Shh! Before you say anything, I think you should click the link below, and all of your questions will be answered.
I hope that has more or less cleared everything up for you: shit has sucked, fuck it blah blah blah…now let’s get down to the important business at hand, here.
Let’s bitch about Star Wars. Battlefront to be precise.
A little late to the party when it comes to writing about Battlefront, but if we then consider my recent track record on providing content…
…this post represents a hell of a change of pace.
To that point, I missed the recent Battlefront reboot when it launched last November, despite being both a bigg Star Wars fan, and Battlefront enthusiast. While I am aware the first couple of games in no way represented the heights of gaming quality, they were damn fun, which makes them winners in my book. Remembering back to Battlefronts 1&2, and how much fun I did have vs how polished the games were (as in not quite at all), I must say I’m impressed. The camera and controls weren’t top notch, the graphics and gameplay weren’t mind blowing or very original, and they did indeed utilize a metric shit-ton of nostalgia to dress up a lot of these issues with a cute Star Wars facade, to make you forget about all of the flaws the material truly had.
And yet, despite all of their lackluster qualities, I spent hundreds of hours with the old Battlefront games and still remember them fondly. Which goes to show: sometimes it’s not about having all of the best elements, it’s about having enough of all of the ones that matter.
With my thoughts on the originals now known, I move my analysis to the latest entry, in the hopes of investigating the reasons why the newest Battlefront doesn’t quite seem to be “with it”. If we also take into account how many problems the original games had while still remaining extremely fun, it is clear from the start the Battlefront Reboot fights an uphill battle to victory, with us the gamers having the high ground.
As I begin my brief deconstruction of where Battlefront waivers, I find myself lacking a certain exposition on the matter. As I pointed out, the Battlefront reboot (BR) doesn’t seem to be “with it”, in a vague sense, or is lacking “it”, whatever “it” may be. While I will try to satiate your wanton curiosity of where BR went wrong, I may point out that this all powerful “it” BR lacks, may be a failing on a far larger scale than previously imagine, and unavoidable entirely.
The problematic “it” I speak of, may be due to problems at large with the industry at this point in time, or even where I am as a gamer. Keeping in mind I played the original Battlefronts over a decade ago, we then must consider that both the industry and I have aged, growing into different places at different times. To wit, I share this Simpsons quote in revealing the reason that I may not like the current iteration of Battlefront in another vague attempt to help you understand what “it” is: perhaps both Battlefront and I are just to old to be “with it”, or that the gaming industry has changed what “it” is, leaving BR and I in the proverbial cosmic dust.
I know that seems like an odd point of contention, but I did feel a bit old in critiquing the game, if not only due to asking what BR was missing, and how I perceive such irregularities…and though I articulate many points below, I always simply landed on the key element of what the reboot lacks.
And, I always come back to a simple ambiguous truth: the new Battlefront is just missing…”it”.
And you may continue to ask: What is it?
What is IT??
What IS IT???
WHAT IS IT????
…OKAY okay, I get it, “it’s” hard to describe.
Despite that, let me do my best to try to nail down what the definition of “it” is.
…you know what it means.
Now, where were we then? Aw, yes! The Battlefront Reboot (BR).
For starters, and what’s immediately apparent, is that the top menu feels rather bear, almost as if there really isn’t enough content to even make the most basic of menus look appealing. I know the designers wanted to go for a minimalist look, but that didn’t mean they had to go with a minimalist content, too. Before I even picked up the game, I read a number of complaints from both press and players about the lack of single player content, and they weren’t exaggerated.
What’s interesting is that while I agree Battlefront leaves much to be desired in terms of single player content, I do recall that the first couple of games really only had a few basic modes to choose from (campaign, conquest, instant action), so I don’t think the problem is the lack of modes, just compelling ones that kept you coming back. Though each of these modes were basic in approach, they provided a satisfyingly diverse number of ways to replay them, and awesome ways to go about winning.
Like playing as the Empire and using the DEATH STAR to blow up your opponents planets.
As if millions of bitter friends suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.
(Get rekt, Kashyyk.)
The originals didn’t have many bells and whistles to speak of in terms of single player content, but what was on offer was infinitely enjoyable and massively replayable. I did not at all get the same feeling from BR, as I was basically over what little single player content the game has in a matter of hours. This distinct difference between BR and the originals I think largely boils down to gameplay basics.
New elements introduced to the game, such as cool downs instead of replenishable ammo for almost any ability or weapon in the game feels inappropriate, and kills the pacing the originals had. The new Battlefront does away with old conventions with bad form or assumption on player demographics, forcing the player to “wait” to get the good stuff, which is a sin the reboot committed repeatedly, ad infinitum.
