The past weekend has seen the internet collectively flip out after reveals poured out from the Star Wars Celebration 2015 event in Anaheim, California. We’ve got a second teaser for the Episode VII movie, and more significantly (for us at least), our first look at the new Star Wars Battlefront.
The trailer comes after a week of built-up hype where phrases such as “break the internet” were bandied about. That trailer has now racked up over 11 million views, so I think we can all agree they succeeded in a way. If you haven’t watched it then here, soak it all up:
There was a demo shown off behind closed doors at the event. EA are probably saving that bombshell for E3 in June, so in the meantime here’s what you need to know for the long-anticipated reboot helmed by Battlefield creators, DICE.
Trailer footage was “very representative” of what game looks like
It’s clear that what we saw was very much a cinematic trailer, although one completely rendered using the in-game engine, Frostbite 3, and captured on a PlayStation 4. Battlefront’s Assistant Producer, Jesper Nielson, took to Reddit to address some of the skepticism regarding the game’s graphical fidelity.
“Consider this something like a cutscene. Do cutscenes not look like the game when you’re playing? Obviously there may be subtle differences from time to time, but this trailer is very representative of what the game does indeed look like,” wrote Nielson.
We have seen games seamlessly transition from cutscene to gameplay so there is some truth to that statement. Furthermore the current-gen console cycle has only just begun, and while we don’t expect to see the exact same amount of detail in the final product we are keen to see how DICE attempts to push those boundaries.
Missions replace Campaign mode; split-screen on consoles
Battlefront will not have a campaign. Instead we’ll be getting “a variety of missions and crafted challenges – available online or offline – designed around key moments from the films,” learned Eurogamer. For these smaller bot-filled missions, players can choose to bring in a friend for some cooperative action, sharing unlocks and spawning at each other’s location. Players on consoles get the added option of doing all that via offline split-screen, making Battlefront one of the rare few that has it on current-gen systems.
The previous games, by now-defunct Pandemic Studios, both featured campaigns that took players through periods in the Star Wars timeline. DICE’s approach seems to mimic the story missions from Battlefront II, but with a focus on recreating iconic battles.
“We can’t hope that the players will recreate the [actual] battle exactly, so this is more like recreating the idea of the battle, or the battle next to the battle,” explained Patrick Bach, general manager for DICE.
Player caps range from 8 to 40
Modes come in small and large flavors for the main component, each bringing different player caps. The press at Anaheim were only shown one mode, Walker Assault, which sets the battle in the thick greenery of Endor. Similar to what was shown in the trailer, there were Imperial walkers such as the AT-ST and AT-AT, speeder bikes, and X-Wings and TIE Fighters. The Y-Wing bombers were a called-in airstrike, so we’re not certain if those can be flown by players.
Walker Assault is one of the game’s larger modes and DICE Producer Craig Mcleod told PC Gamer that limiting things to 40 players best reflects the experience they wanted – any higher and it would just feel too crowded. Another producer declined to comment on whether these maps would be bolstered by AI-controlled units, just like in Pandemic’s versions.
More than 8 maps at launch, pre-order DLC announced
A tweet by Niklas Fegraeus, the game’s design director, states that there will be more than eight maps at launch, with more than two per planet – namely Endor, Hoth, Tattooine, and Sullust. Those numbers are fewer compared to its predecessors, but one has to keep in mind the greater development time needed for today’s games. Realistically, we can also expect forthcoming DLC.
One such DLC has already been announced as a pre-order incentive. The Battle of Jakku releases on 1 December 2015, and it captures the pivotal moment when New Republic forces confront key Imperial holdouts on the remote desert planet. Officially, this bridges the gap between Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and this year’s Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Those who didn’t pre-order will get to play the Battle of Jakku a week later, on 8 December, as a free update.
No space battles
What is unfortunate, however, is the absence of space battles. No longer can we expect to board a Star Destroyer and storm its corridors. Dogfighting still exists but it’ll play out closer to the ground, and even the exact approach behind it is still unclear at this point. Will X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and even the Millenium Falcon play vital support roles for ground forces or will it be a separate mode entirely?
Admire customizations in third-person mode
Like most shooters these days, Battlefront will eschew having a set of pre-determined classes and let plays tailor characters to their liking instead. Gear, weapons, and abilities can all be freely chosen – presumably after unlocking them – as well as a number of cosmetic touches.
Bach said this doesn’t mean slapping on a pink cape on Darth Vader. Everything will be grounded in authenticity, and an example would be picking different heads for different species. “We want to stand very firm on that; we want to protect what Star Wars stand for.”
DICE are preserving Battlefront’s third-person perspective too. Players can switch between the two modes at any moment, with an on-screen reticule replacing the need for iron-down sights. Named characters such as Darth Vader and Boba Fett will only be available to players who are performing well in that match, potentially turning the tide of battle or leading the dominant side to crushing victory.
In Battlefront II, players were given the option to play as a named character after achieving a certain number of points. We expect the reboot to operate in a similar fashion.
Launches in Asia on 17 November
Yup, Star Wars Battlefront releases later this year, a few weeks before Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits movie theatres. The game will release for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Origin lists the Standard Edition at SG$69.90 and the Deluxe Edition at $89.90. The latter includes instant access to three in-game items – Han Solo’s DL44 Blaster, an Ion Detonator, and the MPL Ion Torpedo – along with the exclusive Ion Shock and Victory emotes.
The largest concern we have is the amount of content Battlefront ships with. It sounds a tad bare at this point so let’s see what EA and DICE will bring to table for E3.