The new Star Wars Battlefront beta is out and we’ve got some unsolicited impressions.
First the bad news. The Star Wars beta is overflowing with snipey reload-free blaster gameplay. In this Star Wars implementation, a standard blaster has a high fire rate, high magnification in zoom mode, and nearly infinite range, allowing ridiculous snipefests on the open snowfields of Hoth. A snipe battle between you and a six-pixel black blob on a black mountain is not quality gaming. Blasters do eventually overheat, requiring a reload-like cooldown, but it definitely feels different than a standard assault rifle. The end result? Newbies dying all day and not knowing why. Campers everywhere on the heights and slopes. This is cheap, cheesy gameplay.
The other gripe I have regards the dearth of objectives on the maps. Whether fighting for drop pods or Hoth uplinks, these are huge maps with dozens of players swarming toward a mere handful of objectives (two on Hoth!). This makes for ugly, random battle experiences. You’d think DICE, veterans of the Battlefield games, would understand the joys of faceoffs all across a balanced and diverse map, which was their bread and butter all the way back to Battlefield 1942.
Although the other levels may offer more restraint, I fear Star Wars Battlefront will serve us explosion overload instead of a variety of epic combat experiences like those we saw in the Battlefield games, like one heroic player fending off a wave of a half-dozen opponents at a base, or one-on-one standoffs, or coordinated efforts to break down armor-heavy defenses. Digital combat loses all flavor and strategy when served up as a massive dogpile of idiocy.
My suggestions are simple: trim down the blasters’ range, and add more objectives to the maps.
IMHO, too much has been made of the Rebels’ disadvantage in the Hoth level. Sure, it’s skewed a bit toward the Imperial side, but unlike some writers who never saw an Imperial defeat, I’ve seen the Rebels win about 30% of the time. (The Forbes writer makes some good arguments for skewing the rewards as well.)
Others also objected to the content unlocking (under the sleazy click-baity title of “was the beta a mistake”… tsk tsk), which is a legitimate point. But overall I think the beta has been a huge success for Lucas/DICE. The game looks great and introduces some new ideas.
And now the good news: I like the approach to regenerating your chosen “deck” of items, with the best item needing powerups to gain uses. This means grenades (if you choose them) are almost always in hand when you need them, and no more grenade spamming by an ammo crate. It also means that (if blaster range gets nerfed) snipe campouts will be greatly reduced because of the delay on sniper reloads, which are part of the deck. The sound effects are truly magnificent, with the devastating thermal charge grenade really setting the bar. (The one exception is the orbital strike, which is deafening in its sonic absence.) Seeing Vader and Skywalker running around in combat is a serious hoot. And removing the respawn timer? Well, I think we can all applaud that move.