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Let me take you back to the year 2005. There I am a 19 year old Star Wars fan boy, locked in a basement with my best friends as we binged on Totino's Pizza Rolls, Mountain Dew and Star Wars. We all lounged there with the movies playing on repeat on one TV, while we swapped turns on the Playstation and Xbox versions of Star Wars: Battlefront II.
As far as were concerned we were living the good life. We had everything we needed and we were content to play through the Clone Wars and Galactic Civil War on the campaign mode as well as pitting our Risk-esque strategy against each other in the Galactic Conquest mode.
10 years went by in what seems like a blink of an eye and I'm now 29, married with two sons under the age of 3. In the last 10 years I've waited patiently; hoping, wishing and dreaming for a follow-up. Yet that hope of mine never seemed to be a reality... That is until LucasFilm was purchased by everyone's favorite mouse in 2012. With Disney's purchase I thought there was hope anew, until in 2013 all LucasArts video game development was put on halt and the team was put solely on publishing and licensing... which meant no new games.
About a month later, I felt a glimmer of hope return as Disney announced a partnership with Electronic Arts to produce Star Wars games for the core gaming market. With the subsidiaries of EA quickly jumping at the bit to bring new games to the next gen consoles. And at the E3 2013 Conference my hopes were only inspired as DICE announced a reboot of the Battlefront franchise.
Now two years after the game announcement, I was able to join in the BETA release this last weekend along with more than 9 million other players, making it EA's largest Beta launch in the history of the company. As I downloaded the 7 Gigabyte file, I felt the anticipation building and it brought me back to those moments with my friends as we waited for the loading cycle on the Xbox and Playstation.
Once my download was finished I logged in and I can honestly say that I think Battlefront will change how we FPS, and here's why:
It wavers on the side of simplicity for weapons loadouts.
Lately it seems as though we've been inundated with massively customization options for both character design and character loadout. Look at some of the most recent iterations in the First Person Shooter genre:
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's PICK 13 loadout which allows the player to 'spend' 13 points on whatever modifications you want to add to your character including weapon mods, exo abilities, perks and scorestreaks. This system allows for countless variations and bonuses to each player as they can customize their character to fit their own unique playing style.
- Destiny focuses on an extensive customization array even though at times it seems aesthetically simple. Each player can choose between three class types which allows the player to access unique abilities and upgrade those abilities through experience gains. Along with abilities, the players can create a truly unique loadout full of various weapons and enhancements.
- Battlefield Hardline's loadout varies from other FPS by it's purchasing system along with its unique character class along with it's variety of weaponry and gadgets to be applied to the players specific loadout.
'Star Wars: Battlefront' is going to lean heavily on the concept of simplistic. The advanced loadouts have been replaced with a single weapon slot and two card slots. These card slots can be customized with a variety of things from a grenade to ammo upgrades to even a Jetpack. Battlefront is set to give you just enough customization to allow you to enjoy the gameplay without having to spend countless hours in the customizing screen (ahem... ahem... Destiny...)
The real difference here is that Battlefront seems to be more concerned with the actual game-play rather than focusing on customizing your character to the point of making it a game to try and exploit the intricate leveling-up system like we see in Destiny.
It brings play-ability to the masses rather than the FPS aficionado.
Now this may seem like a minor point to consider, but as RockPaperShotgun's Graham Smith wrote:
"The game looks like it was solely made for Star Wars dads. It has a fetishistic approach to the sound and texture of the original trilogy which seems designed to massage the nostalgia glands." [source]
As a Star Wars dad, I would agree whole-heartedly with that statement, I'm nearly 30 (actually I'll be 30 when the game is released in November) and as much as I love games like Call of Duty and Destiny; I am entirely too thrilled with what Battlefront is bringing to the FPS genre. The game will focus less on the aspects that create massive ranking gaps between players, complex menus and open-world venues as seen in other of the same FPS genre. Now you may question, "if it's not going to have that then what will the focus be?"
Star Wars: Battlefront seems set to focus on, like I just mentioned above the play-ability for all iterations of fans: from the newcomer to the seasoned Battlefront veteran who grew up on the original trilogy of movies as well as the original games in the franchise. It's ambition as a FPS isn't to garner the same fan-base of Call of Duty or Battlefield, rather it seems set to provide a beautiful galaxy far, far away that is accessible to all players regardless of their genre immersion.
It doesn't have to create a universe, because it already exists!
If there is one problem with most FPS games, it is that there is so much time spent creating the universe around your character and making it seem believable. From the unraveling universe in Destiny to the advanced cybernetic augmentation in Call of Duty - each of these games have to fill your with background and story arcs; and although they each do their stories justice it still seems somewhat overwhelming at times or unbelievable as others.
Whereas Battlefront has an expansive universe that has already been explored through previous games, comics, novels and films. We've all seen the characters, we know they background of what happened in the galaxy far, far away and we don't need to be drawn in by fancy plot twists because we are already drawn in simply by the fact that it's Star Wars.
I feel as though Battlefront is setting up a great future in the FPS genre knowing that it has a huge universe to play in and expand out, whereas most FPS have to come up with new plot lines and focal points with each iteration. Star Wars won't struggle to come up with new campaigns or playable characters.
All in all, I feel as though with the release of Star Wars: Battlefront, we could see a dynamic shift in how FPS games work and how we interact with them.