This April, Star Wars Celebration, a giant fan gathering that celebrates, you guessed it , Star Wars, is almost upon us and with it new news about DICE’s ‘Star Wars: Battlefront‘. Right now we know nothing about the new game besides that it part of the game will include events from the upcoming seventh entry into the storied science fiction/fantasy film series, The Force Awakens. As a Star Wars fan I’m going to say something a bit blasphemous, The ‘Star Wars Battlefront‘ series is on the lower rung on my list of favorite Star Wars games. The series has always been hit or miss with me, The only Battlefront game that I hold in high regard is ‘Renegade squadron’ which was released for the PlayStation Portable with the follow up ‘Elite Squadron’ hitting the bottom of the barrel and the other games (Battlefronts one and two) falling somewhere in between. I have several issues with the series and several of them could be considered superficial (I never got over the weird running animations, it’s really jarring to me) and others I feel are issues that could smoothed over, I’ll go over a few.
A compelling Story-mode within the campaign.
This isn’t so much of an issue but more something I’d like to see expanded upon, A comprehensive campaign that encompasses several characters and is interesting. I know I know, it’s a shooter, why does the story matter? because it’s Star Wars, that’s why. Renegade and Elite Squadron told fairly decent stories during their campaign. Renegade squadron was about a group of rag tag fighters who fought under the command of Han Solo himself, one of their exploits involved trying to capture Emperor Palpatine himself (If that isn’t bad ass, I don’t know what is) Elite Squadron told the story of two clone troopers who were cloned from a Jedi , both fought on different sides of conflicts and repeatedly ran into each other, their story is less interesting in comparison to Renegade Squadron but still serviceable. I’m not asking for Mass Effect levels of story telling but since Disney has basically made the Expanded Universe non-canon, I’d like for there to be a solid set up for new heroes and heroines alongside veteran ‘Star Wars’ characters, I want them to have a decent shot at being interesting.
Flight controls, hell, space combat in general.
I come from a background of playing games where I flew offensive strikes against Xizor’s Skyhook in Shadows of the Empire, lead a rescue mission over Bakura in Rogue Squadron: Rebel Strike, Battled on Hoth and taken the fight to the Empire at Endor. I’ve flown flown everything from the A-Wing to the Outrider space combat is a big deal in Star Wars and is usually what I look forward to participating in when playing ‘Star Wars’ game that features the heavy use of vehicles. So excuse me when I say that the space combat in Battlefront has never felt satisfactory and always turned me off to the game. All spacecraft basically controlled the same and acted similar to one another. Usually this isn’t a big deal, it happens, but sometimes at certain points it felt like almost like minimal effort was put into the space combat sections.
For example, when you’re mid dogfight and an enemy fighter flies past you the controls don’t ever feel responsive enough for you to simply to maneuver yourself behind your target through a series of button presses, you need to only press a button to watch a small animation of your craft pulling a U-turn and that kind of takes me out of the game a bit. To a person who’s grown up playing Rogue Squadron and graduated to playing the significantly older and significantly more complex X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter space-sims, the space combat and flight controls in the Battlefront games felt overly simplistic. I get it, Battlefront is mostly about ground combat so I can see the space sections taking a back seat to other parts of the game, however it feels kind of odd for the space combat to not feel as fun or fulfilling, I mean it’s Star Wars!!
Also another gripe is how the spacecraft usually aren’t that much different from one another at least in how they play and handle. They usually all feel the same no matter what side you’re playing as. Which isn’t bad per-say but if you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan, flying a Tie Fighter that’s able to fire torpedoes is kind of irksome because typically that kind of fighter would not carry such ordnance.I’d like to see Dice put some of the polish they’ve thrown onto their aircraft in Battlefield and spread some of that same polish all over the next Battlefront. The dog-fighting and air craft control in Battlefield 4 were vastly superior to what was present in Battlefield 3 and I can only hope that kind of craftsmanship will be carried over. Though they’re still simplistic in nature, it still feels smoother than anything in Battlefront.
Surface to space combat.
Moving from space to ground is another interesting concept that was rumored to be in the canned version of Battlefront 3.Players could take a spacecraft and fly to space to participate in space battles or return back to the surface to take the fight to the enemy on foot. There’s a version of this in Star Wars Battelfront :Elite Squadron but it’s no where near smooth, granted the game was released on the PSP and there’s only so much you could do with such limited hardware. It would be pretty awesome to see DICE take this on and make it work seamlessly would be wonderful and could add to the scale of battles. Just imagine playing with your team mates and several of them are already engaging the enemy team in space, they need you’re assistance, you fight your way to a hanger, hop in an X-Wing and make your climb through the atmosphere and arrive to assist your team in space. Even better, imagine taking a troop transport from space and dropping team mates at an enemy outpost, that was my preferred role in Battlefield 4, I much enjoyed taking a transport helicopter full of teammates into a combat zone and dropping them off I could imagine how awesome it would be to travel through a hail of laser be shot between capital ships in space, fight my way down through the atmosphere and land my craft in the middle of a fire fight,it could make for some interesting scenarios.
What I would like to see from DICE’s take on Battlefront in general.
I think what I’m basically rallying here for is for a smoother, more polished Battlefront that’s more akin to Battlefield. Not that I want Battlefront to be Battlefield with a Star Wars skin on top of it. I just think that having a triple A studio working on a Star Wars game of this magnitude means that there’s plenty of potential to do right by Star Wars fans and Star Wars in general. We’re entering what I like to feel is a renaissance for Star Wars and video games are going to be a big part of that renaissance. It would be great if the first of those games turned out to be one of the best.
You can check out the list of rumors here, are you excited for Battlefront? what are your thoughts? share them in the comments below!!