A new hope with Star Wars Battlefront

The start of 2016 saw me fall in love with Star Wars Battlefront. It had a great intensity and exceptional use of the Star Wars franchise and universe. It was a very immersive game.

However I began to drift, with a combination of playing different games, a pretty large non-gaming distraction plus I felt the game still had a few flaws that needed fixing. A couple of very brief returns to check out the second DLC (Bespin) left me very disappointed. I found the level design to be attrocious and gameplay pretty much meant “shoot people as they try running across a large exposed area” or “get shot trying to run across a large exposed area”. Every game I played involved one side absolutely slaughtering the other.

With the news that DICE were pretty much abandoning the game I felt less inclined to try and get into the new mode, or even keep tabs on the game. It dropped off my radar and I didn’t expect to be interested in the new release either.

However with the Rogue One film due out I recently returned to the game to find the past two DLCs have been very interesting and make quite a compelling game. It was a wonderful surprise to see how the gameplay has been transformed.

The “off the shelf” game provides a range of modes that you play over and over. I really enjoyed this as it let me define how I want to play over a session (large combat, dogfighting, hero battles etc).

The first couple of DLCs instead had a cycle where in Outer Rim you’d go from the extreme fun of Extraction to the hit & miss Hero Vs Villians. Servers would see their numbers rise and fall as the mode changed. I didn’t think that this worked and always wanted to be able to repeat the same mode.

Note: I barely played the Bespin DLC so I may be wrong about it using the same approach as Outer Rim.

The Death Star and Rogue One Scarif DLCs still put you on a cycle of game modes but instead of being a disjointed mismatch of modes they now have structured missions with multiple stages using different gameplay types. We get to play out the rebels and their assault on Death Star with the Imperials trying to stop them. It works really well, keeping players engaged during the different modes as until the mission is complete, or has failed, you won’t want to leave. It also means gameplay wise you are getting a nice mix of different modes as well meaning that there’s variety without having to keep switching modes.

The Rogue One Scarif DLC is also done exceptionally well and ties in fantastically with the story, however I will try and avoid spoilers. What I did like is that after the main mission you are left fighting and scrapping away until the mission restarts. The combat is all in the same place, which some people may bemoan as a lack of maps but instead I approach as though the battle is changing focus. We’ve completed the main objective, now take down the walkers. Next we’ll need to fight to the death. [SPOILER: In the film pretty much every body dies. Rogue One puts the war in Star Wars.].

There were flaws with the Rogue One DLC, which is the one I’ve played most since Outer Rim. Particularly the environment, whilst pretty, is rather awkward to move around. You can get stuck trying to run through some bushes whilst seem to have no collision. This also seems to affect bullets. There’s also plenty place to get stuck and just in general the forest areas are quite clunky to get around. It does smell a little little like they’ve had to rush to get the game out before the film.

There is still one gripe that I have is the game lets you unlock a host of new weapons and gadgets through Hutt Contracts (a slightly flawed system IMO). Having to complete challenges to try out weapons that may or may not work for you isn’t great. They’ve improved the lacklustre offline gameplay but more could be done to let you experiment and play with weapons. Using a weapon for the first time in a tough online match isn’t entirely wise so a good range of offline gameplay certainly helps.

Whilst I’m disappointed that this will be the last offering that I’ll get for my money (new title + Season Pass = pricey!), especially as I feel as though DICE have made a huge improvement to the gameplay with these new modes and having previously thought that I’d avoid the new game out of petty spite… playing the new DLCs may have changed my mind. You might say it has given me a new hope.

(sorry)

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