wouldn’t be a problem if not for other odd issues, such as the accuracy of weapons and deadliness of a blaster. As you might imagine, as is the case with most modern shooters, players don’t take much damage before going down. This isn’t much of an issue in games like Battlefield where there is damage drop-off and weapons are generally pretty inaccurate. In Battlefront, however, when firing laser blasters everything seems to be incredibly accurate and lacks any kind of damage drop-off, so more often than not you’ll find yourself picked off from hundreds of yards away by some guy hiding in a bush or on top of a mountain.

battlefrontrev5Dogfighting with X-Wings and TIE fighters forms a large part of the gameplay within Battlefront but, again, this also suffers from strange controls. Ships can lock on to each other, giving themselves an aim assist for not only missiles but blaster cannons, which means that slowing down and pulling up behind an enemy pretty much guarantees a kill. It’s like some kind of dumbed-down version of fighter combat for the mass market that is so flat and ultimately boring that I find myself purposefully avoiding it all together.

Despite the issues, DICE have done a fair bit to add some variety to the gameplay types, which range from things like Walker Assault, where players defend or attack AT-ATs as they move through a particularly long corridor style map; or the Hero Hunt, which focuses on teams of heroes battling in smaller, more intimate maps. There are also some co-op missions, to my mind the most fun and intense experience the game has to offer, in which you and a partner attempt to survive waves of Imperial troops.

There is also a huge number of customisation options, weapons, grenades, and power ups which come in the form of cards and allow you to build hands which can be switched-out depending on the situational need. Alien races and even darker skinned storm troopers (It’s like a billion internet trolls cried out in pain…) to unlock allowing you to customise your look on the battlefield. Ultimately though, unlocking these extras all depends on how much time you spend playing the game, and I have to question why anyone would spend more than a few hours messing around here.


Despite its Star Wars appeal, its beautiful environments, and authentic sounds, Star Wars: Battlefront is just not a very fun game. At the core of any game are its mechanics, and in Battlefront they are just flat. The maps, while beautiful, are just really pretty playgrounds in which to shoot authentic-sounding blasters, and after a while even that really does get old. EA have promised more content, more maps, heroes, vehicles, and weapons, but I’d put money on that coming with a hefty EA price tag, and will it really improve on broken or just plain boring mechanics? Probably not. If you’re a Star Wars fan, hell if you are a gamer you should try Star Wars: Battlefront, but go round to a friend’s, borrow it, or rent it, because this is not a game with legs.

  • The next level in video game visuals
  • That authentic Star Wars feel for the first time in gaming
  • Overly simplified paper-thin combat/piloting mechanics

I love Star Wars… I think I mentioned that, and that’s what makes Star Wars: Battlefront such a crushing disappointment. It’s this beautiful and authentic Star Wars experience on worlds I wish I could have visited when playing Star Wars Galaxies back in the day, all backed by this paper-thin gameplay. Developers have made it so ultra-accessible that it doesn’t present any challenge to players. Blasters are too accurate and too powerful at range, fighter combat is so unbelievably boring and yet unplayable in first person, and hero combat, the highlight of any fight in the earlier games, is just dull.

Strangely, the most fun I’ve had has been at the gunner seat of an AT-AT blasting fleeing Rebels with this incredible range of firepower. But even that wears thin after a few minutes. I described Battlefront to a friend as feeling like a really good arcade game, and genuinely that’s what it feels like. Beautifully produced, but only designed to be played in small bursts.

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One Comment

  1. Keegan says:

    Completely agree on the short bursts note, I can only stomach a couple of games before I need to go do something else.

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