The first Battlefront was a revelation. Instead of creating yet another Force-obsessed Jedi romp, developer Pandemic focused on the expendable grunts and foot soldiers stationed on the frontlines of the Star Wars universe. You could steal a Jedi Interceptor and battle it out in the skies, or jump into the fight as a stormtrooper, droid or soldier of the Rebel Alliance. Sure, there wasn’t much of a campaign and the AI was almost nonexistent, but still, Jedi Interceptors, people. And when its sequel touched down in 2005, it took the familiar conquest formula and wove in a few new additions that finally captured the action of all those galactic dust-ups. Now we've got a new Battlefront on the horizon.
You’d think being thrown into the heat of battle minus all those god-like Force powers would be frustrating, but whether you were playing it tactically – systematically dominating sections of the map – or just looking to shoot some wookiees in the face, Battlefront 2’s Rise of The Empire campaign offered a fresh take on this well-told saga. The same thinking was applied to the returning Heroes (and Villains). These formally non-playable generals (Vader, Mace Windu, etc) had a huge effect on the outcome of each conflict. You could only use each one for a limited time, so deploying them in the right place could turn the tide of a skirmish. There was always a moreish thrill to fighting your way to an objective, only to have Vader turn up and decimate everybody.
The long-awaited addition of space-based dogfights was another big change for the series. These optional gold mines brought the Battlefront experience to a whole new level, enabling you to pilot your starship of choice and take down enemy fighters in a barrage of laser fire. You could also land inside an enemy’s vessel and meticulously dismantle the floating behemoth from the inside out, before swiftly escaping to watch the ship explode in your rear-view mirror.
The real star of the show came to life when you booted up the now defunct servers and took the fight online. Multiplayer saw up to 24 players battle it out in a variety game modes, ranging from the quintessential Capture The Flag to the titanic new mode Hero Assault – which saw all the aforementioned generals face-off on the sandy streets of Mos Eisley. Sure, you could just jump into a quick match and raise hell, but as a team you could own any battle. Chipping away at an enemy Star Destroyer as a band of bros (and sisters) captured a squadron mentality that foreshadowed the success of online gaming to come.
With Battlefield devs DICE drafted in to resurrect the aging series, we can only hope that it acknowledges both the triumphs and tribulations of this classic PS2 blaster. With games such as Dust 514 and EVE Online merging real-time battles across space and surface engagements, the scope for a new Battlefront game is tantalisingly broad.
Just imagine being able to capture a base on the ground, grab a ship and launch into a space dogfight, all in real-time. Branded as more of a reboot than a direct sequel, this new entry could be a legacy-defining release in the timeline of this cherished franchise. Help us DICE, you’re our only hope.