Star Wars: Battlefront Beta Impressions (PC and PS4)

I got my hands on both the PC and PS4 beta for Star Wars: Battlefront last night! I played for about 4 hours between both systems, and definitely have some thoughts on what is easily one of my more anticipated games of the entire year.

Sorta “Meh” Sorta “Woah”

My first impressions were actually a bit flat. For the first half hour I was thinking along the lines of, “aw crap… this is it?” The graphics are gorgeous — especially on consoles which surprised me — but the gameplay was a huge letdown from what I was expecting.

Over the next few hours my opinion started to take on a little more shape. I unlocked a few more weapons, played several rounds of each mode, got to pilot all of the vehicles, etc. I really, really like the system of picking up tokens or powerups around the map to spawn vehicles. This is a brilliant alternative to camping vehicle spawns. Basically, you run around playing and there will be these faded blue hologram looking tokens that you pick up and suddenly you realize you can take control of a Snowspeeder or an AT-ST, or a TIE Interceptor, or become Darth Vader, etc.

Speaking of Darth Vader, the 40 player mode has the hero characters as tokens. I saw Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker running around the map all willy-nilly throwing their lightsabers, force jumping around, and basically slaughtering everyone. I was spawn camped by Darth Vader — that wasn’t very fun.  The heroes do have this sense of “WOAH” and are incredibly powerful. Vader threw his lightsaber 50 yard to kill me. I was too impressed to be pissed off.

The maps in the beta are really bad. I think this is where most of my “meh” comes from. The Hoth battle mode is a tiny map with a rather boring mechanic of having to either turn on or off these stations that call in Y-Wings to bombard AT-ATs lumbering toward the Rebel base. The other mode was way too deathmatchy for me and felt really small as well.

I wish the maps were larger, and the objectives more open or involved or something. I went in expecting Battlefield maps, but found myself in a relatively tiny map with boring, one dimensional objectives. They only feel larger because there’s this absolutely stunning and gorgeous skybox. They nailed the atmosphere.

Unlocks are decent, albeit a little simple. You rank up, earn credits, and buy unlocks as they become available. I don’t know if what we’re seeing is the beta version of the unlock system? I hope there’s more to it like some of the more involved Battlefield unlock and customization systems. Right now it’s more like you reach rank 4 and get the next blaster.

One of the best features is the party implementation. You can form a party and even choose one other person to be your partner. Graev and I formed our party and partnered each other allowing us to share our primary “hand” cards. Basically the secondary weapons like Thermal Detonators and sniper rifle cool downs.

Battlefront on PC vs PS4

Going in I thought I would be all about PC master race, but I enjoyed the PS4 version more. Battlefront controls beautifully on a console. On the PS4, the graphics and performance were beautiful 60fps and smooth. The controls were mapped perfectly — best flight controls I’ve experienced. The interface was 100% identical to the PC interface, so I’m betting consoles are the primary platform. There wasn’t a dedicated server browser either. You pretty much just chose the mode you want and clicked join. It found a server for you.

Tonight I’m going to record both versions and upload the video(s). I’ll shoot you guys a link in the comments or maybe make another post. Edit: Video is now available below.

Overall Impressions of Battlefront

I had fun; I can check that box, but something is still missing… The maps were small and boring in terms of what was involved despite having gorgeous graphics, amazing atmosphere, and capturing a realistic Star Wars feel. I hope more maps, modes, and features unlocked in the full version will give the game what it needs.

Rainbow Six Siege Closed Beta Impressions

Rainbow Six Siege Closed Beta

Holy smokes… I haven’t played a Rainbow Six game since like the Rogue Spear days. Anyone else remember the old school multiplayer platform? I think it started with an ‘M’ or something; Gamespy might have bought them. Anyway, wow, long time ago. Okay wait all of that might have been a lie — I think I tried one of the Rainbow Six games a few years ago like Ghost Recon or something. Does that count? Anyway…

I got my hands on a key for Rainbow Six Siege closed beta on the PS4. Graev got one too so that means we were able to play together in multiplayer (there is no campaign) and shoot some terrorists! Woot. The terrorist hunt modes have always been my favorite. Something about coming up on an embassy with terrorists hiding inside and having to storm the place and use strategy and planning makes for a great experience. I’ve always loved teaming up with four players going against AI.

Terrorist Hunt is back in R6S, but I feel like it’s missing a bit of the strategery that made the older games in the series more memorable. I haven’t seen a hostage rescue mode yet, which is one of the things I also loved from past games. There’s a mode where players go head to head against each other and one team defends while the other attacks. The act of having to do one or the other makes the matches feel way more real and involved than a simple deathmatch where you just roam the map trying to kill each other.

The maps are well-made, though, and I really like the destructible environments. Shooting through walls is satisfying. Repelling — holy crap it’s AWESOME! Going up, down, changing positions, etc., are all superb. Things like drones can be used to sneak around and drive under doors, taser people, etc. Wall defenses can be put up to reinforce structures from collateral or direct damage. Suffice it to say, lots of gadgets are cool in R6S

The system of unlocking “characters” so to speak is done by earning points while playing. Point gain is faster on harder difficulties, but so far it seems pretty slow. Oh, and characters are also classified as attackers or defenders for obvious reasons of being a terrorist or CT and having to defend and keep people out vs. having to break your way in.

Shooting mechanics are okay. R6S as a shooter in general isn’t anything to get uber hyped up for in terms of advancing the genre TOO far ahead from where we’re already at — especially in terms of graphics which are just ‘okay’ at best on PS4 — but the gameplay in general is nice.

My worst experience was definitely with load times. They are abysmal. Combine that with people purposely team killing and you get what amounted to 20 minutes of load screens with less than 5 minutes of play for me and Graev last night.

