Tell me if this sounds like the beginnings of a success story:

A beleaguered development house that cut its teeth on tightly scripted, competitive FPS’s takes over a franchise banked on lore-breaking absurdity and a non-stop stampede of action moments running cathartically free in a stuffy, licensed universe.

There are examples of studio shifts that, at first blush, seemed like bigger stretches. But whereas Double Helix layered appropriate depth and added characters that instantly gelled within that goofy universe, DICE has bigger plans for Star Wars Battlefront.

The more open, wider perspective of a third person view makes it much easier move through the sprawling battle fields that Battlefront demands.

The more open, wider perspective of a third person view makes it much easier move through the sprawling battle fields that Battlefront demands.

 

This reboot will, as of now, not include a third person view. Patrick Bach has promised it won’t be just a re-skinned Battlefield, but it is expected to contain a leveling progression and weapon unlocks. The studio head long ago proclaimed that their creation would be an “interpretation of what Battlefront should be”.

That’s problematic. I have never seen a single reddit post deciding they wanted a studio to dictate what Battlefront ‘should be’. If ever there was a game that merely needed an HD reboot on next gen consoles, this was it. Pump on screen unit counts, nail the online matchmaking, and polish that physics engine – done.

Instead Patrick Söderlund has merely promised to “incorporate elements” from the previous games. Read: ‘it has storm troopers’.

I’ve seen this one before.  It starts with a slow motion trailer set to a Rihanna song, followed by cross-map knife kills…before you know it micro transactions and XP thresholds will govern what color red dot sight you can slap on your bowcaster.

The inspiration for a new Battlefront game should come from Battlefield 1942, not Battlefield 4. DICE needs to go back to its roots.

The inspiration for a new Battlefront game should come from Battlefield 1942, not Battlefield 4. DICE needs to go back to its roots.

 

Despite countless examples to the contrary, FPS’s should not be treated as 3rd person shooters (and vice versa). The contrast here is even more damning: DICE specializes in competitive, ≤16 player shooters; Battlefront is a large scale, bot driven, capture scenario with a strong cooperative slant. The two have little in common, beyond shooting stuff.

In short, all signs point to DICE fucking this up. There’s a purity to that Battlefront immediacy that nowadays rarely gets matched with the kind of ambition and funding it deserves.

It doesn’t help that development has been troubled from its start eight years ago:

Mid 2006 –                Studio teams are staffed and development commences on Star Wars Battlefront III

December 2007 –     Enemy AI still not functional; key milestones missed

October 2008 –         Original planned release date for Battlefront III; forsaken in May 2008

April 2009 –              Revised release date for Battlefront III

November 2012 –     Studio’s co-founder claims that game is “99% finished”

December 2012 –     Accusations surface that Haze was siphoning off money from the battlefront development account

May 2013 –               EA purchases license; DICE art team formed.  Previous work scrapped

October 2015 –         Projected release date

Development didn’t start again (from scratch) until late 2013, providing a two-year dev cycle on what is essentially a new IP on a next gen platform. That’s not a lot of time, especially for a troubled studio that has recently struggled to deliver a finished product.

Here’s some more fun facts about 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront (as of 2/8/15):

– Battlefront will not feature any Clone Wars maps – you’ll be limited to the classic maps.

What a colossal mistake.

Not only was the Republic army the most enjoyable faction to play, their battle dynamic was the most interesting. The best all around rifleman (most accurate, largest clip size amongst his peers) the best rocket launcher (double shot = instakill on light vehicle weak points), and the most dynamic jump jet trooper (the steady jump jet was by far better than the Empire’s ejection style booster) facing off against weak but skinny targets (featured the smallest headshot hitbox), one beastly uber droid (wrist rockets without having to change weapons? disgusting), and a niche player’s dream (two Droideka’s could hold catwalks on Kamino by themselves).

It was the dream team of Übermensch, self-sufficient units versus the most complete, well-rounded team. It was the 2004 Lakers versus the Pistons, the 2007 Patriots versus the Giants

 

– No fanciful cross-pollination of Clone Wars era armies fighting on original series maps and vice versa (see above).

Wasn’t it fun playing as the Rebels on Kamino, or the Droids on the Death Star? No longer.

 

– Shittier maps.

Of the five top Battlefront 2 maps, only one was from the original series (Hoth).   The rest of that game was all about robots fighting clones (Kashyyyk, Coruscant, etc).

 

– There will be no ‘The Force Awakens’ maps.

Not that anyone was expecting it, but how cool would this be? It would also help alleviate the exclusion of Clone Wars maps. Ask yourself: would you trade off playing this game four months later in order to have maps and factions from the new movie?

Even more infuriating: there will guaranteed be meaningless tie-ins to the movie. Maybe Disney will force DICE to pack in an extended trailer for the movie, or create a bunch of shitty point of sale stands with pictures of old Luke Skywalker surrounding a game that has nothing to do with him.

 

– You may be able to fly independently between different planets to instigate battles.

Who wanted this and why would it ever be considered important? Shooters are about maps – discrete, memorizable playing zones. Unless the areas are procedurally generated, won’t it be a little off-putting to ‘travel to Endor’ and land in the same spawn point, in the same unchanging stretch of forest?

The hope is that this isn’t so much a feature as it is an elaborate menu option. The worst-case scenario is that DICE may be trying to infuse MMO concepts into Battlefront. That worked out really well for Destiny.

 

– No Jedi maps.

Maybe these power trips from Battlefront 2 were completely unbalanced; maybe being able to play as a Jedi/Sith in a normal match absolutely broke the game; maybe their AI was just embarrassing.

Now look me straight in the eye and tell me they weren’t a fucking blast.

 

Now compare all of these disheartening bullets with this pre-alpha footage that was recently leaked:

 

Or how about this one:

 

Third person view! Playable Jedi’s! Broken physics!

I have no direct proof, but I suspect that many many Battlefront fans would love to play this game. What does it mean when the abandoned game plan, led by a corrupt/inept director, now looks more appealing than the recent, optimism-fueled demos?

In short, the prediction is that Battlefront will be less ambitious, represent a fraction of the features, and overall fail to capture the wacky fun of its immediate predecessor.

DICE’s experience with dynamic battlefields is a great resume bullet, but they also weren’t able to release stable builds of Battlefield 4 that took advantage of this technology. With no material tie in to the new movie, this game (no matter how good) will immediately give way to Battlefront 2 a year later, with playable maps from The Force Awakens.

Knowing Disney and DICE, I’d wager that 75% of these awful predictions end up coming true. But really only 20% need to happen in order to ruin the game – too bad I’ll play it anyways.

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