Star Wars Battlefront awakens November 17, free 'Battle of Jakku' DLC on December 8

One month before Star Wars returns to movie theaters, Star Wars will return to video games. Star Wars Battlefront will hit PC and next-gen consoles on November 17.

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During yesterday's opening day of the Star Wars Celebration convention, a closed-door presentation began with a notice that all footage revealed was taken from in-game footage on PlayStation 4. The camera pans over the forest moon of Endor, one of the iconic settings from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. As camouflaged Rebels carefully tread forward, they're quickly discovered by Stormtroopers on speeder bikes. The John Williams score kicks in the fight begins. The Rebels are able to ward off Imperial troops, some even giving out a classic Wilhelm scream as they fall off a high ledge. Suddenly, the Rebels are stopped in their tracks when faced with the mechanical AT-ST walker.

That's the first footage revealed of Star Wars Battlefront, the revival of the classic multiplayer series and the first collaborative effort between Electronic Arts, DICE, and Lucasfilm. Just as the with the games in the old series, this game will pit teams of Rebels against the evil forces of the Empire. And players will get to live those battles anew starting on November 17.

The presentation continued with Rebels using high-powered weaponry to take down the AT-ST before going up against growing numbers of Imperial Stormtroopers. The infantry was soon flanked by even-larger AT-AT walkers. With the Rebels outgunned, the player on-screen dodged enemy fire and approached a call station that allowed him to call for reinforcements. As the AT-AT shuffled closer, backup arrived in the form of an X-Wing bombing run, which destroyed the massive walker in short order. The number of Imperials kept growing, though, and the Rebels quickly retreated to a nearby station. A teammate ran ahead and was quickly Force choked and thrown to the ground, as a familiar labored breathing could be heard around the corner. The player turned the corner to find Darth Vader, who easily deflected all blaster shots and struck the player down to end the demo.

Much of the battle unfolded like a child's fantasy, an atmosphere that DICE is intentionally shooting for. After months of bringing the developers' children into the office to play with their Star Wars toys and taking notes, DICE is looking to craft a multiplayer experience that allows players to live out their Star Wars fantasies.

"That became the vision for Star Wars Battlefront," DICE design director Niklas Fegraeus told the attendees on-hand. "It became to immerse players in an authentic Star Wars experience, creating their own Star Wars battles. So with that vision established, we flew over here to take it to Lucasfilm. Fortunately, they loved it. They loved it very, very much and what they did was even better. They opened up their sacred vaults to us. We got access to the holiest of the holy: the archives. The Death Star, all the props, and all the stuff we loved from the films."

The challenge for DICE quickly became how to take advantage of the props they now had at their fingertips. That's when the studio looked to photogrammetry, the process of making measurements based on surrounding photographs. This process will allow the studio to create fully accurate images of vehicles, blasters, droids, characters, and many other aspects of the Star Wars universe based on the actual props. Likewise, DICE has been touring the real-world locations used to shoot iconic series scenes, such as the aforementioned Endor moon, the desert landscape of Tatooine, and the icy world of Hoth.

DICE's unprecedented access also extends to the realm of sound. Skywalker Sound eagerly provided the Battlefront team with all sound assets used from the movies. That includes the John Williams score, but it also includes the many recognizable sound effects from across the two trilogies. To capture this sound, DICE is aiming high for PC users, in particular. Star Wars Battlefront will be the first PC game to utilize Dolby Atmos sound.

As for gameplay itself, Battlefront games will center around multiplayer, in which players can switch between first-person or third-person perspectives. The game is set to offer 40-player online games. The Endor session shown at the start of the presentation was a part of a mode called Walker Assault, which will allow the Imperial side to access walkers, while the Rebels try and fight back with their array of tools and their available backup. More details on this game mode are expected to come soon. Other competitive game modes will introduce dogfights that utilize the Rebel and Imperial fleets, as well as recognizable vessels like the Millennium Falcon.

Players will be able to level their character up individually, as they would normally do in a multiplayer game of this type. However, Battlefront will also introduce a Partner system that allows players to form a tag team with a friend. The key component of this feature is that partners will be able to share unlocks, so if one person specializes in one kind of weapon and another partner dives into another, they can both share the unlocks from their respective weapons.

In addition to unlocks, players will find power-ups along the battlefield. These pickups will includes shields, explosives, vehicles like X-Wings or Imperial walkers, or a Hero transformation power-up that turns players into some of the greatest legends of the Star Wars movies, like Darth Vader or Boba Fett.

Those looking to practice their skills before jumping online will also be able to fly solo for special Missions. These challenges will all be based on recognizable scenes from the Star Wars films. A single player can participate or they can join up with a friend online or locally via split-screen.

