E3 2015 Day 3 Recap Pt 1 – SW Battlefront, BattleCry, Bierzerkers, and Torchlight Mobile!
Electronic Arts Digital Illusions CE
Star Wars Battlefront
During this year’s E3 Jamesbl0nde and I (Zelus) had the opportunity to try out the long awaited installment in the Star Wars Battlefront series. It’s been 10 years since the last Battlefront game, and at least a couple years since either of us have played one, but man, it’s good to be back.
“Whoops – wrong turn.”
On the show floor JamesBl0nde and I took on The Empire in the co-op “survival mode” on Tatooine, a wave-based gameplay mode that’s similar to the horde gameplay modes seen in other multiplayer games. Even though we are primarily PC gamers, playing splitscreen on a PlayStation 4 was a pleasant experience. We found the framerate was decent, and we could verbally coordinate over the noise of the booths around us. While playing, small side objectives and goals like retrieving weapons and plans or protecting a key point kept the gameplay varied between and during rounds. During our holdout, we faced tons of Stormtroopers, Shock Troopers, and ATSTs (which were surprisingly weak to blaster fire). We hope that the variety of side objectives we saw also appear in other game modes, and that they are randomized or differ between map sessions. Survival mode feels like an appropriate addition to the existing ticket and assault modes in Battlefront series, and we wonder how many different scenarios are going to be available when the game launches.
The ground controls in the new Battlefront are largely unchanged from the previous games. Sprinting is taken right out of Gears of War, with camera shaking and all (I’m not a fan), but hey, don’t fix what ain’t broken for other 3rd person shooters. Jetpacks on the basic Republic infantry soldier last juuuust enough to make them a viable movement mechanic to the next level of highground and a balanced escape mechanism. The active reloading mechanic on blaster rifles is a nice addition to the game; both Jamesbl0nde and I thought this little test of your twitch skill in the middle of a intense fire fight was a solid addition. The cooldowns on the jetpacks and blaster heatups felt well timed while the movement felt weightier compared to the previous games. Unlike in the previous games, it’s not as easy or very viable to pivot, sprint, or strafe in and out of cover rapidly but this is probably a good thing for online balance. Though the real reason is probably a result of the game being made in the Frostbite 3 Engine on top of the Battlefield framework instead of in the Zero Engine on top of an existing Battlefront game.
“PEW PEW PEW.”
In person, the new Battlefront is not up to the visual expectations set by the in-engine trailer shown earlier this year (of course, right?) but it still looks damn nice. It would be great if the textures and geometry along the cliff walls of Tatooine map had a little more depth to them and actually made sense (giant pointy rocks sticking out of smooth surfaces don’t need to be everywhere), but the specular mapping and post processing effects were perfectly on point. Blaster fire impact effects look exactly like the movies, and the twin suns of Tatooine made for some intense reflections off of polished rock and debris strewn about the play area.
In-game animations looked great, especially the ones used by Stormtroopers recoiling and wincing from fire and explosions. We’re unsure if enemies are hitstunned by blaster fire or grenades during their recoil animations; we think this will be worth investigating for balance reasons in the future. What I’m not a fan of the HUD; the healthbar and “cards” that represent weapon and ability bindings clash with the aesthetic of the menus and the in-game graphics style.
“Can’t wait to activate the tow cable myself.”
So far, Battlefront feels a lot with a few tweaks and changes. The gameplay and objectives are still simple, but that’s what made Battlefront 1 and 2 so easy to get into. We have a bunch of questions left unanswered from our time with Battlefront, like whether or not new planets from Star Wars: The Old Republic (ie. Zakuul) will make an appearance in the game, but it seems that DICE have a good handle on what they’re doing. Although the name of the game follows one of the latest in annoying gaming trends and we didn’t have the chance to touch any of the vehicle or air-to-air combat, let it be known that it the ground-based gameplay is looking real solid and the demo is a lot of fun. So much so that our sales guy went back for three more rounds. We’re really looking forward to Battlefront’s release this November.
If you haven’t already checked out the gameplay footage from the map that JamesBl0nde and I played, you can view it here.
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