Writing on video games by Steve Hernandez

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Hero characters in Star Wars: Battlefront

Star Wars: Battlefront
Developer: Dice
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC

I've been playing Star Wars: Battlefront, a predominantly online multiplayer shooter that lets players participate in battles from the original Star Wars trilogy. I'm going to discuss one of my favorite features in the game, the heroes. They are iconic characters from the Star Wars films that are stronger than the soldiers you normally play as. They consist of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia for the rebel alliance, and Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and Boba Fett for the galactic empire. To play as one of them you have to collect a specific power-up that is randomly placed somewhere on the battlefield. When you activate it, your character will take a knee and the hero will arrive through a brief cutscene.

Playing as a hero for the first time was exciting. I was Luke Skywalker in a match of Walker Assault, an online mode where the rebels try to destroy three incoming AT-ATs. My heart was racing as I was dashing across Hoth and recklessly swinging my lightsaber at any stormtooper nearby. I could defeat them with a few swings of my lightsaber as opposed to aiming and firing a blaster as a soldier. I could also deflect their shots as I slowly approached them. If they weren't within my lightsaber's range, I had the force push ability that could send multiple enemies flying. Luke is fast and acrobatic, so I was able to outrun and outleap everyone else on the battlefield. Being Luke Skywalker amongst all of the generic soldiers on my team felt empowering, as if I had become the de facto leader of them. It was a frenetic moment as well because a multiplayer match in Battlefront is often a chaotic mixture of explosions and blaster shots being fired from any direction.

I don't think the characters are so powerful that they break the balance of the game. As soon as you arrive on the battlefield as a hero you immediately become the target for everyone on the opposite team. A single rebel can't take down Darth Vader in a one-on-one fight (unless that player is also a hero), but multiple rebels will definitely defeat him by attrition. So playing as a hero can be just as fleeting as it is empowering. 

The random placement of the power-up was a smart decision by the developers. If it had spawned at one or two specific locations, players on both teams would be rushing to them and the power-up would be constantly abused. You might even have a situation where a player is just standing in one spot waiting for the power-up to respawn. The random placement also lets anyone regardless of their skill level have the chance to play as a hero. 

The enticement of the power-up is proof of how advantageous it is. The heroes do more damage, take more hits, and have three unique abilities. Not only does the power-up allow players to improve their score in a match, it also lets fans of Star Wars take on the roles of iconic characters such as Boba Fett and Han Solo. Although I've played many hours of Battlefront, collecting the power-up and becoming Luke Skywalker is still an exciting and empowering experience.


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