Connect with us

Preview

This IS the Battlefront You’re Looking For

Published

 on

Star Wars: Battlefront II

Star Wars: Battlefront II is only a few weeks away and promises to be one of EA and DICE’s most ambitious projects yet. 2015’s Star Wars: Battlefront reboot was met with a mixed response among gamers and Star Wars fans. While many agreed the previous title was visually impressive and had faithful recreations of the source material’s characters and locations, the distinct lack of a campaign mode and a measly four maps left a sour taste when playing.

Battlefront II, however, will feature a dedicated single-player experience where players take control of Imperial agent, Iden Versio. The story takes place between the events Episode VI and Episode VII, following the second Death Star explosion. The glimpses that EA has released of the campaign show both ground and space combat, where Iden is joined by fellow Inferno Squad members to complete a series of daring missions, such as storming enemy bunkers on Endor or escaping capture aboard a rebel ship. Iden is also accompanied by a small droid that can stun foes and produce protective shields in tough situations. The droid will also be playable in sections of the campaign, as revealed in a gameplay demo that was released following the single-player trailer. Other playable characters announced for the story include Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren, although their exact involvement is yet to be revealed. Before the game’s release, players can step into the boots of Iden Versio through the prequel novel Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by veteran writer Christie Golden.

During the buildup to the game’s release, EA has been showing gameplay snippets of each of the playable heroes that will be available at launch. With 14 heroes in total, Battlefront II doubles the number found in its predecessor, featuring characters from all three Star Wars eras including Luke Skywalker, Rey, Yoda, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul, and Kylo Ren. Only one hero/villain from the sequel and prequel trilogies will be playable at launch, but EA has announced that gamers can expect regular content updates that will include new heroes. The first of these free DLCs has already been announced as ‘The Last Jedi’, and will unlock Finn and Captain Phasma as well as new maps from the upcoming Star Wars film.

swbf2_hallway_shooting.jpg

Players will get to explore 18 different locations while journeying through the story mode and multiplayer, including iconic planets including Yavin 4, Kashyyyk, and Starkiller Base, but also brand new planets such as Vardos and Pillio that will be exclusively playable during the campaign. The wide variety of maps shown off in the ‘This Is Star Wars Battlefront 2’ trailer demonstrates what the Frostbite engine is capable of, with multiple planets being prone to extreme weather conditions. Maps range from the torrential rains of Kamino to the busy streets of Mos Eisley and, so far, look stunning reimagined in 4K. Of the 14 maps available in multiplayer, three will be epic space battles locked to the game’s dogfight mode called Starfighter Assault. While Battlefront II does not feature as many game modes as the previous title, it does promise more focus on story-driven multiplayer experiences as each map and mode will have a unique plot behind it. The four modes featured, aside from Starfighter Assault, are Galactic Assault, Blast, Strike, and the highly-anticipated Heroes vs. Villains.

The closed alpha showcased the largest of the game modes, Galactic Assault, on Naboo: Theed. Forty players competed to protect or destroy a moving Multi-Troop Transport (MTT) vehicle as either the Republic clones and Separatist droid forces. The mode was similar to that of Walker Assault in Battlefront 2015, but had a multi-staged storyline that changed player objectives in a naturally-flowing experience. Should the droids successfully advance the MTT toward the Theed palace, the clones retreat inside to guard a set of uplinks that prevent the droids from progressing any further. If the clones fail to defend the uplinks, the two forces must compete for dominance within the throne room in a ‘control-the-point’ objective. The game shifts from the open streets of Theed to the claustrophobic corridors of the palace, creating a growing sense of urgency that prevents a feeling of repetition. Despite the vast improvements over the last game, such as the inclusion of a class-based system, Battlefront II still feels unbalanced. Looking back at alpha gameplay from July 2017, footage of anything other than the Heavy class difficult to find, as its abilities were overpowered compared to those of the Assault, Specialist, or Officers.

