I've put thousands of hours into EA and Dice's Battlefield series since Battlefield 1942 came out in 2002, so it's no trifle when I say that Star Wars Battlefront is the best Battlefield game I've ever played. Religious Battlefield devotees might not agree with that, but I think Battlefront successfully sacrifices a bit of complexity to create a focused, exhilarating spectacle.
There are a bunch of game modes in Battlefront, but there's really only one crown jewel: Walker Assault. In Walker Assault, the Empire's terrifying AT-AT death machines march in succession toward three key Rebel Alliance positions, and the rebels must destroy them all before they reach their final target. At each of the three stages, rebel players have to activate and hold uplink stations that call in Y-wing bombers; if the players can hold these stations long enough, they're able to call in a bunch of bombers and temporarily expose the AT-ATs to damage. (On the other hand, if imperial players successfully deactivate and hold the beacons, they protect the AT-ATs from receiving much damage.) It's essentially a hectic king-of-the-hill game that's designed really well.
Battlefront gives you fewer guns and gadgets to choose from than many competing shooters, but make no mistake: it's still a challenging game that requires successful tactics and teamwork. If you're like my poor friend Dante, you might think some of these levels are impossible to beat. They're not, but they do require a team to be successful both on the land and in the air. EA didn't sell Battlefront as a combined arms game, but it definitely incorporates some of that logic from the Battlefield series. So here's what you need to know.
Attack and defend the Y-wing uplinks at all costs
You're our only hope
The AT-ATs cannot be destroyed unless the targeting uplinks successfully call in a bunch of bombers at each of the three stages in Walker Assault, so they're by far the most important objective in the game. And rebels can't just activate them and relax! Once activated, a visual timer counts down to each bomber being called in, and any interruption from an imperial soldier will turn the uplink off and reset the timer. Yes, it's an obvious tip to focus on the objectives, but I've played many games where my teammates bunny hop around with no sense of purpose. That's no way to defeat an evil empire.
Here are a few more specific tips:
- Don't wait for teammates to rush the objectives, do it yourself! You get a bunch of points for activating and deactivating the beacons, if that helps motivate you.
- Consider leaving the front lines when a bombing run is almost complete to run to the next set of beacons, so you can activate them immediately when the game enters the next stage. You'll have to play each map a few times to learn the location of the objectives, but it's worth it.
- Don't be afraid to "camp" out at an objective. A single successful Y-wing relay can be the difference between winning and losing.
- If you are a rebel, ignore everything and attack the AT-ATs when they are vulnerable — you only have a small window to inflict damage.
Save your power-ups and deploy them at the right time
Instead of giving players a bunch of unlocks and crazy gadgets to choose from in menus, Battlefront puts a lot of special abilities on the battlefield for anybody to use. This makes some of the action feel more like a game of rock-paper-scissors, but there are still important choices for players to make when they acquire a special ability. Some abilities are far more powerful than others and can change the outcome of a game.
Rebels should use abilities wisely
Because rebels only have a limited amount of time to attack their primary objective, it's usually more important for them to deploy their special abilities thoughtfully. Here are some ways to do that:
- Rockets & Orbital Strikes: If you pick up an orbital strike as a rebel, hold onto it! These deal a tremendous amount of damage to AT-ATs, so it's worth saving it and not worrying about any other battlefield pickups until a bombing run is called in. Rockets are less powerful, but still deal a lot of damage to AT-ATs — especially if you can get underneath one.
- Heroes: This applies to both sides; heroes are by far the biggest trump cards in the game. And yet, I see many players rushing them into the grinder with reckless abandon. Heroes should always be used to attack or hold an objective. A single lightsaber in a tight indoor space can successfully deny the space to the enemy for an entire stage of Walker Assault.
- Everything else: Grenades, turrets, shields, and other power-ups are still useful, but you should deploy them at will.
Air superiority can win the game
Aircraft can be found like other power-ups on the battlefield, and they're powerful enough to ensure victory for your side. This is really where the combined arms part of Battlefront shines. A successful rebel attack wing can quickly turn an AT-AT into a smoldering heap of metal, and a successful imperial squadron can deny uplink stations and protect their walkers. Controlling aircraft can be very difficult for new players, and getting a handle on their maneuvers just takes a lot of practice. But there are some ways even more experienced players can be more effective in the skies.
- Patrol the perimeter: A lot of players will hop in an X-Wing and get so excited they'll shoot at the first stormtrooper they see and crash into the ground. Don't do that. Instead, fly high and wide: patrol the perimeter, and swoop in to destroy enemy aircraft when you spot them. Your first objective in the air is to keep it clear of enemy starfighters. If you're a rebel, all of this effort will reward you with time to focus on attacking the AT-ATs when they're vulnerable.
- Make your own bombing runs: It's tempting to attack everything on the ground, but you should only fly down to attack when you're sure you won't be harassed from the air. It's sort of like a dance: you'll eventually learn the rhythm of enemy aircraft and find a pattern for swooping in to attack.
It's okay to stop and stare
Okay, this one won't help you win. But whether it's the little butterflies hovering around a mossy log on the forest moon of Endor, or the English muffin-like crags of Tatooine, you'll want to stop to appreciate the gorgeous little details of Star Wars Battlefront. You might even wonder why a world so beautiful has become so violent — right before Darth Vader's lightsaber cuts you in two.