For Star Wars fans old enough to have experienced George Lucas’ original trilogy on the big screen in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the wait for something exciting has been a very long one. After Lucas botched the prequel trilogy with too much Jar Jar Binks and galactic politics and too little heart and memorable characters, Disney has enlisted sci-fi master JJ Abrams with Episode VII: The Force Awakens to right the galaxy.
Disney and Lucasfilm also inked a 10-year deal with Electronic Arts to bring brand new video games to fans beginning November 17 with Star Wars Battlefront. Developed by DICE, the EA studio behind the Battlefield games, this new take on the Star Wars Battlefront franchise will focus on the original trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) with free downloadable Battle of Jakku content on December 8 that ties into the theatrical release of Episode VII on December 17. DICE is offering gamers three ways to play the new game, which will be available on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Anyone who’s engaged in massive modern warfare in Battlefield 4 knows that DICE can deliver epic online battles. Star Wars Battlefront has been designed from the ground up for multiplayer with no campaign mode whatsoever. According to NiklasFegraeus, design director at DICE, “Up to 40 players can engage in Assault mode, while the game will also offer more concentrated battles with high-octane encounters in locations from the films.” Patrick Bach, general manager at DICE, said players can customize their own play style, freely choosing weapons, abilities, and even a third-person or first-person point of view of the action. Ultimately, Fegraeus said this gameplay experience grew from the idea of playing with Star Wars toys as kids and creating your own battle fantasies in your imagination. Now the game is serving as the virtual toy box filled with every imaginable item from the films. All you need to do is add online friends and enemies and engage in celestial warfare.
DICE promises that Star Wars Battlefront will offer epic dogfights with squadrons of X-Wings and TIE fighters, letting online gamers fight over iconic locales like the glaciers of Hoth or the canyons of Tatooine. Vehicles both on the ground and in the air will be part of the experience, including huge Imperial Walkers (AT-ATs) from Hoth and those fast speeder bikes from Endor. Some battles will allow players to fight on foot and unlock vehicles. DICE is being tight-lipped on details, but showcased an Endor gameplay battle at Star Wars Celebration that featured AT-ATs, AT-STs, speeder bikes, and even aerial bombers that the rebels called in to take out a mammoth Walker.
“We want to empower players to explore and find awesome powers like these massive shields or your own Walker or X-Wing,” said Fegraeus. “We’re also letting players unlock heroes and villains from the films, so they can become Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader for a period of time and lead their team to victory as the boss of the battle.”
While this is first and foremost a multiplayer game, the developers do want players to be able to engage in offline battle fantasies through Missions. These are crafted challenges inspired by the films that can be played solo or cooperatively online or split-screen with a friend. They’ve been designed to be highly replayable. Bach said Missions is a way for players to experience the game without having to interact with people they don’t know online and explore the game on their own or with a friend. “It’s more about your personal experience and the way you want to play the game versus the big online battles,” Bach added. In keeping with the friends theme, the game includes a Partners feature that allows two people to form a tag team. These two players will always see each other and play with each other online, as well as share unlocks. If one player is at a higher level with new weapons and abilities, he can share those with his partner and level the playing field while they’re online or offline playing together.