Star Wars Battlefront III: The Continuing Saga
After eight long years, fans of the Battlefront series may have some good news awaiting them at E3...or just more waiting.
In the totality of the Star Wars series, which spans an impressive 13 hours of film, there are but a few moments whose meaning continues to evade scholars and fans to this day—namely, the moment when Yoda hints at another unrevealed character in Episode V, when Ben Kenobi lets himself be killed in Episode IV, and the entirety of Episodes I-III. For sake of space, I’ll focus on the first one.
When Luke leaves the Dagobah system after training with Yoda, Kenobi mentions that he is their last chance. But the green Jedi Master looks up and disagrees, saying, “No. There is another.” Who that is, no one really knows. The moment has a certain mysticism about it, which plays with our strong yet ambiguous existential notions and expands upon the pseudo-religious idea of the Force. That, and it doesn’t make much sense in the plot line.
The production of Star Wars Battlefront 3 has been much the same way. The sequel to the popular series has, at some points, seemed to exist, but hasn’t. At other points, it has seemed hopeless but then made progress. For the game’s anticipators, it has been years of back-door talks and deals fit for Bothan spies, with disappointments often following excitement.
But now, after eight years since the last edition, the scrapping of a “99 percent complete” game, and the numerous exchanging of rights like an STD (Star Trek Destroyer), the Battlefront community is rallying behind DICE to make sure that there is, in Yoda’s terms, “another.” And, for the first time in a while, it has a good reason to be confident.
Episode 1: A New Hope
Since the recent collapse of Lucas Arts, EA has acquired the rights to publish all Star Wars games, and it is opening a branch of DICE in Los Angeles that will be dedicated to focusing on new Star Wars titles. Many rumors were going around that DICE was focusing on games not tied directly to the newly planned Disney-made Star Wars movies. Rather, it would create or continue independent games that expanded the universe and release them close to the movies, like a new Battlefront game. And, surely enough, here is a quote from EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen:
“The opportunity to do a new Battlefront, for example, which is one of the very popular Star Wars games, or some of the other traditional games that were made, is very exciting.”
And…BOOM goes the concussion grenade. Some commentators claim that this single sentence, said at a technology conference in late May, has basically confirmed that DICE will begin or already has begun production of a sequel to the popular game series. And, not only will there be a new game, but it will use the studio’s fantastic Frostbite 3 engine. It is possible that an official announcement will come at E3, which DICE has teased will include a few surprises from the company.
This came as fantastic news to the Battlefront community, which is showing stronger support than ever before for a highly anticipated sequel. The community Facebook page “Who else wants Star Wars Battlefront III?” has an impressive and rapidly increasing 43,000 likes. To put that in perspective, the page supporting a new CoD Modern Warfare has almost 900, one of the small pages in support of a new Starcraft has nine likes and some pages in support of Mirror’s Edge Two, another game DICE rumored might be working on, muster only a few hundred likes. Fans have even attempted to create an independent version of the game: Star Wars Battlecry.
But I would caution against too much excitement. There is hope, but considering its history and current ownership, the prospects for a new Battlefront game are far from confirmed.
Episode 2: The Empire Strikes Back
The history of development for Battlefront III is as long as it is confusing. And it’s twice as frustrating because it’s as confusing as it is stupid.
The closest the game ever got to being completed was when Free Radical was developing it from 2006 to 2008. According to the company’s co-founder, the development team and Lucas Arts had a lot of arguments about deadlines, leading to cancelling the project when it was “99 percent finished.” Since then, the company went bankrupt and was bought out by Crytek. Leaked alpha footage from Free Radical showed what looked like an amazing game, with revolutionary space to ground gameplay.
Rumors for developing the game then were exchanged from company to company, leading to disappointment after disappointment for years. However, when Disney bought the rights to everything Star Wars last year, signs looked more promising. LucasArts had leaked footage of something called “Version Two,” which was a Star Wars first-person shooter with vehicle combat rumored to become the new Battlefront 3. But then Disney shut down LucasArts completely, laying off all its workers and canceling the production of all its current projects.
Now, all the hope rests in DICE and, more importantly, EA—the evil empire. EA has gotten plenty of flak from the gaming community in the past few years, mostly for releasing titles in a hurry. Gamers often accuse the company of only caring about the cash and not the consumer, which is the same accusation Free Radical made against LucasArts when it decided to cancel the production of Battlefront 3.
While this is the best chance the game has had in a while, what has been hailed as a confirmation from EA is not one at all. The community must continue to show its support for the game in order to hope it is actually made. Until then, in the wise words of Yoda’s counterpart Yogi (Berra), “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
Episode/Battlefront 3: The Return of the Jedi
Admittedly, I have liked the Battlefront community page on Facebook. In fact, I love it. The series is my favorite gaming series ever, and it would be awesome to see a new title released. But, if it does make its return, Battlefront must be careful. It’s been a while since 2005, and there are new standards in the gaming community. However, I think it’s exactly those 2005 roots that would make Battlefront a success today, amidst the new market standards.
The reason that the series has such a loyal fan base, the reason it would be successful if made and the reason I spent many nights and days playing it in middle school instead of my normal activity of not talking to girls was its perfect and unique combination of strategy and shooting.
What the first Battlefront did was introduce a new style of gameplay. The first and third-person shooter allowed you to run and gun, like many other shooters. Yet, you commanded the strategy of the game for your team. The entire gameplay was based on capturing command posts, which served as respawn points on the map, and each had its own strategic value. My friends and I had the ability to lead our teams’ charge or to go rogue behind enemy lines. We had the ability to use tanks or X-wings or to stick to the ground, as we adjusted for the battles at hand and made strategies for each map.
And the best part was that every time we tried something new, we explored a new part of the Star Wars universe. The games let you embody a normal soldier rather than the main characters of the story, allowing the players to feel a deeper connection with the background behind the movies. Furthermore, this featured allowed you to feel like you were a part of a large armed force, appealing to that giddy child inside that used to set up large battles of plastic soldiers on the living room carpet.
And even beyond that, there is something about the series’ gameplay that I just can’t quite put my finger on. Something about it made it so comfortable and interesting to play for years, even after figuring out how to easily win on every map. I don’t know what it is. Either I’m bad at my job and can’t express what I should know, or there is something deeper to it—like something mystical in the Battlefront universe that was engrained in me while I watched the screen with my friends.
Not many games are like Battlefront. I’ve only seen a similar gameplay structure in Warhawk, which gives the game series a uniqueness in its fundamental structure that is rare in the current gaming world. And, excluding old, limited-edition Britney Spears albums, anything that is rare is valuable. The new Battlefront would be a refreshing break from normal shooters and strategy games, making it a success in the gaming market.
The sequel of Battlefront II had worse maps in my opinion, but it did a good job in maintaining this structure, while adding new features such as temporary Jedi play, space battles, new game modes and the ability to be Ewoks and other creatures. If it is ever made, Battlefront III must do the same. Suggestions like adding air-to-space battles, adding new objectives and improving the graphics are terrific, but this basic structure must be maintained.
I’ve grown a little bit since middle school. Actually, after eight years, I’m eight years older (that’s a fact). I’ve learned more about the worries and subtleties of life, such as how to use the word “subtleties” in a sentence. But I, and the fans of the series, have never moved on. There still exists that mystical whim or force that flowed from the games through my awkward transitioning years, which comes out every time I break out the PS2 to play the games.
Maybe it’s just my childhood. Maybe it’s just nostalgia. I don’t know. All I know is this force is with me, and it drives my biggest hope as a gamer: that one day, after eight years of waiting, there will be another.