Electronic Arts and DICE are hitting the hype train right on schedule with the first official trailer for Star Wars Battlefront unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. The game is scheduled to release November 17, 2015 on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and Windows PC, the first Battlefront game in 10 years.
The trailer features heavy emphasis on the Battle of Endor, the climactic ground battle from Return of the Jedi. The ground troops are again the focus, with a clear emphasis on expanding the abilities due to loadouts and skillsets. One rebel soldier had a deployable bubble shield, big enough to protect multiple soldiers but not nearly as large as the ones from The Phantom Menace. Another soldier, a Sullustan like Lando Calrissian’s copilot Nien Nunb, utilizes a rocketpack and rocket launcher to take out an AT-ST, which makes the troops much more than the typical fodder depicted in the Star Wars films. The Imperials are not without their own toys with speederbikes, AT-STs and eventually an AT-AT making its way into frame.
Heroes look to be making a return as well with several notable Dark Side enemies making their appearance towards the end of the trailer. In previous games heroes would arrive to turn the tide of matches if specific circumstances were met. The setup is a little different for the new Battlefront with players earning powerups to let them eventually take control of one of the heroes on the battlefield.
While dogfights are prominently featured with X-Wing vs TIE Fighter canyon runs and Y-Wing bombers, there will be no dedicated space battles due to the focus on ground combat. While it is that disappointing Death Star trench runs or Trade Federation blockades won’t be being fought through, DICE has shown how solid air support and aerial combat can be entertaining and integral to a ground focused multiplayer game thanks to their Battlefield games. So long as the maps are large enough, especially with items like canyon runs, with a high enough vertical ceiling, this is the closest we’ve been to a Star Wars themed combat flight sim in ages.
Battlefront is going to be multiplayer focused with up to 40-player matchs with a light solo challenge campaign added for offline play. There are no plans to make an immediate campaign, but in all honesty, shoehorning that type of experience into a story everybody knows already seems mildly pointless.
Story wise the game will cover many of the iconic battlefields of the original trilogy including Endor and Hoth, along with new planet Jakku, which will be released as DLC prior to the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Jakku is an outer rim desert planet, similar to Tatooine, that is a key setting in the upcoming film. Currently the Jakku map pack is scheduled to release two weeks after the game’s release, with pre-order customers getting it first on December 1. Non pre-order customers will get access to The Battle of Jakku on December 8.
While Star Wars Battlefront remains one of the frontrunners for most anticipated game, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in the lack of expansion from previous titles. It is a grand improvement in every sense of the word but part of me was hoping for something revolutionary. DICE can say that Battlefront and Battlefield are entirely different beasts all they want, but I still can’t find myself wanting play this more than a Battlefield game. If it weren’t for the Star Wars theme, I’m not sure I would be truly interested. I’d like to see some solid views of the flight combat, vehicle controls and the hero systems before I truly turn on my hype-machine.