EA and DICE ran a four day beta test across all platforms (PC, PS4, XB1) for their upcoming multiplayer-focused shooter Star Wars Battlefront this past weekend, starting on October 8 and running through October 12 (meaning if you are reading this the day that it was published, you may still have the briefest of times to try it out).
Having given it a whirl on the PS4, here are the 5 Things we learned about Battlefront from its' Beta/Demo:
1) It is absolutely gorgeous
Truth be told, this was expected, based on the trailers that have been released, but it is never something you can completely trust into you get hands on with the game; but it looks amazing. While there are only a couple of maps available, and one of them is a pretty grey and brown rock Sullust, it is in the 20 v. 20 multiplayer map of the assault on Echo Base (Hoth...Empire Strikes Back) where Battlefront literally sparkles.
The snow and ice of Hoth looks spectacular in the light, the weapons, the character models, the AT-AT's, the explosions, the TIE Fighters...everything looks as good as we could have hoped for in the Beta, based off of what was expected from the trailers. If this is the visual fidelity that we are going to be graced with for the entire game, then it is going to be the best looking Star Wars game we have ever seen.
2) The servers seem OK...
Over the course of the Beta, I personally had very few problems with the servers, and had very small wait times to get into a battle. Now admittedly, we cannot be sure that they are going to hold up when the game is released in November, if there is a massive burst/push of players all at once, however this first stress test went superbly (on my end).
3)..But matchmaking wasn't spectacular
My first foray into Battlefront was a mission called 'Drop Zone' on Sullust. I had read a few tips and tricks from various sites I appreciate, and decided to jump right in. I then spent the better part of an hour fighting against people who had presumably been playing the Beta since the microsecond it had been released, and had already unlocked better guns, thermal detonators (you know, Star Wars grenades), and a few who had personal shields.
I died. A lot. To the point of starting to think that this really was not a game that was for me (being not much of a multiplayer FPS player to begin with, just a massive Star Wars fan), but sticking with it, and grinding out some 4 kill 15 death rounds, I eventually unlocked enough things to get moving, and got into the ridiculously fun Hoth mission.
Hopefully, when the game launches fully, multiplayer rank will be taken into matchmaking account, or this game will not survive after its' first few weeks, as no one would be able to start playing it without the inevitable frustration of consistent dying stopping them in their tracks.
4) Flying the ships is NOT intuitive
I flew everything I could get my hands on: A-Wings, TIE Fighters, TIE Interceptors, T-47 Snowspeeders, X-Wings, and each and every one of them has the same basic control scheme, and a whole lot of weird. The left stick controls speed (I know...it is as silly as it sounds at first, but you adapt) while the right controls movement (mostly) and evasive maneuvers (which you will need, because there are missiles) are programmed to the d-pad...but if you accidentally hit down on the d-pad: BAM you are in the cockpit view (or back to third person).
And do not ask me how to fire the harpoon from the Snowspeeder...I think it popped up once when I was trying to take down an AT-AT right before I was gunned down by...something. According to the game, I was literally killed by a blank space.
Now AT-ST's and AT-AT's are fine (heck, AT-ST's can even "sprint"), and everything there makes sense...but those flying machines...man...do not expect to be good at those for a while.
5) It is very fun, despite the few weird bits.
At the end of the day, if this is what the game turns out to be, it is very fun. The shooting feels fine; if the old adage about stormtroopers not being able to hit anything is a piece of movie accuracy is something that you were looking for, it is here in spades. The Hoth mission is spectacular...and do not believe what you have been reading at a few other outlets that I have come across: the rebels, while they have a hard time fighting (what in the movie is a lost battle), they have won. More than once I have been on one side or the other of a Rebel win.
If there is one thing that is holding me back from declaring this as a must own game (or for it to be a pre-ordered game for myself) it is the mystery that is single player content. Classic Battlefront games were ones that I loved playing on my own (or on the couch with a friend) with mission based combat, or the galactic conquest function where you had to fight map to map to win the galactic war for one side or the other (from Battlefront II). There is a menu for single player missions (and training and what not) which was unavailable, aside from a decent Survival style mission.
Look, with Star Wars Battlefront, it makes sense that it would be a game centered on large scale, multiplayer battles (because in the end, it is essentially what Battlefront has always been about), but for it to make my collection (and at full retail price), the single player is going to need to offer me something that has replay value. I will definitely play the multiplayer battles, as in the Beta, Hoth was a blast, but if single player is sparse to the point of not worth it...then Battlefront, despite how fun the Beta is, would end up on my 'get it on sale' pile. That is if the matchmaking is OK, as the idea of spending a few days getting to where your soldiers are not gunned down by jetpack wearing snipers with giant grenades. If multiplayer shooters are your thing though, and you are at all interested in Star Wars, then I think the Beta has proven that Battlefront is a must own.
Oh, and watch out for jerks on your own side shooting you in the back when you are Darth Vader. That was my first (thankfully though, not my last) hero experience.