There’s nothing like fond childhood memories to stir up vicious debate on the Internet, and so it was with the release of the new “Star Wars: Battlefront” trailer, which is great because it promises a return of one of the greatest gaming franchises, but terrifying because it’s being published by EA. So this is an open letter to EA that can summed up thusly: Don’t you dare ruin this for us.
“Star Wars: Battlefront II” was one of the first games that I ever played. The whole series is based on tactical combat where the player controls a single grunt: one of hundreds of soldiers on a battlefield fighting to control command posts. There are different classes and exotic vehicles from speeder bikes to AT-ATs that any player could control. There were even playable Jedi and Sith running around cutting people down by the dozen, and it was all bliss to an adolescent like me.
I’m not terribly concerned that EA and the developer, DICE, will ruin the down-to-Earth soldiering or basic vehicles in “Battlefront.” Both have already proven that they can handle that type of action in the “Battlefield” series. “Star Wars” is a completely different ball game, however. What worked in the Middle East or the Southwestern United States won’t work a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Will DICE really be able to bring across the sheer size of an AT-AT, as well as the plodding, destructive firepower that comes with piloting it? That’s a tall order for any company, especially one without a history of reviving great science fiction epics.
From the slim details I’m willing to infer from the pre-rendered trailer that was released last week, there are some bright spots. Different classes will be returning, for one, and that’s pretty huge. The basic trooper remains the backbone of any army, while heavy weapons guys bring the missiles to handle vehicles. There are some signs of new classes, like the one that carries a deployable bubble shield, and that’s a good sign. I think most fans will be looking for more than just a remake of “Battlefront II” with better graphics, and it’s good to see some news ideas.
However, there are already plenty of sticking points that have come out since the second trailer for the game was revealed. First, and this is particularly devastating to me personally, there is no single player campaign. While the single-player campaign in “Battlefront II” was only decent, modes like instant action and galactic conquest were tons of fun. Plus, they forgot to put in space battles. Space battles! In “Star Wars!”
Instead, players will get to play short missions that can be taken on by yourself or with a friend. Yeah, I remember these exact same missions from “Battlefield 3,” and I’ll be shocked if they’ve gotten any better. I look forward to watching the pilot of my speeder crash into the ground repeatedly, or watching my partner fire a missile into a Stormtrooper during the inevitable stealth missions. Right, so “Battlefront’s” success or failure will depend almost entirely on its multiplayer. Even so, there are many months between now and the games’ release date in November, so those fans that are already dismissing the game outright might want to hold on to those pitchforks until we have more information.
In closing, it would be wise for EA and DICE to remember what made the original “Battlefront” games so successful. Those big battles should not be substituted for claustrophobic hallways, and players should not be flummoxed by indecision as to which pulse rifle they want to bring into battle. “Battlefront” isn’t, nor should it be, about that. Instead, it should focus on those very things that we have never seen in the “Star Wars” universe: Stormtroopers with accurate weapons.