Star Wars: Battlefront (DICE) Features

FeatureHow DICE's Star Wars Battlefront struck back

And what Battlefront 2 should learn from it.

Star Wars Battlefront took its time to come good. It wasn't until the end of 2016, when the Death Star DLC dropped and completed the package, that it finally delivered on its considerable promise. Having burned plenty of early purchasers who paid full price for a content-light game at launch, EA DICE bigwigs have their work cut out to bring back singed-finger fans for the sequel. A proper campaign option would be one way of winning people over, but a better approach is perhaps to look at what the first game (eventually) got right - in particular, the Walker Assault mode on Hoth, Sabotage on Bespin and Battle Stations on the Death Star.

Star Wars Battlefront's Rogue One DLC gives us some pointers towards next year's sequel

It's taken its time, but step by step and piece by piece DICE has moved towards the Battlefront that fans wanted. Not that it was too far off at its first attempt, mind; upon release last November Star Wars Battlefront was an arrestingly gorgeous multiplayer shooter that only just stopped short of greatness. The updates outside of the expansion packs have often done a better job of keeping the game fresh than the paid DLC, but the final add-on for Battlefront feels like the most substantial yet. It certainly feels like the one that's been shaped most by fan feedback as well.

"The reception was mixed," DICE producer Paul Keslin says of the launch in an honest appraisal. "We've been listening to a lot of the feedback since launch and even post-launch as we've been adding new things. We've announced the next game that's coming out - those are things we're look to tackle in the future. We can't always get everything in the current game, but in the future we want to hit those things and give the fans what they're after."

Battlefront's Rogue One DLC comes mighty close to delivering one particular request from fans. When DICE's take on Battlefront was revealed, people were upset that it lacked one of the key features of the original games - namely the ability for players to go from on-foot to aerial combat in one seamless action. The Rogue One DLC doesn't quite go that far, but what it does is present a game mode that moves from aerial combat to ground warfare - and unlike the Death Star DLC before it that had a similar mode, the loading screens here are kept to a minimum, the transition now happening via a swift cutscene.

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Poor DICE. One of the biggest criticisms thrown the way of its Star Wars-themed multiplayer shooter, and one of the biggest hurdles it's faced since its announcement, is that it didn't feel very much like Battlefront at all. Gone was the easy transition from on-foot combat to aerial dogfights, and every leaked piece of footage from Free Radical's Battlefront 3 only serves to illustrate how far DICE's take had fallen from the tree.

After pumping over 60 hours into DICE's Star Wars Battlefront, I should finally admit that I've quite enjoyed this wilfully simple brand of multiplayer shooting, dressed up with all the bells and whistles and thwomping lasers you'd expect of a premium licensed product. Sometimes, it's just lovely to play something that's positively mindless, especially when it does such a grand job of swaddling you in nostalgia with its handsomely realised dioramas and sumptuous aesthetic. Battlefront's not a great game - far from it - but it's a perfectly good one.

Star Wars Battlefront has made some great strides since launch - the Outer Rim DLC isn't one of them

If there's one thing you can rely on DICE for, it's superb post-release support. It's what helped the hobbled Battlefield 4 back on its feet, pushing it towards greater strides that eventually saw it become one of the finest multiplayer shooters available on console (that single-player campaign, of course, was always going to be well beyond repair), and it's what's kept me sticking around with Battlefront, the slick Star Wars tie-in that was perhaps a little too streamlined upon its launch late last year.

What's changed since then? The fundamentals are still the same - this remains a stripped-back shooter, aiming for arcade simplicity over more complex thrills, but it's been bolstered by some fine-tuning and a couple of generous expansions, dishing out the superb 40-player mode Turning Point and a handful of maps gratis, including the wonderfully intricate, heart-stoppingly beautiful full-scale effort Survivors on Endor.

There's been a consistent trickle of new things to do, and while it's probably not enough to win back any put off by the relative shallowness of this particular brand of Battlefront, the spectacle it offers hasn't dimmed in the slightest; it's only become that little bit broader. The first significant DLC as part of Star Wars Battlefront, however, doesn't add that much for those who've bought the season pass. After some of DICE's generosity shown elsewhere, it can feel like something of a disappointment.

