i treat game betas like demos. if i want the game already, it’s a hype vehicle. if i’m on the fence, it’s a trial. EA appears to treat them the same way honestly, pushing a handful of very polished modes this time in star wars battlefront. more than usual. after time in the BF3 and 4 betas, which were both more limited. so this is a trial of battlefront for me.
you get to play a sort of king of the hill mode, in which capture points fall from the sky, and if you hold it long enough powerups come out of it, you score, and another one falls somewhere else. there’s also a mode much less easy to explain. the Empire side has at-at walkers, and the Rebel side has to blow them up. but the walkers are only vulnerable during “bombing runs,” and you add a ship (and therefore time) to the bombing runs by capturing “uplink” stations and holding on to them for a while.
there’s a single player/coop PvE mode too but idgaf. i’d recommend getting a feel for things in the much smaller king of the hill mode before messing with the big at-at-attack one.
i don’t think i’ll be picking up battlefront, i’m not sure it’s for me, i’ve left shooters behind long ago and was hoping for something a little more arcadey, but this one is kind of in the middle ground between like halo and battlefield. maybe halo and cod:blops is a better range. it’s pretty fun (although you will get matched onto losing teams a LOT) but it’s not something that’s going to hold my interest near long enough to justify the $60 price tag. your mileage will vary, it’s just not the sort of thing i want to play for long.
it has a few #betaproblems – some screen tearing, some issues with loading in where it seems to let you start playing before the map is ready for you to, and i don’t care about those. let’s talk design issues.
the beta lets you have 4 guns, each having their own uses. theres a long range rifle that isn’t a sniper really, a sort of autopistol, a better medium range rifle, and then the one you can get at level 5. the one you can get at level 5 is BROKEN. it does the least damage of any weapon and it has no optics and still, its BROKEN. maybe at long ranges it kind of falls off, as the spread starts to matter (the blasters have a really minimal spread), but at medium range and in its firepower is crazy OP, far better than any of the other options.
the guns themselves are boring though. unless the full game will introduce something different, you get 4 types of semi-automatic blasters with different stats. whee. no anti-vehicle weapons, no long-range rifles (the snipe isn’t a gun, keep reading), just, the same blaster with different damage, rate, range, and cooling time (which is how reloading works) stats.
your secondary loadout is determined by “cards” which i as a dota fiend kind of see as spells. theres options ranging from a single-shot sniper rifle to grenades to a jetpack. they all have cooldowns, with grenades not being very long for example but snipers are. thats kind of neat. running out of grenades SUCKS so this game will prevent you from spamming them via cooldowns but won’t ever let you actually run out if you equip them. the snipe is very situational so its cooldown is almost a nonfactor. i like this.
you have a 4th secondary loadout spot and this is where things get weird. you get in the game’s various vehicles by picking them up as a powerup in the 4th loadout spot and activating it. it isn’t intuitive at all, and all vehicles share the same look sensitivity. if you are a M+K user, because what scrub intentionally plays a shooter on controller, you have to choose how you want to play this game. if you want to play in a spacecraft, you need really high sensitivity because it’s controlled like the jets in BF4, which is to say horribly, it treats the mouse like a joystick that you “tilt” by moving. but then your turrets and AT-STs are going to twitch around like they’re being fired by a methhead. your other choice is to bring your sensitivity down to make those playable, but then your spacecraft is unflyable. SEPARATE MY DAMN SENSITIVITIES, THEY MATTER. (you can fully rebind the keys for flying, but if you can find a way to make shooting and airbrake and throttle and boost buttons all work with WASD movement, i’m all ears.)
you can pick up other powerups as a one-use thing, and these go in that 4th slot too. more powerful grenades, manual and automatic turrets, etc. that i do like. the vehicles are dumb though, and they aren’t particularly fun to play (although it could be because i’m really bad at them). the most valuable powerup is the Hero powerup, which lets you play as luke skywaker circa return of the jedi or darth vader, depending on your faction. i haven’t gotten luke yet, but darth has a force choke and a way to throw his lightsabre to instagib you, and both have a spell that uses the sabre to deflect bullets. theyre pretty cool and they feel OP enough, but not so OP it’s broken.
the game’s strengths must lie in its map design, and we get to see 2 maps. the king of the hill map is really good i think. there are tons of nooks to master, its all about sight-lines and angles and getting the drop on your enemy. i dig it. the at-at mode’s map, Hoth, despite being a bigger enough area to house 12 more players a side, feels weirdly linear. you can run that direction to one uplink or this direction to the other, around this big snowy hill you can’t climb. end options. then you can go into the base, which is like a hallway and a small hangar, or the one station outside where you get owned by the vehicles over and over. then there’s 2 stations in a network of trenches, which WOULD be badass except you can’t move because you’re getting shot from above constantly and the cover is really inadequate. i don’t care as much for Hoth. it feels like a BF3 map – appearing to be big until you start playing it and realize it really kind of isn’t. and its got a really bad spawnkilling problem. i spawned into darth vader tonight and was instantly force choked out. fuck that!
but like i said we get to see 2 maps. when you buy the full game, Hoth and The Other One might easily be the shittiest of the bunch. who knows. and these two game modes might be the most terrible of the like 6 or 8 that will be available.
battlefront looks pretty good, and relatedly its visuals are outstanding. the balance is fairly good. there are a few design decisions i like and a few i just DON’T. AT ALL. the #betaproblems it has seem pretty minor, so apart from the typical EA launch day server shenanigans, it shouldn’t come out to a bunch of rioting over bugginess (sup BF4?). i’m just kind of over shooters, so unless you’re doing something a hell of a lot different (titanfall, tribes) or are inherently competitive (quake) i’m just not going to maintain interest. you guys have fun, i think you’ll dig this one.