The new Star Wars: Battlefront trailer unveiled at Star Wars Celebration touched on plenty of the cool new and returning features in the upcoming reboot of this iconic Star Wars game franchise. Still, it didn?t exactly give the full experience of what EA and DICE let people see at the convention. If you weren?t lucky enough to find yourself in the center of the Star Wars universe this past weekend in Anaheim, here?s a rundown of EA?s Battlefront setup on the show floor?which gave a longer, more in-depth look at what will make the game special.
The hands-off demo was about 15 minutes of pre-recorded footage from a pre-alpha PS4 build. It took place in a mode called Walker Assault, which seemed to be defined by an ever-increasing presence of AT-STs and AT-ATs. The demo, given inside a small domed theater within the booth, started off much the same way as the trailer, with speeder bikes whizzing past as a player trudged through the thick foliage of Endor. Once the first-person camera crested a ridge and saw a platoon of stormtroopers, however, the seamless switch between first- and third-person cameras made its presence known.
Transitioning to a third-person perspective allowed for the generic rebel soldier we were following to more accurately fire from the hip with his blaster as he carved a path through the oncoming Imperial forces. After clearing some space for himself, he instantly switched back to first-person view, took cover behind a fallen tree, and then attempted to snipe more far-off soldiers?which demonstrated that both perspectives could have their uses in battle beyond player preference and showed off the previously announced ability to switch viewpoints on the fly.
An AT-ST soon flanked our hero, and he seamlessly switched back to third-person mode, no doubt to get a better view of the surrounding area to escape his now-compromised position. The soldier attempted to take down the walker with blaster fire, scarring its silver body with black marks, but when that proved futile, he quickly ran over to an equipment locker, where he picked up a rocket launcher. This filled a special-weapon slot on an item wheel in the lower right corner of the screen that also included a standard blaster and grenades. Then, much like in the trailer, he proceeded to use the rocket launcher to blast apart the AT-ST?s head.
As stormies and AT-STs continued to fall one by one, I also saw the points/perk system in play. Much like in DICE?s other multiplayer games, earning kills nets as much as 100 points, with 25 doled out for assists. Killing enemies with particular weapons, like grenades or rocket launchers?whether soldier or vehicle?also netted points. Even those small blaster shots against the AT-ST earned vehicle damage points, insinuating that players will be able to take out something small like a chicken walker with enough concentrated fire if an appropriate special weapon isn?t handy.
Soon, the menacing AT-AT from the trailer showed up, slowly stomping its way across the battlefield. The player then took an interesting tactic and ran underneath the AT-AT, using its durasteel legs as additional cover?as stormtrooper fire continued to blister the area?before rushing over to a terminal to call in a Y-wing bombing run.
The battle still raged on even after the AT-ATs destruction, and the player then switched back to first-person view again and joined a second, human-controlled player running into a bunker similar to the one Han Solo and his team destroyed on Endor in Return of the Jedi. Here, however, was a special surprise. The second player turned a blind corner and immediately found himself lifted several feet off the ground. As I watched through the eyes of the first player, the second player desperately kicked to escape the invisible grasp around his throat?but soon succumbed to strangulation.
His lifeless body was then angrily thrown against a wall, and Darth Vader emerged?a little unsurprisingly, after the obvious display of Force powers?from the corner, flicking on the crimson blade of his lightsaber. The player fired his blaster at Vader, but the Dark Lord easily deflected the shots away with his saber. The rebel fighter then ran back out the way he came and into the forest, only to see a small army of AT-ATs and AT-STs approaching his position. Surrounded, the player turned to look back, but Vader was already upon him, striking him down with all of his hatred, and ending the demo.
This demo definitely imparted the feeling that players will able to create their own adventures and stories in Battlefront?as alluded to during the Star Wars Celebration panel that unveiled the trailer. Even watching someone else play, I got the sense that a dozen different options were available at any given moment, and you never knew what could come around the next corner. The Battlefront demo made me even more excited than the trailer, because it showed off a scenario that could actually occur in gameplay?and one that likely wouldn?t play out exactly like that ever again.