As a huge Star Wars fan, I was massively excited when in 2013, EA announced DICE were hard at work on a new Star Wars Battlefront. The first two Battlefront games were some of my favourite games on the original Xbox. Though many people saw the games as Battlefield clones with a Star Wars skin (which is arguably a fair description) I was so happy to be able to play around in the Galaxy far, far away, that I didn’t care. The idea of DICE, the creator of Battlefield, making a Battlefront game was just too good to be true. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out as I hoped. While it managed to nail the feel and look of the Star Wars universe, but there was no real depth to the gameplay, the game was a barebones release with there only being online multiplayer, just a handful of maps, and an obscenely expensive season pass that just rubbed most gamers the wrong way. It felt as though EA were so determined to get the game out at the same time as Episode VII hit the cinemas that they left half of the game back at DICE’s studios in Stockholm; clearly this wasn’t the case, as I’m sure if there was more of the game available EA would have found a way to add it as premium DLC.
This year will see the release of the inevitable sequel, cunningly titled Star Wars Battlefront II. With this being just the second game released during the first 5 years of EA’s decade long licensing deal with Disney, there is a lot riding on its shoulders. Fortunately, it seems like EA has learned from their mistakes and Battlefront II looks like it’s going to be a great game. In fact, I can’t see any game coming close to being able to match up to it this year.
First of all, the game looks even better than before. The level of visual fidelity makes the game look better than the CGI in The Phantom Menace. The surroundings and atmosphere are so accurate and believable, you might think you’re actually on Naboo, Kamino, or Hoth. This really is one of the best looking games around. Secondly, where the first game was lacking in content, Battlefront II has a wealth of content. Not only are there more multiplayer maps at launch but there is also a significant singleplayer campaign as well as air/space battles. Finally, after the disgrace that was the season pass for the first game, EA has announced that all new multiplayer maps for this sequel will be free. This is such a good PR move and something that gamers will really appreciate. I’m sure that they will still make money from selling some cosmetic items and booster packs, but the player base won’t be fragmented by who has what content.
So, Star Wars Battlefront II is looking amazing and is a fully featured product this time around, but what is its competition. Well, its main competition in the first-person shooter world is Call of Duty: WWII. After fans have complained about the direction that COD has gone in (though we at Enthusiast Towers did really enjoy Infinite Warfare), the series has gone back to its roots by returning to the fertile ground of World War II. Call of Duty used to be not only the biggest shooter around but also one of the biggest franchises in general. The series still has a loyal following and is massively successful, but with the general impression of the franchise being that it is on the decline, could this be the first flop in the game’s history.
When it comes to sci-fi games this year, Battlefront’s main competition will be Destiny 2. The follow-up to Bungie’s 2014 online-only multiplayer shooter, Destiny 2 has a lot of work to do to get the majority of gamers back on its side. The first game had a lot of hype at the start; the demo garnered a lot of praise for its gameplay and blending of genres. However, once the game came out, a lot of people turned on it for its lack of a coherent story, endless grinding, and the fact that there was no matchmaking for Raids (arguably Destiny’s best game mode). Destiny has managed to keep a dedicated following of very hardcore fans who will no doubt be delighted by the upcoming sequel. Whether Destiny 2 can draw back gamers who were put off by the first game’s flaws is only something that we’ll know at the end of the year.
Star Wars Battlefront II is not the only game based on a movie franchise coming out this year. In October, we will be able to return to Mordor in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. The sequel to 2014’s Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will see Talion returning with a newly forged ring of power. The game looks pretty impressive with a focus on the upcoming Xbox One X showing off some great visuals. The first game was a bit of a sleeper hit, with word of mouth helping to make the game a success. Considering that the game wasn’t a hit of the same magnitude as Battlefront and Star Wars is a more popular franchise than Lord of the Rings, I can’t see Shadow of War providing any real competition to Battlefront II.There are other big games coming out this year, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Gran Turismo Sport, Crackdown 3, Forza Motorsport 7, The Evil Within 2, and Super Mario Odyssey, but I don’t see how any of them can compete with Star Wars Battlefront II. With the benefit of being on multiple platforms and having major marketing help from the upcoming release of Star Wars Episode VIII, I can only foresee one winner this year.