One of the most anticipated games of the season, Star Wars: Battlefront, has finally released, and is being met with great reviews from most gaming media. The reboot of the wildly popular 2004 game series, being developed this time by EA Dice, features new maps as well as re-imaginings of old ones, new game modes, gorgeous visuals, and has been the talk of the town on social media, at least when folks aren’t talking about Fallout 4. But while fans of both Star Wars and shooters alike are enjoying their newly revamped game, many gamers are criticizing the outing, basically just saying that “it sucks”. Why? I believe the answer lies in two areas: the direction modern shooters have taken, and the blatant extortion practice known as DLC, or Season Passes.
STAR WARS VS CALL OF DUTY
It seems as though many of the major gameplay complaints coming from Battlefront’s camp are largely centered around its difficulty. Gamers who normally rip up the field in Call of Duty games are facing matches where they die constantly in SW:B. This is because Battlefront is, for the most part, fairly balanced. All weapons have even strengths and fair weaknesses to accompany them. For example, the T-61 heavy blaster does a great amount of damage with one shot, but has a relatively slow firing rate compared to most other blasters. This can be problematic with characters that run as fast as these do, and would cause a player to retake aim and carefully time your shots. As any FPS player will know, a battle can change in a split second.
Another reason for frequent deaths are the shooting lanes. The maps in SW:B are enormous, and it can be difficult to navigate. In one particular Tatooine map, there’s a spot near the Jawa crawler at the entrance of a cave which is a haven for grenades and blaster fire, and in games like Conquest where you have to capture control points, going in a straight line to the target like that will most likely end in your death. This tactic forces players to use their surroundings to find different entrance points and even flank a specific target in order to capture it. Camping is simply not an option, as with so many players and bots on screen it’s difficult to stay in one place for too long without someone finding you. While there are places where one can just sit and snipe, it is most certainly not recommended, as most sniping spots leave you wide open to enemy fire. In a genre dominated by camping and overuse of over-powered perks, Battlefront is a refreshing combination of balance, skill, and strategy rarely seen in today’s FPS market.
THAT OL’ BALL AND CHAIN
Downloadable Content (DLC) has been a widely criticized topic in relation to most gaming platforms of this decade. The complaint is that developers release incomplete games and then charge people for the extra content. This is especially true for day-one DLC packs, which makes sense. Why are you making us pay extra for something that should have been released as part of the game? While Battlefront doesn’t have that exact problem, it does face an even more difficult challenge; expensive Season Passes.
The Season Pass for Battlefront will cost you about $50 bucks, and gets you all of the DLC coming out for the next year. Assuming they come out with over $50 dollars worth of DLC in the next year, it seems like a great deal. But aside from the Battle of Jakku DLC (which comes out Tuesday December 1st for those who preordered and December 8th for everyone else), nothing has been announced. This is alarming, seeing as how the price of the Season Pass would warrant tons of new content. The same goes for most modern popular shooters, where $50 bucks gets you a ton of exclusive maps, weapons, perks, and the like. However all we know about so far is one single movie-themed map. And speaking of the movie, any announcements on EA Dice’s part could be getting held back because of the launch of The Force Awakens, and realistically it’s a bit early to tell whether or not there are going to be massive additions to the admittedly sparse multiplayer map selection. But with a price tag like that, honestly, there better be.
IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE
Overall, the game is not bad. It’s not amazing, but it’s pretty and it’s fun. For an older gamer, it takes you back to the days of stomping on your friends with the original Battlefront. For the Star Wars fan, it gives you the feeling of being right in the middle of the most iconic ground and aerial battles in the series. However for the FPS fan, it’s not a game for casuals. There’s no camping or modding, very few sniping opportunities, and constantly bombarded common shooting lanes make running and gunning almost impossible. You need to slow down and think and strategize when playing this game, otherwise you’ll never survive. That doesn’t necessarily mean it sucks, but not everyone is good at every game. Stick to what you’re good at, and don’t blame the developer for your lack of skill. Either that, or practice. A lot.
