Long ago, our Star Wars Battlefront augury saw all the markings of a big budget belly flop.  We don’t need to rehash every last detail, but here’s a brief on every predicted problem:

Rushed development cycle of less than two years True but not totally damning.  This brutish fact reared its ugly head in terms of lack of content, but the game certainly has polish.
 

No Clone Wars maps or units

 

Nope.  Just as suckey as predicted.

 

No cross pollination of Clone and original maps/units

 

Ha.  See above.

 

Shitty maps in general

 

Yes and no.  There are a couple gems in there.

 

No The Force Awakens content

 

Of course not.  Although really the only good map would have been The Battle of Takodana.

 

The useless contrivance of flying between different maps

 

Thankfully no – this would have only highlighted the lack of content.

 

No Jedi-only maps

 

Airball.  Maybe this isn’t a tragedy, but really?  How hard would this have been to throw in there?

 

No third person view

 

Not so, and thank god.  I wouldn’t acknowledge this game’s existence otherwise

Not a great report card to come home with.  Maybe it was dramatic to suggest that only a couple of these black eyes would force a full on failure.  But there’s no question this game telegraphed its shortcomings years ago.  The result is a widely acknowledged dud – the committee has already spoken on the lack of content, but this game faces more existential problems as well.

I don't even want to fly X-Wings if I can't toggle the fannable wings.

I don’t even want to fly X-Wings if I can’t toggle the fannable wings.

 

Battlefront is littered with all manner of depressing design decisions.  Of course micro-transactions are here (it’s EA remember?)  But the card system – where disposable abilities provide a temporary boost – is just tasteless.  It’s the classic ‘you’re missing the point’ moment we all feared.  This game should have been all about unencumbered glee, shirking the kind of useless baggage that accompanies most shooters nowadays.

Instead it's the equivalent of Micheal Scott's Halloween costume.

Instead it’s the equivalent of Micheal Scott’s Halloween costume.

Incredibly, Battlefront shrugs at the PS4’s unlocked 7th core and fails to make their AI opponents more than walking meat bags. This is even more confounding given it’s pedigree and lack of maps.  Ask any MMO: the best way to hide deficiencies in content is to re-purpose it. Adding a deep AI game and the mission types that come with them would have gone a long way towards making a measly 10 zones easier to swallow.

The armaments that comprise each category of blasters are nigh-indistinguishable from one another, and there is no off-the-wall set of weaponry that players can conventionally access. Where is the rocket launcher that, for whatever reason, fires two rockets at once? Who’s idea was it to name every weapon a series of letters and numbers? How is it possible that there are reddit articles entitled “DLT-19 or DL-44”?

 

What?

What?

Despite all that there are positives.  From one perspective, Battlefront is a bad game gifted with so much charisma and vitality that it overcomes its own obnoxious stupidity to ensure a baseline level of amusement. You can cut that a couple ways.  Something akin to Ben Kuchera’s thoughts – mostly fun without being commendable. Or Nick Robinson’s assessment of an endearing retro experience totally unaware of the genre’s quality of the life advancements made since 2002.  That’s a semi-positive outlook, right?

But now reflect on all of the cultural cache depleted in the making of this dumb mutt of a game. All of the pre-ordained sound design and art direction marshaled in the Name of Star Wars.  All of the presumed meetings and endless Disney blessings required to get a game like this off the ground.

Consider the phenomenal opportunity squandered here.  In a year where the Call of Duty du jour was more irrelevant than ever, this should have been the new standard bearer to steer the genre in a fresh direction.  Not even close.

DICE never seemed to grasp that the original games were not simply Star Wars flavored shooters. They, like the original Battlefield games, are sandbox games first and foremost.  They are ludicrous power trips.  They are vehicles for wreaking havoc on logic itself.

Previous Battlefronts played fast and loose with the Star Wars license in a way no other games have. If ever it was in doubt, this game proves that DICE has no impetus to inject levity into their games anymore. What a shame.

PS:

What’s even more depressing? All signs point to the inevitable Battlefront II not even trying to address any of these problems. Recent “leaks” have made it clear that one of the two big poster cover addition will be space battles. Which is perfect. Because there aren’t enough half-baked, arcadey Star Wars flight sims to hold us over until X-Wing vs Tie Fighter 2 never gets released.

The other big upgrade will be maps and units tied into the current trilogy, featuring The Order and old man Han. In a game completely bereft of narrative, there couldn’t be a more meaningless improvement.  The newer movie’s style is already symmetrical to the original trilogy; the starships and blasters and storm trooper armor are near identical.  90% of this addition will be handled as new skins.

What a disappointment.

 

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