Star Wars Battlefront is almost arcadey, with quick weapons, abilities, power-ups and movement all designed to keep you running and shooting. Despite the assumptions it would just play like a reskinned version of Battlefield, it really doesn't feel like DICE's shooter at all.
I played a co-op survival mission and the Walker Assault mode at E3 on Tuesday. The latter mode sees the rebels having to take and hold six relays, in order to call in a Y-Wing bombing run. The approaching Imperial AT-ATs are invulnerable until this happens, meaning the rebels have to fight to open up a window of attack while the Imperials fight to close it.
Here's the important stuff I learned:
1. It is really fast.
Unlike Battlefield, which can involve far more 'running toward things' than actual shooting, Battlefront is all action all the time. You always spawn near the action and there's a jetpack that has loads of forwards momentum, so you can cover ground quickly or fling yourself into a firefight at speed. It's good for surprise ambushes, too, as you clear hills or pop over enemies.
2. It's all built on power-ups and timers
Abilities like smart rockets and shields are collected from tokens around the battlefield. You can only carry one at a time, so it tends to stop you from hoarding. Instead, you use and abuse them Mario Kart-style to make room for others. Tokens are also how you access vehicles like TIE-Fighters and AT-STs. Other abilities, like a multishot grenade launcher or the jetpack, are on a timer-based cooldown. They're unlimited, but you have to use them just at the right time to get the best effect.
3. The controls aren't the usual shooter stuff.
The game does have scopes and zoomed aiming, just not the traditional iron sights as a default. There's a lot of strafing and from-the-hip blasting, which lets you see far more Star Wars in front of you. Where things get interesting is how you use your abilities and powers. What those are depends on what you have equipped, but in my case L1 activated an alternate weapon, like a scatter shot Barrage grenade launcher or Ion Torpedo RPG, while R1 fired my jetpack.
And that's the main multiplayer stuff. The co-op Mission mode I played, Survival, was set on Tatooine and played a lot like Call Of Duty's Spec Ops - increasing waves of AI enemies attack and you fight back alone or with a friend. It's not quite a full single-player offering but it is loads of fun. Especially when played with a buddy.
It seems to tick the two most important boxes, in being a fantastic Star Wars experience and a good shooter. It's doing some different things with its mechanics too, adding some interesting twists to the usual multiplayer shooter soup. Those changes feel natural almost immediately, keeping the focus firmly on 'playing' Star Wars – only this time you're not making the 'pew' noises with your mouth.