The Star Wars: Battlefront beta has ended. Dice gave us a good five days to go in-depth with the upcoming multiplayer shooter and it was well worth it. After spending nearly ten hours with the beta, I can confidently say that Star Wars: Battlefront is a fun game, but perfect it is not. Star Wars: Battlefront does a lot of things right, but it also does things badly, sometimes downright poorly.
Now that the beta is over, it’s time to analyze what Dice is doing right and what they can improve upon before the game’s release. Star Wars: Battlefront is only a month away, giving the company time to fix many of the beta’s shortcomings. This article will not discuss content or the $50 season pass, instead strictly focusing on the beta, what’s good and what can be fixed.
This sounds obvious because everyone brings it up, but man did Dice nail the Star Wars look and feel. The company did their homework when designing the maps, vehicles and weapons. Dice had full access to LucasFilm’s models, which they scanned into the game create as authentic of models as possible. In addition, level designers and artists traveled to the actual filming locations to get a good idea what each planet should feel like. The results are immensely impressive with each model and location feeling like they’ve been pulled straight from the films.
It also helps that Star Wars: Battlefront is downright gorgeous. The Frostbite engine has always been impressive, but Dice has managed to top anything they’ve done before. The amount of detail the engine pushes on both consoles and PC is amazing. Dice smartly abandoned the PS3 and Xbox 360 (unlike Call of Duty: Black Ops III), and we finally get a multiplatform game that looks truly next-gen.
Star Wars: Battlefront lacks the depth and complexity of a Battlefield game, but there’s still a ton of fun to be had. Taking down Rebel scum or bringing down an Imperial AT-AT is satisfying. The beta provided many of these moments with just two game modes, and I’m sure that full game with its nine game modes will offer plenty of enjoyable moments. Now, it is hard to tell how long the game will stay fun, especially since the game lacks the depth of Battlefield. Battlefield 4 is still going strong nearly two years after release, something few modern shooters are capable of doing. For now, Battlefront is a joy. Let’s hope it stays that way in the months following release.
There’s also the possibility that this could be Dice’s best launch since Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Dice hasn’t exactly had the best luck launching games. Battlefield 3 suffered from net code issues at launch, but could still be played. Battlefield 4, however, was downright broken. Server issues, net code issues and Origin problems hurt what was otherwise a solid game. Luckily, it looks like Dice has learned from their mistakes. Aside from a few connection and lag issues, Star Wars: Battlefront ran smoothly. Let’s hope it stays that way at launch.
While Battlefront does plenty right, there’s also a lot that Dice needs to fix. The Hero system is solid. As a battle pickup, it ensures that anyone who wants to play as a hero has the opportunity to do so. While casual players might die fast, really good players are able to string together multiple kills. There are, however, things that can be improved. There are weird hit detection issues concerning hero’s lightsaber abilities. At times, it’ll look like you soared right past an enemy, and then a few seconds later you’re informed that they died. Hero on hero action sounds cool in essence, but similar hit detection issues make these types of battles frustrating. At times, when performing a heavy attack, the lightsabers don’t even connect.
Dice also needs to figure out what to do with the heroes when they die. At present, the heroes kneel down and disappear abruptly after a few seconds. There needs to be a more subtle transition when a hero leaves the battlefield. Perhaps a cutscene showing them retreat? The heroes get introductory cutscenes, so why not defeat cutscenes?
Balance also needs to be tweaked for Walker Assault. Right now, while possible, it’s difficult to win as the Rebels. Sure, Smart Rockets, air vehicles and Orbital Strikes are all capable of downing AT-ATs, but there are a few issues. First is communication. Dice recently revealed that Star Wars: Battlefront will not have any voice-chat options. Players must rely entirely on PSN, Xbox Live and a third-party service on PC to have any form of communication in-game. This makes it tricky to coordinate with other team members who may have these valuable pick-ups. Second, Orbital Strikes are the rarest of the pickups. You’re more likely to pick up a blaster cannon or shield than an Orbital Strike. Smart Rockets are more common, but I feel they would be better served as a Star Card with a long recharge rate and only useable against vehicles.
Balance is not as big of an issue because Dice has already acknowledged they are working on it. At this time, balance only appears to be an issue with Walker Assault. Drop Zone, the other mode included in the beta, is fair with both factions having an equal opportunity at winning the match.
Star Wars: Battlefront can be played from either a first or third person perspective. While Dice did their best to make both modes viable, if you want to be competitive, you’ll probably want to go with third person person. According to Dice, first person has more accuracy, but comes with recoil. Meanwhile, third person has a wider field-of-view and less recoil, but less accuracy. Something must have gone wrong when balancing, because third person is completely over-powered. Not only do you have the wider-view, which makes turning fast, but there is absolutely no recoil. third person isn’t as accurate as first person, but that can easily be compensated for. Now, first person is viable, particularly for skilled players, there are literally no disadvantages to playing in third person, and plenty when playing in first.
Ugly is saved for things that are downright broken and something in Star Wars: Battlefront is downright broken; spawning. Spawning is downright miserable, especially if you happen to be the Rebels. More than likely, you’ll spawn right in the line of enemy fire and taken down almost immediately. Imperials suffer from this, but at least they get their own spawn area that the Rebels can’t enter. The Rebels aren’t so lucky.
Walker Assault on Hoth is open hunting season for Rebels. It’s easy to enter Rebel spawn areas as Imperials and pick off freshly spawned enemies. Respawns have a few seconds of immunity, but it isn’t enough for players to orient themselves to what’s going on and respond in an appropriate fashion. There are even cases where Imperials hijack Rebel turrets, which only show who’s in them when the reticle is pointed straight at them, and use them to easily decimate the freshly spawned Rebels (most turrets are near spawn locations). This isn’t just broken, it’s downright unfair and makes playing as the Rebels more of a chore than actually a fun time.
Star Wars: Battlefront is fun, but flawed. This makes the beta more important than ever. Dice now has a ton of data that they can put to good use. They have one month to go in and fix the big issues. While we won’t get a campaign, space battles, the Clone Wars, or customizable classes, we can still get an awesome Star Wars game. Star Wars: Battlefront is out November 17 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.