Much has been said about the new Star Wars Battlefront. There’s been a lot of talk about the massive 40 player battle modes; about how there’ll be A.I. characters, hero characters and even survival modes. While the lack of true space combat, transitions between ground and space and even a campaign mode have left many a fan scratching their heads, some are cautiously optimistic about the game. We weren’t, at least until we played the beta on the PS4.
The beta doesn’t have a lot of content and your leveling is restricted to Level 5 but it does offer a taste of what can be expected of the full game.
First off, the game’s separated into Multiplayer (which take top billing) and Missions. Multiplayer are your online modes and where the bulk of the game is. Missions are what the game calls its offline modes. These are broken down into Training (which introduces you to the game’s mechanics), Battles (which lets you fight against a friend or AI) and Survival (where you need to survive waves of enemies while confined to a small area). In the demo, only Survival is available, and only the Tatooine stage of the mode is selectable.
Survival is pretty much what you’d expect from a Horde mode game type. The demo has 6 waves (15 in the full version) and each wave tasks you to eliminate all the enemies while not dying. Sometimes, there’s a drop pod which you must guard for a specific time. If successful, you get bonus equipment. You don’t fail if the enemies capture it though. In one of the waves, an AT-ST (the chicken walker) will drop and it’ll serve as a boss battle of sorts.
Other than the killing and shooting, Survival is pretty basic. There doesn’t seem to be any levelling in play (there might be in the full version), so you’re always stuck with the two different loadout the demo offers. You can’t increase the number of waves in the beta or change the difficulty though you can play either split-screen or invite a friend to join in online.
The most noteworthy aspect of the survival mode is that players will have access to the jetpack, which allows limited flight. Don’t be too excited though, the flight is more akin to short leaps forward than true free flight. While it does make traversing the canyons easier, some of the higher nooks and crannies of the map are tantalizing out of reach due to the jetpack not having sufficient power to reach that height.
Multiplayer is where the bulk of the beta is. It has two open modes in the beta; Drop Zone, set on Sullust (home of the Sullustans, like Nien Nunb, Lando’s co-pilot in Return of the Jedi) and Walker Assault, set on Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back.
Drop Zone is a 16 player (two teams of eight, Rebels versus Imperials), King of the Hill game type. A drop pod will drop from the sky and teams have to capture and hold them for a specific amount of time. Once held, the pod will open, giving bonus items and triggering another pod to drop, where the cycle continues.
This is our first look at Sullust from the new Disney Star Wars. While Sullust has existed before in games like Rogue Squadron and in books from the Expanded Universe, this is the first time the new (Disney has rebooted everything the ‘old’ Star Wars EU established) Sullust has opened to the public.
Sullust is much like Tatooine, though it seems to have sulfur (or at the very least hot water) pits that you can fall in to. These pits drain your health as long as you’re inside, but other than that, Sullust is like Tatooine, with its valleys and long sight lines if you’re brave enough to climb.
After having played a few games on the planet, we found that Battlefront is a much more forgiving game, at least with the early weapons. Enemies take a lot more shots to take down than in other shooters, which is jarring, especially since we’re used to killing in the blink of an eye like in Halo and Call of Duty. It’s only like this in the multiplayer mode though, as Survival mode has enemies that are much more mortal.
You can also only bring one main weapon into battle, secondary weapons like a thermal detonator and a sniper rifle in the demo, need to be unlocked and equipped and although you can use them an unlimited number of times, each can only be used once before needing a recharge. There’s also a special ability you can equip, though these are triggered with charges you can nab in the maps themselves.
Interestingly, none of the weapons require reloads in the game. While we’re not sure if this applies to all the weapons in the game, the blaster rifles and pistols in the beta certainly never run out of shots. They overheat after continuous fire (pressing Square at the right moment can hasten the cooling) but if you watch your fire, you’ll never have a problem. There’s also barely any recoil from firing the guns, which can seem strange until you get used to it.
At the moment, we’ve yet to try Walker Assault, though it’s not for lack of trying. Since the demo isn’t open to the public just yet, there are barely any people to play with. It should be no issue to get into a match once the gates are open wide for the public though.
Even with experience in playing just two different modes (and hopefully a third before the beta ends), the game’s looking much better than we expected. Not only do the visuals look great, but the gameplay seems fun as well.
While we’re still iffy about the reduced lethality of the guns, the gunplay itself is spot on and feels right. That alone alleviates most of our fears that DICE might’ve bitten too much. While we’re still miffed that there’s no Campaign mode in the final game, at the very least the action in the game is competent enough and looks to be deep enough that playing it (even for a while as a stopgap till other games hit) should make it enjoyable enough when the retail version hits on November 17th for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.