I’m actually not a huge Star Wars fan (I know, I know), but after spending a couple of hours playing Battlefront on the PS4 today, I’m starting to feel a lot of hype.

I mean. Can you blame me for feeling this way? Even the menus in this game are hot as hell:

Nevermind when you’re actually in a match! Battlefront is a looker indeed.

I’m not praising the visuals here simply because they’re pretty. What strikes me about them is how well they capture that worn, threadbare quality that many of the objects in the movies have as well. Your blaster isn’t a fancy gun. It looks plausible, real. Futuristic, yet old somehow. This, in combination with DICE’s stellar audio design, make Battlefront feel like it’s transporting you right into the world of Star Wars. Fans will appreciate this attention to detail outright. I on the other hand have no real nostalgia for Star Wars, but the games do such a good job of building this world, that I still feel completely seduced by it. It’s one thing to look at Tatooine. It’s another to walk through it and feel the rock crumble underneath your boot. I feel a sense of wonder playing Battlefront...when I’m not trying to shoot other people in the face, that is.

While I haven’t spent that much time with the game yet, I do have plenty of thoughts on what I have experienced thus far. In no particular order:

  • I LOVE the jetpacks in this game. In most games, jetpacks are floaty. Not inBattlefront. One press of a button, and your character vaults across the map with force, weight. Landings stick, but they’re not exactly graceful. It feels dangerous, almost—like the jetpack could easily kill you if you’re not careful. They won’t, of course. It just FEELS that way. Still, I fully expect a lot of shenanigans with people miscalculating and accidentally crashing into all sorts of things. I know I did.

  • Not reloading is a bit strange at first. It took me a couple of matches to get used to Battlefront’s tempo of “shoot, let your gun cool off for a few seconds, shoot, cool off.” When you do mess up, your blaster overheats and you get a Gears of War-like active reload mini game. If you press the appropriate button when prompted, you’ll automatically gain access to your gun again. If you don’t, you’ll have to wait a few seconds for it to cool down. It’s a small detail, but it totally adds to the feeling that you’re playing a Star Wars game, too. It feels less like Obligatory Sci Fi Shootman Mechanic than it feels like a “realistic” quirk of a delicate, ornery weapon.
  • I spent a little bit playing the “Survival” missions, which are the game’s version of horde mode. Enemies come at you in waves, and each wave is incrementally more difficult than the last one. The beta only lets you play up to the sixth wave, and you can watch that below.
  • My favorite thing in the world is when an enemy is in a jetpack—if you kill them, they usually start spinning out of control and then explode. It’s great.
  • Survival felt like a tease. There aren’t enough waves to really make use of the power-ups you get for defending certain points, and the enemies aren’t particularly tough early on in the mode. Even so, it’s still a great way to acclimatize yourself to Battlefront. I’d highly recommend popping a few matches in here before diving into the meat of the game, which is way more daunting. I was able to test out every available gun and loadout in a chill environment, without having to actually unlock that gear (something which you’ll need to do in other modes).

