Star Wars Battlefront Still Feels Like Battlefield to Me

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Before trying out Star Wars Battlefront in pretty much the same fashion in which I tried out Rainbow Six Siege, I assumed that mixing the framework of today’s military shooter with Star Wars would be the perfect combination. Now I’m not so sure. It might be for other people which would explain the game selling 12 million copies last time I checked, but I don’t think Star Wars is enough to get me back into that kind of multiplayer shooter.

Again, since I don’t have PlayStation Plus, upon trying out a PS4 copy of Battlefront I simply tried out the singleplayer modes that were available, which were thankfully much more generous than what was in Siege. The offline modes in Battlefront actually offer a somewhat complete picture of what you’ll experience online, just with AI instead of other players.

I should admit though that I never got around to playing the original Battlefront games. I didn’t own any platform on which those first two games were released at the time (I only had a Gamecube). Battlefront II often stared me in the face during Steam sales in the following years but I never pulled the trigger on the purchase. I say this because I don’t know how much of the new game is DICE trying to be faithful to those games and how much of it is DICE simply applying the Battlefield formula to Star Wars.

Compared to Battlefield I appreciate how simple and friendly DICE made Battlefront. I can see the developer realized this would be played by a wider audience than the people who buy BattlefieldCall of Duty, and other military shooters every year. With its brand recognition and teen rating you could even call Battlefront a sort of gateway military shooter or simply a more family-friendly one. Keeping in a variety of offline and split-screen modes like missions, survival, and an offline version of the main multiplayer modes also seems like a move poised to please families.

Even if this was just “Battlefield Star Wars” or “Call of Star Wars,” that would logically make perfect sense given the inspirations behind the franchises. Star Wars battles are pretty much WWII battles in space with lasers. Any documentary will tell you George Lucas used WWII footage as the basis for the battles in the movies. Look at gun cam footage and compare it to the turrets in the Millennium Falcon. The air battles in the movie Red Tails which Lucas produced, basically look like Star Wars battles. COD and Battlefield both started out as World War II games. The original framework of each game is WWII combat. Their gameplay is designed around two, large, fully industrialized, relatively equally matched armies fighting it out with automatic weapons, and that hasn’t happened on a massive scale since WWII. I actually think trying to slide that framework into modern military settings has held the shooter franchises back in a way. Applying Star Wars to that kind of shooter should bring it closer to what it was originally supposed to be.

I think the issues I had with the modes I tried in Battlefront though might stem from my issues with modern military shooters in general, and just putting Star Wars on top didn’t change much. Generally speaking, most of the time I simply found myself to be constantly shooting dudes with guns. Instead of terrorists or Russians or something it was stormtroopers now and I was shooting lasers, but it felt like the same thing. Again, I don’t know if this game simply retained too much Battlefield DNA because I don’t know what the first two Battlefront games were like (remember, they’re of the pre-COD era of shooters). I imagine in true multiplayer it would be the same cycle of spawning and dying.

The survival mode might be what revealed this the most, and for a while now I’ve believed survival or horde-type modes were a good way to test out a game’s core combat mechanics. Survival in Battlefront puts a bit more emphasis on power-ups like shields, turrets, and bombs, but I still think the game overall could use more variety. I don’t understand why you can’t pick up new primary weapons during gameplay. The enemies I saw were also mostly a few different variations of stormtrooper, but I guess you can’t really put that on the game so much as Star Wars itself.

What I really wanted from a Star Wars game in the military shooter mold was a conventional campaign. The appeal of this type of game for me at least is merging the idea of the epic COD battle — less the recent stuff and more the WWII games or the Modern Warfare Marine campaigns, that pits you against mobs of enemies in interesting set pieces with ambient battle going on around you, with the idea of the epic Star Wars battle. I guess what I wanted was this, but Star Wars. Anything less than those well-scripted set pieces, in this type of shooter, especially in singleplayer, allows the player to realize that they’re just shooting guys with guns.

But if you’re into multiplayer Battlefield I imagine you’d enjoy it again but with the sights and sounds of Star Wars all over it. For me I think it’s just further proof a massive change in setting alone, like World War I, doesn’t do a whole lot to change this type of game if the developer is committed to not upsetting the franchise’s established audience.

BULLETS:

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