Star Wars Battlefront Review

Star Wars Battlefront Review

Star Wars Battlefront is out and, after much deliberation, I decided to purchase it after all. You may recall from my Battlefront Beta Impressions that I wasn’t thrilled by a few of the design decisions. I feared the game may be a short-lived phenomenon. I had a few concerns about the game’s longevity because of the maps, the modes, and the features. Now that I can play the full version, here’s how all of those things are playing out.

Maps & Modes in General

Thankfully there are a few more maps per mode than I had originally thought. The ‘biggest’ mode with 40 players has four maps (one on each planet). That brings up a good point: There are only four planets (Endor, Hoth, Sollust, Tatooine) comprising 12 maps, and those 12 maps are more like variations of the four planets or variations of the same map. While the diversity isn’t what I would have loved to see — like a Tattooine city. While not ugly in any way, most are very simple and somewhat flat without a lot of complexity to their impact on gameplay.

The modes are what you expect just with different names and range from capture the flag to dog fighting in ships. Except for the air battle mode, the modes are rather lackluster. Both Graev and I would have really loved to see a Conquest Mode similar to Battlefield. The modes for capture the flag and ‘droid run’ are fairly uninspired and lack a desire for much replayability since they drive combat closer to arcade grenade spam than they do tactical Star Wars battles.

battlefront ship battles

Longevity and Replayability

Herein lies probably the most important factor of all: Does Star Wars Battlefront have staying power? I have to go with my honest gut opinion here and say that it doesn’t have the staying power of shooters we all used to love and play 5-10 years ago. While fun, it’s more of that ‘flash-in-the-pan’ kind of experience. Some people call it the “Titanfall Effect” where its awesome, amazing, innovative, tons of fun, but you stop playing two or three weeks later.

The key to Battlefront’s long-term success rests entirely on how DLC and expansions to the game are handled. Unfortunately, EA doesn’t have the most amazing track record with its shooters — namely the modern Battlefields — and their staying power. I can’t see myself playing this 6 months from now. Does that mean I won’t get my money’s worth? That’ll be subjective. Personally, I’ll get enough hours out of Battlefront to justify the $48 I spent (Thanks to Best Buy’s game club I get 20% off new releases).

battlefront capture the flag mode

Guns, Unlocks, Customization, Etc.

I stated back in my beta impressions that this system was lacking. It still is. Simply gaining access to new things linearly as you level and then spending credits you earn to unlock and slot them is too simple. They are completely missing the customization of recent Battlefield games. Alternatively we could compare this to Battlefront 1 and 2’s class system which they are also lacking. Instead, everyone is the same and you can simply change your character’s ethnicity and/or take off your Storm Trooper’s helmet.

Battlefront’s Multiplayer Platform / UI / Framework

Here’s where they’ve started to make great headway. I really, really like how they handled multiplayer and playing with friends. Inviting friends on both PC & Console is easy. Forming a squad works seamlessly. Playing with Graev on the PS4 has never been easier. Being able to choose a “partner” from your group so that you can spawn on them is a very nice touch.

Battlefront, like every game these days (Overwatch, Fallout4, etc), is designed for consoles first. The UI is defined by that experience. An in-game example of this is how AMAZINGLY well the vehicle control on consoles but how poorly they are implemented on PC. The game is full of amazing control and UI decisions that I enjoy — on consoles.

Battlefront droid run mode

Challenge Modes & Singleplayer in Battlefront

There are a few singleplayer modes that work mostly like challenge modes. Graev and I have had some fun playing these. Two nights ago we spent 2 hours trying to beat them on hard mode and failed after being really far into one of them. The harder modes are absolutely brutal and a real test of skill. While trying to survive waves of storm troopers or capturing pods may be a lot of fun — and being able to do it co-op is even more fun — I can’t say this is a replacement for multiplayer. Battlefront is a multiplayer game.

Gameplay & General Fun

Despite my highly critical remarks so far, I feel that Battlefront is a very fun game. I am glad I bought it, and knowing what I know now I would still buy it again. I love the atmosphere. I love shooting blasters, flying X-wings, playing as Darth Vader (SO FUN), and strategizing with Graev on how best to defend our flag or take on incoming enemies.

