It was one of the most anticipated games at E3 this year. After almost ten years since the last game in the series came out on consoles, EA's DICE development team took the reins and showed more of the new Star Wars: Battlefront to the world.
At EA's press event, we were treated to a wonderful few minutes of gameplay featuring a battle that looks very similar to the Battle of Hoth (although the development team didn't directly acknowledge it), and at the gameplay demo at EA's booth (sadly, we couldn't take photos), I participated in that same battle.
That's right. For this demo I played as the Galactic Empire. While base capturing was the most common mode in past Battlefront titles, the demo featured something different. My team's job was to escort the two AT-AT walkers as they slowly moved towards the Rebel base. Along the way, we had to take control of uplinks set up by Rebel forces in order to stop the barrage of air assaults that would pose a danger to the giant walkers. It should be noted that even though the gameplay demo at the press event featured an appearance from both Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, the developers told us that they wouldn't be featured in the demo.
I chose one of two snowtroopers and eagerly began the fight. There were a few selections to choose from in terms of weapons, but because I was always wanting to get back into combat as quickly as possible, I stuck to one or two choices. I also had two special abilities on hand — the first was a super jump that helps with traversing long distances to get to the enemy, and the other one was a handy implosion grenade that helps in tight spots, literally. Throw it in a trench or a small room, and the blast is strong enough to get a few Rebel soldiers.
As far as gameplay is concerned, it's what you would expect from a large-scale online multiplayer battle. Players were navigating the snowy trenches while dodging enemy fire, and both teams were swapping casualties in an attempt to reach the objective. There were small efforts at times when teamwork really counted.
For example, there was a point when the opposing team was able to weaken the defenses of one of the AT-AT walkers, and we had to defend it for a small period of time. By gathering at a few choice spots, we were able to not only move alongside the walker as a secondary shield, but we also held off the Rebels from destroying one of the walking behemoths.
Various tokens litter the field that allow you to either fly a TIE fighter or even man the guns on the AT-AT. I was lucky enough to try out both. Obviously, you can't use either feature forever, as a timer gauge slowly dwindles at the bottom of the screen, indicating how much time you have left to make a big impact on the battlefield.
My time with the TIE fighter was short. Instead of concentrating on other aerial opponents, I decided to help out my struggling comrades on the field and lay down some supporting fire to enemies on the ground. Unfortunately, I flew too low and one of my wings clipped the ground; I died in the smoldering flames.
On the other hand, using the arsenal of the AT-AT was a treat. I once again aided teammates as they moved across the trenches by destroying gun turrets and any Rebel forces that would try to flank my allies. I also managed to put some damage on an X-Wing fighter that was being chased by a fellow TIE fighter. I wish I could have stayed in there for the entire mission, but my efforts were required once again on the ground.
The War Rages On
Try as we might, my team couldn't deliver the walkers to the Rebel base. The first one fell around the halfway mark, which somewhat spurned the troops into a more aggressive mood. The second AT-AT walker was very, very close to the Rebel base, but we suffered too many casualties at one point, and not enough snowtroopers were able to reach the walker and defend it in time. The rebels won a close match that time, but we'll be back.
I waited in line for almost an hour to play the game, and I wasn't disappointed. Even though it's being developed by a new studio, DICE was able to bring a bit of nostalgia back to the fans, while still giving a little bit of polish to stay on par with today's games. It'll be exciting to see what DICE has planned for the final release, but it's safe to say that the gameplay demo only made me want to wait another hour in line to play it again.
The end of 2015 is going to be Star Wars-mania, with the game coming out on November 17 and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens arriving in theaters a month later. Hopefully, both can deliver something that will delight fans of the series.