Battlefront: Over a Decade of Gameplay

Battlefront: Over a Decade of Gameplay

The original Battlefront games are still being actively played and modded. Why?

LucasArts
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I will begin by saying that I have not played the recent EA Star Wars: Battefront games. Not ut of boycott or just stubborness, but because I don't have a system that can play them – which from what I hear, is probably a good thing. However, that does not mean I don't play the original Battefront games on a regular basis. Even as I write this, the 2005 Battlefront II is in my Xbox and ready to rock. Not many games in the shooter genre still have this big of a following, especially not ones that haven't had a full release in over a decade. Of course it may have something to do with the fact that they're Star Wars games, but there is something about the original two that keep players coming back for more.

The first Battlefront, released in 2004, was far ahead of its time. The game put you right in the action of large-scale battles across the Star Wars galaxy, including a new planet that was developed for the game itself. At the time, if you were playing a game based on the series, you either were playing one where you were on the ground or flying a ship, and the handful that allowed both had one mode that didn't work as well. Battlefront's developers put just as much effort into both modes, allowing for seamless in-game transitions from ground combat to a bombing run over the enemy in an X-Wing. Unlike many games in the Star Wars library, this put you in as a nameless soldier, with different classes and abilities to choose from. While the game lacked a full story mode, you could play through the maps in order, beginning during the Clone Wars and ending at the end of the Galactic Civil War. It was an instant hit, topping many lists of games of the year. The multiplayer was praised, the concept was new and fresh, the maps varied and well-designed. Several planets had two maps, with different layouts and features that made them different from each other. Production immediately began on a sequel, one that would improve on the system and be worthy of the original.

The following year, after the release of Revenge of the Sith in theaters, the sequel to Battlefront was released. This did everything a video game sequel should do. It expanded on the gameplay, giving us an actual campaign story about the 501st Legion of Clone Troopers, and as the game went on, Stormtroopers. We also were given the ability to play as the iconic heroes and villains of the saga, each one linked to a specific map that suited the character (Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grevious on Utapau, Darth Vader and Princess Leia on Tantive IV, etc.) - which unlike the 2017 remake, you earned by gaining an amount of points during the battle, then had to regain after the hero was defeated. The game even expanded on the ship combat, removing the ability to fly around the battlefields – but replacing it with space ship-to-ship combat, once again putting players inside an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter, only this time miles above a planet's surface. The map selection was increased, though the planets that had two maps on the first game are now only given one – all to make room for more variety among the battlefields. The developer, LucasArts, openly supported mods to the PC version, creating a community still active today (yes, you can download a Scarif or Jakku mod, in time there will be a Crait map as well).

Since then, the shooter genre has been pushed further and further, with new games and takes coming in regularly. The Halo franchise continues to thrive, as does Gears of War and the old mainstay, Call of Duty. But why does these two games from two console generations and over a decade ago still have such a big following? I think there are several reasons. It's because unlike the big titles in the genre, Battlefront is easily played again and again without ever having to pay extra or go online. I've never played Battlefront II online, and only recently did they reactivate the old PC servers – which means for years it was still a major community enough for them to do that. Perhaps it's that the games don't make you a big hero to the Republic or the Rebels, rather just a nameless trooper fighting the wars we've grown up watching on screen, thus allowing the player to give their own story to the battle. Going from playing as a simple Scout Trooper to Darth Vader is still a great moment, and let's be real, recreating the Rouge One ending is awesome.

Again, I haven't played any of the new games to compare them. EA made them pay-to-win, until there was enough movement to change that, which might have saved the franchise altogether. But there is something about the originals that keep people coming back. The community of players and modders is still very active and producing new content, the gameplay is just as good as a recent shooter like Call of Duty WWII, and it's just a straight up Star Wars game. No big story, no major characters they'll never mention in the movies, just a regular battle with the player being right there in the middle of it. It was to a point where, until EA heard about it and stopped the development, an independent group was going to make a free Battlefront III using the abandoned game's codes and designs – a major feature being the ability to climb in a Y-Wing on the ground, fly into space, and join in a space battle going on at the same time as one on the surface. The game has been renamed and the assets changed, but the spirit is still there. The first two installments of Battlefront will always be at the top of lists of best Star Wars games, and will continue to be played for longer than the remakes will.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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