Star Wars: Battlefront Beta

Game Info
Star Wars: Battlefront Beta
Electronic Arts / DiCE
Star Wars: The Phantom Servers

My heart skips a beat as I see the email, like a message sent from the universe (or from Origin) stating, “The game you pre-ordered is now available.” I dive at my computer faster than the connection to Electronic Arts' servers can establish. As I launch the beta I feel myself returning to the childhood wonderment I felt when I first played Star Wars Battlefront 2, but I no longer played as a child, I played as a jaded, battle hardened adult.

First thing I noticed as I started on my journey through the beta was that it took me approximately an hour to find an available multiplayer server. Which, with the 2013 fiasco that was SimCity, doesn’t come as so much of a surprise but more like the repeated disappoint someone might feel receiving clothes for their second birthday in a row.

To compensate for this the beta has come pre-packaged with a sort of campaign mission mode where you or you and a friend (who has to be online), face waves of enemies and complete objectives. Playing this game mode solo took me under 10 minutes and with a friend that time was halved. What truly made the inclusion of this mission great was the fact that it gave players an idea of how all the weapons, perks and various pick-ups in the game worked. I found myself picking up and using as many items as I could purely to see what they could do. Though nothing compares to the satisfaction one feels when throwing a bomb that explodes and then implodes on itself in quick succession, or using the bubble shield not as protection but to shoot it from the inside and hear the amazing blub sounds, which make life a little better.

Once I finally got into an online match and was able to play, I had probably hit the refresh button for the one-thousandth time. The first I played of the two available matches was ‘Drop Zone’ where two teams fight to take position of drop pods. The team with the most successfully captured pods at the end of the match wins. Very basic, while still reasonably entertaining, allowing newbies to the style of Battlefront to play around with load outs and weapons while leveling up their character to unlock new gear. Once you felt you were ready you could participate in the second of the two game modes known as ‘Walker Assault’. A far more involved game mode with vehicles in it (yes, that includes the X-Wing, TIE Fighters etc.), everything your destructive, laser filled little heart could ever want. The summarised version of the game mode is this: if you are on the Imperial team you have to protect your AT-AT’s from Rebel attack, while if you are on the Rebel side your objective is to defend communication terminals so bombers can attack the Imperial AT-AT’s. While those are the main objectives there are a fair few more elements in the game type, and it definitely makes the game mode far more enjoyable than the previous. The only problems is that if you are on the Imperial team you have about an 80% chance of victory, as the game type is pretty heavily unbalanced. In playing it you can tell that they have tried to compensate in areas like being able to use the T-47 Airspeeder to do the classic leg tying of AT-AT’s as depicted in the ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, but this is probably the most difficult thing to do in the entire game so far.

While the game has some clear faults, it has been engaging and entertaining enough for me to have played a total of 17 hours in two days, so I think that speaks for it’s quality. It is visually stunning and that only seems to boost the atmosphere created in the game. I remember thinking when I first played it, as a teammate of mine exploded beside me and lasers flew past my head, that it felt like I really was in a futuristic war. It can be pretty surreal at times.

At the moment it is probably too early to say for sure but I have ‘A New Hope’ for this game and will most likely be picking it up on release rather than pre-ordering it.

- Hamish Deeth