Star Wars Battlefront’s Death Star DLC First Impression

Alright, so I’ll give you guys a play-by-play of my experience with the Death Star DLC from beginning to the end of my first session with it. Hopefully that’ll give you an idea if it’s your thing or not, or just stir up some discussion—as I for one had a Season Pass and had already paid for it.

Load up Battlefront and first thing I notice: the menu looks exactly the same. AT-AT, Emperor in the Season Pass ad, Jabba the Hutt in the EA page ad, Hoth for Skirmish, whatever it is for assblow Missions. No Death Star, no Yavin, no different shot of Vader or X-wing pilot Luke. (The Tie Advanced did show up after a couple of returns to the menu screen.)

Not what I expect for the most anticipated DLC. This was supposed to be the big one, the one everyone was waiting for. And the game shows no recognition that anything has changed. It’s like coming home to an empty house.

So immediately alienation. Did it drop? It is a big deal? Is it good? Do DICE and EA care? Does any one care!? Weird.

I wanted to take a dry run with each hero and gun first before trying to bamble through it online and being very disappointed with a 30 sec Chewbacca lifetime as I hit random abilities and CoD twats with mikes gun me down.

And there’s 2 new guns.

Seriously? And ones I don’t even recognize. Which is actually great, but since this is New Hope content and there’s not even Leia’s Sporting Blaster? Well, they’ll probably releasing more gradually like they did with Bespin. And maybe they put more into Star Cards this time around (like Outer Rim).

Wait, seriously!?

Two new star cards.

The DLC of the classic movie that started it all, about the most icon battlestation in sci-fi has two guns and two star cards. Lando hit the jackpot on this one.

That's no moon - That's no DLC That's an update!

At least they recreated the same ominous feeling flawlessly.

I am happy to see the medical droid and I successfully predicted the triangular laser turret, but there’s so much more Death Star / New Hope / unused OT content and the two previous DLC’s got more attentive treatment.

Regardless, I proceed to testing the 2 guns and the heroes. Play as the rebels first and I instantly love the K-16 Bryar Pistol. It’s Han Solo’s blaster for the rest of us.

Frank Costanza - Happy Festivus Here's a charge blaster

The notion of primary and secondary fire—using left trigger aiming as the toggle—is a brilliant new way to add variety to Battlefront‘s arsenal.

I play the whole Skirmish match (on Normal), not realizing till the 2nd AT-AT is dropping that I never even bothered to get a hero pick up. This gun is fun.

The little machine gun TL-50 Heavy Repeater is the same. Its primary fire feels pretty different from the DLT-19. I like it. And the secondary fire is a short-range mini plasma grenade. Not bad. Thanks, Bossk.

Which bring us to the highlight of this Death Star DLC review: Bossk.

Picked up the hero icon right away on Sullust and played the entire rest of the match in heat vision.

I was leery seeing Greedo’s grenade recycled, but it’s really more a combo of Greedo and Dengar’s hit-and-run proxy bomb (guess it’s all a bounty hunter thing).

Granted on Normal mode in Skirmish I also never dropped below 95 health and got 26,000 points. His health regenerates and stringing up kills keeps it going stronger. So it turns out even though Bossk seems disappointing at first, he’s OP and super fun.

And like I remember from the action figure, he carries my beloved Relby.

The DLC is saved.

After this grindfest I decided I had to experience Chewie for the first time in live combat. No more of this Skirmish shit.

I hit up the multiplayer, get rerouted to fly stuff for a round or two and then get to Obi Wan’s tractor beam room which has apparently been moved to the Matrix. It’s fun running through nearly every shot in A New Hope—but something just feels off.

And then I notice.

The graphics suck. It’s way hazier. And I’m not talking about the space dust in the Star Destroyer attack. Everything’s fuzzy. I run up to get a good look at the textures on the wall and feel a little vomit in the back of my throat. This does not look like Battlefront. I’ve always been amazed by and raved about how good this game looks. It’s online 20-v-20 on console and it looks incredible. Old people that don’t play any video games say, Wow that forest looks so detailed!” Even the stormtrooper models look better than their surroundings. It’s awkward.

And then I finally get Chewbacca.

Image result for oh my god meme

The fur, oh my god the fur. I have to tell myself to look away, suspend my disbelief because I want this to be awesome. It’s freaking Chewbacca!

It feels great to have a primary bowcaster. It’s cool. The wookie roar I didn’t know what that was about yet, but that’s OK. And the Titan Smash Wookie Slam is pretty nifty, makes total sense.

But the model. Don’t look at it. It’ll ruin it.

