It’s Not a Trap: The Case for Star Wars Battlefront

It probably isn’t news to you that players have been very hard on Star Wars Battlefront. While Metacritic awards the PC version a 71/100 based on average reviews from 17 top critics, site users have slapped it with a 3.4/10 (!), citing a variety of complaints including an unfair DLC model, no space battles, and the lack of any campaign content. While I have no intention to present Battlefront as a perfect game, this post is going to take a harder look at some of the chief complaints against it and see if it didn’t perhaps at least deserve a higher score than My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic for the iPhone.

No Space Battles?!?


I don’t know that I’ve heard a single rant about Star Wars Battlefront that didn’t put the lack of space battles near the top of the list. This is understandable. Battlefront 2 certainly had them, they’ve been popular in many other Star Wars games, and it’s easy to have a knee-jerk reaction when you hear about a Star Wars experience that won’t involve space.

The most obvious response to this is one that I haven’t actually seen presented at all yet: Fighter Squadron mode is every bit the dogfight experience the series has ever presented. It’s true that you’ll see clouds instead of a black backdrop with pretty stars and you won’t board a larger craft and shoot things with a gun, but if you add all the ship flying you can do in the game’s other modes, this is the most flight-oriented Battlefront title to date.

It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that the developers of the Battlefield series reversed the “mostly flying, some running” formula throughout the rest of the game to focus on the ground. While actual space battles would have been a welcome addition to Battlefront, their absence doesn’t technically remove anything from the experience.

No Campaign?!?


That Forbes comment needs to be clarified: Star Wars Battlefront made the list (#1, in fact) of The 15 Most Disappointing Video Games of 2015 at Forbes.com. It joins the ranks of games like TellTale’s Game of Thrones, Fallout 4, and The Witcher 3. Forbes seems to understand video games about as well as I understand the stock market, but I’m careful not to blog about day trading.

I may have been one of the few potential players almost completely unconcerned when I heard there wouldn’t be a playable story in Battlefront. Since when are we dying to play campaigns developed by DICE? Maybe no one read TechnoBuffalo’s Battlefield 4 review titled “No, Seriously, Skip the Campaign”. Modern shooters simply aren’t judged with emphasis on their single-player experience anymore.

“But it’s Star Wars!” I know, but let’s not pretend to be too excited about Star Wars side stories. What impact would DICE actually be allowed to have on the Star Wars universe for the benefit of this game? This would have been a loud, flashy play session with all the toys in the early films with strict orders from Mommy and Daddy to put everything back where we found it when we’re done. I’m just as happy to invite my friends over so we can “pew-pew!” those toys at each other for the afternoon. The previous games in the series had campaigns in the same way that Titanfall had a campaign. Why bother?

OMGWTFDLC?!?


Complaints about the DLC schedule for Star Wars Battlefront are understood, but there’s this fascinating trend online of players complaining about the DLC and, in the same breath, completely misrepresenting the base game. I think this has to be part of a huge marketing failure. The complaint above is a very popular one. Who would release a game with four maps? No one in their right mind. That’s true. Battlefront has 12 maps as of the initial release and 14 including the first free downloadable content. Maps are playable locations like the Rebel Base and the Ice Caves. All of Hoth is an environment. Somehow “Screw this game, it only involves a dozen maps across four planets” seems like a less valid complaint.

Now, maintaining that EA did indeed release a complete game, the DLC model is much less consequential. What wouldn’t players have paid for more Goldeneye 64 content in the 90s? Now that we have the option, we collectively despise it. That’s perfectly fine. You aren’t required to shell out any additional money to dump countless hours into Battlefront. You can evaluate the quality of that time as you please. The simple act on the developer’s part of creating additional content does not necessarily entitle anyone to that content free of charge. It’s up to developers and publishers to determine when they’ve put together $60 worth of content and it’s up to players to determine whether to spend that money. The same goes for subsequent content releases.

Overall I feel Star Wars Battlefront was and is a victim of poor marketing and community management. The core gameplay is still fun (decide how long for yourself) and the visual design was some of the best we saw in 2015. If the game is in fact a disappointment, it’s because too many players didn’t know what to expect and too many still misunderstand what the game is meant to be, which is a recipe for disaster at the end of a series with the fan base of the earlier Battlefront games. Still, Star Wars Battlefront doesn’t deserve this much heat.

Go ahead, let me have it in the comments.

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Todd Mitchell
Blogger-in-Chief at Code Write Play
Todd Mitchell is an independent game developer and industry commentator. He is the founder of CodeWritePlay and owner of Artistry Master Systems, Inc. Follow him @Mechatodzilla.
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