It’s no secret, I love Star Wars. I still remember the day my dad brought back a rental copy of Star Wars: A New Hope for me to watch. Him and my mom had told me this basically was the shit back in their day, even though they didn’t care for the movie and just brought it for me incase I might like it. Well, I’m sure glad they did, because I remember being glued to the television set sitting literally a few meager feet away from the screen. I loved the film, the sense of adventure, the sci-fi like fantasy setting and story it told, the music, Darth Vader, the amazingly designed ships, the sound effects, the special effects… I could go on. It wasn’t long after this that we rented the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and loved those just as much, if not more.
From this point, I became kind of a Star Wars nut, and shortly after, the special edition of the original trilogy was released in theaters, and I enjoyed each one there. Despite the differences they have from the original films, as a child, I appreciated that Star Wars was in theaters again. To me that was a pretty big deal, even if the movies were slightly different from the originals.
I especially have loved Star Wars games over the years spanning all the way from my early child hood. I remember my dad once again getting my Rebel Assault on CD-Rom. This game was incredible! The on rails shooter was great for showing a journey through the Star Wars universe, but loosely tied to the events the movies told. There was Hoth, but it was before the Battle of Yavin. The intro sequence was great, because it had you train by flying through beggars canyon in your T-16 Skyhopper, a ship and course only ever to slightly eluded to in the movies. It was a great way the games expanded on what Star Wars already was, and I appreciated the game for that.
From here, the downward spiral of my love for Star Wars video games began. After this, I became hooked to the insanely addictive and deep experience known as Star Wars Tie Fighter. This game as a kid was a shocker, mainly because you played as the bad guys. You played as a pilot of the Empire, and hunted down Rebel scum. The intro really left a bad taste in my mouth, as it showed a raid on a Rebel space station, which ended with two Tie Fighters pursuing and taking out two X-Wing fleeing the battle. Once I stomached this notion of having to kill the good buys I loved, and fighting against my favourite ships, Tie Fighter was a blast.
I always took a liking to the flight sim and space combat experiences of the Star Wars universe more than the shooters out there. All my experiences up to this point strengthened my love for this aspect of Star Wars, as did the movies themselves. From there, I became engrossed in Rogue Squadron as well, although my time gaming in the Star Wars universe wasn’t solely in the heavenly reaches of space. I also took much liking to Knight of the Old Republic, a classic to this day that told an engrossing story of the light and dark side that took place thousands of years before the events of the movie.
After this point however, the number of Star Wars games took a turn for me. Although there were some other games that were praised by the general public, I didn’t take to them as much as the games mentioned above. I still appreciated that they were there and at the time, seemed to be doing very well. Until recent events, Lucas Arts, the studio responsible for publishing pretty much all of these great games that spanned a couple of decades was shut down, and the prospect of future Star Wars games dwindled away.
Which brings us to now, the state of Star Wars video games. Since the lack of Star Wars releases and the uncertainty if we’d get any other smash hits like Knight of the Old Republic, or another Rogue Squadron, it’s been a bit of a dark subject for me. The Old Republic has been going strong for a few years, but I couldn’t get into it. The heavy focus of it being an MMO turned me off from the whole experience. I would have much preferred a single player adventure much more like the original games.
Looking back at 2015, things got a bit more hopeful when EA released Star Wars Battlefront. This game had quite some promise. Featuring some of our favourite locales from the Star Wars universe with huge battle fields and ultimate mayhem, all realized in cutting edge current gen technology, what could go wrong? The game looked and sounded like nothing else out there and was a sight to behold. Sadly, when I got my hands on the game, I was severely underwhelmed for many reasons.
First off, the game did not feature any single player campaign or story what so ever. I very much enjoy a decent story told in a campaign, or even some creative mission to mission based structure like in Rogue Squadron, but all we got were some levels that basically had you beat waves of enemies and earn high scores. Quite underwhelming to say the least.
I tried to look past this and focus on the multiplayer aspect and climb the ranks and enjoy my times here. Sadly, no matter what I did, how much I practiced, I just couldn’t enjoy the multiplayer either. It was plagued with problems in regards to what appeared like match making and being faced off against several players much more skilled than me. Given that this game featured things like guns and skills you could unlock, I always felt like I was at a disadvantage.
It may seem wrong to base my skill on things like my kill death ratio, but I constantly felt like I would never get any kills. Match after match, I’d be getting killed 10 times and if I was lucky, get two kills myself. Again, this may not be the best way to judge how much I contributed to my team, but when you die 10 times in a match and getting one kill felt lucky, it’s hard to feel you contributed anything to begin with.
Now I know what you are thinking. Get gud noob! Well sure, I tried to get gud, I really did. I spent a good 28 hours playing Battlefront, which isn’t a lot compare to some people out there, but I think is quite substantial. I thought the more I play, I could unlock better guns and start to feel like I’m getting an advantage at some point. But that never happened, and after every match, as I was awarded credits, I would barely get anything due to my poor performances and constantly being on the losing end of things.
On the flip side, I don’t consider myself to be bad at shooters at all. I can pick up and play other games and actually feel like I’m making a difference, even if it’s my first time playing. I bought Overwatch sometime last year, and although I haven’t gotten deep into it, in my first match, I felt like a tank. Later as I got better, I was matched up with better players, and although I didn’t dominate every match, I still held my own and would occasionally get voted by my teams as the best tank, or healer etc.
