Over the weekend Star Wars fans and gamers were treated with the open Beta for Star Wars Battlefront, and so far it absolutely lives up to the hype of being one of the year’s most anticipated games. The beta went live on October 8 and has been extended through October 13. Even though there are only 3 game modes and maps available in the beta, it didn’t really feel too samey during the time I was playing it, and I played it fairly extensively on my PS4.
Before delving into each mode in detail and how the maps play, I have to say that EA and Dice absolutely knocked it out of the park in terms of the look and feel of the game. It truly looks and feels like Star Wars making all of their hard work painstakingly recreating the actual film props and vehicles in a virtual world totally worth it. The visual look of the game in conjunction with John Williams’ outstanding scores from the films will instantly make you feel like you’re in a galaxy far, far away.
Now, the first thing I tried was the Survival mode in the missions menu. These missions will pit the player or players against multiple waves of enemies. In the beta, only Tatooine is available for this game mode, though you can see some of the other maps that will be available in the full game including Endor and Hoth. This might be my favorite map and mode included in the beta, it’s a lot of fun to play with a partner to work together to survive the increasingly difficult waves of enemies. What I found to be a particularly addicting aspect of this mode is that it keeps track of you and your friends’ best times for clearing all the waves, so naturally I treated it as a time trial and was constantly trying to top myself.
Next I tried the multiplayer game modes starting with the mode Drop Zone as the beta recommends ranking up some before heading into Walker Assault, I’ll get to the ranks in a bit. Drop Zone is an 8v8 skirmish style mode in which each team has to collect drop pods to win. In order to collect the pod you first have to capture it and then defend it for a period of time. Each of the pods also releases power ups to the team that wins the pod giving them an advantage. In the beta, the only map available for this mode in the beta was Sullust. Overall it was my least favorite mode included in the beta, not to say that it’s bad, it’s just a game mode that feels more akin to other shooters, making it feel like more standard fare in comparison to the others.
Finally, it was time to try Walker Assault and dive into the Battle of Hoth. This mode is a ton of fun. More so than the other modes featured in the beta, Walker Assault feels like Star Wars. The mode is a 20v20 battle in which the Rebels have to knock out two AT-AT walkers before they come within range of the shield generator, largely relying on Y-Wing strikes that will damage and lower the shields of the AT-ATs, making them vulnerable for a short period of time. The strikes are called in by activating relay stations and defending them long enough for the bombers to get the coordinates for the strike. On the other side, the Imperials need to ensure at least one of the two walkers stays in play long enough to destroy the shield generators so you’re constantly want to prevent the Rebels from calling in those strikes.
A great and refreshing aspect of this mode are all of the pick ups on the map that give it a fun arcade sort of vibe. On the Imperial side you can there are various power-ups tokens on the map that will let you take control of AT-ST’s, TIE Fighters and even the AT-AT walkers themselves for a limited amount of time. On the flip side, the Rebels side will have vehicle power-ups letting you jump in X-Wings, A-Wings and Snow Speeders. I managed to snag some time in every available vehicle and they’re all awesome.
You can do some major damage with the AT-AT in the time given utilizing the available orbital strikes, heavy blaster cannons and anti-personnel cannons. I found the AT-ST to be a little less effective due to it’s lighter armor, but if you manage to not explode you can make it difficult for your opponent to control the relays.
Flying is the most fun though. The controls took some getting used to, but once I did I loved it. The left control stick is your throttle and you do all the piloting with the right control stick. This allows for some insane maneuverability by quickly cutting the throttle to nothing as you slam into a hard turns and then slamming the throttle full again. Additionally, some of the quicker fighters have a few special maneuvers that can help get you out of sticky situations. Though I never saw it first hand in a match I was in, nor was I able to pull it off, you can drop the walkers with the tow cable on the snow speeders just like in the movie.
Of course, there are also the hero tokens that allow you to play as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader. Though I was able to try playing as both, I never really lived long enough to really figure out how to play them well at all. Frankly, I was terrible at it. That said, I saw plenty of people that were skilled and able to temporarily turn the tide of the battle as Luke or Vader. In any case, if you’re on the battlefield as a soldier, you do not want to run into either of them. The odds are not in your favor.
In addition to the pick-ups on the map, as you rank up you will unlock equipment that you can purchase with in-game credits that you get after each multiplayer match. Though they come in the form of equipment cards, they are really just reusable abilities with cool downs. There are also trait cards, the only one in the beta was beneficial to snipers that often rack up head shots. Now, in the beta the rank is capped at 5 meaning that there will be plenty more weapons and equipment to check out in the full game.
Now for as good and encouraging the beta is, it is a beta and there are some tweaks that should be done before the game’s launch on November 17. While the game mostly looks amazing, when hero’s die they kind of just kneel down and disappear, you know, because they can’t really kill Luke or Vader. The point though, is that the animation seems a little odd and the character models tend to glitch with the environments sometimes once they’ve been defeated. That can actually lead to pretty humorous outcomes though, like Luke looking half buried in snow after being stepped on by an AT-AT.
That was a damn tricky stormtrooper. Another of the bigger complaints I noticed on social media is the balance of Walker Assault. At first, I admit I too thought it was horribly skewed in favor of the Imperials. Initially, I never lost a match on the Imperial side and likewise, never won a match on the Rebel side. As the weekend progressed that changed as I started to see Rebel teams come close to winning and then started winning with some regularity. While I don’t think the disparity is as large an issue as some make it out to be, it does seem slightly in favor of the Imperials. Now this is purely speculation on my part, but I think the disparity lessened as players ranked up and unlocked new equipment. I’ll go a step further and bet the game play will develop more as players rank up and have access to new equipment.
Overall, the beta is pretty great and the game will definitely be worth nabbing. Even with just the little taste we got, the replay value is pretty high and the game play is addictive. Although there are some small issues in the beta, there is nothing seriously wrong that would make you consider not getting this.
So have you had a chance to play the beta? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section!
Get your Star Wars on this Halloween and check out some Star Wars costumes in our ongoing countdown. Want some more sci-fi fun? Take a look at 30 Years Of Time Traveling: A YouTube Celebration of Back To The Future.
Images: EA, Dice, LucasArts