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Jul 08

Battlefield: Star Wars Battlefront Alpha Play And RIP Battlefield Hardline PC


Battlefield Hardline on PC Isn’t dead yet, but there are not a lot of players or servers active in it.  Part of this seems to be other competing game choices, including the many improvements made to Battlefield 4, which is quite healthy on PC.  The 1st DLC is out for Premium players, but that hasn’t brought that many people back to the game.

So let’s hit one of the first issues:  Price.  I haven’t got Premium yet, in large part because I was hoping that it would go on sale with the first DLC.  Reports say that the new DLC is quite nice and adds to the game, but on PC we won’t have players unless they are willing to pay the price.  And for many, it simply isn’t worth as much as Battlefield 4 Premium was.  With one less map than Battlefield 4 DLCs, it objectively is worth less (or is more expensive) for the game play provided.  While the base game has been dropped in price, it is the Premium players who will keep it going.  After all, if you spend extra money on it — and those who already have I am sure are trying to get their money’s worth out of it — you are going to want to play it.  New content adds new interest.

Another element is the required grind or boosting in order to get the Syndicate assignments.  Some players are good enough to do it on their own, but for most it is simply too hard.  There is nothing wrong with having some hard achievements in a game, but not for things which lock useful content.  The game could benefit from more promotional missions and achievements, which could inspire players to compete to do them.

The odd thing is that the game itself runs fairly well and while not perfect in balance, it isn’t bad at all for a straight FPS shooter.  The fact that you will have most of the good unlocks pretty fast means you can concentrate on simply playing the game, not worrying about the progression to the next upgrade.  Many games do perfectly well with no new material, as long as the game play is good.  And there is some very fun times to be had in Hardline.

You just have to have people to play with, and that gets back to the issues which keep people from playing it.  I try to hit it at least once a week, but certainly could do more.  And I think I would, if there were more signs of support.


Star Wars Battlefront Alpha Play

The really good news is that Battlefront plays very well, looks excellent, and has an absolutely solid Star Wars feel.  It is most definitely not a Battlefield 4 reskin.  Not that I expected that, but it was very nice to see it fully confirmed by the Alpha game play.  Not everyone got a chance to try it, of course, and EA hasn’t authorized release of game play videos, so you can’t see it for yourself.  But the reports are all very good about it.

My own experience was good.  The game looked and sounded like Star Wars, and played very smoothly.  No weird glitches, nothing that seemed to work wrong.  Compared to the BF4 Alpha and first Hardline Beta (which was sort of like an Alpha), it was perfect.

We had two different game modes to try.  First, a horde-type survival mode, which could be played cooperatively or solo.  Waves of Imperial forces come after you, a downed pilot, and you must take them out.  Very nice desert scenery and a good environment to use tactics.

The multiplayer used the battle on Hoth, with the Imperial AT-AT walkers advancing on the Rebel base.  This is sort of a Rush game mode, with each side fighting over command stations.  If the rebels held two stations, they could attack and damage the AT-AT walkers.  The walkers continue their advance until they reach the base, unless stopped.  The front line — and the location of the stations which must be controlled — moves back as the walkers advance.  The rebels must concentrate on both holding the front (and stations) and engaging the advancing Imperial forces.  The snow trenches, rock and ice formations offer lots of cover, making for a very nice area to fight over.

The weapons were nicely done.  We had four basic weapons to use — same on both sides — with tradeoffs between things like fire rate, damage, and accuracy.  The weapon system doesn’t use ammo.  Instead, the weapons need to cool down (and you can speed up the cooldown using a reload-type action).  In addition to the soldier’s main weapon, you also have a “Card” which has three additional tools or weapons which you can use as well.  Those require recharging after use.  We only had two Cards to choose from in the Alpha, but I am certain we will see many more options in the full game.

A very interesting element was the power ups picked up on the battlefield.  These provide additional weapons for you to use, and you can only hold one at time, so if you want a different one you must use the first.  These include things like deployable shields, powerful explosives, and smart rockets.  But this system also includes the keys to the vehicles.  You can call in (and then drive) an X-Wing or Tie Fighter on the battlefield, drive an AT-ST walker, or even take control of the gun on the huge AT-AT walkers.  Rather than simply getting in a vehicle and taking control of it, you must earn a shot at them by being out in the battle and pick up the access key.   This should stop anyone from monopolizing vehicles for the entire game.

I believe this system will also provide access to the more powerful characters and their weapons, such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.  We didn’t see any of that in the Alpha, which was a little disappointing.  But they did the storm troopers and rebels so well, I could live without them.  Also, I suspect that the full game will, as Star Wars Battlefront II did, give you the option to play with or without the hero characters and other upgrades.

I’d have liked to see more game modes and maps, rather than just the assault on Hoth.  Of course, they do need to hold stuff back for the Beta and the full game, but still, it would have been nice to at least try a different game mode on the same map.

The Alpha didn’t support in game voice chat or friend/squad organization, so it was harder to coordinate than the current Battlefield games.  The Partner system worked fine, though — where you have one other player who you can spawn on and work with, which can be a friend.  Since it was in a sense a solid demo of the basic game play, this didn’t matter too much, but it did make it harder to try out with a group of friends.

The actual game play made up for that, very well.  The experience of being a Star Wars soldier in an epic battle is brought to life with this game.  It isn’t just upgraded graphics and sound compared to its predecessor.  Star Wars Battlefront I and II retained some elements which tied them to the Battlefield 2 play style.  The new Battlefront focuses the action on game play more like the source material, and has much more of the feel of being in a Star Wars movie.

If they do as well with the rest of the game, it is going to be a solid hit, and perhaps the best Star Wars game of all time.


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