Star Wars Battlefront Beta: Disappointingly Average

I decided to take a break from Wildstar and Destiny this weekend to give the Star Wars Battlefront beta a try.

battlefront logo

Being a Sci-Fi geek its pretty much a given that I’m a big Star Wars fan, and although I haven’t touched a battlefield game since Battlefield 3, I do have fond memories of that series of games, as well as the original Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefront II.

Unfortunately, the new Battlefront is not really like the old battlefront at all. My first bugbear is that it introduces the content locking rank system, something that irritates me no end as the rate at which you unlock anything makes the grind in MMO’s seem like a brief walk in the park. If I wanted to grind an exp bar, I’d play an MMO, or an RPG. Heck if I wanted to grind an exp bar in an FPS, I’d go back to Destiny, because at least The Taken King is actually fun, and doesn’t feel like a grind.

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The short of it is this: I want to shoot people in the face with lasers and whatever other high-tech weaponry is lying around, however I can’t until I’ve earned that privilege, and to earn that privilege guess what? You have to grind it. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that at level 1 you start with a single laser rifle, thats it. No class perks, heck there aren’t even any classes in the game at all any more, you just choose your load out to decide how you want to play, and while in theory I appreciate the freedom this gives, the fact you have to grind out 4 or 5 levels before you start to even encounter remotely useful items makes those first levels feel more like a chore than anything else. More annoying still is the fact that reaching a rank doesn’t automatically unlock a weapon for you, you then have to go and buy it using in-game credits.

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1200 Galactic Credits for the Ion Grenade. 750 credits for the Ion Shot ability. 500 credits for the Cycler Rifle, 750 for the DH-17 Blaster Pistol, and you don’t get enough credits between levels to unlock this stuff the moment you rank up, at least at the lower levels. The whole thing smacks of a way to not only slow down your progression further, but to open the way to yet again sell you some god awful micro transactions. While nothing has been announced yet, I would be shocked if EA didn’t do some kind of “pay real money to get in-game credits” routine, there has been too much effort put into adding something as pointless as a metagame currency to make me think it’s for that “authentic Star Wars feel”. I don’t recall Battlefront or Battlefield 3 requiring me to buy my weapons after I had earned them. In BF3 you had to do was some challenges with the weapon to unlock some new parts for it, but from what I recall that was all it was, and most of those upgrades were either easy to earn or fairly minor in the improvements they gave.

The worst part of all this is I so wanted to like the game. In the heat of battle it has that Star Wars feel to it: Lasers make the right sounds, ships swarm overhead and dog fight with each other. Imperial Star Destroyers face off against Rebel Cruisers in the background, and to top it all of the game looks fantastic. Seriously I cannot stress that enough, I’ve popped some screenshots below to try to drive this point home, all taken at 4k (which as a side note, runs ridiculously well. I have a 980 TI in my rig and I didn’t see frame rates drop below 50 FPS unless it got really hectic!)

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The problem is that the amount of time I need to commit to the game to become useful and actually truly enjoy it is just too much. As much as I hate to admit it I no longer have the same amount of time I used to have to spend playing games, and a game that sits me down and goes “Look at all these cool toys! You can have them once you’ve sunk 5 hours into this game. Oh by the way, those first 5 hours will be boring as hell” is never going to get in my good graces. Not to mention if (or more likely when) the micro transactions start appearing, you can bet your biscuit that there will be a pay to unlock all weapons pack. Which begs the question “why not just unlock it from the off?”

The original Battlefronts had no problem doing this, and combined with the class system that game was a blast to play. Now I’m expected to sink in 5-7 hours on release to unlock the bits that even start making the game fun, or the even worse possibility of having to pay more money on top of the ridiculous £50 asking price to unlock them via micro transactions. No, thank you.

Also I really don’t get the removal of classes. The Empire and the Alliance both had specialist troops with various abilities in the films and in the previous Battlefronts, it made sense, and it made it feel like you were fighting as a whole of a cohesive military unit. Without that it feels more like a free for all where people just pick the power ups and abilities they want and they go and run and gun at each other. It’s almost like Call of Duty’s multiplayer mode, a team death match of sorts, than a true battlefield game.

Still I digress, and while I will be keeping an eye on Battlefront with its release next month, it’s no longer on my “must have” list. I’ll be waiting to see what happens with it.

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