Star Wars has been enjoying renewed attention in 2015, spurred on by the promise of the franchise's return to the big screen at the end of the year. With a focus on building anticipation for Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens, fans have been treated to a slew of new comic books from Marvel, as well as a ton of new merchandise and an appearance by Darth Vader himself in the animated series Star Wars Rebels. Needless to say, it's a good time to be a Star Wars fan.
Though anticipation for the upcoming Star Wars film is through the roof, 2015 also features the return of the beloved game franchise Star Wars: Battlefront. Since the first game released in 2004, it has given fans the unique perspective of a foot soldier in a number of iconic battles from both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy. Electronic Arts (EA) and developer DICE will be bringing the franchise to consoles for the first time in ten years, relaunching the series with the upcoming, multiplayer-focused Star Wars Battlefront.
EA recently revealed a new game mode called "Drop Zone", an 8-vs-8 objective-based mode that takes inspiration from "King of the Hill" style gameplay. In this mode, drop pods are falling on the map and both teams compete to capture the pods. Players attempting to capture the pod will initiate a brief capture sequence, during which their team will have to defend the drop pod from their opponent. To win the game, a team must either capture five different drop pods or control the majority after ten minutes.
Lead level designer Dennis Brännvall describes the gameplay as action-oriented, with level design focused on enhancing the action.
"We're promoting the idea of a fast, action-packed game where you need to be mobile and think on your feet. Camping doesn't really pay off... Playing 'Drop Zone' on the Swamp Crash Site on Endor is a personal favorite. The map has a couple of nice choke points, but overall is very free-flowing and hectic, as enemies can attack from anywhere on that level.
While "Drop Zone" might fit in with DICE's promises for the game, EA recently revealed a facet of Battlefront that's not sitting well with some gamers. The publisher announced on Twitter that Battlefront will not feature a server browser, instead relying on a nebulous "skill-based matchmaking system" to set up the matches.
@BSanbizzle Star Wars Battlefront will not offer a server browser, but will utilize a new skill based matchmaking system.
— EAStarWars (@EAStarWars) September 1, 2015
The reaction to this news has been largely negative, specifically among players planning to pick up the PC version of the game. Server browsers are popular on the platform as they allow players to filter existing games and easily join friends in a match. Much of the outrage is likely due to the previous assumption that Battlefront would function in much the same way as Battlefield, DICE's other popular shooter franchise. In that game, players can go so far as to rent their own private and public servers, completely controlling the match setup.
It's likely a decision that was made to simplify the multiplayer process, as the Star Wars brand will draw a far larger player base than Battlefield typically does. However, it's important to note that though many have assumed the worst, there's no word from the developer on how matchmaking will work. It's possible that the matchmaking combined with the possibility of setting up custom matches will suffice for most players.
Despite the unfortunate news about the servers, Battlefront is shaping up to be the game many fans have long hoped for. The game is taking care to include nostalgic missions on planets like Hoth, but it's also keeping an eye toward the future. It also offers a gorgeous look at some of the planets in the galaxy far, far away. Hopefully as the beta and final release date approach, excitement for what the game is doing right can help offset some of this new negativity.
Star Wars Battlefront releases for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 20, 2015.