Eleven Things We Now Know About ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’
<i>The Force Awakens</i>? Whatever. It's the upcoming <i>Battlefront</i> that's got gamers dizzy about the return of the Dark Side.
Yeah yeah, there was a film trailer or something that came out of the Star Wars Celebration held in Anaheim last week. But let's all be honest with ourselves: the biggest news was that we got the first proper glimpse of Star Wars: Battlefront, EA DICE's new interactive take on the franchise, currently scheduled for a November release.
The best part of ten million people have already watched the Battlefront trailer on YouTube, so why not do the same, right now:
Looks alright, right? Expect you're excited. Star Wars! Video games! What could possibly go wrong? Well, a lot, actually. But right now, optimism is relatively rife – and here's 11 things that we very definitely now know about Star Wars: Battlefront.
We won't see gameplay for a while
It's a shame to start this off with a disappointment, but perhaps we should've expected for EA and DICE to avoid showing gameplay at this stage. The reveal trailer we've seen is beautiful and encompasses a lot of what makes Battlefront great – huge and varied Star Wars locations, the John Williams soundtrack and big, bombastic vehicular battles. But we're still waiting to see the game in action. For now, all we have is a trailer made using "Game Engine Footage" – which is damn pretty, but not altogether convincing. Just show us the damn game?
The game launches on November 17th 2015
November is the month after October. Easy.
There's no Clone Wars-era stuff in here
Which might sound like another disappointment, but on paper this makes perfectly logical sense and will hopefully play to the game's favour. The Force Awakens releases in cinemas just a month after the game launches on November 17th, and from the trailer we saw just a day before the Battlefront reveal, director J.J. Abrams has stripped the look of the movie back considerably. Not only did he assure fans that he had ditched a lot of the overuse of CGI that plagued the three Star Wars prequels, but so much of the content in that film is going to be the more well-loved stuff from the series: X-Wings, the Falcon, Han and Chewie, the remnants of Vader. So it's great that Battlefront will focus more on the better half of Star Wars, rather than spread itself too thinly. Of course, there's a cynical flipside to this in the fact that you can probably expect to see DLC content, like new map packs, rolled out post-release. Gotta earn that $.
DICE is giving this game the authenticity it deserves
Let's not fuck about – there's a lot of pressure to deliver here. DICE regularly delivers top quality large-scale shooters with its Battlefield games, but what they're handling with Battlefront is an entirely different beast. Star Wars is so much to so many different kinds of people, and to delve into that universe for the first time while also rebooting a much-loved series – the last "big" Battlefront game was 2005's first sequel, on the PlayStation 2 amongst other, equally old systems – makes everyone nervous, and DICE is foremost amongst them, I'm sure. For now, though, it seems that the Stockholm-based studio is pulling out all the stops, packing the game with the authenticity and detail that it needs to convey a convincing space opera universe. That reveal trailer is stunning, no matter if it's made up of faux-gameplay footage. Everything about it felt spot-on.
There is no class system at play
This is an interesting move, as previous Battlefronts placed so much focus on a varied experience across a multitude of different classes. What exists here, though, is a streamlined approach that places the focus on you experimenting with your load-out, getting power-ups and diversifying one single class. It's not yet known whether there will be different types of playable units on each side of the battle, but we're going to presume that's the case. If DICE is stripping everything back by concentrating on the original trilogy, hopefully this is also another way of giving great variety and options for experimentation, without compromising across too many seen-in-cinemas scenarios.
Hero and villain characters have returned – but how?
Battlefront II added the awesome-sounding-but-not-so-well-executed option to play as one of your favourite heroes or villains. Donning Vader's cape and cutting through rebel scum or blasting stormtroopers as Han Solo was a great concept but the game didn't really pull it off in the best way. With the Battlefront reboot, the trailer hits a peak when some rebel infantry run into the Sith Lord Vader on the forest moon of Endor. It cuts to black, leaving us to ponder on whether these super-characters will be playable, or whether they'll be an AI-controlled unlock you get for hitting bonuses throughout the game. We really hope it's the former, and that it's not as gimmicky as it was last time out.
There's no single-player campaign
Not a massive surprise, but some people will be gutted to hear that there's no traditional story component in Battlefront to keep you occupied. Instead, it's all missions and challenges that can be played either online with others or offline with AI. Taking into account DICE's pedigree, I think we're better off getting a solid multiplayer experience that's replayable over and over again, rather than a half-baked single player story mode that feels tacked on simply to support the main event, which is always going to be multiplayer.
We haven't seen vehicles in action yet
As well as the reveal trailer, a limited press audience over in Anaheim got to see a behind-the-scenes extended gameplay demo of that epic Endor battle. In it, they witnessed lots of interesting things, but something that wasn't shown is worrying: there were no vehicles being obviously controlled by the player. Considering that, for most people, being able to hop into X-Wings, snowspeeders and AT-STs at will is the main draw of the Battlefront series, it's a real concern that DICE has decided, up to this point, to leave us wondering how vehicular combat is going to work. There have been rumours going around that vehicles will be controlled on rails... Please let this be untrue.
It has old-school split-screen
Yes. So many games these days just sack split-screen off, because developers know that the vast majority of people choose to play online. After all, anyone with the option to should play these games over a broadband connection, because then you get the whole screen to yourself. But the fact that Battlefront is featuring the two views, one screen option is great. Hopefully it'll revitalise those classic all-nighters you used to have with your mates.
Player numbers range from eight all the way up to 40
Details are slim on this part at the moment, but we know that Battlefront's multiplayer modes will range from eight-player affairs all the way up to huge 20-against-20 battles. This isn't quite as big as Battlefield's monstrous 64-player scope, but we're also really looking forward to see what DICE can do with the smaller mission types. It'd be really cool to see some more tactical, infiltration style play as well as all-out war.
Despite all the concerns, we're still stoked
We haven't seen proper gameplay. We haven't seen vehicles in action. We don't know how the heroes and villains are going to work, or, after the mess of Battlefield 4's release, if the game will even work properly at all. But despite that, we're bloody excited. I find it difficult to believe that DICE, a studio revered for creating huge, authentic warzones, will drop the ball when it comes to doing the same for Star Wars. On paper it sounds as easy as whacking some blaster sound effects on an AK47 and a spaceship skin on a helicopter, but we know there's much, much more to developing a fantastic game than that. We'll hopefully see more at E3 in June – and that's when we can really start to make our minds up.