Thursday, January 14, 2016

Battlefront: So I Basically Paid EA To Put It In My Butt

Hey guys! How's it going out there in the spaghetti western that is the Internet?

Well it's a new day.. and.. I have a confession to make that's been eating at me for a few weeks. I haven't really told anyone because I feel foolish, but I've just got to get it out there, and the haters can judge me... I let EA put it in my butt, metaphorically speaking that is... There I said it; I admitted it. You see what happened was that EA took me out a few months ago. They let me play with their blasters, and we hung out every night for almost a week. Then EA told me that they had to go away on business for a few weeks. And while EA was away, all I could think about was how much I really wanted to hang out with them and their Imperial armor. Weeks went by and we finally got to hangout, it was fun but the date cost me $60. Halfway through the date things got a little steamy until I realized that I was participating in our very own Tijuana donkey show; Like a drug fueled night in Bangkok, I was being bent over. Then when I thought it was all over, EA asked me for another $60 to finish up!...

Dramatics flare aside. I'm pretty pissed at EA and myself at this point. I bought into the hype, and got sold a Star Wars scented bottle of snake oil. And since EA was totally OK with pedaling this turd for $60, I'm totally OK with publicly reviewing their product for free. I'm really going to try to be fair with this, but it'll be hard at this point.

To fully understand my point of view, I need to take you back in time to June 2013.... It was a hundred and stupid outside on that fine day in Oklahoma, and it that seemed nothing would break the drought. I remember fondly the joy I felt when it was announced that Battlefront would making a return. At that point, it didn't matter that the sun had seemed to park itself on the surface of the Earth, because I had found a drop of water in the desert. I resolved to survive the droughtpocolypse at least long enough to play it.

After E3 2014, time seemed to fly by. The sun had returned to it's normal point in the sky, and it seemed that every couple of months, more of its secrets were revealed. And the videos. Oooooo!... Shiny! They glistened in highly polish polygons, like blood diamonds in southeast Asian black markets.

You see, I had been itching for a new shooter for a little while by that time. I had left the caustic communities of competitive FPS/shooter gaming, resigning myself to a quiet retirement of RTSs, survival, and fringe indie games. (A man can only listen to so many unfounded and baseless accusations directed at his mother's honor. All the while dodging the vollies of pejoratives spewed forth from the mouths of 12-year-olds.)

With The Force Awakens just around the corner, the release of the Battlefront beta made October of 2015 feel so hopeful. The week of the beta seemed so right at the time. Walker Assault on Hoth felt like Star Wars. Drop Zone less so, but I was optimistic. It was a time of bonding with my 5-year-old. You see the Battlefront beta was his first shooter. He quickly decided that Vader is by far the BAMF-Y-EST BAMF that ever did BAMF. This set a light in him, a truly deep interest in the Star Wars universe. As we played, I was able to regale him with the lore from long long ago in a galaxy far far away. (feels....) 

I had resolved myself to getting Battlefront. Christmas was coming up. The kiddo was on board. I was on board, and the wife approved. (Oh snap!) Then it came, bundled up nicely in it's bland brown box. The wife immediately deemed it to be a Christmas present, and threatened the life of whatever hero should try to liberate the fair maiden from her tower keep; known only as top of the closet. I protested! (Fuck it! I'm a grown ass man, and if I want to play the game I will!) 

So Christmas day came, and the boy and I cracked the cellophane on the case. (I know... I know... What happened to all of that I'm a man shit? Do you want to piss my wife off? I don't.) Disc goes in, queue epic Star Wars Theme Song, and draw the shades... It's time to kill me some Imperial scum! To my surprise there appeared to be content missing, and I was already being hit up to drop $60 more on Season Pass DLC, all before I had started a single match. And there are no details given about the Season Pass. I ignored the instant irritation surging through my body, because it's Christmas, and I simply verify that there is not a missing companion disc in the case. I get a prompt that there's an update. Download it, and restart... Nope no more content than before. (I should have prefaced this by saying that due to the aforementioned cockblocking by the misses, I had decided to not go digging for details about the game after release.)

Fast forward to today. I'm now several hours invested in the game, and I've built out the following list of my likes and hates:

What I like:
1) It looks like Star Wars. The terrain and models are beautifully presented and pretty well polished.
2) It does feel like you're in the Star Wars universe, especially when playing on Endor and Hoth in first person.
3) The sound engineering is pretty spot on, with one exception that I hate (keep reading for more on that)... And that's about it.
4) Kid friendly.
5) Fun for a few matches here and there.

