During the four days Power Up Gaming spent at EGX 2015, we got to try our hand at two different game modes of Star Wars: Battlefront, and a chance to see if it is indeed at one with the Force.
20 vs. 20 Online
First up was the traditional 20 vs. 20 online game mode, which had hour-long queues all day, every day. We’ll admit we were a little surprised, as having been fans of the original Battlefront games, we feared that this might simply be a cheap cash-in to tie with the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was then a relief that we thoroughly enjoyed playing on Hoth, and although there were a lot of players, the map felt far from cramped. In fact, it was very open and since ships were thrown into the mix as well as enemy Walkers, it was just as well.
Having seen early gameplay footage, it felt as though Battlefront could play a little like Warhawk, with vehicles flying around and people on foot feeling vulnerable and scrambling for shelter from the over-powered flyers. We must admit, we were very happy with how DICE have decided to make it feel balanced no matter what method of transport you’re using. Ships aren’t piled up at the beginning of the level for a race to take to the sky: they’re few and far between.
When a teammate dies, he drops a token, and collecting this will give you a one-time use of a special ability. This ability will be one of a number of useful items such as a rocket launcher, a team shield or a Republic Starfighter. Cashing in the Starfighter can allow you to remotely control the aircraft as it swoops onto the battlefield. However, the large turning circle and slower movement of the craft made us feel like running on the ground was a better option.
Using a ship allows you to create more damage to enemy vehicles, like an AT-AT, rather than being used to shoot at the tiny humans below. It was then able to easily distinguish between air and ground combat. Once you’re destroyed, or crash, it’s back to the surface to continue the fight there. Your job as a pilot isn’t to kill the foot soldiers, as attempting to do so will likely end in your demise. It is a difficult task to achieve due to only being able to shoot straight forward and hitting the ground will be a likely outcome. When you get the opportunity to use a Starfighter, or any other form of flight, your job is to attack the large enemy vehicles that are difficult to take down with mere rifles.
Being on the side of the Republic, our task was to take down several checkpoints and each time we did it would deactivate the AT-AT shield for two minutes. Destroying the Walker was our ultimate goal and although shooting at it from the ground with a rifle did little damage we managed to accomplish it eventually. This is when you should save your rockets and larger weapons, as if you’re skilled enough and time it right, you can replicate the The Empire Strikes Back by tying your ship cable around the legs of the beastly machine to take it down. This may be difficult to pull off but we imagine it is a highly satisfying way to win a match.
Unlike the original Battlefront titles, there will be no squads or classes in this reboot, with players being able to freely choose their weapons and gadgets. Like the majority of games, you unlock items as you progress and gain experience points. An interesting new addition is the Partner feature where you can team up with one other player in a mini-squad, if you will. You can spawn next to each other, see one another on the HUD or even share each others unlocks. It is therefore a wise idea to team with somebody of a higher level.
At the PlayStation stand, gamers got the opportunity to try another game-mode where two players band together to survive all 6 waves (15 in the final game) of enemies on Tatooine. When the game releases on November 19, players can do these missions solo or with a friend split-screen or online. Again, the map was a decent size for two people: there were rocks to climb, trenches to hide and supply pods to guard that’ll help keep you in the fight.
As you would expect, the waves start off with mere foot soldiers, then we were tasked with getting to a supply pod and activating it before an AT-ST shows up. If you make it to the final wave then you naturally get everything thrown at you: Stormtroopers with shields and an AT-ST.
Teamwork is key as enemies can and will attack you from all angles. Your lives are also shared with three per team, so you have a vested interest in keeping your partner alive. If you do go down in battle you get to decide whether to “spend” one of your lives, or, if you think your teammate can finish that particular wave on his own then you’ll return for the beginning of the next round without losing a life.
Before each encounter, players can choose between five primary weapons and then one utility item. These items include the Ion Torpedo, a rocket launcher, that’s useful against walkers in the later rounds, and the Barrage, a grenade launcher of sorts that’s equally as useful against a group of Stormtroopers. Both players then get a jetpack to help traverse the environment with speed and agility.
With no campaign mode, Survival offers a nice alternative to the large online battles that will undoubtedly take up the majority of players’ time. Though, if you want a quick game, Star Wars: Battlefront also offers Blast Mode, a 10 vs. 10 match which lasts for no more than 10 minutes and is played on a smaller map.
Considering it has a variety of game modes, and taking into account how impressed we are with it, we’d like to put gamers’ minds at rest that Battlefront is indeed shaping up to be something great. It may be a cash-in for a movie release, but it is certainly a welcome one.