Of course, with a certain Star Wars movie set to release a month after Battlefront's release, DICE is also being given special content related to it. The Battle of Jakku, the key battle with Imperial holdouts that takes place in the immediate aftermath of "Return of the Jedi," will be added to Battlefront as free DLC. Players will get to see Jakku as it was before they see it as it eventually becomes in this December's "The Force Awakens." Those that own Star Wars Battlefront will be able to pick this DLC up free of charge on December 8. Anyone that takes the plunge and pre-orders will be able to pick it up a week early on December 1.

DICE looks to have the building blocks for something special, assuming they can follow up on what's been given to them. There will be plenty more to see from Star Wars Battlefront between now and its release date. The Force will awaken on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on November 17.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
    • reply
      April 17, 2015 10:42 AM

      Sounds good!

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      April 17, 2015 10:53 AM

      Y-Wing bombers, not X-Wing!

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      April 17, 2015 10:59 AM

      I take it In game is not the same as In engine???

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        April 17, 2015 11:09 AM

        what?

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        April 17, 2015 11:17 AM

        I saw something different yesterday. And yes, what I saw, I was told was "in-game."

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        April 17, 2015 11:22 AM

        At the very end of the video, after the playstation logo, it says "FROSTBITE GAME ENGINE FOOTAGE REPRESENTATIVE OF PLAYSTATION 4. NOT ACTUAL GAMEPLAY". So it's not actually running on a Playstation 4 and it's all scripted sequences.

    • reply
      April 17, 2015 11:16 AM

      Holy shit!

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      April 17, 2015 11:35 AM

      1 amazing screen that owns

      http://image.noelshack.com/fichiers/2015/16/1429286186-star-wars-battlefront-6.jpg

      Dammnnnnnn

    • reply
      April 17, 2015 12:15 PM

      So it's $10 more for the deluxe edition that gets you a few guns? Is it just that or do you get something else that I'm missing?

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      April 17, 2015 12:34 PM

      JUST REMEMBER THIS IS E FUCKING A. If they fuck this up, it will be completely expected.

      • reply
        April 17, 2015 5:56 PM

        Plus, it has "Star Wars" in the title... nobody has really pulled off a good SW game for several years.

        • reply
          April 17, 2015 7:06 PM

          what was the last good one? KOTOR?

          • reply
            April 17, 2015 7:18 PM

            Basically. SW:TOR isn't bad either.

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            April 17, 2015 8:09 PM

            What? Jedi Academy was fantastic and was a few months after KOTOR according to Google.

          • reply
            April 17, 2015 8:10 PM

            Republic Commando. Kotor 2

          • reply
            April 17, 2015 10:55 PM

            Come now, The Force Unleashed was pretty good.

    • reply
      April 17, 2015 12:41 PM

      I still can't believe that Amy Hennig (Creative Director & Writer for Uncharted) left Sony to work on a Star Wars: Battlefront game.




      • reply
        April 17, 2015 12:48 PM

        Whoa, didn't know that's what she went to do

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          April 17, 2015 2:53 PM

          Sorry was bad speculation on my part. She works for Visceral Games, is working on an unnamed Star Wars project, and Visceral did Battlefield Hardline. I got my Battlefield and Battlefronts (Star Wars) mixed up.

          Still would love to know the story.



    • reply
      April 17, 2015 12:49 PM

      No space battles and only 4 planets with a 5th additional planet being "free" DLC? It's nowhere near release and they are slanging out DLC already..... good old EA...

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        April 17, 2015 1:38 PM

        As excited as I am, this makes me a bit wary. Going to wait a while for the pre-order.

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          April 17, 2015 1:45 PM

          Don't preorder it at all. Preordering is not necessary.

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            April 17, 2015 2:54 PM

            Yes, m'lord. :(

            Please keep me on the straight and narrow.

            I have no discipline.

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              April 17, 2015 4:51 PM

              2015 is the year of no preorders! I blew it with Bloodborne, but I am going to try to stay strong for the rest of the year!

              E3 will totally break me

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            April 17, 2015 5:09 PM

            You sir are correct! Fuck preordering!

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        April 17, 2015 1:48 PM

        Where are you getting these limited map numbers? I have only seen this

        http://starwars.ea.com/starwars/battlefront/buy

        Battle on planets like Hoth, Endor, Tatooine, and a previously unexplored planet, Sullust.

        That doesn't say there will ONLY be 4 + the one DLC.

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          April 17, 2015 1:48 PM

          (and there is no reason to pre-order. Early access to DLC maps means you sit around waiting for your friends to be able to play it with you a week later. Meh.)

