The Star Wars: Battlefront beta has been out for over a day now and scores of people are battling it out across the galaxy, and quite rightly, judging the product that DICE has been working on for some time.
As with everything, there are people who do and don’t like the game for many differing reasons, but are they the right ones? Let’s look a little closer.
Star Wars: Battlefront, as a name, has held a special place in the hearts of many for years now – for example Battlefront II placed in the top three played Xbox titles for 2007, 2008 and 2009. The original two games simply did what Star Wars fans have always wanted, allowed players to experience the Star Wars universe in virtually any way they liked. It’s heralded as a classic, timeless game by thousands of people, and as such anything bearing the same name will be judged with its predecessors in mind. Of course, this is not a bad thing, it’s only natural after all, but we should be a little more understanding to be fair to the developers who would effectively be fighting an uphill battle from the start.
It’s been ten years since Battlefront II launched, and a lot has changed since then – one thing being the developer. DICE is very well known for their work on the Battlefield series, one of the most popular and successful shooters of all time, as a result people will inevitably link the two names in their mind. Many complaints about the game can be stemmed back to the fact that the game is not what they expected a Star Wars: Battlefront game to be, whether it be differences between it and the classic games, or similarities shared by it and the Battlefield games.
I see two fundamental flaws in this thinking, and they seem to strengthen each others’ prominence. Firstly, I don’t think it should be wrong for this new game to be somewhat different from the classic games, and secondly, I don’t think it really is all that different, nor do I think it’s really mutating into Battlefield as much as we may think it is.
What do you mean, it’s not wrong for Battlefront to be different from the classics? Well, as I said earlier on, it’s been ten years and times have changed. This new game suffers from the never-ending debate over whether a series should preserve its gameplay elements over sequels or innovate and change to keep it fresh. One side likes the changes, the other hates the fact it’s not the same game they played ten years ago. The trouble is, this shouldn’t be seen as a “series”. DICE’s Battlefront is a “reboot”, a different game with the same basic grounding points – it’s not a sequel, it’s a brand-new game and should be judged as such. Provided they produce a game based in the Star Wars universe that people enjoy and plays smoothly, DICE has done their job in my book. If it’s different to a game made ten years ago by a different studio for different platforms, that shouldn’t be their concern -we should be more open-minded about how games are made.
As for my other point, no, I don’t think it’s such a dramatic departure from the classic Battlefront games, and it’s certainly not a Battlefield game. On paper, what were the original Battlefront games? A first & third person shooter set in the Star Wars universe, allowing players to take part in epic-scale battles on foot and in vehicles, playing as a variety of infantry and hero/villain characters. Now, whilst that was putting it simply, we can see that 2015’s Battlefront isn’t all that different. Bear in mind also that we are only playing a beta right now and the final release is what we should be fully judging the game on, the complete game with all modes, maps and gametypes.
Battlefield, however, is a solely first person shooter, with no “heroes”, different weapon behaviour, an entirely new setting and a somewhat different progression route. Granted, that’s not a whole lot different from what Battlefront is or was, but few modern shooters are very different. At their core, they are all games that pit players against each other with guns, abilities and varying objectives on a battlefield. A lot of the key differences between shooters come from their setting and visual designs, and in that train of thought Battlefield and Battlefront are, quite literally, worlds apart.
So, what’s the point of all this discussion? Not to change anyone’s mind, or tell them they can’t have an opinion about Battlefront, just to remind everyone of the subconscious elements at play in people’s minds (not excluding my own) when they judge this game. It’s not a continuation of a series that stole our hearts ten years ago, it’s a new beginning that should be judged on its own merits and any potential failings.
If it doesn’t deliver on the promise of a fun, immersive and functional shooter set in the Star Wars universe, then sure, give it all the negative reviews you like. But please, if it has let you down because you expected an updated version of the same game you played in 2005, play another match and forget those classic games ever existed, just for ten minutes.
Have you played the Battlefront beta? Are you enjoying it?
Let us know in the comments!