Gaming solo in a galaxy far, far away

I’ve been looking to write about this game for a while but my draft article could have been converted into a small book at the rate I was going, so here is the first in a series of articles.

I want to tackle one of the biggest issues that initially put me off buying the game and has led to criticism from the fans – the single player.

The lack of a single player campaign is a curious issue for me. This is a multiplayer game and you play it for its multiplayer content. The developers have also provided some offline singleplayer/co-op missions, which just feel underwhelming. In a way I feel that this only highlights the absence of solid single player content. If single player / offline gameplay was completely omitted then any ciriticism could be disregarded by “read the description”. However there is single player and as with most players, you’ll want to give it a go. It is also the only split screen gameplay, something sorely missed from many games, meaning that it is a part of the game. Sadly not a good part.

Star Wars: Battlefront has a very limited selection of offline gameplay that doesn’t have adequate repeat play and only provides a couple of hours of gameplay. The missions aren’t the most captivating. There’s no story or motivation and are little more than a series of training exercises. Useful for learning the controls but not something that you’ll return to. I didn’t find them engaging enough to replay over and over to get the stars.

The battles just aren’t that fun. The problem is that the majority of the time when you play co-op, one player is better than the other(s). This might be that they are better skilled at the genre, more comfortable with the controller or more experienced at the game. In effectively a 1v1 this means there’s a lack of competitive fighting. A 2v2 would be more fun but personally I find that 1v1 tends not to work for action/shooter games.

The best mode is definitely the survival mode, however it is flawed. Chasing the drop pods is fun, although the pattern isn’t random so it becomes a bit repetetive. Worse though is the enemy spawning. Sometimes you’ll be swarmed with several groups coming from different angles and struggling to survive. Othertimes you’ll be bored because the final enemy spawned miles away and is dawdling in their approach. So far my experience has been bored, bored, too easy, this is fun, arghh crap, bored, repeat.

As I said, this is an interesting issue when you think about it. They’ve provided something that you don’t need to play, it is an addition beyond the core multiplayer game yet it seems to devalue the product as a whole.

I really hope that the developers opt to implement some “quick wins” by taking the current gaming mechanisms to add more offline gameplay but with improved enemy spawning and more random objectives. Simply providing more types of objectives, including those already in the game, could make the offline game much more enjoyable without having to write full on single player content.

For example looking at the Cargo online game mode. Implementing a one sided “go get 5 cargos” wouldn’t be a significant time investment and it adds more content. With the maps already present you can quickly add loads of content. Similarly they could use the control points approach from Walker Assault to have players defending subsequent points from enemy hordes.

Finally you could expand the survival (and above) missions by using heroes. Playing as the Heroes is great fun but the 1v1 gameplay is kind of well, crap. Aside from being an imperfect location, I thought the mission playing as Vader & the Emperor was a great addition but why not let players learn the moves of other characters in a similar setup? Even better – having a series of objectives in a mix of locations to learn the strengths and weaknesses.

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