Star Wars: Battlefront - an epic clash on a 40-screen stage

Mr Jamie Keen, one of the game designers, said Battlefront is intended to take iconic moments from the film, and let players experience those moments themselves.
Mr Jamie Keen, one of the game designers, said Battlefront is intended to take iconic moments from the film, and let players experience those moments themselves.PHOTO: ELECTRONIC ARTS

Star Wars: Battlefront is one of the most hotly anticipated titles this season, and was playable for the first time at Tokyo Game Show (TGS) - on a massive stage with 40 screens lined up in rows.

The whole demo could be summed up in one word: Epic.

The mode available at TGS was Walker Assault, where two 20-man teams have to attack or defend slow-moving All Terrain Armoured Transport walkers, or AT-ATs, on their way to crush a Rebel base.

To take down the walkers, Rebels have to activate Uplink Stations around the map to call in Y-Wing bombers to weaken the AT-AT defences.

I was part of the Empire team, protecting my heavily armoured walker as it slowly stomped across Hoth.

The sheer sense of scale I experienced in the demo was staggering. The AT-AT was huge. The map was huge. The teams were huge. I felt really, really tiny.

But being tiny does not mean you cannot kill stuff. I wielded a blaster and went around the massive map looking for firefights to jump into.

I took cover in trenches that ran deep into the snowy ground. I ran through frozen outposts with twisty corridors and shot the living daylights out of everything I saw.

I even tried to pilot a TIE fighter - you can find tokens on the map that let you commandeer a flier - to shoot down the pesky Y-Wings.

From way up high, you can barely make out the people on the ground, much less figure out who to shoot at. Even the AT-ATs looked small from up there. But aerial dogfights proved too much for me to handle, and I ended up crashing my fighter.

Lead heroes designer Jamie Keen said that Battlefront is about making players feel as if they are really part of the Star Wars universe.

"In Battlefront, we like to talk about players living out their Star Wars battle fantasies. What this means is taking really iconic moments from the film, and letting players play those moments themselves," he said.

It is also about combining different elements of the Star Wars universe, such as having a Y-Wing racing through the sandy canyons of Tatooine, and allowing players to step into the shoes of their favourite characters.

Mr Keen also announced a Battlefront open beta that will be open to all Xbox One, PS4 and PC owners, although he stopped short of revealing when this would take place.

There will be three modes available: Drop Zone (small-scale infantry combat), a single-player or co-op Survival, and Walker Assault (the mode available at TGS).

And during the demo? The Empire crushed the Rebels.

Still, everyone cheered and high-fived each other, then looked back longingly at their battle station, wishing that they could play again.

Lisabel Ting

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2015, with the headline 'Star Wars: Battlefront - an epic clash on a 40-screen stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe