Star Wars Battlefront Review: A Donut of Sound and Fury

There was no game releasing in 2015 I was more excited about than Star Wars Battlefront. The trailers looked amazing, it was built on solid and known hardware, and really, how do you screw up a Star Wars game where you get to attack AT-ATs on Hoth?


There’s nothing wrong with SWB per se. In that there’s nothing broken (shocker) or that doesn’t work. There’s no one feature I can point to and say “see, this is what’s wrong.” No, the game works exactly as the designers made it.

Instead, there are a lot of little things that all add up for an experience that, after a short time, feels empty and, this pains me to say it, unfulfilling. It’s a donut.

At first though, damn it’s got flash. The maps are gorgeous. Iconic locations like Hoth, Tatooine, and Endor’s forest moon look incredible. Playing the game looks exactly like the trailer. DICE’s Frostbite engine never ceases to impress, not least for it’s beauty, but also ability to look good and run well on less-than-awesome PCs.

And the Walker Assault mode is easily the best aspect of the game and brilliantly done. They’re like walking bomb countdown timers, clicking away and adding tension to the action.

But despite being developed by DICE, SWB doesn’t feel like a Battlefield game. It feels and plays far more like a Call of Duty game. The action is fast and furious, and there’s little to no downtime. Stand still for more than a few seconds, and you’ll be killed.

Actually, you’re going to get killed a lot. Soldiers are not very resilient, a few shots are enough to take you out.

None of that is bad. Personally I prefer the slower pace and huge maps of Battlefield over the frenetic pace of CoD (I honed my chops on Counter-Strike and grew bored with it). But there’s nothing wrong with a solid action game.

This is where SWB starts to seem bland, after the sugar high. In modern Battlefield games there’s multiple classes (soldier, sniper, support, etc) and a bazillion weapon unlocks (probably too many) to allow you to customize and fine tune your playstyle.

That has all been extremely simplified. There are no classes, only a few dozen different weapons, and a few assorted powerups that sort of let you assume a different role in the game. It’s dumbed down, and I get that, I get they want this to appeal to a wide audience, but in so doing, it lacks the depth that makes Battlefield games something playable long term.

And then there’s the maps, or lack thereof. Some play modes have a few more, but generally there are only a handful of maps (Walker Assault, for example, has 4). Perhaps most disappointing, there are no space ship assault modes like Battlefront II.

And lastly, there’s no story mode, which certainly wasn’t expected (it’s DICE), but given how long it’s been since there’s been a good FPS Star Wars game, it would have been welcome.

Like I said, there’s no one thing wrong with SWB, just a lot of little disappointing things that add up. Will it get better with DLCs later on? Probably, and thanks for that, DICE.

So is Star Wars Battlefront a bad game? No. But it’s telling that after a few hours of playing it, I got bored and went back to Fallout 4. Dogmeat didn’t seem to miss me.

David Vaughn's picture
Geoffrey, I downloaded the demo and after 3 days was completely bored of the game and didn't even bother to buy it. The itch I had got scratched in short order and my desire to play the game went away (my son felt the same way). He's more interested in getting Fallout 4 for Christmas versus Star Wars. It's too bad...there was so much potential. I wish they would release a new space sim similar to X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter...that game was ahead of its time but was handicapped by slow Internet speeds. The same couldn't be said today though...please Disney, make a good game!
Geoffrey Morrison's picture
Oooo, a new X-Wing vs Tie Fighter would be awesome. I loved X-Wing Alliance, flawed as it was.

Maybe we'll get to scratch that itch that in Star Citizen... whenever it might come out.