Over the past week, rumors surfaced that suggested EA was looking to abandon it’s much 2015 Star Wars Battlefront game. With production kicking into full gear with the games sequel, it makes sense that DICE and EA want to close the book on an underwhelming chapter in their Star Wars games. Yet for those who bought into the hype, Battlefront will forever be a game that failed to match expectations – and possibly dampen the hype for future Star Wars offerings.
The rumors may turn out to be false, but the reality is that many gamers wouldn’t notice changes anyway. EA has been slow to address the games more glaring issues and many have simply abandoned the title in sheer frustration. What should have been the glorious first step in EA’s tenure of the iconic license felt more like a rush job, a desperate cash grab to try and capitalize on Star Wars Episode 7’s release. It looked great, but beneath the gorgeous graphics was a game that lacked the substantial content needed to make it successful.
When Star Wars Battlefront came out, there was huge excitement about the game. This was the first console Star Wars release since EA had acquired the Star Wars gaming license, and with Star Wars: The Force Awakens set to land shortly after release, it was understandable that gamers were biting at the bit to jump into the game. Long time fans were just pleased their long-heralded calls for the series to return were finally being heard. It sounded like a marriage made in heaven, and with the promise of free content to tie-in with The Force Awakens, it couldn’t have been better for fans. Then the game came out.
Reviews were not kind about the games shortcomings. Many scolded the lack of content, citing the games lack of ambition as a huge problem. Instead of experiencing a Star Wars adventure, many felt they were getting a Battlefield experience with a Star Wars skin. There were some great ideas but without the game modes or the huge selection of worlds that have come to characterize the Star Wars universe, it all felt like a rush job.
The lack of single player campaign was also a huge bone of contention to fans of the original Battlefront games, the people who had arguably been anticipating Star Wars Battlefront the most. The absence of a dedicated story mode meant none of the legendary Star Wars lore would be woven into the experience. It meant that the battles that came to characterize the original titles were missing entirely, scaled down and ultimately not what hardcore fans wanted. There were some solo missions you could undertake, but this was a far cry from what anyone was asking for. Instead iconic characters were treated as attractions to buff out the multiplayer experience – and not very well at that.
EA and DICE were quick to defend their game, explaining that it was just the first step in the games planned lineage. That was cold comfort to fans who were disappointed by the games lack of content on arrival, and the hilariously awkward demand to cough up $40 more for a season pass. The initial excitement of the game subsided quickly, the game forgotten as 2016 came and went. Gamers moved on, there was little to drag them back into the fold.
Last week Drews wrote about how he enjoyed the title despite its shortcomings, a position I can respect. As someone who invested time in the original Battlefront games though, it’s hard to overlook just how short the game fell short of its potential. Battlefront has always been about scale and scope, the size of the battle and the feeling of victory in the Star Wars universe. 2015’s outing felt nothing like this, it just felt like any other shooter with a Star Wars coat of paint. Worse than this, it felt like EA didn’t understand what made the original games so exciting to play, instead trying desperately to jump aboard the online shooter craze that was running wild at the time.
Where Battlefront failed was in delivering the kind of online experience gamers wanted. It’s a tale that’s been told across multiple games this generation, the failure to establish the online-only game as a fixture in the AAA-gaming sphere. The likes of Evolve and the original Titanfall are testament to how this model of stripping out offline content only works to disenfranchise gamers. When paying full price for an experience, gamers want that full experience.
Inevitably EA and DICE will turn things around. They’ve already said the sequel will go heavier on launch content and come packing more diverse options. It’s hard to believe though just how disappointing Battlefront turned out to be. It was fun for a few hours, but this a Star Wars game. Some of the best games using that license have strived for creativity and pushed the boundaries. EA’s Battlefront needs to do the same if its to fulfill its potential.