Star Wars: Battlefront (2004) and Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005) are two of the most celebrated and influential creations to rise out of the Star Wars intellectual property family. The simple fact that the original Star Wars: Battlefront games are so highly regarded among dozens of other decorated Star Wars games is notable in its own right, but the broadening of scope and ambition that the game brought to the Star Wars library of video games marks a paradigm shift in the perception of Star Wars by gamers.
In the last 3 years, two new Battlefront games have launched, made by a different development team than the originals, featuring new gameplay styles, a new engine, and a new setting based off of Disney’s latest Star Wars films. These games, which focus heavily on online multiplayer, have experienced a distinct, but no less notable, reception.
With the most recent Battlefront release taking place in November of 2017, shortly after Disney’s surprising acquisition of the Star Wars brand, the future of the game series is something of an open frontier. Both of the new Star Wars titles, published by EA/Dice, suffered some controversy over their complete lack of single player modes that were very popular in the original games by the same name.
Following the currently-popular model of “live services,” both of the modern Battlefront games were designed with multiplayer, lootbox-based monetization, and purchasable cosmetic packages for characters. While both games enjoyed strong pre-order sales and early player counts, they both also suffered from middling critic reviews and worse player retention than had been projected.
Conversely, the original Battlefront games were played almost exclusively offline, with the multiplayer features being largely focused on couch co-op and split-screen versus modes.
The Battlefront games were two out of a handful of titles that contributed significantly to the longevity of gaming consoles like the PlayStation 2, which proved to be popular long after the launch of subsequent consoles.
The greatest question facing the current Battlefront games pertains to whether online multiplayer in Battlefront will ever be able to live up to the popularity of local multiplayer and single player modes in the older games. The newer games do not have single player modes, and local multiplayer is very limited in them.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the original Battlefront games was the fact that players were on an even playing field; all characters, weapons, and vehicles were available to players from the get go.
While the modern Battlefront games have made significant reworks recently, at the launch of Battlefront II (2017,) weapons, hero abilities, and even some vehicles and utility tools were packaged away in lootboxes, leaving many players feeling robbed of the sense of equality in gameplay that Battlefront’s earlier versions had featured.
Since the launch of Battlefront II (2017,) significant improvements have been made to the multiplayer progression system, but many critics worry that such changes are too little and too late to make Battlefront II (2017) a worthy successor to Battlefront II (2005).
The key to making the Battlefront games of the modern day as popular as those of the past seems to lie in embracing the possibilities that the new films have made available and in pursuing the spirit of the original games: Larger than life Star Wars battles that put players into the space fantasy world they’ve loved for so long without making them feel like they’re unable to compete.
The graphics, sound design, weapon design, and visual design of the modern games are simply stunning.
The foundations of greatness are there for the modern Battlefront games, but it will be up to the development studio to build upon those stellar foundations to make Battlefront’s newest releases just as memorable as those originals that are so beloved by fans.