What it seems like to me is that the Death Star DLC content was the original proof of concept for the game, but that they realized they could do a lot better and instead of improving it, they said, We’ll leave that to recycle for DLC content. And of course, they left that DLC for “last” and hyped it up so people would buy Season Passes. Lead with your best foot forward and leave the gimpy, broken one lagging behind where they can’t see.

Image result for give into the hype meme

I don’t regret buying a season pass for Outer Rim, Bespin, Bossk, my new favorite pistol, Chewie’s mechanics—and hopefully Rouge One—but I certainly feel cheated about the quality of this DLC.

TL;DR: Disappointing, but Chewbacca! Why DICE, why? You’ve done so well so far, why fail me now?

Hear’s to hoping Rogue One: Scarif won’t feel like recycled afterthought content.


Star Wars Battlefront Hero Predictions

Here are my predictions for the heroes and locations in the next two DLCs, Death Star and “mysterious Expansion 4”.

Bossk + Obi Wan
Death Star and Yavin IV

Will likely include maps in the Death Star corridor, finally include space battles (with capital ships? cf. Walker Assault), and maybe a map inside the Rebel base on Yavin IV, hopefully including some of the jungles as the Echo Base map has extensive exterior areas.

IG88 + Chewbacca
Kessel and Coruscant? (cf. inclusion of Sullust even though it’s not in the OT, while it’s main species is)

They’re gonna make us wait for Chewbacca, till the bitter end. You know it. Spice mines of Kessel maps and the streets of Coruscant make a lot of sense and are locations famously mentioned in the original trilogy. The Special Edition even shows Coruscant briefly.

Other options for planets:
Kashyyk (though probably too similar to Endor)
Mon Cala
Dantooine (never shown, too remote, so not likely)
Corellia (never mentioned, so even less likely)

Locations in the Original Trilogy, in chronological order:
Death Star
Yavin IV
Asteroid Belt*
(Tatooine again)
Death Star II

That’s right, the Star Wars films, accomplished all that they did with only 7 locations (Tatooine and Death Star repeated, Yavin 4 never shown outside except a shot or two). Now there are hundreds of conceptualized planets.

*Inaccurate as it is, maybe it’s recent debris? It could also be retconned as rings around the gas giant Bespin, which would better explain where the slug came from.


4. 8. 15. 16. 23. 42. 4. 8. 15…

Why Do Gamers Play One Game for Hundreds, Even Thousands of Hours?

This article just gets more crazy as you read. It’s a totally different mindset of what a game is. For these people, monogamers, it becomes just a repeatable task, put this object in this bin, this in that one, a kindergarten shape puzzle. The repeated action of putting that thing—the character, the cursor, that fire spell—right where it belongs, even though you know before it happens exactly where it goes, becomes an onramp to a state of flow for these people. I personally don’t care about just seeing something on screen, like this character with bad original defense actually getting to a high defense, or about putting things in the right place even though I already know where that is (OK well, maybe I do a little). I go to a game for a challenge, something novel to figure out. Even if I’m confident my strategy will work, it should be in a fresh situation that I’ve adapted to—not the same one I’ve played over and over again. But that diversity is good. These monogamers really get a lot out of their play style, so more power to them! Any of them would make one hell of a playtester, that’s for sure.

Can you tell by all my examples that I’m working on an RPG?

DUI: Dynamic User Interface

(Quite an unfortunate acronym)
Dynamic User Interfaces by Bjorn Buchner, Gamasutra

Contextual UIs have been used for a long time. Think the breath meter in Mario 64. So in the example of Battlefield 4 given, it must be that the designers thought that information was important to the player even while scoping. Maybe they had one guy complain and then they rationalized that it’s supposed to take skill to aim—”it’s not supposed to be easy“, they would say—so seeing through UI crap is part of that.

I came up with some UI triggers before reading Buchner’s and they’re organized in a little bit different way:

  • NPC or Object
  • Function, Routine, State
  • Property, Variable Value
  • Location, Area

And then there’s Time. Activity and Reason would be covered under Function.

In an action RPG like Skyrim, once all agroed (function) enemies near the player (location) are dead, a menu containing all loot on one side (maybe organized by enemy) and the player’s items on the other could appear. This could be taken a step further by only the player’s items of the same category showing up so the decision to take loot is quick.

It may also be useful at times to have uncommon or novel controls be displayed on the screen, if a player encounters a unique mechanic, such as a vehicle, machine, etc. It may need to remain there for the duration of the unique mechanic sequence in case the player forgets a button or has not used a feature of the mechanic until late in the sequence.

