Years ago, I posted about the long, confused, and ultimately doomed fate of Star Wars Battlefront III once in development by the now-defunct Free Radical Design. Its failure was a mostly one-sided affair, as LucasArts pulled funding at the last minute and effectively destroyed both a much-anticipated third entry in the series and caused Free Radical to close shop. Fortunately, FRD and much of its staff were rescued by Crytek. Unfortunately, Battlefront 3 was lost presumably forever.
We have been clamoring for news for many years. This showed up today:
So, this kind of thing doesn't really
happen. Fans don't get want they want, in this fashion, on this scale, after literally years of waiting. So I don't really have a precedent to look at, nothing to model how I'm supposed to react.
I mean, if Crytek UK, formerly FRD, were doing the game (again...), my reaction would be simple: I'll buy two. But it isn't Crytek UK. It's DICE.
I don't have anything against DICE. I played Battlefield 3 and was basically unimpressed by it. Then again, FPS isn't really my favorite genre. Which brings me to the point of this post.
SW Battlefront has a very simple design. Two large factions continually respawn troops while a troop counter dwindles until one side is entirely eradicated. There are other game modes, but what I just described is the meat of both console Battlefront titles. It's basic, and it's brilliant. No other games play like this. And the thing is, if this next-gen Battlefront doesn't
copy the formula, it won't be Battlefront. What am I really trying to say? That I'm afraid this new "Battlefront" game will be a First-Person Shooter.
However, I have some reasons to be hopeful. DICE, the developer, actually originated the formula upon which Battlefront was built. The 2002 PC title Battlefield 1942
's "conquest" mode played very similarly to Battlefront, and so I have to imagine it shouldn't be a problem for DICE to keep the magic happening. Yet still I worry.
Battlefront is, at heart, a third-person shooter. There is an "FPS" view, but the game isn't designed around it. I worry that EA--and by extension, DICE--will push development of the game to center around FPS style gameplay, hoping to reel in that particular audience. Furthermore, if SWB is solely designed as an FPS, then why not go the distance and remove the "conquest" gameplay of the original games altogether? In other words, I fear SWB will simply become Battlefield/Modern Warfare with a coat of Star Wars paint. Not worthy of a purchase, for certain.
The best possible scenario is that Battlefront stays true to the formula, obviously, and that DICE is able to expand upon and improve the experience much like what Free Radical Design had been doing. However, DICE has a lot to live up to if the now-ubiquitous footage of FRD's alpha gameplay of SWBF3 is to be believed. FRD made seamless ground-to-space transitions and had the battle going on in both places simultaneously. Yep, you could shoot up some stormtroopers, hop into an X-Wing, fly out of the atmosphere, take out some TIE fighters, land inside a capital ship, cause some havoc, steal the enemy craft, and fly back down to the surface of the planet to rejoin the ground battle. All in real-time.
Can you do that, DICE?
I want my fears to be irrational. I want to believe the best scenario will play out. It's the Fox Mulder in me. Discuss.