Hell, even last week, just a mere few weeks into Destiny 2, I pulled of a spectacular finish to a match as I launched my Warlock super ability and mowed down the other team using my flaming sword. Might I add this is how we won that specific match? This was literally the fourth game I played in the crucible.
What’s my point? I’m not a noob, and I think I’ve proven to myself, in other multiplayer games, and games in general, I consider myself pretty good. I beat Mass Effect 3 and all the Metroid Primes on the hardest difficulties for crying out loud! I am currently doing the same in Andromeda and making good progress. Let’s not get start in Breath of the Wild’s Master Mode. Oh, back in the day, I completed and got every medal in both regular and hard modes in Star Fox 64, no easy feat. You get my point right?
Battlefront also severely lacked one of my favourite aspects of the Star Wars universe, and that was an emphasis on ship to ship combat. Instead, I was occasionally given the chance to fly an X-Wing or Tie Fighter, only to be shot down instantly by someone who was already dominating the air space. Or worse, due to the poor controls, it wasn’t uncommon for my to deal my own death as I flew into the ground or something worse. Nothing takes the momentum out of things quite like that.
I thought after this, maybe Walker Assault just wasn’t for me. I took a step back and tried the Figher Squadron mode out. I was severely disappointed with this. Although the game featured a huge spectacle of what appeared like hundreds of ships flying around and shooting each other down with green and red lasers flying everywhere, once you got in the thick of things, it became a shallow experience. Let’s forget the fact that there were only a handful of ships to actually use, and that the objectives were pretty shallow, I didn’t feel like I was part of a team.
Why was this? Well, fighter squadron featured pretty small teams, with 10 players on each side. So what were all those other fighters then? It took me some time to wrap my head around this, but all the other ships were AI controlled ships. This became clear once I pulled up my score and saw a column for AI kills. Now this served a huge blow to me. Why am I playing a multiplayer game I payed top dollar for, just to face off against mostly AI controlled ships?
The whole point of Battlefront was to pit me against other players to prove that I’m the best star pilot in the galaxy, a title I don’t throw out there for no reason. Playing against AI bots really took all the fun away from this mode for me. Even though I was racking up a few more kills here and there, it was clear that the AI controlled ships were much easier to take down than player controlled ships, and my fights against other players were too far and inbetween. It took all the satisfaction away from all the kills I got and made the experience not enjoyable.
I took a big step back and played the standard Blast mode in Battlefront. This basically was a standard team death match that had you rack kills in a small stage. Although I did slightly better, this was boring as fuck. I wanted to do Star Wars things, not simply shoot people over and over again. It felt no different than any other shooter playing this mode.
The last aspect of why I hated the first Battlefront so much was also that this game costed top dollar. Up here in the great Canadian North, this game costed $80 on release, before taxes. What we got was a pretty empty experience plague with problems as I’ve outlined above. In addition to that, there was a promise of a season pass, but for the hefty fee of $60 or so. This is all Canadian prices, but it’s a lot of money for such a shallow game that just made me feel inferior to everyone else no matter what I did.
Once the DLC did roll out, it didn’t seem to introduce anything that drastically different compared to what the game already had. There were some modes introduced around the ship to ship combat, but looking at videos, it did not float my boat at all. Aside from that, we got some new stages and heroes and guns. I think the price of admission was not worth it for Battlefront, at least at launch.
Now I’ve ranted quite a bit about the first Battlefront and have yet to get into why I’m not playing Battlefront II. Well, based on my experiences with the first game, it should be apparent that all the problems I had with the first game will still be there. Although the flight combat has been expanded on, I can’t help but feel it’s an after thought in the grand scheme of things. Everything in the game still feels like the focus is on the ground based missions.
What’s the biggest hit for me? Well, the game is still centered around progression requiring you to gain credits and purchase new gear. Except this time, it comes in the form of loot boxes. Now EA has reportedly disabled the ability to purchase these with real money, but this is temporary, and will clearly be back. With or without the ability to pay real money to get loot boxes, the way the game is structured, I can’t help but feel I’ll still run into match making problems where the game will make me feel inferior because I don’t have the best gear. Other players who simply put more time into the game will have better stuff than me, and I’ll always be at a disadvantage. That my friends, is the predatory nature of the whole paying to get loot boxes fiasco that has everyone so riled up.
Lucky for me, I don’t give into such temptations and buy these extra things in the game. I have pretty good self control. I’m never really purchased these types of things in game, simply because I prefer to by the game once, and be done with it. I’m all for buying a game at full price, as long as it gives me the full experience. I’m not against pay to play games, as long as their initial fee is not full priced, or free to play. I personally don’t partake in these games, but I understand it’s a fair business model in the gaming world. The problem is, like it’s predecessor, Battlefront II is a top dollar game, and although it does not follow the season pass model this time around, it’s clear EA’s focus is to keep making you spend money within a game that is already pretty pricey.
As much as I love Star Wars, and want to spend money to support more Star Wars games, but I can’t bring myself to do it this time around. Battlefront II is a top dollar game that from what I’m reading, still has many problems, and will only keep doing things to keep make me spend even more money to expand the game. I simply don’t want to put my time and money into something that will ultimately frustrate me.
Well, if you reached this far, I humbly thank you. This post was a bit different from my usual affair and became quite ranty. However, the topic of Star Wars video games can be quite a bit passionate for me given the landscape today and how we are severely lacking the types of experiences we had from the past. Until then…
What are your thoughts on Star Wars Battlefront II? Are you planning on getting it? Or are you paying caution to the wind? Let’s discuss in the comments!