This brings up the matter of the line between contextual UI and contextual controls. There is the HUD during action gameplay, informational icons, common menus, and the controller itself. These are always interacting. It’s natural that when a menu for trading with merchants comes up in a bazaar, the controls for interacting with them, buying, selling, bartering, also change. When you open the items menu, then the spells menus, then look at the map, and press different buttons for all of them, you experience the interaction between contextual UI and controls.

Buchner focuses on the information being communicated to the player, which could be as brief as an ammo count every 5 rounds blinking onto the screen or a warning message alerting the player they are out of ammo or health. When icons are factored into this, there is a vast amount of information that could be potentially communicated to a player game-wide, and so contextual reduction and chunking of that information is crucial to the player’s processing of all information not a part of the primary challenge at hand.

Destiny First Impression

I still haven’t gotten far enough into the game to risk reading other reviews that might poison my perception of it. Google headlines are enough. I want to have my own, unadultured opinion of it before someone points out a flaw from some other angle that I don’t even care about. We shouldn’t like or not like a game because of its objective value and typological orientation, but on our experience of the game. Our culture is so concerned with objective, typological analysis, that we forget to simply share a token of one individual’s experience. The typology happens later. So in risk of making you get typological, here’s my first impression.

The game is immediately beautiful. All the bits of star dust and all the ever so slightly moving details. The art style is more incredible than I thought, a mix of a woodcutesque illustrative style with alchemical influences and meat-and-potatoes—no, a good porterhouse steak—classic sci-fi. It feels like falling in love with Star Wars again: vast stellar landscapes, all the little bits and bumps on starships inside and out—and space wizards. The environment of the Tower, the clean, Portal-white robots, smooth contours of armor, and purple women evoke a very Mass Effect feel as well. The Awoken are actually a decently designed race that avoids the Star Trek Fallacy, which states that aliens are created by rocks, slugs, anything you find on the backseat floor of your car, or anything else sufficiently bumpy being placed on a human’s face with spirit gum. But they are kinda just purple people. Their glowing eye colors and the cosmic watery reflections on their heads save it from being boring, though. I think just the fact that they’re not Rubber-Forehead Aliens or bugs is a relief. Still, they are not Max Rebo.

The introduction is a little arbitrary. You already were a guardian, but you were dead, but now you’re not, but you forget everything(?), and there’s those things over there so we need to go here—wait, we’re in Russia? The beauty of the setting is what carries the introduction, draws you into the world. To remain diegetic, there is no tutorial, rather the ease and calm of the beginning functions to induct you back into the Guardians. Not as epic of a start as it maybe could have, but welcome nonetheless.

I am pleased that there is a satisfying challenge provided early on. Some smart Vandals, bosses, Darkness Zones, the Zerg-rushing/Flood-like Hive. Though I’ve only died twice, dying is what seems to make a game more fun. (Darkness Zones by the way are a great alternative to save points and I’d love to write more on them later.) The combat doesn’t feel quite as tight as Halo‘s did and by that I mean the videofriction factor (scroll down, number 10), that feeling you have seamless and fluid control over your character. Destiny does feel a tad sluggish in videofriction, but maybe I just need to turn up my sensitivity (I have it at 4 and that’s been enough for sniping with the PS4 stick). The melee is visceral as always, though, and the context-dependent cover responses—popping up over cover, sliding behind it—a nice touch and great addition to the Bungie family.

Destiny is haunted by the ghost of Halo for sure: the notes of the main choral track, the color pallet emphasizing blue and sun, the focus on armored warriors, start with a BR, four-armed xenolingual enemies with imposing mandibles, the Flood remix, your robotic familiar friend; but beyond these endless over-typological comparisons, Bungie has created something that is truly new and fantastic, an aesthetic I want to live in for a while.

Destiny Mobile

OK, so here’s a brief list of preliminary thoughts on what Destiny Mobile could be used for so that it’ll feel just as much a part of the game.

Minigame dailies (but not grindy), crafting/repairs/mechanical work
Memories, esp. incl. back-of-the-mind kind of challenges like hacking or lock picking
Strategy, command
Space travel
Planning, notes
Simulations. models (like 3D of ship manipulating with multitouch)
Notifications, communication about special events/raids (joining, voting, negotiating, scheduling (link with cal?))
Basically it should be like Jedi meditation meets day trading (with a little bit of Words with Friends)

That would make me wanna be on my smart phone playing Destiny every minute I’m not playing it on the console.

Minds of Extraordinary Power

Linguistics has taught me to believe in people. It has given me an appreciation for the innate calculating ability people have inside them, from the roughest, poorest podunk farmer to the richest, most powerful men. Every day everyone is effortlessly executing what linguists still have trouble quantifying.

We can capture that power together.