The Heavy class was adept at amassing Battle Points, which are acquired by obtaining kills and completing objectives. Battle Points can be spent during the match to unlock playable reinforcements in the form of Starfighters, ground vehicles, advanced classes such as the B2 Battle Droid or Clone Jumptrooper, and heroes. The heroes present in the alpha were Darth Maul, Boba Fett, Rey, and Han Solo. Each hero and their abilities felt unique and suited that particular character despite some sharing similar attributes. Both Rey and Boba Fett had a ‘sense’ ability that allowed them to see enemy outlines through walls, however, both abilities were unique with Fett’s appearing more fuzzy whereas Rey’s was indicated by light blue glowing auras.

Star-wars-battlefront-2-rey

The open beta again featured the Assault on Theed mode, but also included Starfighter Assault on Fondor, Strike on Maz’s Castle, and an offline Arcade mode. Each mode available was based in a different era of Star Wars and showed the variety on offer in Battlefront II. The beta felt much more balanced in terms of classes, but some of the new reinforcements, such as the First Order Flametrooper and the LAAT airship turret, felt truly underpowered and seemed a waste of valuable Battle Points.

A divisive factor about the new game is the inclusion of  loot boxes that can be purchased through micro-transactions. Not only do the loot boxes include the standard cosmetic fare typically found in similar products, they also include abilities, weapon upgrades, and attachments. The inclusion of upgrades immediately set off alarm signals within the community as the game came under fire for introducing “pay-to-win” mechanics. As well as players upgrading their class by purchasing crates, the class’s level was determined by how many upgrades they had and not by skill level.

Since information about the “pay-to-win” element became wide-spread following the open beta, EA has been quick to release an official statement titled “We’ve Listened to Your Feedback” that highlights the problems with the old progression system. The statement says that higher-levelled upgrades will be locked behind player progression and class-specific gear will only be avavilable by levelling up as that class. EA has already promised those who pre-ordered the game will have exclusive access to powerful upgrades for Yoda, Rey, and Kylo Ren, as well as the different classes in the Deluxe version. With the new progression system, those players will have a distinct advantage at launch, as others will have to grind their way to unlocking the same abilities.While EA has proven it can take on audience reactions and opinions, the choice to include microtransactions in the first instance may have been enough to put gamers off the idea. Whether the improved version of the progression system can sway audience opinion remains to be seen as the release date swiftly approaches.

Star Wars: Battlefront II will release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 17, 2017, with a three day early access for the Deluxe Edition holders. Those with an EA Origins account can gain early access to game from November 9 for 10 hours prior to the full release.

Preview

Co-op Gaming Shines at EGX Rezzed With We Were Here Together, Phogs!, and Cake Bash

Published

 on

Co-op gaming

Over the years, jolly co-op gaming has been in decline, especially from AAA developers. Several recent games have been standouts, such as A Way Out, Strange Brigade, and the Far Cry series, though the latest pioneers of co-op gaming will likely come from the indie community.

While exploring EGX Rezzed, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of mutual enjoyment as gamers came together to play a plethora of team-building games. Among these games were some of my personal highlights including We Were Here Together, Cake Bash, and Phogs!

We Were Here Together

We Were Here Together is the latest co-op adventure puzzle game by independent studio Total Mayhem Games.

The title continues on from two previously released projects, We Were Here and We Were Here Too, with the former available on Steam for free. Set amidst a frozen landscape, the first two games centred on exploring a mysterious castle while solving puzzles as part of a two-person team. Players were separated throughout the playthrough until the final moments, which featured a touching scene where the puzzling pals would eventually meet to conquer the remaining conundrums.

We Were Here Together immediately shakes things up by starting the game with both players working together in the same environment. The EGX demo starts off outside of the castle grounds in an expedition outpost where two explorers suddenly receive a distress call from somewhere in the frozen wastes. Players must work together to decipher an incoming transmission and correctly pinpoint the distress beacon.

The location itself is the answer to a series of puzzles, requiring both people to work together. A great example of teamwork is one player adjusting an outside satellite while the other stays inside to alter the radio’s frequency until a voice can be heard. This is where the creative ingenuity from the developers comes into play as solutions are different for each playthrough. The puzzles themselves remain the same, but, by using the same example as before, the voice may only be heard on a different frequency. Similar situations where the outcome changes include changing co-ordinates and figuring out which key may fit a particular door.