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Is it really all about the big battles in Star Wars Battlefront? They feel like a great big pile-up to me. Spawn, bungle enthusiastically forwards, die. Who shot me? Oh it was someone in a turret; oh it was someone behind me; oh it was an AT-AT or an AT-ST or an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter or an Orbital Strike. Spawn again, die. Is that really that much fun?

FeatureStar Wars Battlefront feels like a return to the GoldenEye era

DICE's reboot is full of simple thrills, but can they last?

The Battlefront name really does it no favours. Pandemic's 2004 original and its quick-fire sequel, delivered just 12 months later, might be over a decade old, but memories of their chaotic, epic battles still burn brightly. Coming to EA and developer DICE's reboot straight off the back of the all-encompassing space skirmishes of Battlefront 2, it can all feel like something of a backwards step.

I've been playing a bit of Star Wars Battlefront on the EA Access trial on Xbox One. My favourite thing so far? The death animations. When you get a kill, the enemy soldier falls over in a shower of sparks with a melodramatic "aaargh!" - just like an overenthusiastic extra taking a tumble in the movies, making the most of their three seconds of fame.

FeatureWhat it's like to play Star Wars Battlefront solo

Right now, I feel like I could take on the whole Empire myself.

Star Wars Battlefront is a multiplayer game, of course - it's always been billed that way, and it's been very much designed to be played that way. There is solo content, though - and I'm not talking about the wise-cracking mercenary who makes a cameo appearance here as one of Battlefront's Heroes, complete with his infamous shoulder barge that we know and love from the movies - and it's where you'll likely spend your first moments with Battlefront. The problem is, it's not all that much fun.

Digital FoundryPreparing your PC for Star Wars: Battlefront

Digital Foundry on PC performance and recommended hardware across all budgets.

The Star Wars: Battlefront beta concluded a few days ago and DICE can seemingly rest easy - the nightmares of the Battlefield 4 era look to be over, server stability held up despite the immense load caused by a cumulative 9m users, and what was presented was a remarkably solid piece of code - good news, bearing in mind that the game releases in just a few short weeks. The beta also allowed us to profile the revised Frostbite 3 engine across a range of graphics hardware, allowing us to put together this performance preview with settings and hardware recommendations.

Performance Analysis: Star Wars: Battlefront beta on Xbox One

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Star Wars: Battlefront beta on Xbox One

It's 720p - but to what extent does that impact the game?

UPDATE 10/10/15 11:37am: Rounding off our console coverage of the Star Wars: Battlefront beta, we thought we'd take a look at the survival mode two-player split-screen on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In this mode, DICE drops frame-rate to 30fps, with pretty decent results. The action is still plenty of fun, although we did notice that fluidity is compromised owing to some frame-pacing issues. We noticed something similar in Need for Speed: Rivals a couple of years back and it was fixed via a patch, so fingers crossed DICE can do the same here. One thing we can confirm after further testing is that both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions do run the split-screen component at full 1080p, with DICE effectively trading frame-rate for resolution - so a 1920x540 resolution per player window is confirmed.

Original Story: The Star Wars Battlefront beta kicked off yesterday, giving us our first opportunity to go hands-on with the Xbox One version of this hugely anticipated game. But going in, our concern was this: the PS4 beta renders at 900p - just as Battlefield 4 did two years ago - and we suspected that history might repeat itself on Xbox One as well, with a sub-optimal 720p presentation. We had harboured hopes that two years of familiarising itself with the Microsoft hardware would result in a higher base rendering resolution, or that we may see a dynamic resolution as seen in the likes of Halo 5: Guardians.

It hasn't happened. Battlefront on Xbox One is fixed at 720p, meaning that it runs at 64 per cent of the PS4's overall pixel count. From an image quality perspective, the compromises are just as you'd expect; we see more aliased edges, and a higher level of shimmering on fine distant detail - particularly on Tatooine's flag-lines. Added to that, there's a softening to the picture as a whole - a result of a more drastic upscale, combined with a similar grade of post-process anti-aliasing to PS4.

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Performance Analysis: Star Wars Battlefront beta on PS4

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Star Wars Battlefront beta on PS4

Digital Foundry presents initial impressions and metrics.

