Anyone who still describes Star Wars Battlefront (opens in new tab) as Battlefield reskinned hasn’t played it (I know who you are). It’s got plenty of changes to the usual shooter format that mean not only does it take a step away from DICE’s iconic series, but away from the cookie cutter FPS in general.
“We’re not the Battlefield team,” senior producer Sigurlína Ingvarsdottir clarifies. “Some of us come from a history of working on Battlefield, and others, like myself, have never worked on Battlefield”. When I asked her if the team deliberately set out to distance the new game from the studio’s history, she replied, “no, there was never a sort of ‘we’re not going to make Battlefield.’ It was more ‘we’re going to make it what we want it to be.'”
On what the team wanted to do with Star Wars, Sigurlína continues: “I think that it was important for us to reboot Battlefront and to create something unique. We wanted it to fit the franchise. Battlefield is great, don’t get me wrong, but we didn’t really feel like just creating a skin on Battlefield was the way to go to do Star Wars justice”.
There is no getting away from DICE’s signature shooter though. “For people outside of DICE, it’s an obvious point of reference because that’s what they know about us,” agrees Sigurlína. “I think even for DICE itself, Battlefield is an obvious point of reference”. But she thinks there’s more to the studio than just one game: “If you think about ‘what are the hallmarks of a DICE shooter?’ Epic scale and great vehicular combat. That’s a part of our DNA and that’s obviously something that’s so applicable to Star Wars as a franchise. So obviously we keep that and we do it in our way”.
The most obvious difference ‘our way’ bit includes ditching the usual loadouts and vehicles set up. Instead of finding vehicles standing around like you might expect, for example, there are now pick up scattered around levels that recall a far more civilised aged of LAN party deathmatches. As Sigurlína explains, “they might be an especially powerful weapon, an X-wing, an AT-AT, or a hero token that would be then spawn you as a villain or hero depending on which faction you are playing”.
Then there’s the classless character design using cards to create player abilities. These are triggered with L1, Triangle and R1 as you play. “So we don’t have classes but as you progress in the game you are able to unlock more and more of these cards,” says Sigurlína. “You saw the jet pack for example. The Jetpack is an example of a card. So basically your shields, your grenades, your jet packs – all of these are cards and you combine them into what you feel is a good kit for you going into battle. That’s how you basically create the loadout that goes with how you like to play the game”.