As for the price point, it’s a little expensive for a multiplayer only game, sure, but most people forgot about the fact that it’s multiplayer only much like the Xbox One’s release title Titanfall. And like Titanfall, the game will most likely receive huge improvements to core gameplay that will make it even more fun down the road. For example, if you haven’t noticed, the current maps only focus on battle from the Original Trilogy (Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI), and there are no maps from the prequels and only one from the new movie. Seeing as how this is the beginning of Star Wars Mania, it stands to reason that there will be many more maps with many more vehicles, weapons, modes, and factions to play with. So my advice is to just wait it out, and see what happens. It might not be your cup of tea right now, but give it a few months and I’m sure you’ll regret letting your cousin borrow it. – Elijah Arnold
Recently I saw a funny but very interesting meme. In a box that read “games then”, it showed a hamburger is with two patties, cheese, and all the fixings that make a burger great under the label “original game”, with fries and a drink both labeled “expansion pack”. The next picture read “games now” with a photo of just an empty bun reading “original game”, with the lettuce, tomato, pickles, and cheese labeled as DLC, and even ketchup and mustard being labeled as “pre-order bonuses”. This is a fantastic representation of how content outside of the original game has expended over the console generation and turned into what it is today.
Downloadable Content, or DLC, has become widely popular with the larger gaming communities like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live. Allowing a person to expand their original game with extra weapons, equipment, or story content can seriously enhance a game’s experience, assuming the content is worth the real money you paid for it. But recently DLC itself has come under fire; with game developers releasing DLC content at launch for hot titles like Destiny and Call of Duty, gamers are beginning to wonder if developers are charging them $60 for an incomplete game. Why not just add this extra content to the finished product?
On one side, gamers really need to realize that gaming is a business, a multi-billion dollar a year business whose focus is creating extra revenue. DLC provides an option to receive that revenue by providing gamers with something they want: more. Gone are the days when most gamers played games over and over with continuing entertainment value. The shortened attention span of the country doesn’t leave much room for a solo game’s replayability, so to keep gamers interested and to make more money off of their product, developers release extra content. It keeps the game fresh while offering a new element. Example: Borderlands 2 has over nine DLC story missions to add to the original experience. The game already has a 30+ hour campaign along with a ton of side quests and weapons, but adding more of those stories, quests, and weapons has been an extremely popular move. The game is already huge and tons of fun, and making it bigger and better is an easy cash cow. The same goes with Skyrim’s DLC. While they only released 3 or 4 DLC packs, most of them were story based and added more to the Elder Scrolls lore as well as making a fantastic gaming experience. There was also DLC that allowed you to build your characters their own houses, an idea no doubt inspired by the popularity of Minecraft.
But then their’s the other side of this argument, how this effects gamers. Sure, squeezing another 10 hours of gameplay out of something you already enjoy is fun, but gamers believe you shouldn’t have to, especially when you offer DLC for a game at launch. A good example is the recently announced Star Wars: Battlefront. Everyone who has the game by December 8th (about 3 weeks after it releases) will be able to download the additional map called “The Battle of Jakku”, which is based on a location in the newest movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you should pre-order the game, however, you get a code that allows you to play the map a week before everyone else. It’s kind of a cool incentive, but it’s not exactly game-changing. When the game Evolve dropped, one of the pre-order bonuses was a monster skin and exclusive skins for weapons and characters. While it will make your character *look* cooler than everyone else’s, it doesn’t really offer much in the way of advantages or changes in gameplay.
So what does this mean for gamers?
Ultimately, it means that gamers have to pay even more for full games. Gamespot.com recently posted an article showing that gamers are now paying up to $180 for a game and all of it’s DLC, three times the cost of what it would be originally. On top of being expensive, some content may not even be worth the trouble, and since there are no refunds on DLC online or in-store, you kind of just have to roll with the punches if you buy a bad product. On the other hand, spending the extra money could be worth it, as games like Dark Souls II offer DLC that’s either more challenging or equally punishing, and games like Titanfall add more fun maps and game modes to destroy your opponents on.
So is DLC killing it for gamers? That depends on your opinion of DLC, and the DLC in question. While releasing full downloadable stories at launch seems pointless, purchasing it adds to an experience, and is completely optional. Sure, this makes it seems like the game isn’t complete, but it’s more of a way to keep you playing than to fill any story gaps (unless we’re talking about Mass Effect 3. Shame on you, Bioware). No DLC is mandatory, so you don’t have to buy what you don’t want, but that doesn’t always mean that when you DO buy it, you’re getting the best product.
DLC isn’t for everyone, and it is’t always amazing, but the same goes for every game you buy. Destiny was supposed to be the Call of Duty killer, but it really only appeals to MMO fans and RPG players who enjoy endless hours of grinding. Evolve was critcally-acclaimed at E3, but it’s fanbase is quite small. The Order:1886 was also slated to be a huge release, but bad reviews and a severe lack of actual gameplay ultimately killed it. The same goes for DLC. Some is great, and some isn’t. And just like a game, whether or not it kills the experience is up to you.