Much like the colossal marketing campaign leading up to the release Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the hype surrounding Star Wars Battlefront isn’t so much about the quality of the game itself as it is its ability to give Star Wars fans what they want. Its success is tied more to delivering on this experience than it is becoming a lasting staple of the online multiplayer shooter space. A stark contrast from a lot of other holiday season releases, Star Wars Battlefront doesn’t have to worry all that much about complex class progression systems or finely-tuned map balance, it just has to immerse players in the fantasy of inhabiting the Star Wars universe.
Like last year’s Alien: Isolation, it feels like a lot of the choices in the design and presentation of the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront don’t look to have been made in the pursuit of crafting the most fun and well-conceived multiplayer experience. Rather, the game looks to be conceding potential on these fronts in order to try and deliver what it envisions as the most authentic Star Wars experience available. To be clear, this doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad game – but if comes down to making the best game possible and the most ‘Star Wars’ game possible, it’s the latter that that EA and DICE are aiming for.
All it takes is a glance at the pre-release marketing campaign behind the game to see how committed EA and DICE are to this endeavor. You didn’t see DICE using high-end photogrammetry to recreate tanks in Battlefield or environments in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Same story when it comes to the sound effects in the game. DICE have a their penchant for stellar sound design and EA seems delighted to leverage this when it comes to selling the game as genuine to Star Wars fans – and it’s working wonders for the game’s reputation already. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain aside, there are few games this year that can come close to Star Wars Battlefront’s almost-absurd level of commitment to the bit.
Previous Battlefront games included dozens of different maps but, if the recent beta was any indication, the new Star Wars Battlefront is set to favor quality over quantity. It seems less interested in offering fans the chance to experience every part of the Star Wars universe and more interested in letting them experience the most iconic moments and locations in the highest possible fidelity.
However, this shifting of the franchises’ priorities isn’t without its skeptics. There are plenty of Battlefront fans who loved the original games not just because they were good Star Wars game and because they were straight-up great games that offered huge amounts of multiplayer content. From what we’ve seen so far, maps in the new Battlefront aren’t designed to present players with interesting strategic objectives and possibilities – they’re designed to make traversing the most cinematic experience possible for Star Wars fans.
At the end of the day, all this is fine. DICE and EA’s are making the game they want to me – it just may not be the game that some long-time Battlefront fans hope it will be. In any case, it’ll be interesting to see if the game’s reliance on tapping into the cultural momentum around Star Wars affects its staying power in the multiplayer gaming space.