Charging up an undulating snowy landscape, laser blasts burst past me. I duck behind a rock. Reload. Lean out. Fire. There’s a thudding behind me. A colossal AT-AT stamps its towering legs into the ground, trudging ever forwards, heading towards the Rebel base. I aim my blaster rifle, target two Rebels below who are on an intercom calling in a Y-Wing strike force to down our AT-ATs. I fire. They yell out. My army of snow-troopers and AT-AT charge ever onward.
This is Star Wars: Battlefront; the most accurate recreation of the Battle of Hoth ever.
It’s one of the games of E3 that truly blew my mind. I’ve been a diehard Star Wars fan for thirty years, like most of us, so getting to witness this recreation of one of my favourite scenes was an absolute thrill.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens inbound the Star Wars universe is beyond hype right now. It’s the excitement of Star Wars 7 that has fuelled most of Star Wars: Battlefront’s promotions up to now. Teasers and trailers were scarce until recently. But now it’s clear that EA DICE has been putting in some serious effort to make Star Wars: Battlefront the best Star Wars game of all time (and boy has it got some competition).
At E3 EA finally gave us all the opportunity to play Star Wars: Battlefront and to take on the Hoth multiplayer campaign. The level is a tower defence game with one group playing the Rebel Alliance and trying to protect their base and the other group playing The Empire and trying to blow it up.
The trailer released earlier this week made Star Wars: Battlefront seem overly chaotic, with troops and ships literally all over the place. All the emphasis was being placed on visuals too, which naturally leads you to question just how good the gameplay is. But having played the game now, it’s beyond obvious that Star Wars: Battlefront is a masterfully executed first person shooter that you can get to grips with very easily and quickly.
It’s understandable why EA DICE would want to make the game so accessible. The release of The Force Awakens is bound to create hordes of new Star Wars fans, many of whom won’t be hardcore gamers. By making Battlefront accessible EA DICE are broadening their potential market audience. It’s a smart move. But it’s also a move that will have many seasoned FPS gamers raising their eyebrows. Most games that please newcomers don’t please hardcore gamers. But don’t worry, from what I’ve seen of Star Wars: Battlefront it look set to please both FPS vets and newcomers alike.
Of course, it’s the Star Wars fans themselves who’ll be most pleased with EA’s progress. EA DICE has gud through Lucasfilm’s archives to find photographs and models for weapons, landscapes, and vehicles. The end result is a truly faithful recreation of the Star Wars Universe. It’s like stepping right into the snow-boots of Wedge Antilles and taking on the Empire all by yourself. It truly puts you into the heart of the Star Wars action.
One of the best parts of Star Wars was always John Williams’ scintillating soundtrack and the sound design work of Ben Burtt and co. EA DICE has ensured that your ears will fall in love with Battlefront as much as they fell in love with the original movie trilogy.
Star Wars: Battlefront’s score is taken from John Williams’ and it suits the gameplay to a tea. I felt my heartbeat raise as I took on a swarm of Rebels and heard Williams’ score roaring in my ear and the laser blasts and creaking of the AT-ATs surrounding me.
Being a novelist myself I’m particularly keen on multiplayer games that have a sense of narrative immersion and emotional appeal, which just so happens to be yet another thing EA DICE get right. I felt a real connection to my team and very quickly became completely immersed in the Star Wars universe. This wasn’t just raw skills and tactics, it was a deeper, emotional immersion.
Because of the emotional immersion of the multiplayer I completely understand DICE’s decision to not include a single-player campaign. Single players are usually there for the story, but Star Wars: Battlefront puts the story in the multiplayer. Of course it is helped by the fact that we all have a connection to the Star Wars universe already, and we all understand the narrative importance of that Hoth scene.
I’ve only played Star Wars: Battlefront for a brief while, but it’s already clear that there’s a ton of content here even in just the Hoth level. With 40 different multiplayer battles, there’s going to be a vast amount of exploration to partake in. The ability to play as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett and kin is just the icing on top of an already delectable cake.