This is a really good year to be a Star Wars fan. There’s a new movie, new comics, new novels and a new Battlefront coming. The Star Wars Battlefront beta goes live to the masses tomorrow, but we’ve had the chance to play it early. How was it? Hit the jump (to lightspeed) and find out. A relatively negligible amount of Bothans died for this preview.
The beta includes three game modes: Walker Assault, Drop Zone and Survival Mission. The first two are for online multiplayer battles only, but Survival can be played solo or co-op.
This mode recreates the Battle of Hoth on a massive map for 40 players. The Rebel Alliance must defend their shield generators from lumbering AT-ATs by activating numerous satellite uplinks and calling in bombing runs. If one AT-AT goes down, they win. The Imperials prevent that by keeping those uplinks offline. It sounds straightforward, but the battle has an excellent organic feel to it as it progresses through three phases. It begins at long range on snowfields, and ends in a desperate trench battle.
This is the only beta mode with vehicles and hero power-ups. By collecting a power-up, players can control iconic spacecraft or an AT-ST. Another power-up lets you play as Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker, complete with Force powers and lightsaber skills. Keep in mind that the heroes are still mortals, and will get shredded in seconds by blaster fire. Um, not that it happened to me. I’m a bad-ass.
If larger battles aren’t your thing, then Drop Zone might be. It’s a 16-player, team-based king of the hill mode, with Imperials and Rebels fighting for control of escape pods that crash onto the battlefield. Claim and successfully defend five, and your team wins.
If you’re looking for a team deathmatch-like experience, here’s where you’ll get it in the beta. Drop Zone favours teamwork, and several power-ups allow for tactical turret or shield placement. Really, there isn’t much to say about this one; it’s just excellently crafted FPS gameplay.
Personally, this is my favorite mode. Players must survive five waves (16 in the final game) of Stormtroopers, either solo or with a buddy.
Given that this is a battle against the AI, the pace is slightly more sedate and gives players a chance to appreciate the game’s engine. Powered by Frostbite, the game looks gorgeous. The enemy physics are realistic, especially their death and running animations, and the environment can get blasted to smithereens while you cower behind it.
Games journalism requires unbiased (but subjective, obviously) opinions. It requires that a writer be balanced and fair, and carefully weigh the good and the bad of a video game for the benefit of readers. Keep this in mind when I tell you that HOLY WOOKIE ARMPITS THIS GAME IS AMAZING. Ahem, sorry about that. I got a little carried away. Star Wars Battlefront plays well, looks spectacular, and is currently looking to be a stellar experience for Star Wars and FPS fans alike. If you’re not going to rAge 2015, play this at home. If you are going to rAge, then play this there. It’s going to be a hit at the LAN, and at the Kaos Theory VR stand.
PC gamers can pre-download the beta through Origin. PS4 and Xbox One gamers have to wait until the official start before downloading through their respective stores. The beta will run from October 8th to October 12th.