With many already anticipating Star Wars Battlefront it came as a bit of a surprise to hear a completely new game mode announced. The new game mode, Blast, is going to take place on smaller maps in 10 vs 10 close quarters team deathmatch. Those who are concerned these will just be chopped up versions of the bigger maps can rest assured, DICE has preemptively said these will be specially designed close quarters maps. Given that they say these battles will take place in the “interiors” of many of the settings, it is safe to assume vehicles will be left out of this game mode. At first glance I think this is a really bad decision because a stripped down team deathmatch doesn’t seem fitting for a game selling itself on huge battles with a wide array of vehicles and objectives. While I’m still not sure about how well received the game mode will be, a few details are a little promising.
Old School Pickups
Even though details about the new game mode are still sparse, they did indicate that maps will feature, “strategic weapon pickups affording special abilities and perks to players scattered throughout”. This is reminiscent of classic PVP shooter games that pioneered the franchise like Quake. It is good to see elements being added that have been largely absent from most mainstream shooters, but these are probably more risky than beneficial. The only two examples a developer has revealed is an enemy spotting droid and an automatic turret. Again my concern is that these sound very out of sync with the game we have been anticipating, especially after the intense Hoth and Endor battles we have seen up to this point. It will probably be jarring to have such a sharp shift from large scale battles with giant vehicles and different objectives to small close quarters fights that will quickly devolve into camping coveted drop spots to get the best weapon drop or perk. In a way the inclusion of this game mode kind of undercuts something I kept saying to those who were angry about the lack of space battles.
During my coverage of E3 a lot of fans of the Battlefront series were very disappointed with the exclusion of space battles. Many argue it just isn’t the game they were hoping for and isn’t a true Battlefront game. I continued to push back on this criticism because first, the marketing and reveals have been crystal clear about the absence of space battles which is refreshing to see in light of so much of the vague marketing and press most games get. And second, if you want a large and dynamic game that is also stable and balanced, you want it to have a solid identity. It would not only be difficult to develop, but the accessibility would be significantly lower when contrasted against the pick-up-play style of the standard shooter format. Not only that, it would split the interest of the community, which over time would compound as those who like space battles would become far more efficient at them than those who tend to avoid them. You can almost picture how split the community would be after only a few months with anyone deciding to try out space battles quickly finding out it isn’t their playground.
This small close quarters team deathmatch mode, Blast, sounds like a save haven for COD fans who don’t want to deal with vehicles and large maps and battles. And to a point, it could run into the same problems I predict would have happened in the space battles. Those who master the maps, weapon drops, and close quarters fighting style will develop an affinity for it and will probably conversely develop a distaste for the larger scale battles. That’s why this sort of feels like a marketing mechanic and a bit of a cash grab to try to convince the simple shooter audience to a buy a game that may have looked too daunting up to this point.
It might work
To a point I want to say that this just might work out. If lots of people buy the game and the player base is big enough, then the split won’t be that detrimental. The problem is there are too many games coming out around the same time that will offer a basic and straight forward PVP shooter experience. Both Call of Duty and Halo will have the classic deathmatch game modes for their audiences as well as casual players who just want to sit down for a quick session of running and gunning. I can’t see a large audience of players who are in this category really looking to Star Wars Battlefront as their next big purchase and time investment. Hopefully they don’t spend too much time and focus on this new game mode because the real selling point and draw of the game is the large scale battles, vehicles, and variety of roles and objectives on a given map.
If you liked this entry please share it on facebook or twitter.