  • Every gun has a very distinct feel. So many different varieties of “pew-pew”!
  • Drop Zone is a bit more meaty. Basically, you’re tasked with attacking or defending “Pods” from enemies. If you manage to arm a Pod and defend it for long enough, it’ll drop goodies for you to use in the match—things like souped up grenades, shields, and turrets. The mode has got enough objective in it that it’s not as mindless as a team death match mode, but it’s still pretty simple and straightforward. You can watch a couple of matches of that in the video below. I’m not particularly amazing, I apologize!
  • Neither of the previous modes can really prepare you for how bonkers “Walker Assault on Hoth” is. It’s a massive 40-player mode with rolling objectives that change depending on how well your team is doing. You play as either the Rebels trying to destroy the Empire’s AT-AT attacks (which means you need to call in Y-Wing bombers) or, you can play as the Empire (which means you’ll need to protect your walkers.)
  • The mode is very overwhelming, at least at first. You really do feel like you’re a part of a larger war, which also means you can’t just run in and try to be Rambo. You’ll die really quickly. The only way to make progress is to be tactical, as you try your best to mount an attack or defend against invaders. Team work will be key.
  • I’d compare Walker Assault to Rush Mode in Battlefield—it hits many of the same notes—but that doesn’t capture just how epic this mode feels. You’re running alongside giant AT-ATs, which could probably crush you. Meanwhile, fighter jets buzz overhead, shooting stuff in the distance. You also have “heroes” and “villains” on each side, which are power-ups that let you play as classic characters like Darth Vader and Boba Fett. Oh yeah. And then you have the 40 other players running about. Seriously: it’s absurd and awesome.
  • My favorite moment so far on Walker Assault was when I was trying to gun down an enemy from far away. There I was, shooting at this guy for-e-ver, puzzled as to why this jerk wouldn’t go down. Why did he have so much health? What the hell? I made my way closer and closer to this enemy, who seemed to be cutting down everyone in his path. Eventually, I got far enough to make out the enemy’s face—and that’s when I realized I had made a grave mistake. It was Luke Skywalker. And he was looking right at me. Scrambling and scared, I tried shooting him some more—he was nearly dead! Surely I could finish him off? Oh, precious optimism. He just deflected my shots as if they were nothing using his lightsaber, and seconds later, he cut me right down. I died. It was the best thing ever.
  • Also awesome: when you actually manage to kill hero and villain characters. I felt pumped every time I killed Darth Vader. I know that eventually, the novelty will wear off—these may be iconic characters, but I also presume you’ll see them nearly every match. And since real people are controlling these characters, sometimes that means they won’t behave the way they’re “supposed” to. Sometimes, that’ll be funny. Other times, it’ll be grating. For now, though, I get really excited whenever I see heroes and villains.
  • Right now, the beta isn’t open to the public. That’s later this week, on the 8th. So far, though, the game feels rather stable. I only experienced slight lag during one of my Walker matches, but the hiccups disappeared after a few minutes. Hopefully the experience is just as smooth when everyone else is playing it, too.
  • The unlock system is par for the course in games of this sort now, but it kind of sucked to start out with nothing in modes like Walker Assault—especially after getting a taste of some of the unlocks in Survival. It’s too early to tell now, but it definitely seems like higher-leveled people will have an advantage.
  • The spawning system could be a bit better—I got spawn killed a few times. Maybe just bad luck, though?

A few quick tips for folks playing the Star Wars Battlefront Beta

The public beta for Star Wars Battlefront opened on Thursday for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Many of you will want to play it straight, as you would any other first-person shooter. But Battlefront is not like most shooters! So here are some pointers...

#1

In most shooters, when you see an enemy, you take a second to aim down the scope/zoom in—that way, you can make sure the shot actually lands. Most games grant you a small bonus in accuracy, lack of recoil, and so on, whenever you stop to aim down the sights. Battlefront is a little different, as YouTuber jackfrags explains below:

In Battlefront, you don’t gain much of an advantage when you aim down the sights. Instead, you lose a second that you could have used to shoot, and your character slows down to boot. It’s actually more beneficial to shoot enemies right away, even if you’re running around/jetpacking, since your aim will more or less be the same as when you stand still and aim down the sights. Jackfrags says he spoke to a weapon designer in the game, who confirmed this information.

I tested it out myself, and found that I could kill enemies way more efficiently if I followed his advice. Hell, I straight up doubled my K/D thanks to this tip. It almost seemed to me that the game grants you extra aim assist when you don’t zoom in, but it may just be that hip fire automatically shoots from the center of the screen instead of being off-center, as most games would do it.

#2

To go along with all this, it also helps if you play Battlefront third-person. Now, I realize this will be a preference thing, but personally, I like that third-person mode gives you a better field of vision—and it can also make it easier to get into the habit of shooting right away instead of aiming down the sights. On PS4, you hold down on the D-Pad to activate it, if that helps.

#3

Finally! Let’s talk about playing Walker Assault On Hoth. I won’t mince words here: it’s actually harder to be on the Rebel side than it is being the Empire. Empire is straightforward; they almost always win. Rebels on the other hand have to take down AT-ATs, something which is practically impossible unless you’re playing the objective (and even then, it’s pretty damn hard.) Helpfully, GameSpot outlines the big things you need to do to win as Rebels in the video below:

First, you’ll want to arm your uplinks. The game points them out to you; just go to those locations and it’ll tell you what to do once there. After you arm the uplink, defend it! It’s best if you use a bubble shield here, since the enemy team will try to stop you the second things are armed.

In the second phase, you’ll want to start firing at the AT-AT. This is where the Ion Shot comes in handy, but you can make use of other stuff—like aircraft and smart rockets—too. Just know that you alone probably can’t do a ton of damage, so coordination will be key.

In the last phase, you’ll want to make use of your snow speeders, as they can take down ATs pretty quickly. Of course, this is easier said than done...even with your entire team playing the objective, it’s still really easy to lose. Hopefully this gets rebalanced a bit once the game actually launches, because right now, it kind of sucks to play as Rebels. So don’t feel bad if you lose, Rebels.

Good luck!