Can Star Wars Battlefront DLC Bring Balance Back to the Franchise?
On November 17, the wait was over. Star Wars fans, eager for the next installment of the Star Wars movie franchise, were able to whet their collective whistles on a Star Wars game that would once and for all determine which side of the Force was more powerful. Star Wars Battlefront was received with a significant amount of fanfare, and with good reason. The latest installment in a series of first- and third-person shooters, Star Wars Battlefront was marketed as the most realistic and immersive experience to date for the franchise. Further, the gameplay graphics engine was advertised (fairly effectively, no less) as equivalent to the cinematic cutscenes found in many games. However, fans seem less than satisfied and many are waiting to see if Star Wars Battlefront DLC will save the franchise.
Released for PC, Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s XBox One, the game reached a wide range of Star Wars fans and those looking to simply fill the somewhat empty void of new content on the 4th generation consoles. However, many critics and fans soon found the game as sour as the inside of a dead Tauntaun. On Metacritic, the picture isn’t pretty. For Playstation 4, player averages sit at a 4.9. While painfully low, this is a high number when compared to the 4.4 from XBox One users and the extremely embarrassing 3.4 from PC users. Despite the excitement, many users were left feeling as if the game’s transfer from LucasArts to EA Dice has left the franchise unfavorably courting the dark side.
Although critics have rated the game as a fairly solid “C”, it’s hard to find regular players who are even that positive about the game. Complaints range the gamut but are fairly consistent on several different areas. The first, and likely the most damaging, is related to content.
The current iteration of the game is just one in a series of shooters dating back to 2004. The 2004 game in the franchise, Star Wars: Battlefront (if you struggle to distinguish between the two, the 2004 version has a colon separating “Star Wars” and “Battlefront”), was extremely well received. Released on Playstation 2, the 2004 iteration of the game received an average rating of 82 from critics and an average 8.7 from fans. Originally developed by Pandemic Studios and LucasArts, the game fell into EA’s hands as a result of George Lucas selling all rights to the Star Wars franchise to Disney back in 2013.
Indeed, the success of the original games in the franchise, including the follow-up PC version Star Wars: Battlefront II, are the primary reasons why Star Wars Battlefront has been given a fan shoulder colder than Hoth in winter.
Many long-time fans of the franchise point at the more immersive experience provided by Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: Battlefront II. Perusing the most popular subreddit pages for the new game (/r/StarWarsBattlefront, and /r/battlefront) is a telling experience for anyone looking for fan reactions. The consensus? There is simply not enough to do. One of the key highlights of the previous game, Star Wars: Battlefront, was in the space battles. Players could fight as a regular soldier on the ground, fight in air-to-air combat over the planets, or take that action into space. Many players looked forward to epic space battles with an upgraded graphics engine and the prospect of servers that could handle more players at a time. Instead, players were met with a lot of ground battles, limited air battles, and little more. Even when players began to speculate that perhaps space battles would be part of a Star Wars Battlefront DLC package, they were met with tweets like this one:
Players have noted (rather loudly, in fact), that the game feels as if it was launched “incomplete”. Many players of the popular Bungie game Destiny shared just such an opinion about that game at launch. Much of this points to a growing trend among game developers to launch games that are “DLC-ready”, wherein the game has a limited amount of content, but much more content in development that is released periodically. And, of course, for more “galactic credits.”
While a lack of content takes up the majority of player complaints, there are some smaller, albeit significant issues that continue to arise from the playerbase. One specifically deals with the in-game option to play as helmetless storm troopers. While on the surface the idea may seem interesting, hardcore fans have noted that this does not align correctly with Star Wars lore. It also did not take long for players to realize that the head options on the storm troopers were mere copies of those available for the Rebel fighters. A consistent grumbling about lazy game development, unfortunately, adds to the burgeoning din of complaints about the game.
Meanwhile, at the galactic edges of player vexation, complaints about the game’s story mission are typical. The game comes bundled with a smattering of single-player options, yet these are a far cry from the type of options players had in previous games. Single-player missions feel much more like training missions, there only to help players prepare for the online gaming portion, which takes a greater emphasis. Instead of telling the story of the epic battles that take place in the Star Wars universe from episodes IV, V and VI, the single player missions launch quickly, end quickly, and left many fans feeling more than a bit miffed. Though some fans hold out hope for a Star Wars Battlefront DLC that will include a single player campaign.
The playerbase was significantly taken aback when EA revealed that the new and upcoming Star Wars movies will not be featured in the game. Despite the near-concurrent release of the game and the movie, this even includes Episode VII. Yes, the game includes a (free) DLC that puts Jakku on the center stage. Yet players were soon left disappointed when @EAStarWars tweeted this to one fan: “Our team is focusing on the original trilogy for this release of Star Wars Battlefront.” Many players were expecting a game that continued to story, progressing with Episode 7 and beyond. It took one small tweet for players to feel a strong disturbance in the Force.
There are other issues that many players have with the game. Some complain that the grind feels pointless past a certain level, as there is not much to gain from it other than a few character skins. All weapon and buff upgrades can be gained by the time one reaches level 30, yet the last character skins are unobtainable until level 50. Others complain that certain weapons in the game (we’re looking at you, DL-44), are more powerful than their stats would indicate. There are even some players who point to some power-ups, such as the much-sought-after hero power-ups, as painfully rarer than a Togruta with four lekku.
Still, the game stands alone as one of the most satisfying games on the next gen consoles and PC–if, of course, all you’re trying to do is have something pretty to look at. The game was advertised heavily for its graphics, and it has met player satisfaction on that end. Yet graphics alone are not enough to satisfy a fan base hungry to live immerse themselves in the world originally envisioned by George Lucas decades ago. EA and Dice have many Star Wars Battlefront DLC packs planned for the coming year. These may help the developers recover some of the luster lost after the original launch back in November. Yet many players’ disappointment comes from the overall direction that the developers have decided to take. In the end, all the Star Wars Battlefront DLC in the galaxy may not be enough to bring balance to the Force.