Battlefront is the simplest first-person shooter I’ve played in years – it feels like a throwback to the classic Xbox and PS2 FPS titles I grew up playing – but the game’s simplicity is exactly why I enjoy it so much. What some feel is lazy, rushed game development, or an effort to push Battlefront out the door before it was ready to coincide with the theatrical release of The Force Awakens, has resulted in best casual first-person shooter I’ve ever played.
When defending my fondness for Battlefront to friends, I often find it difficult to explain why the game is so much fun, especially considering most of the complaints surrounding EA’s Star Wars first-person shooter are accurate.
It’s true, Battlefront doesn’t include enough map variety; it lacks a full-fledged single player campaign, and features an astoundingly expensive $59.99 DLC Season’s Pass (on top of the game’s $79.99 CAD cost). If you’re interested in Force Awakens-related content (and who isn’t?), purchasing this additional DLC pack is almost a necessity.
Yet I’m having more fun with Battlefront than I’ve had with a first-person shooter in years, and it wasn’t until I read The Verge senior editor Chris Plante’s Star Wars Battlefront is the dad rock of video games that I began to realize why. I understand Battlefront offers players a flawed experience, yet I keep coming back to the game. Now I know why.
As I’ve gotten older, adult life’s responsibilities have gotten in the way of gaming, and I have less free time on my hands for pixelated carnage than I did a few years ago. This means that when I do sit down to play video games, I actually want to just play the game. I frequently find messing around with character creation systems and tweaking custom load-outs a waste of my valuable gaming time. Unsurprisingly, avoiding six-year-olds incessantly calling me a “n00b” is a key part of achieving this goal.
Here’s how I slowly realized Battlefront is the perfect first-person shooter for me. Halo 5’s multiplayer was fun for a few weeks (let’s just try to forget its lacklustre single player campaign), but without a squad of friends to play with, as much as it pains me to say it, Halo 5’s focus on competitive FPS gameplay isn;t that much fun.
In order for me to hold my own in the game, I need to spend at least an hour a day playing, and if I don’t, I just can’t compete. At least for me, a positive kill-to-death ratio in competitive first-person shooters requires practice and repetition, which means stepping away from Halo 5 for multiple weeks at a time results in needing to relearn the fundamentals, and not having much fun in the process.
This is where Battlefront excels. My first few matches of the game’s beta were filled with a sense of elation; the game really does make you feel like you’re inside a scene straight out of a Star Wars film. Like many people, I was wowed by the impressive spectacle of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader duking it out with Lightsabers in the middle of an explosion filled battle on Hoth. The sound engineering is also undeniably impressive, complete with John Williams-style orchestral flourishes at the height of battle.
Many of the issues that initially turned me off about Battlefront eventually evolved into why I enjoy the game so much. Why does every gun have the ability to hit a target from any distance? And why is the game paced so slowly? It was about two hours into my time with it when things finally clicked: this is a first person shooter for everyone, and DICE, the EA development studio that spearheaded its development, has designed the game with this wide audience in mind.
Battlefront has been designed to be accessible, and that’s exactly why it’s the FPS game I’ve been waiting for. I can pick the game up for 10 or 15 minutes, jump into a few enormous 40-player Supremacy matches, or maybe a Fighter Squadron session – flying Battlefront’s unwieldy ships remains one of my biggest issues with the game – and then set the title down again. I don’t have to worry about a complicated upgrade system filled with perks and armour upgrades like what is featured in Call of Duty Black Ops III or other modern first person shooters. Battlefront is the best kind of a throwback: it’s a return to simplicity.
A basic system is present in the game for those interested in tweaking their Rebel’s or Stormtrooper’s aesthetic, as well as unlocking new weapons and basic abilities. But it’s the “three card” upgrade setup that keeps things simple for players like me who just want to destroy Rebel scum and not bw bogged down in complicated menus and upgrades.
Star Cards that give the player physical abilities like jetpacks and the Bowcaster, Chewbacca’s signature weapon, are unlocked by levelling up, as are new weapons and upgrades. While there are subtle differences between the A280C blaster and the E-11 blaster, the key here is the discrepancy between the two firearms is so slight, neither gives players a significant advantage.
Selecting a weapon in Battlefront comes down to map size as well as the player’s particular play style. Balancing things out even further, unlike most first-person shooters, power-up cards are distributed across the game map, resulting in these temporary upgrades being fair game for all players and not just that guy who is a level 50 camping in the corner of the Battle of Jakku raking in cheap kills.
Battlefront is overpriced and flawed, but it’s also a spectacular amount of fun for a wide variety of players. Ultimately, Battlefront is a throwback to a simpler time when first-person shooters were more about taking down foes than upgrading your character.
In short, I’ve become a filthy casual first-person shooter player, and I’m totally fine with that.
Star Wars Battlefront is available on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Testing for this game was done on an Xbox One console.