I was thinking the entire time you don’t even have to feel guilty about “ripping off” the old games ideas: you’re in the same family, it would be just like old times! Just reuse old ideas: it worked for Force Awakens, dammit! Look to your past and do what your predecessor would have done.
Man, is the Battlefront Reboot like the tantrum throwing Kylo Ren to the old Battlefronts swag as fuck Han Solo originals?
Following up on my point, many of the issues Battlefront has had since day one involves the dirty use of enforced wait time on the player. Want to use your cool abilities and weapons you could use almost all the time in the originals? Hold your banthas, now Want to use even the most rudimentary of gear the game has to offer to have a better chance at surviving and kicking ass? Wait it out, sonny. Want to get from point A to point B without the travel feeling as long winded as trekking through a Tatooine desert? Too bad.
While I know many other shooters now a days make you play to earn better gear, Battlefront seems to be below average on the scale of pacing the reward system appropriately. Hell, I was jonesing so much to use the cooler weapons, I would willingly go back to the stunted single player modes, so I could feel like more of a Jedi than a Jawa.
However, even die hard multiplayer fans will have to wait to get what they want, regardless of how much they want to speed up the process. Not only does the grind for a lot of the better equipment seem extensive (as compared to the almost instant gratification of cool gear in BF 1&2), one of the main tabs on the top menu is for the season pass, which includes four expansion packs, the first of which is not even out by the time of this writing (four months after the games launch day).
It’s hard to argue with many fans who have felt they were”sold an engine” as opposed to an entire game, as so much of the content is locked behind a slow grind and a wait time, that an entire portion of the game is still locked behind another $40, after the $60 they already dropped…months after the initial launch.
I can see the lack of cool gear from the get go will (and has) discouraged a lot of players, and I’ll bet the maps themselves may do something similar. A bad trend I’ve seen in recent games is making the maps “too big”, traversing them a boring and unnecessarily long process. You combine that with someone who is already frustrated at the lack of content they paid a lot for, on top of the feeling of helplessness with a lack of interesting starting arsenal, and you quickly realize having a game that constantly makes you travel a long distance, to possibly just immediately die upon final destination because a long time player has some pimp gear, would quickly become a deal breaker.
Don’t get me wrong: I did indeed have some fun playing BR-the dog fights were surprisingly engaging, and some of the game modes had me enjoying the really awesome visuals and thick Star Wars nostalgia. Playing as one of the heroes and decimating as Vader was great, defending Hoth against an oncoming AT-AT was good fun, and slaying Storm Troopers on Endor in a hectic battle was cool- it just wasn’t enough. I had reservations about buying this game at launch, not only from reviews, videos, and word of mouth mind you, but even going to E3 and playing early hands on impressions. While at the show, I had this awful feeling the whole thing felt way too hollow for it’s own good, and by the time I got to the finished product, I realized that I still hate being wrong.
I think if the game can be summed up in one important critique, it would likely be that the BR does not respect the players time. Between all of the enforced waiting, extensive grinding, and asking more and more from the player without proper incentive, this is less of a fast paced shooter and more of a slow paced action game with heavy RPG elements, taking all of the worst elements of modern day gaming, and throwing away all of the worthwhile mainstays. The Battlefront Reboot tosses aside almost every aspect of what made the originals so good with such obvious gameplay mechanics that work, in favor of cheap time grabs in the name of entitlement, which the game ultimately didn’t initially earn.
I said I’d avoid making fun of the prequels, and I’ll keep to my word. Instead, I will liken the Battlefronts to iterations of Han Solo in the original Trilogy.
In closing, what was “it” that was missing? Was BR a victim of it’s time, never fully being able to recapture what the old games were due to new industry standards and expectations? Maybe I also, was in a different place due to the passage of time, and no longer liked what is considered the modern average? Could it be, that whatever “it” was, was indeed redefined, with only those who have lived long enough able to understand the change, and still remembering fondly what “it” use to be?
You know what I think? It’s true…all of it. Ultimately, the game may have failed to recapture what the originals meant, but perhaps recreating the past was an impossible feat to begin with.
Still, at least conceptually, Battlefront lives on.
As an afterthought, in terms of ideas being passed on, it is at least important Battlefront is being paid forward.
For it is the truth that many who have lived long enough, will know quality in different ways, and perhaps what once was is best left frozen in carbonite for them, a monument to past triumphs and beautiful memories. This same symbol of a treasured past may yet represent a new hope for those curious enough to rediscover it, and may still get a glimpse of what was once cherished, and perhaps they will carry the torch to a new generation.
After all, there is no shame in celebrating what has passed, and truly appreciating what made it so great, but that also doesn’t mean there isn’t worth in what’s left to enjoy, and what may follow in it’s footsteps.
(*Art by Pierre Loyvet)