While the Force may not have necessarily been as strong as it could have been with Star Wars Battlefront, it’s gotten a whole lot stronger with the latest update.
As you may well be aware, the Star Wars (and gaming) fan base got itself all in a tizzy last year over the release of the newest Star Wars Battlefront game. Teasers and trailers were released and served to build up an unprecedented amount of hype for something which looked simply amazing – if the trailers were to be believed.
And to an extent, the trailers could be believed as when the game saw release it was one of the most visually stunning Star Wars experiences gamers had ever seen. Period! It was the closest you could get to being in Star Wars besides stealing a time machine and hopping back to the 70’s. However, sadly the core mechanics of the multiplayer were slightly flawed and exceptionally basic; after mere hours of playing I felt little to no impulse to play the game any further than I had. It was exceptionally disappointing, especially given how emotionally attached I was to the first two Battlefront games and how amazing they were to play. Yet here stood EA’s Battlefront which basically sought to make a living off of its looks alone. It was no surprise then that it never really took off as much as EA would’ve liked.
Nine months down the line, and having released 2 packs of DLC for Battlefront, EA decided to give the fans what they were desperately baying for in the form of their latest free update. This has seen the game mode “Skirmish” added and as far as I have witnessed, the Star Wars gaming community has gone absolutely bananas for it! Skirmish is a brand new mode, which basically allows the player to play Walker Assault or Fighter Squadron in single player rather than relying on the multiplayer. Finally, a developer which listens to its fans. How refreshing! Skirmish allows you to play by yourself, online with a friend or with splitscreen cooperative and honestly it is one of the greatest additions to this game since its release last year.
The reason for this is very simple. In a time where games focus more and more on the importance of multiplayer and online gaming, Skirmish allows you to take yourself back to the “good old days” of gaming where the experience was all about you, the game and no one else. With maybe the exception of the likes of The Witcher, games nowadays pin all their hopes of success on how well their multiplayer performs (case in point, Overwatch), sometimes forgoing single player (and story) all in an effort to capitalise on the multiplayer platform. But I am so glad that EA have chosen to dish out Skirmish to the masses, as in my opinion it is a game mode that Battlefront sorely needed.
The reason I love Skirmish so much, is that it recaptures all that made the first two games so great in my eyes. Basically, I become an absolute tank on the battlefield (not that I don’t online…psssht) much like it was in the original titles. One soldier (back then it was all about the Clone Troopers) doing all that he could to complete the mission and being the biggest badass on the field. Skirmish allows you to relive some of that former awesomeness which is a nice little touch.
The game mode gives you three difficulties to contend with: NORMAL, HARD and MASTER. Normal difficulty is a little easy to be honest, as I found myself able to easily blitz through both Empire and Rebellion forces, irrespective of the mode I was playing and it’s been left to the hard difficulty to find where the meat of this new update really is. The A.I. are much more intuitive (and accurate), actively take steps to try and foil your plans at every turn. Master difficulty? Unless you are one with the Force then this mode is a real pain in the ass. I doubt even Master Yoda would’ve had much progress against this difficulty, but it does provide an exceptional challenge for gamers to strive against to complete.
Whereas online players can shape their loadouts to complement their play style, Skirmish outfits you with two loadouts to choose from but neither are really great choices. You have the option of having a jetpack and a grenade barrage, or a jetpack and a sniper rifle, neither of which really go together on the battlefield but there’s not a great deal to be done about it. The noticeable difficulty this creates is a game mode where you can’t throw grenades…I don’t know if you’ve ever played an FPS where throwing a grenade isn’t an option, but it’s a damn sight harder than you’d imagine. On the flip side of this, when playing Walker Assault, the player is permitted to select any blaster from the arsenal provided as Skirmish unlocks all weapons to the player – including those added by paid DLC. This allows the player to try out new weapons and really see which blasters suit their style.
While you are by definition playing alone, the game fills out a fake “roster” of people accompanying you in the game. However, because you are playing alone this does lead to an unavoidable flaw in the leaderboards come the end of the game. I found myself having killed 134 enemies while the next person in line (while not actually real) had only killed maybe around 20 people. I suppose in a mode where you are the most lethal person on the battlefield, this kind of thing is unavoidable.
There is also the slight issue that when you do choose to play alone, the game modes (Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron) drag. Horribly. Especially Fighter Squadron which has a distinct lack of anything else to do besides blowing each other up. It’s maybe not so bad in Walker Assault, as I found myself constantly racing around the multiple objectives. But in Fighter Squadron, I found the skies an exceptionally lonely place to be flying about.
So how does Skirmish effect Star Wars Battlefront on the whole? Well in my humble opinion, it adds a whole new facet to the game. A game which was so preoccupied by its multiplayer (and lack of any story) has now at least got an aspect which ties it back to its predecessors in a single player game mode. While there were already pre-existing single player modes for players to choose from, they were exceptionally one dimensional (and poorly executed) whereas Skirmish genuinely offers something a little more interesting for the solo-player. Honestly, this update doesn’t do much in the way of improving the mechanics of the game (the loathsome Star Cards still exist) however in my opinion it is definitely a step in the right direction for both EA and Star Wars when it comes to its gaming franchise.
Now I can genuinely see a platform which can be built upon when it comes to Battlefront going forward in the future, whereas before I was slightly disillusioned with what this franchise could potentially become.