Check it out if you can. It’s worth playing for a couple of hours during this beta (which ends Oct 4) if for no other reason than the cool stuff like rappelling.

Fallout 4 & Fallout Shelter

Fallout 4

I watched Bethesda’s E3 Showcase last night to see whether or not I would want to be interested in Fallout 4. I will happily admit that I have never been into the Fallout series. Each new Fallout game I look to see if something unique or interesting presents itself, and then decide whether or not I’m going to finally jump on-board.

My reason for disliking Fallout has never too focused around the game mechanics. I think the open-world setting is pretty good. The conversation options are lacking, but the stories (as loose as they can be) are decent. What I really dislike is the post-apocalyptic world. I don’t like the brownish orangish grayish tint on everything. I don’t like wastelands or modern/post-modern weapons and gadgets when they’re combined with a wasteland environment and motif. That’s all on me, and entirely subjective.

Watching the video during the E3 Showcase, I will admit the world looked a little bit better… although still that post-apoc wasteland. There does seem to be a little more color infused into the world. I was digging that. Right when I was starting to think, “Hey this doesn’t look so bad,” I saw what probably would keep me away: The wacky/zany craziness of wearing ridiculous outfits and using downright unforgivably stupid weapons. I think I saw a bazooka shoot teddybears that made enemy’s heads explode. I’m done.

Fallout 4 Pip-Boy EditionGraev already Pre-ordered at Best Buy, and I got one of their available pre-orders of Fallout 4: Pip-Boy Edition on Amazon. It comes with a Pip-Boy that will hold your phone and several other “collector’s edition” items. Bethesda is going all out and creating an app to accompany the game. I don’t know if I’ll end up getting it or not, but I have the pre-order reserved and Amazon won’t charge me until it ships. Might as well hold on and make my decision later.

The biggest news of the night was that Fallout 4 will be available on November 10 of this year (2015) which is crazy fast.

Fallout Shelter

Bethesda also announced that right after the show a new game would be available for iOS and Andoird: Fallout Shelter. It’s one of those time wasting games where you build stations to collect resources and keep people happy. It’s Freemium, so you can download and wait for things or spend real money on lunch boxes which contain cards that will give your shelter benefits.

Fallout Shelter

I’ve just started playing and find it enjoyable enough to log in once or twice a day during breaks at work to check on my shelter, but it’s nothing I’ll spend money on just yet. I’ll write up more formal tidbits about the game later this week or next.

May’s Releases and Keen’s Backlog

I have high hopes for May being a great month of gaming. I have a rich backlog of games to go through, and several games are/might come out this month.

This Month’s Hyped Releases

EverQuest Ragefire Server

EverQuest Progression Server: Ragefire

Looks like the new EQ progression server coming soon® will be named Ragefire. The poll is still up but apparently Ragefire has such a lead that it’ll win no matter what. While I think Zordalicus Ragefire is an awesome dragon, I can’t help but think of Ragefire Chasm from WoW. Oh well! It’s still a cool name. I’m hoping this means that they are on track to give us a beta for Ragire Progression sometime near the end of this month. Chances might be good since Ragefire is already on the server list when you sub to EQ and log in.

My friends and I in the K&G Community will be playing. I’m going Bard for sure. Yep, my body is ready (for carpal tunnel).



Nintendo’s first real foray into multiplayer online shooters in the Wii U comes out May 29! I’m really looking forward to playing this one with Graev. We’ll team up and ink people to pieces. I’m hoping for some depth to the customization and advancing, but in the end if it’s just a great game with fun shooting mechanics I can still totally get behind that. I’ve been looking for this kind of game on a console.

My Backlog


Assassin’s Creed Unity

The biggest game in my backlog is AC: Unity. Assassin’s Creed games are amazing. Black Flag was my game of the year in 2013, and AC Unity is the next in the series and I have to get through it before the next AC game comes out. I got this for Christmas and have just now have the time to really start playing. Already I’ve noticed that much of the emphasis on the ‘out of game’ experience is removed. The part where the ‘main character’ in ‘real life’ gets out of the animus (where the real story is being told) doesn’t happen. I’m on the side of people who love the convoluted AC story, but I get why Unity focuses much more on the ‘in-game’ gameplay where you control Arno.

Ridiculously cheap on Amazon right now: $19.99 on PS4 and Xbox One.

The rest of my backlog consists of…

  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
  • Dragon Age Inquisition
  • Shadows or Mordor
  • Lego City Undercover

Yep, lots of somewhat older games but ones I definitely want to try and get through before the summer. What’s in your backlog? What are you looking forward to playing in May?


Nintendo’s Splatoon Won’t Have Voice Chat


Splatoon, Nintendo’s newest and first real entry into the shooter market, will not have integrated voice chat. While some people, like this author at Kotaku, find the decision shortsighted and wrong, I think it’s absolutely the way to go.

Voice chat in online games is toxic. It’s full of belittlement, vulgarity, and trash talking. While I agree that voice chat contributes to cooperative play, and can be fun and in many ways a great tool, it’s not necessary — especially in a game like Splatoon where the goal is to cover a map in ink and introduce people to a competitive yet docile ‘shooter-esque’ game.

Serious competitors, should there be any in Splatoon (I’m goin’ all out, personally) can find other means of communicating. Skype and other voice chat options are prevalent, and even our phones these days have wifi enabled voice apps. There are ways to work around the lack of integrated chat.

A few ideas that might help to improve the experience would be if Nintendo allowed friends who have friended each other to communicate with voice. Another option is for Nintendo to integrate voice chat into the Wii U itself so that we can communicate via an app running behind the scenes. Players needn’t be forced to disable it or be exposed to that kind of unnecessary stuff in any game.

I applaud Nintendo for doing things their way. They know their brand and what they want.