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          April 17, 2015 5:09 PM

          And thats four plus 1 more IF you preorder it, BUT it may change and I'll be wrong. If there isn't gameplay at E3 the internet will explode. Plus no space.... I wanted seamless planet to space battles..... that would've made it stand out from Battlefield. Oh and if it was primarily developed for FPS over TPS the internet will explode.

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      April 17, 2015 1:47 PM

      Ozzie is this tiered pricing like SWTOR? or what is even going on here.

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      April 17, 2015 2:06 PM

      MY BODY IS READY.

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      April 17, 2015 2:51 PM

      holy shit this looks fantastic

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      April 17, 2015 2:56 PM

      It will not look this good. Not a chance in hell.

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        April 17, 2015 4:03 PM

        Sure it will ... 6 months after the initial release.

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        April 17, 2015 5:38 PM

        Normally I would agree with you, but I dunno Dice's engines and asset team(s) are pretty mindblowing...

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          April 17, 2015 6:08 PM

          It's gonna be a multiplatform release, so the initial version will not be as good as those screenshots. Maybe they PC version will be, but I'm not holding my breath.

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        April 17, 2015 6:15 PM

        It's gonna look a little better than BF4 and that's ok by me.

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          April 17, 2015 6:16 PM

          Maybe. I'm still excited for it, as I think BF + Star Wars will be fun as hell.

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        April 17, 2015 7:00 PM

        i agree, look at those soldier animations. theyre ridiculous. theres no way. this thing is killzone2 e3 2005 terroritory

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        April 19, 2015 1:42 AM

        You're right, it won't. It can't. While the graphics may technically be as good or at least close (though I'm sure they're rendering with a bunch of extra graphics effects turned on), the fluidity of the game is what makes a game instantly look like "a game". The animations in this video are all hand-animated specially for the video. And worse, when network latency is involved, even the best animation blending and realistically simulated character movement becomes jittering and weightless.
        The gameplay will look similar to any other Battlefield-esque game: characters are constantly having their positions, velocities, directions predicted and corrected, meaning stuttering and teleporting. The faster paced the game, the more noticeable the effect. The more players in the game, the more often the illusion is shattered.
        Sorry to be a buzzkill. This tech demo sure looks pretty though.

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        April 19, 2015 9:37 AM

        You don't think EA would pressure them to release the game before it's done, do you? The week before Thanksgiving and a month before the new movie isn't very important, is it?

    • rms legacy 10 years mercury mega
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      April 17, 2015 6:58 PM

      Some expansion on what Dolby Atmos entails would be nice

      • ArB legacy 10 years
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        April 17, 2015 7:04 PM

        another unskippable logo when you start the game.

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          April 17, 2015 8:12 PM

          You can skip most of those by deleting the video file or replacing it with a 1-second one. Mass Effect 2 had the worst load screens. The videos would continue their current loop no matter if your machine could load the map in just a few seconds, and they were all 10 seconds long or something.

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            April 18, 2015 1:44 AM

            I do not remember that being an issue in Mass Effect 2. I'm so tempted to download and reinstall it just to check. I did get to it a ways after launch. Maybe they cleaned it up with a patch?

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              April 18, 2015 3:03 AM

              I don't think they ever fixed it, remember it still being an issue when I went back to play some of the DLC much later. They were more like 15-20 seconds I think, 30 seconds would have been insufferable. Still, any amount adds up, especially when it does it for every death / load and quick save load on high difficulties, unless you replace the loading screen vids with custom 1 frame binks.

              It was nuts, because the game was actually loading nearly instantly on decent machines but the videos would still play to their minimum loop regardless, and they were made to loop for the console versions which obviously could and did take much longer to load. But on PC you had to sit through them no matter what. The only ones that would be skipped after the game was loaded were some of the Normandy elevator vids.

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                April 18, 2015 1:36 PM

                Well now I feel cheated. The less you know :P

                I had just assumed it was a less than optimal PC version, and had crummy loads as a result. I think had I had a system with an SSD or two in it I'd have been more sensitive to the load lengths.

                Generally I'll just delete launch video files after a game installs. Watching studio and engine logos is old before the first time.


            • reply
              April 18, 2015 3:11 AM

              This video is from when the game was new and the issue first came to light: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTD3NKOm7VE

              It's still a crazy difference, imo. I think most people didn't care because they were animated and games generally had load times about that long.

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        April 18, 2015 3:17 AM

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolby_Atmos

        Basically Dolby's latest surround sound tech which provides more localisation of noises than in previous surround sound setups

    • reply
      April 19, 2015 5:50 AM

      It isn't really "free DLC"...it's more like "content they intentionally left out of the vanilla game so they can create additional bullet points on marketing materials"

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