Thursday at 1 PM the Beta went live and this reviewer couldn’t have been more excited. I was less excited at 7 PM when the Beta was still downloading, but come 9 PM – after I had come back in from dinner – I was definitely excited again as all 7.27 gbs were sitting on my Xbox One hard drive and ready to play.
First and foremost the game is gorgeous. It looks like “Star Wars”. The details are lovely. The snow on Hoth was believable. Everything Imperial was crisp and shiny while everything Rebel Alliance was faded and used. On more than one occasion I sat back impressed with the visuals.
I had a lot of those moments, in fact, as I spent a lot of time dying and waiting to respawn. But we’ll come back to that.
All told, EA made three play modes available: AT-AT Assault, Drop Zone, and Survival Mode.
Survival Mode could be played off-line and split-screen with a friend in your living room. It was like reliving a bit of old school “Battlefronts” which was nice. Typical concept here as you fought off wave after wave of Imperials. The Beta limited you to 5 waves, but it was still fun and served as a good primer for the online modes.
Drop Zone was up next and I didn’t enjoy it as much. In this 10-player mode, each team tries to capture escape pods (basically control points) as they become available on the map. First team to 5 won.
Unfortunately it appears as though everything in the game is going to need to be unlocked – weapons, side items, boosts. I hate when games do this. Particularly games which are primarily meant to be online – as “Battlefronts” is supposed to be. It just makes it hard for new players to get started when everyone they are up against already has better weapons and thus an advantage.
As I played through the weekend this mode became less and less fun as certainly players began to dominate. Mercifully only so many weapons were available and player progress was limited to level 5 (which will not carry into full game when it’s released). Either way, I just didn’t enjoy this mode all that much.
That said, I really did like AT-AT Assault. This mode was basically a recreation of the Battle of Hoth from “Empire Strikes Back” except in this case, the Rebels had a chance of changing history. I read a lot of reviews that thought this mode was unfairly balanced towards the Imperials, though in my experience, the Rebels seemed to win equally as often. In fact I won more times playing as the Rebels.
In addition to running around in the snow, the battlefield is littered with special items and abilities – everything from bombs and turrets to the ability to fly Tie Fighters or drive an AT-AT.
This experience was mixed. The weapons were pretty good. Driving the AT-ATs or the AT-STs were fun. Flying the ships sorta sucked. The controls were clunky. They weren’t very responsive. Absolutely hated flying them, but never passed up a chance to do it.
Damn you Star Wars!!
You could also play as Darth Vader, or Luke Skywalker, but I think I ultimately sucked too much than to be afforded that opportunity. Speaking of sucking, one thing I did not like on AT-AT Assault was how long it could take to get back into the battle after a respawn. It’s a big map and that could be frustrating – even when using the games option of spawning near teammates.
The levels were 20 vs 20. You’d think I could respawn near someone doing something useful.
As with any Beta, there were some connection issues. Sometimes getting a game was a breeze and other times a nightmare. Lag was pretty common in game, but, again, too soon to tell if that is going to be a long-term issue, so we aren’t going to worry about it for now.
What was the verdict? Well, it was fun at times and not fun at other times. The final game promises a lot of different modes, so probably it’s going to have something to appeal to everyone. Definitely it captured the feel of “Star Wars” and that is going to make a lot of fans very happy.
Did I mention the graphics were beautiful?
I’m going to give the Beta three out of five Banthas. An optimistic three out of five.
“Star Wars: Battlefronts” comes out in November. May the force be with all of us until then.
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