Is Star Wars Battlefront worth buying? Yes, but go into this purchase knowing what to expect. Battlefront truly captures the Star Wars feel in a very modern way, but falls slightly short of bringing an innovative or new shooter experience.

Codsworth is a BAMF

I know that Star Wars came out today, but I won’t have my copy until tonight when I get home from work so my thoughts and videos will have to wait a bit there. Let’s talk more Fallout 4!

I was able to push past that power plant finally. I ended up being able to molotov the heck out of that room and got a few lucky shots off with my shotgun. What really did it for me was being able to activate some robot and put it into police mode. I think it killed a few raiders! At one point it turned on me though, and I don’t know why. So I had a robot AND those raiders AND their turrets on me…

Being able to interact with consoles and activate robots or the environment has been neat. I’ve found consoles to activate turrets, lights, alarms, robots, etc. Very neat that I can sort of come up with my own way to get past scenarios.

Getting past the power plant and being able to see fresh air again was nice. I made my way back to Sanctuary where I offloaded TONS of materials and upgraded my armor and planted lots of crops — built a radio transmitter too so I hope that my population grows!

I decided to swap out Dogmeat for Codsworth, and HOLY CRAP he’s amazing. He charges in and saws people in half! Stupid Dogmeat just runs in and detonates mines or provokes raiders into nuking me. Codsworth is like, “Mr. Doug shall I $&*# them up for you?!” Yes, please. I took Codworth on a few outings and we ended up liberating another settlement and clearing out a few other areas of raiders.

What I’m still struggling with is finding a decent gun. Guns aren’t dropping. Ammo is sorta dropping more now. So I have ammo but my guns are pipe rifles, pipe pistols, and a basic short barrel shotgun. Does my luck suck or do the better rifles/guns of any kind drop somewhere else? Oh, I did find another Fat Man nuke launcher. Can I break these down somehow? I’m trying to figure out how to scrap them. I thought it was at the weapons bench, but couldn’t figure it out. Maybe I missed it.

Today I’ll be playing lots of Star Wars, but tomorrow I’ll pick up on my adventure again. Now that I have the hang of things I’ll take some videos to go along with these entries. That way you guys can see the context and help me out.

Base Building in Fallout 4 is the Coolest Thing Ever

My adventure continues in Fallout 4 as I experience all things Fallout with the wide-eyed enthusiasm and ignorance of a complete newb. I mistakenly thought I was headed to Boston when an NPC (I think it was Codsworth) said the name, but turns out Boston isn’t anywhere in my near future. I spent several hours today playing and ended up making my way through much of Concord and Lexington — both of which were nicer when I visited them in real life and not so much when they are inhabited by mutants and raiders.

Roaming the Wastelands

While not nearly as post-nuclear fallout as I think it should have been, the world itself has a much more colorful and interesting feel than what I’ve observed in screenshots of other Fallout games. They did this for people like me who can only stand looking at so many shades of brown before I get bored. I like how I have an even more open sense of ‘roam the world and do whatever you want’ than even Skyrim. This is more on the Morrowind level of openness.

I… had no idea how much this game would bring out the hoarder in me. I search everywhere and collect everything. Every file cabinet, every house, every coffee mug. It might be useful! I must have it! Regretting that one point in strength about now. But what’s so cool about this game is that all of this stuff -is- useful. I -do- need all of it.

Base Building

My absolute favorite thing in Fallout 4 so far, and perhaps will remain so forever, is the base building. I spend hours scrapping crap, planting crops, making water collectors, decorating houses, etc. This is just SO COOL that I can take parts of the world and make them my bases. This has to be in all Bethesta RPGs moving forward and every game should simply rip it off moving forward.

I was particularly proud of myself when I built a water purifier in the river and wired it to a generator to collect water for my settlement. How cool is that?!

