Tag Archive: Star Wars Celebration

The new Star Wars: Battlefront trailer unveiled at Star Wars Celebration touched on plenty of the cool new and returning features in the upcoming reboot of this iconic Star Wars game franchise. Still, it didn’t exactly give the full experience of what EA and DICE let people see at the convention. If you weren’t lucky enough to find yourself in the center of the Star Wars universe this past weekend in Anaheim, here’s a rundown of EA’s Battlefront setup on the show floor—which gave a longer, more in-depth look at what will make the game special.

The hands-off demo was about 15 minutes of pre-recorded footage from a pre-alpha PS4 build. It took place in a mode called Walker Assault, which seemed to be defined by an ever-increasing presence of AT-STs and AT-ATs. The demo, given inside a small domed theater within the booth, started off much the same way as the trailer, with speeder bikes whizzing past as a player trudged through the thick foliage of Endor. Once the first-person camera crested a ridge and saw a platoon of stormtroopers, however, the seamless switch between first- and third-person cameras made its presence known.

Transitioning to a third-person perspective allowed for the generic rebel soldier we were following to more accurately fire from the hip with his blaster as he carved a path through the oncoming Imperial forces. After clearing some space for himself, he instantly switched back to first-person view, took cover behind a fallen tree, and then attempted to snipe more far-off soldiers—which demonstrated that both perspectives could have their uses in battle beyond player preference and showed off the previously announced ability to switch viewpoints on the fly.

An AT-ST soon flanked our hero, and he seamlessly switched back to third-person mode, no doubt to get a better view of the surrounding area to escape his now-compromised position. The soldier attempted to take down the walker with blaster fire, scarring its silver body with black marks, but when that proved futile, he quickly ran over to an equipment locker, where he picked up a rocket launcher. This filled a special-weapon slot on an item wheel in the lower right corner of the screen that also included a standard blaster and grenades. Then, much like in the trailer, he proceeded to use the rocket launcher to blast apart the AT-ST’s head.

As stormies and AT-STs continued to fall one by one, I also saw the points/perk system in play. Much like in DICE’s other multiplayer games, earning kills nets as much as 100 points, with 25 doled out for assists. Killing enemies with particular weapons, like grenades or rocket launchers—whether soldier or vehicle—also netted points. Even those small blaster shots against the AT-ST earned vehicle damage points, insinuating that players will be able to take out something small like a chicken walker with enough concentrated fire if an appropriate special weapon isn’t handy.

Soon, the menacing AT-AT from the trailer showed up, slowly stomping its way across the battlefield. The player then took an interesting tactic and ran underneath the AT-AT, using its durasteel legs as additional cover—as stormtrooper fire continued to blister the area—before rushing over to a terminal to call in a Y-wing bombing run.

The battle still raged on even after the AT-ATs destruction, and the player then switched back to first-person view again and joined a second, human-controlled player running into a bunker similar to the one Han Solo and his team destroyed on Endor in Return of the Jedi. Here, however, was a special surprise. The second player turned a blind corner and immediately found himself lifted several feet off the ground. As I watched through the eyes of the first player, the second player desperately kicked to escape the invisible grasp around his throat—but soon succumbed to strangulation.

His lifeless body was then angrily thrown against a wall, and Darth Vader emerged—a little unsurprisingly, after the obvious display of Force powers—from the corner, flicking on the crimson blade of his lightsaber. The player fired his blaster at Vader, but the Dark Lord easily deflected the shots away with his saber. The rebel fighter then ran back out the way he came and into the forest, only to see a small army of AT-ATs and AT-STs approaching his position. Surrounded, the player turned to look back, but Vader was already upon him, striking him down with all of his hatred, and ending the demo.

This demo definitely imparted the feeling that players will able to create their own adventures and stories in Battlefront—as alluded to during the Star Wars Celebration panel that unveiled the trailer. Even watching someone else play, I got the sense that a dozen different options were available at any given moment, and you never knew what could come around the next corner. The Battlefront demo made me even more excited than the trailer, because it showed off a scenario that could actually occur in gameplay—and one that likely wouldn’t play out exactly like that ever again.

We ask fans about their impressions of the new Star Wars: Battlefront trailer from Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim.

It’s crazy to think that’s it already been 10 years since the last Star Wars: Battlefront game came to home consoles. But when EA DICE’s relaunch of the series drops this holiday season, that’s exactly how long it will have been since Battlefront II released on the PS2, Xbox, PC, and PSP. In honor of the new Battlefront’s reveal at this year’s Star Wars Celebration convention, we decided to take a look back at the history of this beloved gaming brand.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Back in 2004, Star Wars’ popularity was still riding high. We were mere months away from the release of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in theaters, and although Star Wars games had long been loved on PC (X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Jedi Knight), they were going through something of an upswing on consoles courtesy of three successful Rogue Squadron games on Nintendo systems and the Xbox/PC RPG Knights of the Old Republic.

LucasArts looked to continue its success on consoles, and they tapped a then-little-known developer named Pandemic to play around with the brand. The studio blended first- and third-person shooting with some standard conquest gameplay, which brought a whole new dimension to a Star Wars video game. Players were allowed to jump into different conflicts from the movie universe, while choosing from one of five classes within four factions. And thus, Star Wars: Battlefront was born for PS2, Xbox, and PC. Although the single-player component was a rather bare-bones experience—and poor AI held the title back at times—Pandemic was on to the start of something special when it came to Star Wars and multiplayer gaming.

