There are many games set in the Star Wars universe that hold a special place in the hearts of gamers worldwide including Rogue Squadron and Knights of the Old Republic to name a few but one series that can arguably be cited as being one the most popular Star Wars series/games ever are the Battlefront games. Their popularity is so great that gamers have been asking for a true sequel since Star Wars: Battlefront II was released in 2005 (a few spin-offs have been released for handheld consoles) with their prayers finally being answered at E3 2013. This article will look at what made the Battlefront games popular, the false dawn of a third installment, how EA revived the series and whether DICE will restore Star Wars: Battlefront to its former glories.
Why Is The Series So Popular?
One reason that could be given for the popularity of the Battlefront games was that it allowed you to do something that you couldn’t really do in other Star Wars games in that you could have big team battles at various locations in the Star Wars universe. These big battles took place between the four main factions from both the original and prequel trilogies. Other games set in this sprawling universe often limited you to a certain character with specific story based missions (see Star Wars: Obi-Wan on the original Xbox as an example) so the freedom with Battlefront was refreshing.
Fans had always longed to participate in battles on the fearsome Death Star or down on the ice-cold environment of Hoth and they could finally do it with Battlefront. The fights felt epic and you really had sense of achievement when you won after eliminating as much of the enemy as you possibly could while capturing strategically placed command posts. Enough depth was provided across the story based ‘Campaign’ mode, the galaxy controlling ‘Galactic Conquest’ mode and the ‘battle-of-your-choice’ mode simply entitled ‘Instant Action’.
Star Wars: Battlefront II introduced a hero class which allowed you to control some well-known characters such as Darth Vader and Yoda after meeting certain in-game criteria. Space combat also made its debut but this wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the traditional ground combat. All these various elements add up to one fun video game series but everything went quiet aside from a few average handheld titles (the last of which was in 2009) and fans started to wonder where the next Battlefront game was going to come from.
A sequel was first confirmed in 2006 by CVG as being in development by Free Radical but by October 2008 they had lost the rights to develop Star Wars: Battlefront III. The game was claimed as being ‘finished’ but accusations of developers regularly missing deadlines and LucasArts not marketing the title enough saw the end of the prospective title. Star Wars: Battlefront Online was also briefly rumored but nothing came to pass.
Possible files for the now-cancelled title were found on the disc for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and pre-alpha footage of the Free Radical game found its way onto the internet. Despite these little glimpses of hope, most gamers thought the series was gone and all these files did was give us a idea of what could have been with Star Wars: Battlefront III.
However, hope returned thanks to an unlikely source.
EA Acquires License To Publish Star Wars Games
In May of this year the news was revealed that Electronic Arts had secured the rights to publish games set in the Star Wars universe and had commenced development of games at some of their studios including BioWare and DICE. This news set fans off wondering about whether this would see a resurrection of the Battlefront series, as it would surely prove to be extremely popular and a big earner for both EA and Disney.
It would be an understatement to say that EA may not be the most popular company in modern video gaming but this deal would probably be the best bet for the Battlefront series due to the difficult problems that plagued the previous attempt at making the game. No official confirmation of a Battlefront game was made alongside the announcement of the deal so fans looked forward to E3 with the mind-set that if anything Battlefront related was going to revealed, E3 would be the place to do it.
E3 2013 Reveal Of ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’
The moment fans had been waiting years and years for arrived during EA’s press conference during E3 2013 when a brief teaser trailer was shown depicting the surface of Hoth, on which an Empire Strikes Back-era Snowspeeder suddenly crashes before the foot of an AT-AT comes crashing down. The trailer received many cheers from the watching crowd and almost immediately gamers began speculating about what the new game would be like.
Battlefront Reboot Announced
The Swedish developer DICE, best known for their Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge titles, was revealed as being the developers behind the new Battlefront game which was a popular move with fans due to the high quality of their games and their game engines. The game will be built on a new version of the Frostbite engine, Frostbite 3.
Later in the week of E3, it was stated that the new Battlefront was not going to be a sequel to the 2005 title and would in-fact be a reboot for the franchise with it described as being DICE’s interpretation of what Battlefront should be. This is slightly worrying as you have to wonder whether DICE is going to change everything that was once loved by fans of the series and leave us with something that was Battlefront in name only. That leaves one final question to be asked: “Can DICE do it?”
Can DICE Do It? – An Early Prediction
Will DICE be able to capture what everyone loved about the Star Wars: Battlefront games while still putting their own spin on it? The simple answer I believe is “yes”. The fact that the developers themselves asked EA to let them make the game shows how keen they are to bring this series back to life.
The Battlefield games also show that DICE knows their way around a shooter although I would prefer an option to play in either first or third person viewpoint instead of being restricted to the former as is commonplace in the Battlefield games. The Frostbite 3 engine promises a level of destruction not yet seen in Battlefront and the final result will be interesting to see.
What modes will make it in the final game? All of the original ones plus any new ones that DICE wishes to introduce would be nice plus all the settings and factions that appeared in past games. Ground-to-space combat was going to be included in Star Wars: Battlefront III so it would be awesome if this found its way into the new game as it would provide a great way to play the game. I’m aware that DICE wantS to make this their own version of Battlefront but to not include the things mentioned in this paragraph would probably not go down too well with the fans.
Now We Wait…
All that we can do now is wait for EA and DICE to reveal more about Star Wars: Battlefront with it hopefully being able to meet the lofty expectations that both the gaming and Star Wars fan communities have of it. Until then, maybe have another game of Battlefront II and look forward to the next generation of this popular Star Wars franchise.
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