Like approximately 11tybillion people this weekend, I tried the Star Wars Battlefront…I’ll call it a preview, because the tags “alpha” and “beta” have been worn down like a set of tires on I have no idea because I know nothing about cars. I downloaded for PC and Xbox, but not PS4, because I was lazy I guess.
I only got as far as the PC version before I opted to give up, though. Frustration is high with this one, and by this one I mean me because let’s face it: I am my own worst enemy. I tried the solo mission, a pathetic stub of a mode right now that I’m sure EA included just so they didn’t have to throw in a tutorial, or as a way to sour you on the idea of playing against the AI. In this solo mode, you have to fight off waves of Stormtroopers, and some AT-STs eventually, while you wait for Admiral Ackbar to break free of The Trap and rescue you from your own personal Brady Bunch Grand Canyon Adventure. Overall it is a good way to get a feel for the game without the pressure of team performance, but as I’m sure the full game will reinforce, you don’t get anything from playing alone (or with friends) against the AI. It’s practice, but you can’t use it for advancement. For that, you need to jump into multiplayer.
Here’s where it (I) get stupid: there’s two modes for multiplayer in this phase of availability. The first is capture and hold. The second is not capture and hold. The first mode has you running around in an 8v8 map, tagging drop-pods for you team and preventing the opposition from doing the same, or from taking your tagged pods. This leads to a crisis that I’m pretty sure is an immediate no-brainer for traditional players of this kind of game: do we hold this pod, or do we tag it and race off as fast as we can to the next one, leaving the previous pod totally open for the other team to capture? The second mode is actually the selling point and the one everyone seems to be talking about: the 20v20 battle royale on Hoth, complete with AT-AT’s, TIEs and X-Wings, and the snow speeders which of course allow you to tether the walker’s legs in fulfillment of your unrequited The Empire Strikes Back dreams. The goals here are a bit different, something about the Rebels having to take out the walkers before they reach a certain point, and the Imperials having to blah blah blah who cares we’re only here to shoot stuff whatever.
So, the stupid part. I played the “tutorial”, and then went straight for the Hoth mission because I figured that blending into a team of 20 would be a lot easier for regulating multiplayer stress than if I were one of eight with measurable goals. The Hoth mission is just like a water gun fight. You run around, shooting people on the other side, and you keep running so no one can get a bead on you. If you die, no worries, because there’s always someone there to pick up your slack while you’re getting your Hoth-legs under you. Well, the Hoth mission starts you off by basically blocking you with some text. “You should probably get a few levels under your belt before you jump in here, soldier,” it suggested. Screw that, I said to myself. I’m not here to mess around! I want what the videos have been pimpin’. I want that sweet, sweet 20v20 Hoth battle! So I ignored the suggestion and spawned in on the Rebel side. You know, the side without the heavy equipment?
BOOM! Dead. OK, no worries. This was to be expected even in a 20vBOOM! Dead. Sure, all right, let’s just get down behinBOOM! Dead. OK guys, very funny one sec while I geBOOM! DEAD! BOOM! DEAD! BOOM! DEAD DEAD DEAD. At this point, my mind drifted back to the limp-wrist suggestion of getting a few levels, and wondered if that was less of a “please consider it” and more like a “it’s your funeral, chump”. Of course, the only way to do that would be to play the drop-pod scenario, the thought of which didn’t even register on my Happy-O-Meter. My second thought was that the spawn points I was getting were just plain old abysmal. One video on the Hoth scenario I watched told about how the map was so huge that it took forever to run from the spawn point to the action. It didn’t say anything about the much shorter time it took for the action to find me after I spawned. Out in the open. In a crowd of other, confused players. It was like the old adage “shooting Mon Calamari in a barrel”.
That was my first and last introduction to Star Wars Battlefront, and that kind of makes me sad because I remember good times in Planetside 2 where I was just one of a mazillion players on a side, anonymous and in it for my personal feeling of self satisfaction that if I could take out just one enemy target, I would have contributed. In SWB, the only contribution I made was to take a bullet before a teammate in the hopes that the teammate could get to shelter before getting sniped. The best I could say about it, then, is that it was really, really pretty. The game, not my experience, obviously.
I quickly opted to skip buying this game because it wasn’t enjoyable, and it wasn’t enjoyable because I couldn’t bring myself to jump through the suggested hoops the game recommended just so I could get to the parts that I thought I might enjoy. That’s a pretty narrow corridor to travel, one which I guess people who are gung-ho about the game and all it entails will never see as being restrictive. The end result is that the game is what it is, and I don’t like what it is, so I won’t be buying Star Wars Battlefront, which at the 10,000 foot view isn’t such a loss considering how I’ll have more than enough other games that I do enjoy to pass the time with during this game’s release window.