Of all the games we knew about before E3 2015 kicked off this week, Star Wars Battlefront might have had the highest profile. Few other games have the pedigree and history of the Battlefront series, fading away before its time with an ambitious third entry canceled before Pandemic Studios could ship it.
After years of silence, Battlefield developer DICE decided to take up the mantle and reboot the series itself. It was one of the biggest reveals of E3 2013, and two years later, I’ve finally had a chance to play it.
From the screenshots and videos, you can probably tell that the worlds of Star Wars are well-served by the Frostbite 3 engine. This game is stunning — during my demo, I battled on one of the most compelling representations of Hoth I’ve ever seen in any format. Even the videos don’t do it justice (but here’s one to watch anyway).
That said, I found myself losing interest before a single round had ended.
Battlefront is a prime example of a series that was completely of its time. A few years after the original Battlefront launched, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare stormed on to the scene and redefined the genre. Our expectations for shooters shifted drastically, as did the expectations of the publishers who saw the success of Activision’s online FPS.
The new Battlefront is surprisingly faithful to the original games, and although this is what the fans were clamoring for (myself included), I can’t help but think we may have shot ourselves in the foot by forcing DICE into a corner. What I played can best be described as an HD remaster of a 10-year-old game without the necessary updates to make it a competitive product in 2015.
Jumping into the 40-player match as an Imperial, I was immediately picked off by an opponent from across the map before I could get my bearings. This was a running theme throughout the round — spawn, chip away at the health of a few rebels and get sniped without having a chance to react.
That’s not to say I didn’t have any fun. Running around with 19 other soldiers, storming uplinks and lobbing grenades brought me right back to my countless Battlefront sessions on PS2, but it was almost too simple, too dated.
As with any E3 demo, there was no way to get a feel for the full scale of the game in 30 minutes, especially in the case of an online shooter with characters classes, maps, modes and vehicles that I didn’t have an opportunity to see. I’ll reserve judgment until the game launches later this year, but I’m much more cautiously optimistic than I was a week ago.
Star Wars Battlefront will be available this November on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
For more coverage of E3, be sure to visit our E3 2015 event hub! We’ll have previews and more going live on the site all week long.