Return of the Jedi

Only a year after the massive success of Star Wars: Battlefront, Pandemic took the criticism it had received to heart and not only fixed many of the issues that plagued the first game, but also built new modes on top of them that would come to define the series in 2005’s Battlefront II. The first of these was the addition of a revamped single-player campaign. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith had released earlier that year, and Pandemic crafted a narrative around a single, anonymous stormtrooper who served in the legendary 501st division, Vader’s Fist, and followed his exploits from the Clone Wars up to the infamous assault on Hoth that opened up The Empire Strikes Back.

While vehicles had been a part of the first game, Battlefront II added space battles to the mix, allowing for many of the iconic firefights that played out across the movies to be re-created on TV screens. It also featured seamless transitions where players could fly a ship into the hangar bay of an enemy vessel, deboard, and wreak havoc from the inside out. Playable characters received a big boost in the game as well—not only was a sixth class added to each faction, but iconic heroes, such as Luke Skywalker, could be utilized in battle if certain criteria were achieved. These “Hero” characters were featured as NPCs in the first entry, but here, they had specific game modes built around them, and they could often change the tide of any battle if implemented properly by a smart player.

In only a year’s time, Pandemic had crafted what many still point to as the premier Star Wars experience in video games, thanks to the freedom it offered players during conflicts and its wide range of scenarios taken from the films.

Size matters not

With Battlefront II dominating on the home-console front, LucasArts decided to focus more on making the franchise portable, so they tapped PSP development experts Rebellion to make Renegade Squadron, which released in late 2007 as a PSP exclusive. Similar in many regards to its console brethren, Renegade Squadron limited itself to the original trilogy of Star Wars movies, following a group of ex-criminals turned Rebel operatives through some of the most harrowing black-ops missions during the battles of Yavin, Hoth, and Endor. While the single-player component lacked the depth of Battlefront II, it did introduce customizable characters to the series for the first time.

The mixed fan reaction to Renegade Squadron wouldn’t deter the mobile movement for the franchise. Star Wars Battlefront: Mobile Squadrons was developed by THQ Wireless and released in the beginning of 2009, but it met with minimal success—most likely due to the fact that it was an on-rails shooter that featured none of the gameplay Battlefront had come to represent.

Battlefront again returned to the PSP in 2009 with Elite Squadron—but this time it also hit the Nintendo DS, making it the first (and so far only) time a Battlefront game was released on a Nintendo system. N-Space, the folks behind the DS ports of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and World at War, handled the DS version, and Rebellion was again tasked with making the PSP iteration (which had a longer single-player campaign and more customization features). Elite Squadron saw a movement away from some of the multiplayer aspects that defined the series, but it also provided perhaps the deepest story mode to date, as players took control of a clone trooper who attempted to atone for the infamous Order 66.

A great disturbance in the Force

While LucasArts had seemingly shifted its focus with the franchise toward the mobile arena, this wasn’t actually the case. Free Radical Design, known for the TimeSplitters games, was actually hard at work on Star Wars: Battlefront III. Sometime in 2008, however, the plug was pulled. Several years later, Free Radical co-founder Steve Ellis put the blame on LucasArts for the project’s demise, while anonymous sources from LucasArts pointed the finger right back at Free Radical, claiming they’d regularly missed deadlines. During those squabbles, leaked videos and screens showcased what the project could’ve been, including footage of a ship taking off from a planet and joining a battle in space. At this point, LucasArts supposedly had begun working internally on Battlefront III themselves, but the studio went defunct before it could finish what it started.

While Battlefront III remained in limbo for years, former secondary SOCOM developer Slant Six Games was also reportedly working on another chapter in the series, Battlefront Online, with a scheduled 2011 release. The game was intended to feature only the online multiplayer components that made Battlefront so popular in the first place, but this project, too, was nixed once Slant Six missed its target release date. Many speculated that some of the purported Battlefront III leaks could actually have come from this game instead.

A new hope

It’s now been six years since we’ve seen a new Battlefront, and it’s fast approaching 10 since we’ve had one on a home console. After Disney purchased Star Wars and its related properties for $4 billion more than two years ago, however, new hope was instilled in this beloved series—and, more importantly, its fanbase. EA DICE, the multiplayer masterminds behind the Battlefield series, have been hard at work on the next Star Wars: Battlefront, and we know for sure that it’s a full-fledged reboot of the franchise.

Few solid details are currently available, but we do know the game will tie into Episode VII, and Hoth and Endor are playable maps. Rumors, however, have swirled for months. Some say the Hero system from Battlefront II will return; others claim the planetside-to-space battles we saw in leaked footage from Battlefront III will be incorporated. There’s speculation that we’ll see 64 people in multiplayer (32-on-32) and that the single-player campaign will span the entire Star Wars saga. Whatever the case, we know for sure that EA will separate fact from conjecture over the weekend at Star Wars Celebration, and we’ll have more reason than ever to believe that a new Battlefront is finally ready to redefine what had become a rather bleak timeline in the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars Battlefront will be taking part in this year’s Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim, California, from April 16-19, EA announced this morning.

While rumors have been swirling around for months about Star Wars Battlefront, this should finally shed some light on the game since it was first officially announced last E3.

Traditionally, Celebration is a convention held by Lucasfilm to either celebrate the upcoming release of a new Star Wars movie or the anniversary of an older one. For example, the first Celebration was for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1999, but Celebration V in 2010 revolved around the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. This year’s Celebration is the tenth overall, the seventh on American soil, and the first to take place in Anaheim.

Star Wars Battlefront is slated for a holiday 2015 release on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.