I take it you all saw the Star Wars Battlefront trailer last week. No? Do it now.
We need to talk.
As Star Wars fans to a man, DICE's Star Wars Celebration debut left us all incredibly excited yet somewhat nervous about what EA plans to the table. Can the fantasy footage match the reality, especially on current-gen consoles? Is what's being left out of the package more noteworthy than what's making it in? Now that a few days have passed, we've put our heads together to bring you our thoughts on what ought to be the game we've been waiting for.
I really want to get excited about Star Wars Battlefront. I did get excited about Star Wars Battlefront. Watching those gorgeous "rendered gameplay assets" unfold, that old familiar feeling started to well in the pit of my stomach, that part of my brain that used to take pride in the Star Wars license suddenly lit up and I dared to believe. Battlefront's back. DICE are in charge. It looks fantastic. AT-ATs. Y-Wings. Vader. This is finally happening!
It's good that we waited a couple of days, though, because a little hindsight and perspective goes a long way in this business.
The reliance on "rendered gameplay assets" instead of actual gameplay is very disappointing and the distinction is incredibly important, but then again, this was the reveal trailer. In my opinion each game gets one shiny CG fluff trailer to set the mood and sell us on the concept before I bring out the hammer, so using what they claim are real assets was a class act. It really does look gorgeous, too, not just in terms of the engine but the authenticity of the thing, that Star Wars feel that seems to permeate the game and that DICE seems to have got spot-on. You can always rely on DICE to nail the sound design too.
And yet a few things bug me. Four worlds might well mean four maps. Space battles have been removed, not improved. The AT-AT looks less like a vehicle and more like a gimmick, the Y-Wings just a summon and not something we can freely use. No prequel content. The spectre of netcode and low tickrate. The avenues for DLC yawn open towards us like the Death Star trench and behind it a cackling EA, lightning akimbo. "It's a trap!"
But cynicism is easy and in this case, perhaps more than a little unwarranted. Star Wars Battlefront's debut was still a corker, and if they can make it feel unique as opposed to a Battlefield expansion, I'll take it. I'll take two! Actually, that expansion sounds pretty good too.
As a big graphics junkie, I was certainly impressed by DICE's trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront. But despite the 'game engine' labelling, I couldn't shake the feeling I was looking at 'target footage'. Yes, the images may have been created using the game engine, but why not show us some actual gameplay? DICE aren't alone in this habit though.
I'd be very surprised if all the little extra animations like the rebel riding the speeder looking back and head movements when they noticed the AT-ST entering the field weren't added in for theatrical effect for the trailer.
But, if the rest of the footage was honest and simply featured an unhooked camera roving around the battlefield, then yes, that's amazing. Right from the off, you could be looking at scenes from the movie. The forest's detail, the lighting through the trees and those particle-heavy explosions are just to die for. Star Wars has always had iconic sound design too and this trailer nailed those epic sounds, with the speeder bikes in particular making the hairs on the back of my neck pay attention.
Towards the end of the trailer, a few scenes stood out as being more likely to be in-game footage. The aerial chase through the canyon looked like it could have been showing off the cockpit cam and the brief shot of Boba Fett looked more in-game thanks to the close proximity of the camera.
Maybe I'm just being so pessimistic because 'next-gen' hasn't really blown me away yet and has generally been full of broken promises. It's certainly about time trailers like this were showing the true experience we're going to have rather than a targeted one to lure in our preorders. We're bound to see the game in action before the November release though and I'm so ready to be genuinely excited when the reality matches the dream.
Well, that was a very pretty trailer, wasn’t it?
The scripted sequence through the forest of Endor was a visual treat, proving once again how much of a graphical powerhouse the Frostbite engine is. For me, the highlight was the destruction of the AT-AT, which looked like something straight out of the films. Seeing the other types of locales was exciting as well, with the brief glimpse at (what I assume was) Hoth giving us a sense of the scale the battlegrounds will provide.
The thing is, as impressive as the visuals are, what I really wanted to see was some actual gameplay, not a scripted sequence from a game that will have no story-based campaign. We’ll no doubt see something in the near future (or, at the latest, E3) but with an intended December release date I’d have hoped to see something more substantial even at this point. It will also be interesting to see at what price point EA will put Star Wars Battlefront at as well, because as much as they did get the sales for Battlefield: Hardline they had to fight tooth and nail to prove it was worth it in the run up to its release.
However, I’m more than ready to give it a shot, and as long as the visuals match what was shown I can imagine it will be the Battlefront game we’ve been after for years. Just one more thing, DICE – please make sure the netcode is stable before it’s released. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there wishing the same thing.
Excited for Star Wars Battlefront? Worried? Cautiously optimistic? Already pre-ordered? Sound off in the comments!