Tough Road Ahead

I got a little bit discouraged and ended up taking a break tonight after trying to help rid a power plant of raiders. Turns out they have turrets and molotovs and nukes and power armor of their own. I died a lot…

My biggest struggle right now is having to carry 4 different guns with different ammo types and never having ammo for the one gun I have that I WANT to use. I’m going Rifleman perk, and unfortunately my rifles feel like they deal about as much damage as shooting a BB gun at a tank. Finally found a nice rifle but it uses .308 instead of .38 ammo. Grr.

If not for being in the middle of this quest I would simply leave and come back, but I think I am on the last room of this plant. Once done I’ll have helped and perhaps claimed the settlement I was asked to assist. I hear better things are in my future if I can push past this part.

Oh, I did find a Fat Boy nuke launcher or something. I’m tempted to nuke this factory and be done!

I’ll happily take any advice you have for me on how I can get better weapons. Overall though, so far so good. I made lots of progress, got side tracked a bit looking for things, spent hours on my base, and I’m looking forward to my next play session.

Fallout 4 Coverage From a Complete Fallout Newb

The entire internet is currently covering Fallout 4. From reviews to streams, memes, and videos, and more commentary than any game we’ve seen in a while, it’s hard not to trip over and grow tired of the game after only two days. That said, I do feel inclined to include myself in the mix. My angle is a bit different. I have never played a Fallout game before, unless you count 30 minutes of playing New Vegas or 30 minutes at E3 2008 playing Fallout 3. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m going into this without rose-tinted glasses, nostalgia, or any preconceived ideas. With this ignorance will come a fairly unbiased stream of thought focusing simply on Fallout 4. I will also be playing with my wife along side me, and she’s only experienced games since marrying me 8 months ago.

Note: Coverage will contain minor spoilers that you will likely have already seen in trailers, reviews, etc. If I’m going to mention a slight story spoiler I will use  (Slight spoiler) (End Slight Spoiler) tags.

Entering Vault 111

Character creation was a bit overwhelming. From what I know of Bethesda they have never been very good at faces. I think Fallout 4 character creation gets the job done. I stuck with a fairly default templated look.

Stat allocation was a HUGE point of anxiety for me. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system (strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, luck) is way beyond my newb abilities. Graev was trying to explain over text messages how the whole thing worked regarding perks and character builds yada yada. After 30 minutes I eventually just went with something like: 1-8-2-6-6-1-5 (something like that). I know I want to use guns, and Graev told me I should have 6 charisma and 6 intel. Whatever. I don’t care anymore. I’m not going to meta game this. I just want to play! 😛

Upon entering the game for the first time I felt a need to look around and interact with everything. Much of the world could be “examined” by “activating” the item whether it be a Baby or a coffee cup; typical Bethesda style here.

What came about rather quickly was an impending sense of, “uhhh something is going to happen.”  Bri grabbed my arm and was sort of disconcerted and kept saying, “I don’t like how this feels. Something is going to happen I just know it!”

(Slight Spoiler)

Things became especially anxious when both my character and his wife went to the baby’s room and Codsworth the robot yelled for us both to return to the living room and watch the news of the impending nuclear detonation.

Rushing to the vault felt scary. Descending into the vault also felt incredibly dramatic. When I got there I felt a little confused, and I assume that’s how they wanted the player to feel. I saw the pod for decontamination they wanted me to get into and I actually thought, “oh that makes sense. Cool I’ll get in here then go to my habitation area.” Then before I could realize what happened I was frozen in cryostasis and I realized I had been tricked. Having never played a Fallout game before I had NO idea that Vault-tec was shady, and I had no idea they ran social experiments. I texted Graev like, “OMG I’m frozen halp!” and he laughed. Apparently Fallout veterans knew this would happen, but as a Fallout newb I was shocked and then mortified when they shot my wife and stole my baby. I was happy that a game was able to surprise me like this but not happy that it happened.

(End Slight Spoilers)

When exiting my pod and trying to figure out what happened to everyone I was confronted with my first bit of combat. Bri jumped and clinged to me screaming, “COCKROACH!” I began punching and, when I quickly found a gun, unloading a clip into those little buggers. She made me shoot them a few more times to make sure they were dead, and I had to assure her that the game wanted me to take their meat. She still doesn’t understand why I need the rad road meats.