UPDATE 10/10/15 11:37am: Rounding off our console coverage of the Star Wars: Battlefront beta, we thought we'd take a look at the survival mode two-player split-screen on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In this mode, DICE drops frame-rate to 30fps, with pretty decent results. The action is still plenty of fun, although we did notice that fluidity is compromised owing to some frame-pacing issues. We noticed something similar in Need for Speed: Rivals a couple of years back and it was fixed via a patch, so fingers crossed DICE can do the same here. One thing we can confirm after further testing is that both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions do run the split-screen component at full 1080p, with DICE effectively trading frame-rate for resolution - so a 1920x540 resolution per player window is confirmed.

Original Story: Along with a select few, we've managed to acquire early access to the Star Wars: Battlefront PS4 beta ahead of its official release on October 8th. With several gameplay sessions captured, we're now able to compare the console version's performance and visual make-up against the PC build we played a couple of weeks back in Stockholm. To cut to the chase, the PS4 game runs at a 1600x900 native resolution, falling into line with DICE's previous work on the console. It means there is an upscale on the image, but for the most part its post-process anti-aliasing does a decent enough job in keeping the image clean.

As for performance, the game targets 60fps and hits this number for the most part. Running across the tundra of the Assault Walker stage, it feels buttery smooth at this refresh, with no noticeable drops. However, the PS4 beta starts to struggle once we get into the final third of this match-up, with the encroaching AT-AT vehicles forcing rebels into an interior base. Alpha effects-work cranks up a gear as the two sides clash around this spot, and we get repeated 50fps drops as grenades or missile strikes crash down too.

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Digital FoundryDigital Foundry: Hands-on with Star Wars: Battlefront

The PC version dissected ahead of the open beta.

In certain respects, Star Wars: Battlefront is the best looking game the Frostbite 3 engine has yet produced. The toolset is suitably expanded to make sure each map and weapon holds true to the source material - a product of its new physically-based rendering. That said, having experienced the PC beta code first-hand at a recent press event, it's also fair to say that certain aspects of its technology are pared back compared to DICE's Battlefield line. It's a different beast of course, but just what does this mean for the game, and its performance on PC?

The first thing that strikes home, as both Stormtroopers and Rebels dart every which-way across Sullust's wasteland, is just how well it all comes together visually. Not only in seeing the latest PC build running this unseen map at tip-top settings, bringing to life a charcoal-black network of rock pathways and ruined spacecraft. But it's also in the style - how DICE works finer touches into its Star Wars shooter to separate the game from its Battlefield legacy.

FeatureThe best of EGX 2015

Picking through the highlights of this year's show.

It's nearly done. After three days of drinking, chatting and, funnily enough, playing games, EGX 2015 is entering its final stretch, and we're all blearily considering the long trek home from Birmingham NEC. And what a year it's been! We've been graced by legends such as Sony's Shuhei Yoshida, been entertained by the Dragon's Den-esque Pitch Your Game Idea at the Rezzed sessions and discovered some new and exciting games at the various indie sections. What, though, have been the highlights? Here's a little selection of what's made this year's EGX special.

FeatureThe Gamescom Bulletin: Day 2

Battlefront! Mafia! Awkward banter!

Welcome to our second news roundup from Gamescom! The show is now up and running and with it our crack Away Team. We'd tell you what they've been saying so far, but they've helpfully recorded a half-hour chat rattling through it all, including Martin getting IRL blocked by Kamiya. We are hoping this was accompanied by an official badge.

Digital FoundryStar Wars Battlefront on PS4 shows huge promise - but needs work

Digital Foundry analyses DICE's crucial console reveal.

With a show of work-in-progress gameplay footage - as captured from PlayStation 4 - Star Wars Battlefront's E3 demo was a genuine highlight of this year's event. Unlike its earlier April reveal (set to a woodland battle on Endor), it's also a far more realistic take on what to expect of PS4's multiplayer; a continuous run of on-foot and vehicular action around the snowy tundra of Hoth. But for all its flair, does it stack up to the game's impressive earlier reveal - and how is performance shaping up?

FeatureStar Wars Battlefront is more than just a big budget Battlefield mod

How DICE embedded itself in the Star Wars universe, and what we saw in the demo.

When JJ Abrams gave his much-anticipated public panel on The Force Awakens in Anaheim this weekend as part of the Star Wars Celebration 2015 event, one of the loudest cheers he received (and there were a lot of loud cheers) was when he reassured fans - jaded with the overuse of digital effects thanks to the disastrous prequel trilogy - that he had scaled back production of his sequels to include as many physical props and tangible locations as possible.