Fans of sci-fi video games have been waiting for a new Star Wars Battlefront ever since the outstanding previous instalment in the series, Battlefront 2, was released all the way back in 2005. For loyal followers of the franchise this previous title feels like it deployed "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" [Really? – Ed] – but finally, after ten years of waiting, a fresh entry is almost in reach. Indeed, ahead of the beta launching later this week, we managed to get some hands-on time with the title, playing a few rounds of two-player co-op and 20-versus-20 multiplayer.
The outstanding presentation makes for a very authentic and immersive experience
In co-op, we were whisked away to Tatooine, where we were tasked with surviving against six waves of hostile Storm Troopers that were both jet packing and marching on our position. To combat these armoured antagonists we were equipped with laser guns and special ability cards, both of which have cooldown times; the guns overheat if you're not careful, while the cards are re-enabled after a short period to prevent excessive use. These special ability cards come in a variety of different types: grenades, boost jumps, personal shields, and more. You can select which ones you want to use before a battle begins.
During the mission, we came across mini-objectives, like defending a large beacon for a short period of time. This adds some variety to the AI slaying, forcing you to work together in a more confined space. As your lives are shared, it's imperative that you communicate in order to succeed – you won't get very far if you wander off and eat up all of your team's lives. This is particularly true during the last wave, as an AT-ST encroached on our position, and we were forced to use rocks and caves to avoid it. At heart, it's still horde mode, but DICE has done just enough to mix things up and make this co-op staple feel fresh.
The same is true of multiplayer. We rushed into a 20-versus-20 battle on Hoth, where the Rebels had to capture and defend uplink stations in order for their team to launch air support. On the Dark Side, however, we were tasked with keeping our AT-ATs intact in order to prevent the Rebels from gaining the advantage. The action is very Battlefield-esque, with massive, open maps enabling a host of events to happen simultaneously. This scale can be overwhelming at times, though, and does require a little adjustment.
One thing that takes no time at all to appreciate, however, is the quality of the presentation. The sounds of the X-Wings and TIE Fighters flying overhead, mixed with the constant 'pew' of the laser guns makes for a very authentic and immersive experience. The visuals are similarly stunning on the PlayStation 4, with some very nostalgic settings that are sure to make fans of the series hyperventilate.
It's all shaping up nicely, then, with solid gameplay and great attention to detail. It just remains to be seen whether the novelty of these intergalactic battles will be enough to keep fans coming back again and again.
Will you be giving the Star Wars Battlefront beta a try this week? Is your lightsaber already extended in anticipation for the title's November launch? Feel the force in the comments section below.