Reading all of the text on the terminals was a little tedious and times, but I liked how I was being set up with a basic understanding of how something went wrong. The all-clear never came. There was a mutiny, things got out of hand, but in the end I’m still in the dark. (Slight Spoiler) Who was it that came in and stole my baby? (End Slight Spoiler) Was it an internal job? I’ll be pissed if these things are not resolved.

Exiting Vault 111

I left the vault hoping to find some answers. The world was, as expected, a wasteland. The quest wanted me to go home, but I was also anxious to get back there too! I wanted to see my robot friend Codsworth again, and I wanted to see if maybe I could find some supplies in the houses.

Having seen trailers I knew that I would see Codsworth again. What I wasn’t expecting was for him to scream, “MR. DOUG!” He said MY NAME! My name I told the game to call me, he actually said it! That poor robot was sitting around for over 200 years waiting for me to return.

There’s already WAY more story than I expected. My wife enjoys the story parts of the games she watches me play, which is why she’ll watch Assassin’s Creed but not Skylanders or something like Mario. I wasn’t expecting her to want to watch Fallout 4, but I think she’s hooked already.

So far so good on the game in general. I’m playing on the PS4 and I haven’t had any issues. Graphics look great. Gameplay runs smooth. 60 FPS this vs 30 FPS that… whatever. It runs well, it plays well, I’m having fun, etc.

Next Stop: Boston!

Disney Infinity: Toy Box Speedway Review

Much like Toy Box Takeover, Disney Infinity: Toy Box Speedway is an expansion to the Toy Box of Disney Infinity 3.0. Instead of being a beat’em up, action rpg, or fighting style game, Speedway brings several racing modes to the game.


Toy Box Speedway

Speedway begins like everything else Disney Infinity by placing you in a central hub area designed to let you test out different vehicles. You’ll find a test track, half pipe, jumps, speed boosts, etc. This is where you can get your Tony Hawk on vehicle style and simply mess around.

When you’re ready to begin racing you can step up to one of three portals: Standard Race, Battle Race, and Time Trial. Standard Races and Time Trials are just your regular races you might expect. Nothing much to explain there. Battle races are like a typical Mario Kart level where weapons and powerups are available for pickup along the course.

Toy Box SpeedwayLike most Disney Infinity vehicles, driving is a little wonky. Drifting feels just a little bit off and sometimes when you think you’re doing everything right the game will think you’ve gone off the track–or will go off the track–and places you right back in the middle of the track. Really annoying when you’re in first place. In terms of your competition, the AI is ridiculously tough on the hardest mode. Any little slip up and you’ll never catch up to the lead car.

The variety of vehicles is strong. You can pick everything from a basic car to something out of Star Wars. Basically whatever you unlock in the Toy Box it feels like you can bring into the racing game. I liked playing as my Yoda figure and driving a Sand Crawler. Weapon variety is incredibly generic and forgettable. Powerups in general are a little bit of a letdown.

Courses are nice and varied. There are nine different tracks to choose from: Aladdin, Star Wars, Frozen, Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6, Wreck-It-Ralph, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Monster’s Inc., and Gravity Falls. While neat to look at the themes, some of the courses are incredibly straight forward. They’re plenty long, though, and some of them offer a surprising amount of ‘find your own way through the track’ opportunities.

Each course also has collectibles which was both neat to try and find them while racing but also annoying as Graev would be driving 10mph trying to find all of the tokens while the rest of us had already finished our laps 4 minutes ago. Speaking of collectibles, for the Frozen fanatics in your household you’re probably going to have to pick this up… Elsa’s Ice Palace is only obtainable in Disney Infinity 3.0 if you win the first place trophy in all 3 Grand Prix races. You can also obtain neat things like Jack’s Spiral Hill from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

While not an amazing racing game on its own, the value proposition is just about right there with Toy Box takeover. For the completionists it’s a must-have, and kids will probably love it way more than adults.