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Star Wars Battlefront hands-on: Not the Battlefront sequel you're looking for, but still pretty good

Hayden Dingman | June 18, 2015
I'm ruined. I don't think it's necessarily my fault, in this case, but one thing is becoming undeniably clear to me: As far as Star Wars Battlefront is concerned, I'm ruined. I'm checked out. I'm "not the target audience," or however you want to put it. I am the Fallout 2 fanatic who felt burned by Fallout 3, or the Doom veteran who wished Doom 3 were a bit less obsessed with monster closets. I am, in other words, the "scorned fan."

That's partly because it hordes the biggest toys away from players, partly because the matches are capped at a relatively-small 40 players, and partly because our match seemed to get hung up on a single chokepoint, with control going back and forth over the course of the game. There wasn't really much impetus to explore most of the space DICE built out.

And none of those are huge complaints. The game doesn't seem broken, nor does it seem terrible. It just doesn't hit the expectations I had after a decade-long wait. I still remember when footage leaked of the now-canceled Battlefront III. I remember watching as the demo went seamlessly from a planetary battle to a space battle. I remember thinking "Hot damn, this was worth the wait."

DICE's Battlefront? It didn't hit those same notes. It definitely isn't as ambitious as that leaked Battlefront III footage. It feels...well, like Battlefield: Hoth. Not so much the way Battlefield: Hardline felt like a reskin of Battlefield 4, but there's still that feeling of same-ness, that familiarity, that creeping feeling of "Yeah, this is definitely made by DICE."

Maybe it's not fair to go in with such a heavy bias. Actually, it's definitely not fair. I have a feeling some Last Guardian fans will be similarly disappointed, and maybe even some Half-Life 3 fans some day in the far-off future. Is it DICE's fault my expectations are too high? No.

I think it's worth mentioning though, because I think a lot of you are in a similar position--you've waited for this game for a long time, and now you're curious "Will it live up to my own unreasonable, self-inflicted hype?" And for me, the answer is "Not yet."

Notice, that's not a hard "No." I'm still disappointed in the lack of space battles. I'm disappointed in the scope. I'm disappointed in how much the levels are scripted.

But I also--and this is an important point--want to play a Star Wars shooter. Battlefront is a good one of those, even if I have my qualms about dubbing it a good Battlefront II sequel. Again, to return to my earlier metaphor: It's like when your favorite band changes styles and you go "This is a good album, it's just not a good [Insert Band] album." Or, more appropriate, it's like when your favorite band "sells out"--everything is cleaner, more polished, more approachable...but just a little more lifeless than before.

Then one day you're driving down the road and the band's latest single comes on the radio and you find yourself absent-mindedly tapping the beat out on the steering wheel, singing under your breath. And in that moment you realize: "Hey, this will never be my favorite but...well, it isn't half bad."

 

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