Beta Impressions: Star Wars Battlefront Is a Watered Down Sci-Fi Battlefield

The Star Wars: Battlefront beta is here and it's quickly taken the gaming world by storm. Expected to be one of the three best-selling games of the year, there are a ton of eyes on the game right now. The consensus is that it's a genuine Star Wars game, although its execution has produced mixed reception.

DICE has clearly identified a target demographic with Star Wars: Battlefront, and it isn't one that it typically builds games for. Instead of making a game like Battlefield for shooter enthusiasts and teamwork fiends, it's designed to be a simple, easy to digest shooter.

Star Wars: Battlefront doesn't offer a lot of equipment variety. You start out with only a gun, and have to progress to unlock grenades, the jet pack, and new weapon options. Even in the event that you spend a few hours obtaining everything, and it won't take long, you'll find yourself using the same loadout as many others on the battlefield due to the lack of options. It doesn't help that most of the weapons are simple due to Star Wars IP constraints. In the long run, it makes infantry gameplay repetitive.

Equipment options are limited leading to a redundant experience.

Lack of equipment diversity might not seem like a big issue, but Star Wars: Battlefront is a very multiplayer-oriented game since it's missing a proper campaign mode. The lack of options will result in players obtaining all the available equipment in just a few hours, and there won't be much to look forward to at that point. 

The lack of depth extends beyond equipment. There is no group play option for organizing within a team, which Battlefield solved years ago with its Squad system. On consoles in particular, Star Wars: Battlefront matches a chaotic mess of people battling for high kill/death ratios without any uniformity. In addition, there are no destructible environments, at least nowhere near what has been implemented in recent Battlefield games. Strategic opportunity has been squandered as a result.

Without any mechanics for organization or destructible environments, the field of combat is a mess, and balance issues don't do it any favors.

One of the greatest failures of Star Wars: Battlefront in its current state is the lack of balance on the Walker Assault game mode. This mode was a huge opportunity for the game to set itself apart from the competition with an assault versus defense style of play centered around Star Wars' iconic AT-AT Walkers. Due to the style of play and map design, gameplay has significantly favored the Imperial side, to a point where it's normal to lose more than 85% of your games on the faction. The imbalance has been around since press played the game earlier in the year, which instills a lack of confidence that it'll be anywhere close to a 50/50 win ratio when the game launches.

When you decide that you want to move away from infantry combat, there is a vehicle system that awaits, but it isn't what you'd expect. The number of vehicles is limited both in number and types. Instead of finding them lying around the map, you pick up difficult to locate power-ups, breaking the sense of immersion in the process. Made worse they don't handle particularly well whether you're using a controller or a keyboard & mouse. In the case of aerial vehicles, controls are as wonky as they were back at E3 2015 when the game took a lot of heat from press.

When playing in first-person view the on-screen weapons look funky, but there's no doubt that this is a licensed Star Wars game. It sounds and looks the part.

​For all Star Wars: Battlefront gets wrong, at the very least it is a proper Star Wars game. It looks authentic, and equally as important sounds like you'd expect. DICE is known for its outstanding sound design, and this is no exception. Hearing lasers whizzing by as X-wing fighters battle overhead is a joy to behold for anyone who has taken interest in the Star Wars franchise.

Ultimately, Star Wars: Battlefront's feels like a fun, casual shooter that can help people get their Star Wars kick when the film launches in December, and not much more. It lacks the depth of other shooters, with Halo 5: Guardians and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 already demonstrating that they have far more to offer in the long run. Unless something drastic happens between now and release, it's unlikely that anyone except die-hard Star Wars fans will get a lot out of the game.


Star Wars: Battlefront Beta Screenshots