What I hate:
1) There is a complete lack of interesting or populated game types; even Walker Assault is really just a moving point domination game. The populated exceptions being Blast (classic deathmatch) and Fighter Squadron (deathmatch with spaceships).
2) There's no campaign.. Nothing! Nada! Not that I was expecting a whole lot but seriously, nothing?
3) The maps are pretty, but there's basically only four maps to play on for any one game type.
4) With no campaign, this game is really forced to stand on large scale objective based combat. However, I find the lack of team chat disturbing. It's like playing Battlefield 2 circa 2004 with people running everywhere trying to figure out what to shoot next.
5) Remember how I mentioned that there is an exception to the quality? Well that exception happens to be the voice acting for the Heroes. They do not sound in anyway close to their movie counterparts. They really couldn't have just used one liners from the original trilogy? Come on EA! Is it too much to ask that Vader sound like Vader, and Han to sound like Han?!
6) So "deathmatch with spaceships" or as EA calls it, Fighter Squadron. I'm willing to concede that it can be a fun mode to play for a short time, but for whatever reason the devs saw it fit just not set up decent controls. There's no real roll command except for an evasive maneuver that has a god damn cool down timer before it can be used again! Oh, and your spaceships never get the opportunity to, you know, fight in space!
7) The spawns are terrible, and I don't mean that in a dramatic way. I mean that they are genuinely awful. With issues ranging from spawning in the wide open, and spawning in on a gun fight. Or my all time favorite; spawning in basically where you died! You know, so you can immediately die again, and your respawning teammates can also die with you.

8) There's no accuracy penalty for not going ADS, and there's no accuracy buff for crouching.  Because fuck game mechanics. So basically it's just running around and hip firing.
9) Vehicles feel like an after thought. No Snowspeeders flying out of hangers on Hoth or TIE fighters dropping from the belly of a Star Destroyers. Not even an AT-ST being unloaded from a dropship, Instead teammates are stuck racing each other around the map trying to pickup floating blue "coins" in order to use the vehicles. And even then the vehicles feel forced at times.
10) There's a dick load of unlocks in this game. Unfortunately, they're mostly character customizations and, well.. lazy! Here's a video post to illustrate my point:

11) Did I mention that when playing as Palpatine, you're squishier than the level 5 healer you took on your last dungeon raid? And as a plus your only real attack is force lightning, which conveniently has a cool down timer.
12) So there's a ranking system, but it really isn't anything more than a timer used for your unlocks. It means nothing in the grand scheme. It doesn't prevent a noobie from being fed to the wolves and their much more powerful loadouts, as all ranks are tossed in the same lobby. And not having a real ranking system pretty much destroys the possibility of the game being recognized as a competitive shooter.

There's more, but I'm honestly just tired at this point. My son is still into it (It's just a shame his "first love" is so basic), and I guess I'm just playing the game out of spite at this point. If you have young kids they'll probably like it. Or if you're just looking to play a new Star Wars game, you'll probably like it. However, a franchise title from this publisher, with this title, and with the budget this one had, has absolutely no reason to be this lacking in substance.  

I once had high hopes for Battlefront. In hindsight, I'm not real sure why. @PonStory had warned me to not get too excited. I'm also keenly aware that in recent years EA has become more and more hostile to their customer base. Hammering out title after title, with very little change or innovation, and then flooding the market with paid DLC. It seems that EA's marketing strategy is a pump and dump scheme; they push the hype, sell you half a game, and then extort you for the other half, year after year in a seemingly endless cycle of communal profiteering.

I guess what I got is what should have been expecting. To be honest, I would have been satisfied with re-skinned and updated Battlefront 2. Instead, EA's Battlefront appears to be a clear downgrade from a game made a decade ago. I think that a picture of EA's executives flipping you off--instead of the content on the disc--would have been more intellectually honest and less lazy then what they gave us.

I don't know who made this, but it paints a telling picture. It's a little old and is missing the game modes that are available

Thanks again for stopping by. Let me know what you think of my review. Was it fair? Was it not? I think it is fair to say that I fell prey to nostalgia and pageantry.

-Chali Baicunn


  1. I agree with most of your criticisms, although I don't think a penalty to ADS would add much strategic depth. The rebel team is vastly underpowered in terms of vehicles. I'm very surprised they didn't match the AT-STs against tauntauns or something. The lack of prequel trilogy heroes, maps, enemies, and weapons really hurt the game, although even then they were skimping by not including Chewbacca, Obi-Wan, Yoda, ewoks (with their gliders), or the large assortment of bounty hunters we saw on Vader's star destroyer (like IG-88 or Bosk), Palpatine's red body guards, or even Jabba the Hutt. They also missed a lot of opportunities to have native creatures on each planet attacking players, like rancors and wampas. In addition, the fighter squadron maps lacked structure. They needed more canyons and underground passages to fly through in order to keep players engaged and avoid that crazy flurry of ships flying past each other like a beehive. I would have liked to have those giant worms sticking their heads out of an asteroid trying to eat me.

    1. I was saying that there is no penalty for not going ADS. Just like there's no accuracy buff for crouching. You're accuracy is the same regardless; walking, standing, jumping, crouching, ADS. It makes no difference. I'd love some native wildlife aggro and I completely agree with everything you said about Fighter Squadron.


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