So the Star Wars Celebration is in full swing over in Anaheim in the US, and two trailers were revealed to us; first, the second teaser for The Force Awakens and the long-awaited trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront.
I have a vested interest in both of these, so I decided to just write a little something giving my thoughts on the both of them.
The Force Awakens Teasers
Yes, teasers. I never did this for the first trailer so I'll take the time now.
The first, released way back in December, didn't give us much to go on. It showed us our three young protagonists, Stormtroopers, the new Droid, that crossguard Lightsaber, and of course the fantastic shots of the X-Wings and Millenium Falcon. No aspects of the story were revealed, as it was just "Person a in Scene c", although the lightsaber and of course the Falcon's swooping were both big talking points
The second also didn't give us a lot to go on. Much like the first, it was just showing various people (again, our three protagonists, Stormtroopers, and the Droid) in various scenes and giving us very little about story. There were some more major talking points, such as R2, a brief focus on the villain's mask, a shot of Stormtroopers in their main base, the return of Anakin Skywalker's second film Lightsaber which of course became Luke's first film Lightsaber before being lost on Bespin, and of course Han Solo and Chewbacca. We have still yet to see Luke, Leia, or C-3PO featured.
The fact that we so far have nothing in the actual trailers to indicate what the story shall be to me is fantastic. It's a perfect teaser for the world which we are going to see because people actually need to do some digging to find out certain details. This means that some can just watch the trailers and be blind to details they would want to find out when they first see the film, and the diggers can do as much digging as they please and nearly always find something new. Such digging can be shallow - those present at the Celebration had the chance to see a panel during which details such as the desert planet's name was revealed (not Tatooine), and a costume exhibit has also revealed some details surrounding the protagonist and antagonist organisations.
Compare this to the other two big trailers of the week: Terminator Genisys and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. The latter explained pretty much why the two leads are going head-to-head whilst the former revealed what could be the biggest twist of the film in a risky manoeuvre. All three films' trailers reveal different ways of generating interest. Genisys's ploy was to entice with a big twist and perhaps inferring that there are still bigger ones out there. Dawn of Justice's was to set the story so that people knew the scope before going in and therefore exactly what to expect. Force Awakens's seems to be just keeping the trailers as short snippets without ever truly setting the story around them. We have so many small snippets now, and yet so much more movie to fit them in. Whilst we can guess where they will fit, we can't do so as easily as we could for the other two films.
Star Wars: Battlefront
This trailer was, as most game trailers are nowadays, just a showcase of what you should be able to do but not actually showing what gameplay is like. This has obviously left a sour taste in the mouth of many people, but there is more.
The trailer, reportedly rendered in the in-game engine, showed a skirmish between the Rebels and the Empire on Endor. The Rebels show off portable shield generators, jetpacks, and the ability to call in a Y-Wing bombing run, whilst the Empire show off their AT-ST and finally call that Endor AT-AT into combat. It gets taken out very quickly by the Y-Wings, but at least it finally fights! After Darth Vader confronts the surviving Rebels, the trailer then segues into dogfighting in a canyon and then ends on a "Mars: Bringer of War"-inspired theme with the Falcon and Boba Fett both being given dedicated scenes.
Bear in mind that the pair of Star Wars Battlefront games we have been privy to for over ten years each both allowed us to play across two eras (Galactic Civil War and the Clone Wars), wage war on a whole host of planets, and play "Instant Action", which was essentially multi-player for single-player. Battlefront II further expanded this with a fantastic "Galactic Conquest" mode, properly-developed single-player/co-op Campaign, and took the spaceships such as the X-Wing and Y-Wing and actually put them in space rather than amongst ground troops.
There is a spoiler buried in this post which I am about to link, but I shall transcribe most of what is featured and avoid making full mention of it for those who don't want to read the spoiler.
When you read what the new game has planned, you can perhaps understand why people aren't best pleased. We return to an in-atmosphere dogfighting instead of full-on space combat, there are only four planets, we can only play as either the Empire or the Rebellion, and there is very little by way of vastly-developed single-player content.
I must admit that I'm not too fussed about there not being a space mode. The original game of course never had space combat, but the starfighters could be used to fly around in low-altitude and attack infantry. Battlefront II's space mode focused more on the dogfighting, but blended it with the ground combat; you could pick up a ship and either dogfight or land in the enemy ship's hangar and sabotage the inner workings. There were of course earlier pure dogfighting Star Wars games out there - notably Starfighter, Rogue Squadron, and of course Tie Fighter and X-Wing - so it's not as if Battlefront was ever the crème de la crème. You can still dogfight to your heart's content in the new game; it just won't be in space anymore.
