I’ve never really gotten along with online first person shooters. For one thing, being someone who is not actually that good at video games, I tend to spend more time dying than anything else. While the hook of levelling up that made Call of Duty what it is, has never gotten its claws into me. However, I do love Star Wars and therefore I was more than willing to forget me misgivings and download the Star Wars Battlefront Beta when it became available last week.
Now, I normally wouldn’t write about Betas, I’m not a video games website and it’s not a finished game, but I really like this one. Everything that normally turns me off from online shooters seems to have dissapeared and not because it’s not there, but just because the fact it’s Star Wars makes me not care. There are a lot of bad Star Wars games out there, because so many of them just throw a Star Wars skin over an average game and hope it sells. This is the first one that I’ve played, that really feels like it’s a part of that world.
Take the Walker Assault mode, in which two AT-ATs slowly make their way towards the Rebel base on Hoth. The Rebels must establish and defend two uplink points, which allow Y-Wings to attack the two lumbering machines. Meanwhile, the Empire must defend the AT-ATs and make sure that they make it through. It’s been well discussed that it is currently horribly unbalanced, with the Empire winning more often than not. But, in many ways that makes perfect sense. The Empire out-gun and out-man the Rebels and when you’re playing it, it one hundred per cent feels like that. Does that make for a fair video game? Probably not, but it does make for a good Star Wars experience.
Then there are those special little moments. Those moments that are already popping up all over the internet. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are at the centre of many of those and there is a reason for that. When they turn up in the Walker Assault, there is a palpable sense of excitement in the air. They come charging towards you lightsaber spinning and you either stand your ground and die or run hoping they will leave you be. You’re not as powerful as these jedi and you never will be, it’s only by pure force of numbers that you can ever stand a chance.
The other modes are not quite as interesting but again benefit from the window dressing. In Drop Zone, you rush towards various pods that have been dropped into the map, claim them as your own and defend them from the opposition. It’s a simple mode that doesn’t have the bell and whistles of the Walker Assault but is still good fun. Everything in the game runs so smoothly, with the sound design in particular feeling like classic Star Wars, that rushing towards a pod in a group gunning down people is a satisfying enough experience in itself.
Star Wars Battlefront is more than just Battlefield reskinned. While there is no denying it shares a common DNA with that game, you can tell that it’s been crafted by people who know the series they are working with. It takes Star Wars and grabs a hold of all the things that have made it so iconic and allows players to feel like they are a part of that, even if they are just one small cog in a much larger battle. For that alone it may finally be the game that sees me embracing the world of shooting people in the face on the internet.