Roughly one-third of the game will be set in a shared environment while latter parts will take place back inside the castle in a traditional, separated format. Two paths are laid out later for the players to choose between, providing avenues for replayability. The changing solutions also add to the replay value as it prevents veteran gamers from going back and telling their new partner the answers.

The moments where players are physically apart highlight one of the unique features of the game: the radios. Both characters are equipped with walkie-talkies so players can communicate with each other. Radios are a brilliant immersion tool as the mechanic works exactly as a two-way radio should, with the wielder having to hold down a button to speak and release to hear the other. The radio mechanic is optional, though, as players can simply use a third-party chat. However, the added difficulty and roleplaying add an extra element to an already rather tricky title.

We Were Here Together is a fun shared experience that proves a challenge for even the most seasoned puzzle solvers. The release date and price of the project are unknown at present, but the game will be available on Steam.

Cake Bash

During EGX Rezzed 2019, the Coatsink team had a glorious display full of plush animals, colourful scenery, and even a rather large and comfortable dog bed.

I was lucky enough to go hands-on with Phogs! and play a few rounds of Cake Bash with PR and Events Manager Jack Sanderson. Both games proved to be a real treat to participants, with Cake Bash serving a much-needed helping of raucous fun in a series of mini-games.

Not unlike many beloved party games—such as Mario PartyCake Bash is an up-to-four-player competitive game featuring several rounds of friendship-ending challenges. The design of the title instantly stands out with an adorable and vivid visual style that brings a certain charm to the characters and settings.

Before each round, players choose a character from a selection of delicious desserts as their combatant. During the demo, only two game modes were available, the first of which required players to gather falling pieces of fruit and throw them inside a giant meringue. A single point is awarded for successfully tossing a piece of fruit into the bowl. However, a rare golden fruit, worth ten points, will appear every so often. Competitors must be wary of descending fiery boulders that can briefly daze any dessert. These boulders can also be picked up and lobbed at rivals. Not only can enemies launch these rocks at one another, but they can also punch and beat each other to force someone to drop their fruit.

The second mode available was a race to gather the most jellies to become the tastiest treat. Player avatars run around an arena, gathering multi-coloured jelly beans to cover their chosen dessert, and the sweet with the most treats at the end wins. While the first game mode mainly had the individual focusing on their own points, this round directly pits people against each other as limited jellies can be found, and players can steal them by whacking opponents.

While the game looks stunning, gamers will have to wait until 2020 to get their hands on Cake Bash. The late release has allowed for an increase in scope and additional modes for players to sink their teeth into.

Phogs!

The other title playable at the event was an equally adorable project called Phogs! The game can be played solo or with a friend, as the player controls one or both halves of a two-headed dog. The two heads can be moved independently and are able to stretch, bark, and bite.

Phogs! is set in a dream-like environment where the ground is made up of soft duvet sets and pillows, while the skies are filled with tranquil clouds gently floating in the distance. The level designs are built in a way that eases the player into the various mechanics, offering something new or demonstrating different ways to solve puzzles. Early enigmas would require both sides of the dog to work in unison to pull an object or levers simultaneously. Later levels would add a glowing orb that can be used to remove dark shadowy walls or illuminate pathways to walk across. Even the orbs are based around the idea of working as a team as one side of the dog bites onto the light ball with the other opening their mouth to act as a torch.

The charming personality of the game really shines in the various character designs and their functions within the levels. One of the final missions of the demo featured a sleeping giant that dreamed of bridges in floating thought bubbles. Players could then use the camera perspective to align the dream bridge with a section of a missing platform to cross. Other cutesy critters include wailing alarm clocks that can disturb the giants, preventing them from dreaming up a way to progress. The clocks can be led to nearby beds where they will quickly start to drift off and stop ringing.

Despite the levels being fairly linear, additional tasks can be completed to gain collectable dog biscuits. These tasks often require the dog to present characters with a particular item, for example, bringing a storybook to an owl.

The whole experience with Coatsink was a delight, both games offering a mix of controller-clenching competition and jolly cooperation. Like Cake Bash, Phogs! will also be arriving in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.


For future EGX coverage and the latest on all things single player, follow our FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. Meanwhile, join the discussion on our community Discord server.

 

Continue Reading