Whilst there are only four planets at launch - Endor, Tatooine, Hoth, and Sullust - there are at least going to be five by the end of the year and hopefully more after that. Even then, there are going to be at least two maps per planet. Compare this to the original games. Battlefront provided two maps on Naboo, Kashyyyk, Tatooine, Bespin, and Rhen Var. Battlefront II only provided two full maps to one planet; Tatooine. Hoth actually did have two maps, but one was used for the Campaign, Capture the Flag, and Hunt and the other for the standard Command Points. If it were only four maps then I would be more critical, but the very fact that we're actually getting to see Sullust - a planet which I believe has only ever been visited in Racer Revenge, but it was butchered for the sake of podracing - explored is exciting in its own right, and I'm curious to see which areas of Tatooine and Endor are separated from each other; will we get to fight around the Sarlacc pit once more?
It seems a very weird thing to say, but I do honestly believe that, with the advent of the Clone Wars, the Clone Wars themselves can never be done justice in a war-based game. In the past when all we had was the animated cartoon and Episodes II and III, then yes it would be done justice. With the CG Clone Wars show, we have so many named Clones and so many known Battalions that doing them all appropriate justice is now impossible. It was much easier with only the 501st featured predominantly and only one known named Clone who never actually appeared in the game. I didn't ever think I'd ever be saying this, but now with this show the Original Trilogy has proportionately more pitched battles featuring nameless rank-and-file than the entire Clone Wars, which has now been shown to involve more small missions or vast outnumbering of forces over pitched battles with armies and war machines. Yes, they were there, but now that's not what people think of when you mention "Clone Wars" anymore. In this regard, focusing on the Empire and Rebellion does just make more sense to me.
This is a DICE game, so there is of course more focus on the multi-player content because that's what their speciality is. I have no experience of a DICE game due to my policy regarding modern and semi-modern games set surrounding real-world places and events, so I don't know what to expect from their style of "Crafted missions" for single players, and this I do not mind. If anything, this unknown factor makes it more appealing. I'm well aware of the stigma surrounding the company so I'm not getting my hopes too high, but I can't deny that I am very interested in seeing how they handle it. I can also understand the lack of campaign, given that the game's main story actually takes place after Episode VI and the Battle of Endor, so they're obviously trying to restrict what information can be gleaned before Episode VII comes out.
That said, the first DLC, which is actually free to all players, features a major battle on the "desert planet" which has been focused on in the trailers for the film. Again, not Tatooine. I must admit the very fact that there is a way to see this battle does sound fascinating. I'm always wary of being privy to information which adds context to events which don't particularly need explanation, but actually being able to see and in a way take part in this battle does genuinely pique my interest. I particularly like this because it means that understanding what happened in the battle is not crucial for understanding where the movie begins, but it still adds some small context.
Needless to say that other paid DLC will be released which has Prequel planets and perhaps even other content besides that, but it's a fact of life that we do now live in a DLC-era. We don't have to like it, and we can protest as much we like, but it's what the big game companies do and we just sadly have to live with it.
I must admit that I was only ever interested in seeing one feature return to Battlefront; third-person. I prefer to see my character when playing games - barring actually-quite hypocritical moments in Skyrim where I use a bow and arrow whereby I go first-person - and I've always loved the two Battlefront games for their third-person option. Because most of what I've seen from DICE has been first-person I was slightly apprehensive that this game would also end up that way, but thankfully we can still choose to be in third person if we wish. There is also a first-person view, so those people will be happy.
Another thing which I particularly adore is that there are no classes. In the two Battlefront games, you had five and then six classes with different weapons and combat roles. You had the standard foot soldier, a Bazooka-wielding, mine-laying assault specialist, a shotgun-wielding engineer who also provided health and ammo, a Sniper, and one or two special classes - Battlefront had one, whereas Battlefront II had two - which were totally unique to that faction. For example, Empire had their Dark Trooper whereas the CIS had the Droideka. With the new game, you get loadouts which can be fully-customised with different weapons. I absolutely adore this. In the trailer, there were even Sullustan and Ishi Tib soldiers, so it can also be inferred that species can be added into this mix. Yes, we probably have to progress along some prestigious path and unlock these weapons, but it provides a way for people to actually bond with their particular character, which I think this series of games needs in this current Star Wars age. Also, female Stormtroopers are confirmed, which is additionally fantastic!
We can still play as Heroes - Boba Fett and Darth Vader are confirmed at least - and pilot vehicles, but we don't know to what extent this will be important to the game. Vehicles such as the AT-AT were mobile spawn points in both of the original games whilst heroes were afforded to players depending on the settings of that particular game (most points, etc.). In multi-player, both of these aspects provided boons and detriments, depending on who was behind the wheel, as it were. Your AT-AT pilot could be phenomenal and kill so many Snowspeeders or he could be an idiot and drive it into a mountain for fun. Your Hero could similarly lead the charge with other players to support them or just try and take the base by themselves. Hopefully, the new game will provide means of both being used effectively, but we have no details as to how they will be implemented yet. We'll have to wait and see!
I'm optimistic for both of these projects, although whereas my optimism for Episode VII is firm, that for Battlefront is more cautious. I'm well aware, as I say, of the stigma surrounding DICE, so it will only be a matter of time if it manages to surpass this or whether it falls as a lot of people are worried it shall.
Either way, this year has definitely got a lot going for it elsewhere in the Star Wars Universe, and I can't wait to see everything play out.