Were Empire forces at an unfair advantage in the Star Wars Battlefront beta's Walker Assault on Hoth battle? Everyone who played the beta has an opinion and usually it's the same one: yes.
Chiefly, the Empire has powerful AT-AT and AT-ST walkers the Rebel army has no obvious answer to, because elsewhere Luke Skywalker counters Darth Vader, and the T-47 Airspeeder and X-Wing power-ups counter the TIE Fighters and Interceptors.
The Rebel aim is to capture and hold Uplink Stations that call in AI Y-Wing bombers to trigger a period of AT-AT vulnerability, in which they can be harmed and destroyed. But they don't go down easily: you'll need a couple of vulnerability periods to shoot one down - and capturing and holding Uplink Stations while Imperial forces try to prevent you is hard. As a Rebel, the odds feel stacked against you, and more often than not, you lose - those little toy power generators are pew-pewed to high heaven.
But Rebel wins do happen! I've seen them! And, perhaps, they feel like the underdog by design - in keeping with The Empire Strikes Back's Hoth battle upon which the scenario is based.
If Rebels coordinate their assault and use those satellite-shaped turrets or ion weaponry to take care of AT-STs, and use craft to control the skies, then it's achievable. More importantly, T-47 Airspeeders have the ability to fly cables around AT-AT walkers' legs and bring them down in one fell swoop. It's hard, and requires being in one of the Airspeeders during a period of AT-AT vulnerability, but it's possible. I almost did it. I flew alongside the AT-AT at the right time, hit the shoulder buttons to release the cable and then tried to hold the Airspeeder level in the special mini-game. I eventually crashed but I've seen others succeed.
What a long way of saying I didn't have a problem with the balance. I believed as people played the game for longer and focused more on the overarching tactics of the map, Rebel victories would come - the scales would level. But it turns out I'm officially wrong (what, again?).
According a community manager for the game, and a developer at DICE, Walker Assault on Hoth, in the beta, was actually unbalanced.
Then lead multiplayer designer Dennis Brännvall said something similar: "Yeah it's [being a Rebel is] too tough. We'll make changes based on the feedback and data."
I wonder what DICE will do: make the AT-ATs even more vulnerable and for even longer periods of time - tweak the dials, so to speak? Or will they mix an extra power-up in on the Rebel side?
The beta came to an end yesterday afternoon and attracted an astronomical 9 million players, which is one hell of a stress test. There will be reams of data and feedback to tweak Battlefront with before its 17th November launch. And then of course the process continues, although to what degree we'll have to wait and see.
The full game will feature many more maps, modes, Heroes & Villains, character abilities (star cards) and weaponry. The beta was a glimpse.
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