Don’t give up on the Star Wars: Battlefront beta

By Brenna Hillier, Wednesday, 7 October 2015 22:50 GMT

Star Wars: Battlefront is in your hands – and it feels just like any other shooter. Stick with it, kid; it’s worth the effort.

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I got into the Star Wars: Battlefront beta yesterday arvo and was so happy I nearly threw up. After the sublime experience I had playing Walker Assault at TGS 2015, I was super excited to get in there and make war on the stars, or whatever.

Not too many minutes later I was frustrated and bored. What happened?

Well, after spending far too long admiring the menus (what a smashing user interface, said we total nerds) I decided to dive right into Walker Assault, knowing that I’d probably have to wait around for the enormous lobby to fill during this limited early access period. But:

I don’t want to spend a few hours being owned by sniper rifles and orbital strikes while I piss about with a baby blaster.

“Don’t do that,” DICE advised me with a pop up. “Have you not realised that you are rank one? You don’t even have a grenade. Go play Drop Zone until you have less in common with fragile autumn leaves.”

“What,” I replied. Turns out that Batlefront has a progression system, as is practically obligatory for online multiplayer shooters – and very tiresome.

If this pains you, I concur. There’s always going to be a skill divide in multiplayer, so that even with a level playing field you’re likely to come up against perfect squads who headshot you every few seconds and make you want to throw your telly out the window. Even across the summit of the learning curve you’ll always meet someone better than you.

That’s okay. I’m cool with that. But gated equipment makes it a gazillion times more likely that you’ll be steamrolled over and over, making what should be fun merely frustrating.

I don’t want to spend a few hours being owned by sniper rifles and orbital strikes while I piss about with a baby blaster. I really don’t. I doubt anybody does. And while the lure of better unlocks is powerful, most of the time I just quit and never come back – a luxury I have, because new games pour through my letterbox every week, but most of you do not.

This is what games do now, I guess, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. I hate it when games lock away the fun times behind what amounts to service. Open world games and shooters are getting especially bad in this regard, requiring tens of hours of busy work before you can have a really good time. It’s fine when that busy work is fun, but so often it just isn’t. I shouldn’t feel like gaming is a chore. I shouldn’t find my eye sliding towards a microtransaction menu in order to shortcut through 20 hours of grind. (I don’t know if Battlefront is going to have microtransactions or whatever, but I wouldn’t utilise them, on principal.)

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Regardless of my disgust for this content gating (which has very little to do with skill, or people like me would never get anywhere), I’m going to stick it out for the duration of the Battlefront beta. I strongly encourage you to do the same. This is your best opportunity to get a feel for the game before you make a purchasing decision, and if you can endure the grind you may get a glimpse of Battlefront’s true potential when you’ve finally got enough gear to hold your own in the glorious experience that is Walker Assault.

Don’t get me wrong: Drop Zone seems like it could be pretty fun with balanced teams, and once you’ve got a few toys to open up tactical options. But Walker Assault is Star Wars. A great big battle, rebel against Empire, with meaningful stakes and a sense of narrative progression.

Drop Zone could be any game. The sound effects and whatnot are top notch, but the Star Wars stuff is just a skin on top of a decent multiplayer mode. In Walker Assault, the whole thing is Star Wars from top to bottom. You’re in a Star Wars battle. You’re in Star Wars!

I don’t even like Star Wars that much and I like being in Star Wars. Keep grinding away at those unlocks; it’ll all be worth it the first time you (literally) bring an AT-AT to its knees.

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