Release Date: November 2015
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Reviewed on Xbox One, Also available for PS4 and PC
The release of Star Wars Battlefront marks the beginning of a multi-year Star Wars media blitz. We will see five movies in three years, multiple video games, countless iOS and Android apps, and countless toys. I am happy to report that Battlefront is a pleasant start to what will likely be a mixed bag as the years pass.
This release is not the first game in the series. There were several Battlefront games released years ago for the PS2 that features a similar structure. You played a humble soldier amidst massive battles. This new addition to the franchise has been a long time coming and has generated a lot of excitement. It has been well worth the wait. This is an awesome Star Wars experience.
The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that this is a purely online game. There are a few offline gameplay modes, but they are, frankly, not very good. You will have most of your fun playing this game online. The highlight of the experience comes from the large scale online battles that put you in the role of either a rebel or an imperial soldier in battles ranging from 6v6 to 20v20!
There really isn’t much in video games to help simulate the experience of running over a hilltop with your teammates abd meeting your virtual enemy. The fact that this is all happening in the Star Wars setting makes it even better. This will be especially true for people who have grown up with the series. Longitme fans will appreciate a lot of the fine details and clever touches that have been added. One map in particular lets you fight on and around the Millenium Falcon while Luke’s land speeder is leaning against a wall. These little touches will make any fan of the series smile.
Star Wars Battlefront is many things, but it is not a very deep experience. It may be a competitive shooter, but it will not likely find itself to be an esport any time soon. There is not enough technical depth in this game to reward mastery in plays the same way that Call of Duty or HALO do. Instead, we are left with a simpler and more casual experience that lends itself to brief play sessions. This is welcome for parents and families who cant dedicate their time to long winded matches online. This might keep it from being a huge hit for those defined as being in the “core” gaming audience, but I feel that it will definitely enhance its value to families and casual gamers alike.
Family Gaming Assessment
Star Wars Battlefront is a shooter at heart, but the violence level is on par with the original Star Wars trilogy. This means sparks instead of blood, and lasers instead of bullets. The result is an experience similar to that of the movies that are considered family fare. This will obviously depend on your personal tastes, but in my experience if you are ok letting your children watch Star Wars films or the more recent Avengers movies then this is a walk in the park.
There is no story mode to speak of so there is no chance of exposure to mature themes that might arise from a campaign about the battle between good and evil.
This is, however, an online game to the standard warning applies. Some people’s screennames are offensive at best and voice chat can be atrocious. Fortunately you can mute voice chat easily through the games menu. Suppressing screen names is not quite so easy though, so you should keep that in mind. Both Sony and Microsoft put hard filters into their systems to prevent the most egregious of names, but some people inevitably find a way to get questionable stuff past it.
The biggest strength of Battlefront is its accessibility. It is very easy for new players to pick up and play. The complexity increases over time, but it never reaches the level of games like Call of Duty and HALO. This means that even the least experienced players will be able to hop in and play. That does not mean that the game will not be challenging though. The various game modes pit groups of 6-20 players against each other so more skilled players will be able to get more kills and score more points even against a crowd of newbies.
The controls will feel similar to anyone who play played a shooter before and the tutorial will help bring you up to speed very quickly if you haven’t.
Online play will be very challenging at first in spite of the accessibility. Very skilled players will be out there and will rack up the kills quickly. The good news is that in many of the game modes you can work with other players to help. The good news is that if you are taken down you are able to spawn back into the game almost immediately in a different location so you won’t necessarily get gunned down by the same person over and over.
The 20 vs 20 maps are especially good at letting new players blend into the crowd and feel like they are contributing even if they aren’t the most amazing players out there. Sometimes taking shots for your friends while they fire is a worthwhile task.
If you are a family of Star Wars fans then this is definitely a game to consider adding to your collection. This is especially true if your family enjoys shooters like Splatoon and Plats vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, but doesn’t feel comfortable with more mature games like Call of Duty.