During this year’s Star Wars Celebration event, Electronic Arts and DICE held a special, behind-closed-doors, first look preview for fans in attendance for the upcoming reboot of the Star Wars Battlefront franchise. Fans had previously received a taste of the new game with a brand-new trailer. However, EA and DICE gave attendees at Celebration a more in-depth look at the upcoming game with a special hands-off demo presentation; and now, more details are trickling out about the game.
The Star Wars Celebration demo for the new Battlefront game featured pre-alpha footage taken directly from the PlayStation 4. The presentation utilized a Dolby Atmos sound system, so the soundtrack and background effects were especially crisp, detailed, layered and immersive. It appears that DICE definitely wants to achieve a full immersion effect DICE with the game. Basically, a player will feel like a soldier dropped into the thick of a battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Imperial Army during the Galactic Civil War of the classic original Star Wars Trilogy. The presentation video was essentially an extended, in-depth version of the first trailer release, and showed a sample of some actual gameplay.
The video drops into a battle and takes the perspective of a Rebel Alliance soldier in the thick of a ground battle with the Imperials on the Forest Moon of Endor. The video starts in first-person perspective. However, the video indicated that players will be able to seamlessly switch from first-person to third-person perspective during the gameplay. This is a very exciting feature. Frequently, shooters in the next generation of consoles are becoming too arbitrary and unimaginative. The updated next-gen version of Grand Theft Auto V allows players to switch from third-person to first-person perspective. This feature was allowed in the classic Star Wars: Jedi Knight video games. I see no reason that a new game for the next console generation could not accomplish this.
The action and combat looks very intense and frenetic. It is a bit reminiscent of Battlefield. There is a lot of activity on Endor. There are Imperial AT-ST Walkers that need to be taken out. One soldier dispatches it with a rocket launcher. The most exciting part of the demo is a battle with one of the classic Star Wars vehicles, the AT-AT Walker. Thankfully, the video shows the Rebel Alliance Soldier calling in a Y-Wing airstrike for assistance, and that finishes the Walker quickly. All of the classic vehicles depicted in the demo look completely authentic and gloriously realized for the game.
As the soldier progresses, the regiment proceeds more deeply through the forest and reaches the shield base, which fans will remember from Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. The soldier enters the base, and things seem quite calm. However, soon the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader arrives to shake things up. Vader is in the base, and the soldier attempts to blast him away. Vader approaches with his lightsaber, and that is assured to be all she wrote for that one particular soldier. That is the end of the demo.
So far, I am extremely impressed with what DICE is bringing to the table for the Battlefront franchise. The visuals developed using the Frostbite engine look impressive. The level of immersion in the battle and the various tactics soldiers can use in battle seem to have a good amount of depth. I am happy about the first-person/third-person perspective switch. I am also pleased that the game at launch focuses entirely on the original trilogy. Personally, I am not a big fan of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and I would rather play through the environments and classic battles of the original trilogy. That means the developers can focus solely on bringing the battles and environments of the classic trilogy to life. Quite frankly, I am happy with leaving the prequel trilogy in the rear view mirror for the foreseeable future.
At the demo presentation, it was confirmed that the game will not feature any outer space battles. I have mixed feelings about that news. I got the sense from the development team at the presentation that the developers were unable to get a handle on recreating space battles for this game. For a title that is being developed for the next-gen consoles, that is a tad disappointing. There will be vehicle battles with X-Wings, Tie Fighters and even the Millennium Falcon in the game. However, it seems weird that none of those battles can be fought in space.
Another concern is the November 17 release date. To be perfectly honest, it seems unrealistic to me to get the game out that soon and for it not to be rushed. I could be wrong in that regard, and I hope I am. However, considering that the game is in the pre-alpha stage now, and since that is what DICE showed to attendees, I am concerned that a polished, finished product will be ready to go in about seven months. It would not surprise me if the game gets delayed. Many titles I had high expectations for were clearly rushed to make their release dates, and they did not receive the necessary fixes the to make the best, most polished titles. Games like WWE 2K15 and Assassin’s Creed Unity come to mind.
DICE and EA also showed the new preview for the demo presentation. Based on the footage, I am really looking forward to playing through the Battle of Hoth. In addition, I hope characters like Boba Fett and Darth Vader will be playable Hero class characters. It will be interesting to see how the Battle of Jakku will be adapted for the game. It is very exciting the game will offer players a bit of a taste of the new movie with the Battle of Jakku DLC prior to the release of The Force Awakens on December 18.
Star Wars Battlefront is scheduled for a November 17 release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC. The first DLC expansion, the Battle of Jakku, will be released on December 8. Players who pre-order the game will have access to play the DLC first on December 1.