Star Wars Battlefront Review (XONE)

SW Battlefront screen
SW Battlefront screen. EA

Underneath the overwhelming "Star Wars" hype, the gorgeous graphics, and pitch-perfect sound that make you want to love it, the actual moment to moment gameplay in Star Wars Battlefront is disappointingly shallow.  This is one of the most simple old-school-style online FPS / TPS games to come out in a long time and while there is certainly value in being simple and straightforward, the lack of depth puts the longevity of the game in serious doubt.

  It's okay for a few hours, then quickly becomes boring, and that isn't good enough.  Pair that with a lack of proper offline content, and it becomes even harder to recommend.  Our full Star Wars Battlefront review has all of the details.

Game Details

  • Publisher:  Electronic Arts
  • Developer: DICE
  • ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
  • Genre: Multiplayer Shooter
  • Pros:  Amazing visuals and sound; fantastic music; Fighter Squadron mode; lots of modes overall
  • Cons:  Offline content is laughable; poor progression system; only 4 planets; gameplay is fairly shallow

Features

Star Wars Battlefront is 95% online only, and 5% boring compromise made for offline and single-player peasants.  If you don't want to play online multiplayer, this isn't the game for you.  Period.  The offline modes include only a tutorial, training missions, and mind-numbingly boring matches against A.I. bots in either wave-based survival, or standard battles (with optional Hero characters).

  That's it.  You can play these offline modes in split-screen multiplayer, which does make them marginally more fun, but there isn't enough content to justify a purchase if you don't plan to play online.

To be clear, Star Wars Battlefront doesn't have any sort of a story mode.  Instead, it lets you re-visit three iconic planets from the original Trilogy of movies (and Sullest, for whatever reason) and take part in massive battles.

  There are a multitude of modes that require a variety of map sizes, so each of the four planets has several different maps (don't buy into the "There are only 4 maps!" narrative some are pushing on the Internet, that just isn't true).  There still aren't a ton of maps - the actual count is 12 - but at least that isn't nearly as dire as 4. 

Modes

The modes list for online play is actually fairly impressive as each of the game types is fairly unique.  There is your standard team deathmatch and capture the flag variants, but the rest of the modes are more interesting.  Supremacy mode is a 40-player control mode where you have to capture five control points, but the twist here is that you have to capture them sequentially (like you're plowing towards your opponent's base).  It's like a big game of tug-o-war as each side pushes and takes control points back and forth until one side finally has the advantage.  Walker Assault is another 40-player mode, but this time the Empire is trying to reach the Rebel base, and the Rebels have to defend it.  Walker Assault mimics the Battle of Hoth from "The Empire Strikes Back", and is pretty thrilling.  In both Supremacy and Walker Assault, you can use vehicles like TIE Fighters and A-Wings as well as AT-ST or AT-ATs.

 

Other modes include Droid Run, which is another control variant but this time the control points are droids that wander around the map, so you have to keep moving.  Drop Zone is yet another control variant, but unlike Supremacy, you can capture the points (in this case escape pods) in any order.  Hero Hunt is an asymmetrical multiplayer mode where one player controls a hero or villain while the rest of the players hunt them down.  Heroes vs. Villains pits three heroes against three villains (who each only have one life but are crazy powerful) while the rest of the players play as generic grunts who can respawn.

  The idea is that you protect your three named main characters while trying to eliminate the other team's heroes. 

Speaking of those heroes and villains, you can use them in the other modes as well, but they are accessed through random power-ups.  You can play as Luke, Han, or Leia as the Rebels or Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, or Boba Fett as The Empire.  These characters have tons of health as well as special abilities that make them a ton of fun to play as (and frustrating to fight against). 

Gameplay

While there are lots of modes to play in, the actual shooting gameplay is remarkably dull.  There is no depth to it.  You point and shoot and die a lot.  Rinse and repeat like we've traveled back in time to GoldenEye on the N64.  I'm not knocking GoldenEye, but we've come a long way since then and most shooters have more depth these days either in weapon loadouts or killstreaks or different classes or objectives or something that breaks the monotony of the "pew pew pew".  For a game with laser beams filling the air and spaceships and walking turtle tanks all over the place, Battlefront is boring.

Part of the problem is that the progression system is just as shallow as everything else.  To access better weapons and gear you have to first increase your overall level in order to unlock stuff, then spend points you earn in-game to actually "buy" new blasters or grenades or whatever.  This means that experienced players have the good stuff that kills you faster, which means its a grind and struggle for new players to earn those good weapons and actually have fun.

  There are only a handful of weapons to even unlock, however, which means even the slight thrill of that is over all too quickly because the core gameplay itself is shallow and boring.  You see everything the game has to offer in just a few hours, after which there is no incentive to keep playing.

Fighter Squadron Mode

The other gameplay mode in Star Wars Battlefront, and my personal favorite, is the unique Fighter Squadron mode.  This mode is purely an X-Wing / A-Wing vs. TIE Fighter / TIE Interceptor aerial dogfight and is a ton of fun.  The controls are simple - left stick controls acceleration, right stick controls direction, and you also have missiles or aerobatic maneuvers assigned to face buttons and the D-Pad.  These fights are pretty simple as you just line up enemy ships and blast away or lock on with missiles, but it is insanely addictive and fun.  You also can find pickups that let you play as the Millenium Falcon or Boba Fett's Slave 1.  I love Fighter Squadron mode, but it, like the rest of the game, is pretty shallow.  I want more ships.  I want actual progression.  I want more maps.  I want a whole fleshed out game of this! 

DLC

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Star Wars Battlefront is that, naturally, it has a $50 DLC Season Pass to go along with it.  The game desperately needs more modes and more maps and more depth and simply more "stuff" to do, to begin with, so locking such a huge chunk of it up as DLC is a bit of a slap in the face.  Black Ops III shipped with a ton of content on-disc.

  Halo 5: Guardians is offering new maps and modes for free, plus had plenty, to begin with.  Battlefront is seriously lacking in content by comparison, which makes the Season Pass a bitter pill.

Graphics & Sound

The presentation in Star Wars Battlefront is easily the highlight of the whole package.  It oozes "Star Wars" out of every pore an will make any fanboy or fangirl feel like a kid again after just a few minutes.  The graphics are stunning and incredibly detailed, though the Xbox One version has a sort of soft look to it due to being 720p, which can make targeting enemies at a distance difficult since they're frankly hard to see.  The game targets 60FPS and the framerate stay fairly close to that but can drop a bit during intense firefights.  It still does look fantastic in spite of these things, however.

The sound is even better with sound effects ripped straight from the movies and new music that starts out with John Williams' recognizable themes before morphing into something new. 

Bottom Line

In the end, Star Wars Battlefront delivers on the presentation side but falters when it comes to the gameplay.  It absolutely looks and sounds like a "Star Wars" fan's dream game and is as close to the movies as we've ever had in a video game, but the gameplay is shallow and, frankly, boring.  It doesn't play like the old OG Xbox Battlefront games.  It doesn't even play like Battlefield with a Star Wars skin like a lot of folks assumed when DICE was revealed to be developing it.  Instead, it is something far simpler and more basic and not as much fun as either of those series.  Star Wars Battlefront is worth a look just to soak up the presentation and be nostalgic for a few hours, but it won't hold your interest for much longer than that.  It'll get more attractive with a price drop (or an "Ultimate" edition a year from now), but I can't recommend it as a full price purchase.