E3 2015 Star Wars Battlefront Hands-On – Chewie, we’re home

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It’s hard being a Star Wars fan and continuously hoping for a game that is able to capture the sci-fi magic that George Lucas’s films so famously have. Series like Knights of the Old republic, Republic Commando and more all deserve their places in space opera folklore, but never has there been a game quite like DICE’s upcoming Battlefront. In fact, being a soft reboot of a beloved franchise has very little to do with it at all.

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Battlefront shares a lot of DNA with both the original series and DICE’s more recent efforts, Battlefield. Both feature large scale battles with a large number of players on either side, with you taking up either the Rebels or Galactic Empire’s more accurate Stormtroopers.

You pick from a variety of loadouts, weapons, secondary sidearms and more – with the weapons from a time long, long ago tossing out ammunition requirements for more heat-based restrictions. You can aim down the sights, fight from an over the shoulder view or switch between both on the fly – something I found myself doing rather frequently. But even with that all there, it’s still so much more than a fresh coat of paint on a game we’ve already played.

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Harking back to traditional Battlefront days, players will be able to pick up tokens scattered around the battlefield at random locations. These bestow rewards such as Rocket Launchers to deal with At-ST walkers, bombing raids from Y-Fighters or access to pilot some X-Wing or Tie Fighters over the field. These spaces of engagement are limited by the state the game is in, with parts of the map being locked off as the Empire progressed towards their objective – the shield generator on the planet Hoth.

It’s subtleties like these that already made Battlefront feel different. While Imperial troops struggle to defend two giant At-AT walkers while they trudge along to the objective, rebels scramble to mount an offensive and destroy them before they reach their target. Control points are used on the map to determine the flow of the winning tide. Should the rebels control all three, the AT-AT shield are temporarily brought down opening them up for brief attack windows.

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During this time, you I could just as easily grab a Speeder token and replicate one of the most iconic scenes from which this map is based. Snagging a tether rope on the giant mechanic walker’s feet, I could pilot my craft around it to eventually bring it to the ground with a trip. All of this is easily achieved with some scarily simple flight controls, which make use of a slider that shifts between throttle and firepower.

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Iconic moments like these run aplenty throughout the only map we were able to play, which fluttered the heart of the ten year old, Star Wars obsessed child I once was. Sprinting through the same under ice barricades that Han Solo did, or running pilot on the same mission that Luke undertook back before he had his green glow stick evoke a powerful sense of both nostalgia and fandom. But the game doesn’t use it as a crux – rather soaking up all it can from the extensive lore and setting and using it to create nothing short of a damp dream for fans. Add to that eye-popping visuals and quall incredible sound effects, and you’ve got the formula for something truly epic.

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It operates like a modern first-person shooter more than it does like the Battlefront of old, but it’s the smaller details that ensure Battlefront doesn’t feel like a cheap mod laid over an old mould. Gear cards that let you boost your way out of danger or thermite bombs that deal a massive radius of explosive damage are just two examples of some of the enhancements I found on field – helping to repel the Imperial scum converging on the icy planet’s remaining rebel base.

Hearing the unmistakable roar of a TIE fighter’s ION engine over my head made me feel like an integral part of a battle that has been forever ingrained into my memory – and there’s not much else I could’ve asked of it.

Last Updated: June 18, 2015

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff's a bastard.

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