Star Wars Battlefront Reveal Impressions

Star Wars BattlefrontStar Wars fans are getting a surge of nostalgia and excitement this week, with the new Star Wars movie trailer debuting yesterday, and now the long awaited Battlefront trailer has been revealed. Game trailers have come along way, becoming more and more cinematic each year and the Battlefront trailer is certainly in line with the new approach to teasing and marketing a new game by showing almost no in-game footage, or what appears to be hints of hybrids of what gameplay will look like. The trailer does boast right on the outset that what we are watching is “game engine footage”, but are there any conclusions we can come to about what the game will deliver with respect to gameplay?

Is this real life?

After watching the trailer I can’t help but be a bit apprehensive. Many games have shown us “game footage” trailers that misrepresented the experience and graphical depth of the final delivered product. I’ve been pretty hard on both Watch Dogs and Destiny on my blog, and they have certainly made me a bit cynical when it comes to high energy graphically impressive game trailers. I did, however, have to fight the urge of squealing and shouting with glee as the scenes in the trailer played out. But seriously, I think we need to be careful with how much stock we put into what amounts to a purely cinematic trailer. By now we know the design prowess of most big game companies when it comes to creating cut scenes and trailers. This trailer looks absolutely amazing and I’m certain the engine footage is from the PS4 or a stout PC, because I’ve not seen anything close to this level of graphical intensity in any of some the best looking Xbox One titles like Tomb Raider or Far Cry 4. Both of those games looked incredible, but even they aren’t on the level of the realism depicted in the Battlefront reveal. So while I can praise the impressive look and feel of the trailer graphically, I have to really urge caution to anyone who is a Star Wars fan or even just a video game fan, this could be a lot of hype to sell a game on brand loyalty and excited fandom surrounding the new movies. It could all be smoke and mirrors to generate pre-orders and monetary commitments before a single genuine game experience is had by any honest sources for game reviews. Having said that, while we wait for gameaplay footage, dev diaries, or more in depth reveals, I think we can extrapolate some gameplay themes from the trailer.

I get to do what now?

First, it’s clear that vehicles are going to play a major role in the game. We are immediately thrust back into the childhood wonder and excitement about speeder bikes screaming through the forest moon of Endor. The first thing we get to see is a speeder bike chase that ends badly for one person while ground troops try to stay out of the way. It is here where I think we get one of our first clues to how some of the combat may work as one of the soldiers shouts the command to push up with a somewhat mechanical arm movement. It seems as though you may be able to tell AI comrades what to do and where to go in large scale battles. This is just speculation and may be relegated to campaign engagements, but it would be incredibly cool to have command over a group of soldiers in massive sized battles that take place in environments like the one seen in trailer. As I said, it’s abundantly clear from the outset that vehicles are going to play a major role, because shortly after seeing speeder bikes, we see our first walker. Before seeing the walker however, there are few of what I call “over the shoulder teasers” that take place, hinting at what it might look like to play the game. We see one soldier take aim and shoot at a few enemies, and then we get a cool look at what it might feel like to pilot one of the speeder bikes. Again, it seems like a hybrid of cinematics and gameplay, but by now we are all familiar with the “over the shoulder teasers” from the various trailers that we have seen, so I think it’s safe to say we are getting a tiny glimpse into what gameplay will look like.

Second, we get a picture of what anti-vehicle engagements might look like. Once the smaller walker shows up, an AT-ST, one soldier puts down a shield generator and commands the other to use “heavy fire now”. The second soldier uses a jet-pack and a rocket launcher to dispatch of the walker rather quickly. Again, I think we are be given pretty obvious clues into what we will be able to do in the game when it comes to fighting with the vehicles and performing take downs. But then the big walker enters the scene, an AT-AT, and one of the soldiers cries out “we gotta call in the bombers”, which promptly brings in some Y-Wings to barrage the monstrous dinosaur sized walker. We even hear “Y-Wings inbound” reminiscent of Call of Duty engagements where flyovers are called out by the announcer in your ear. After this we get a fresh dose of hype as Darth Vader himself descends into the forest, lightsaber in hand.

Finally, we get a chaotic and quick sampling of all the various environments, settings, and battles we will get to experience. A-Wings on Hoth, X-Wings and Tie Fighters on a dessert planet (maybe Tatooine) with a quick Boba Fett cameo, Tie Fighters launching out of a base on a volcanic planet with one last final quick dose of hype as the Millennium Falcon swoops past. I think maybe the creative teams spoke before making their final cuts as both the movie and the game trailer end in a similar way, the movie trailer with Han Solo and Chewbacca and the game trailer with their ship.

Epic at best, big at minimum

It’s clear from the way the trailer ends that they want us to know the scope of the game is pretty big. This is not going to be a pop and shot shooter or just the Star Wars version of Battlefield. The trailer communicates very clearly that they will be taking us into many different areas, battles, vehicles, and with the inclusion of Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and the Millennium Falcon, there should be plenty of classic characters with hopefully accurate, respectful, and good story arcs. The release date for the game is November 17th, 2015, which means they are aiming for the big holiday sales. It also means they have plenty of time to show off exactly what this game can do and what it will offer gameplay and content wise. I’m excited, but mostly apprehensive as we can only speculate and guess about how good the game will be and what exactly it will deliver.

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