There have been plenty of Star Wars games that let fans live out their battle fantasies. From Super Empire Strikes Back (an early personal favorite of mine), to Rogue Squadron, to even a Lego Death Star trench run — just probably not Star Wars Kinect. But nothing quite captured such a strong audience like Star Wars Battlefront. Now nearly 10 years after the release of Battlefront 2, EA DICE is working with Lucasfilm to bring back Star Wars Battlefront and they showed it off in a big way at Star Wars Celebration 2015.
This is the trailer that premiered to a packed house of several thousand anxious fans:
It’s no real surprise that Endor was the focus, as that’s what’s been shown most to this point. What was most selling was the true Star Wars feeling. The in-engine cinematic opens with a upward facing shot you would entirely expect to find in the films and when it finally pans down to the forest and the ensuing battle, it felt like true Star Wars. That’s due in part to the on-location research DICE completed during the game’s initial development.
DICE’s Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir, Senior Producer of Battlefront, spoke of visiting the original shooting locations, such as the Redwood Forest, Tunisia and Iceland to recapture the environment. Lucasfilm’s Doug Chang agreed and was quite excited about that element, stating that you just get something else when you’re actually in the environment. He also mentioned how with film, you’ll only see perhaps 10% of the world; so much detail and work can be left out in order to achieve the director’s vision. With Battlefront, we’ll have more freedom to see a fully realized world, and Chang admitted to simply exploring the setting when initially getting some time with the game.
DICE also visited the Lucasfilm archives to study the original shooting props. The reverence the developers had for what they studied shone through immensely, seemingly making fans in the room comfortable with the fact that their beloved Battlefront is in the hands of true fans. In a separate demonstration of the game located on the showroom floor, EA reps stressed that the AT-AT Walker seen in the footage looks exactly like the one seen in The Empire Strikes Back because it is the same one; the AT-ST is the same from Return of the Jedi. It did lend an immediate sense of authenticity, as many established Star Wars fans can easily spot even the smallest of discrepancies.
That separate preview showed an extended look of the Endor scene. Showing off game footage from a pre-Alpha build, it followed a Rebel soldier getting somewhat situated with his squad from a first-person view. During the escalating Imperial attack, the view switched to third-person, a feature officially announced during the panel that was met with noticeable applause. The gameplay offered standard issue features with the Star Wars twist: thermal detonators for grenades, a bubble shield, and a standard issue Rebel Alliance blaster rifle. Kill streaks and “enhanced kills” allowed an upgrade to a rocket firing mode, though it wasn’t clear whether it was a single-use upgrade. In all, it was roughly 6 minutes of a smoothly-played gameplay recorded specifically for Star Wars Celebration.
Outside of the trailer premiere back at the panel, DICE offered several new announcements to the Celebration crowd. The volcanic planet seen within the trailer is in fact Sullust, which will be using Battlefront as its debut. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and the Millennium Falcon were features/teased within the trailer, which means the classic heroes will be playable within the full game. However, it wasn’t necessarily made clear just how that is going to work.
The most coy announcement came at the end, when DICE asked whether most people wondered how the Star Destroyer seen in the Force Awakens trailer ended up in the Jakkuian desert. That was a segue into The Battle of Jakku being announced as free DLC to be released on December 8, just in time to lead into the film’s release. Pre-orders will allow access to play the DLC on December 1. An educated guess based on the trailer and a Playstation 4 giveaway: further DLC may be given to PS4 players first, or even exclusively. Yet that’s still just pure personal speculation.
From the trailer, the game looks to be a solid effort and return to classic Star Wars battles. It was confirmed via a Twitter Q&A that Battlefront will focus on just the original trilogy. We’ve all seen what DICE can do with a sandbox style battle game. Battlefield is a fairly beloved and okayed franchise. Perhaps the primary concern at this point is just how this Battlefront will separate itself from the original. Can it be more than just a nostalgia trip with a fancy coating?
We’ll see later this year, when Star Wars Battlefront releases November 17, 2015 for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.