If you're a Star Wars
fan, have we got a treat for you...well, if you consider a remarkable plethora of information a treat. First up, we have the character introductions of three faces that most of us know well, two heroes and one villain of the epic struggle of freedom that will be available as playable characters in Star Wars Battlefront
: Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Emperor Palpatine. Let's start with the good guys first.
Everyone's favorite rakish smuggler is back to help you fight The Empire. Lead Hero Designer Jamie Keen gives us the low-down on Han's character:Gameplay-wise, Han Solo is a gunslinger mainly designed for lone wolves and, echoing the beginning of the original Star Wars trilogy, he’s not very dependent on others. Similar to a Rebel trooper, but with a greatly boosted arsenal, Han Solo might be the easiest Hero character to get into. Offensive output, damage, and mobility – that’s what this guy’s about.
Han will have three unique abilities: Rapid Fire, Lucky Shot, and Shoulder Charge.Rapid Fire
allows Han to fire his blaster as fast as you can pull the trigger with no danger of overheating. This move is great for whittling down groups of storm troopers or for dealing massive damage on a single foe.Lucky Shot
is inspired by the swaggering gambler vibe Han gives off, the aura of luck that surrounds him. Lucky Shot is a charge and release skill that packs a punch strong enough to take out a vehicle or Darth Vader's block.Shoulder Charge
, the final of Han's skills, again plays off his reckless nature. Shoulder Charge does just like it sounds - Han goes barreling into the enemy (or barreling out, as the case may be). This ability is both offensive and defensive in nature, letting him bowl through a cluster of storm troopers or quickly get out of a bind.
Keen offers tips on ways to effectively use Han:Playing as Han Solo, you will run into equally famous and deadly characters. Some tips might be useful. Take Boba Fett for instance: he has a vertical advantage over Han thanks to the Jetpack, but Han’s Lucky Shot can be used to take Boba out of the sky. If you manage to close in on Boba you can then finish him off with Rapid Fire.
As you know, hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster. That said, you shouldn’t get cocky if you’re facing Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine. These two will want to get in close, so go for a hit-and-run tactic. Use Shoulder Charge to quickly get in and out of situations and the evasive Combat Roll move to reestablish range and gain some precious time.
Who can forget the original princess of the space epic, Princess Leia? Jamie Keen again gives us the juicy details about her character:Leia is a character that succeeds through her fearless, strategic mind. We can all remember moments when her quick-thinking blaster fire helped the Rebels out of trouble. Our goal for all the Hero characters has been to capture their essence and spirit from the original Star Wars™ film trilogy, and then convey that through gameplay. Doing that is more straightforward with characters wielding Lightsabers and Force abilities; it’s obvious how to build gameplay around those things. Leia was trickier in that regard since she doesn’t have a specific, favorite weapon, so we had to represent her in another way.
Leia is a great combination of offense and support; her three abilities are Trooper Bane, Enhanced Squad Shield, and Supply Drop.Trooper Bane
: Based on Leia's ability to deal efficiently with storm troopers, Trooper Bane packs a punch that will instantly kill a storm trooper target. When facing off against bigger prey, it will deal big damage as well as stun the foe.Enhanced Squad Shield
: This skill works exactly like the ordinary Squad Shield Power Card except that it's very much stronger. With this shield in place, your rebel troop can hold key positions with no danger of being taken; the shield is that strong. With Trooper Bane active, Leia can shoot through the shield and damage enemies on the other side; regular troops can't do this.Supply Drop
: Another of Leia's support abilities, Supply Drop allows her to call down Power Ups for regular Rebel forces or Heal Ups for fellow Heroes.
In addition to these skills, any player re-spawning near the princess will come back as an Alderaan Honor Guard. Keen gives us a bit more tactical advice where Leia is concerned:All these abilities provide a really powerful overall package. As Leia, you’ll be buffing, healing, providing cover, and also be on the offensive a lot. If you use her right, she could be the most powerful Hero character. So how’s that done? You should hang back and pick your ground. Use the map’s natural cover together with the Enhanced Squad Shield, and force enemies to come to you through the channels you create.
Another good tip is to stay mobile when facing off with dangerous foes. If you’re chased by someone like Darth Vader, use a hit-and-run tactic. Deploy your shield, fire off a Trooper Bane shot, and then try to shake your enemies. When the cooldown period is over, just set up shop again, and continue the fight.
Now on to the last villain to be revealed, and he's the granddaddy of all Star Wars
Yes, that's right. You can be the uber-wicked Emperor Palatine, the evil ruler of The Empire. Designer Keen reveals that Palpatine may be his favorite character of all:Based on how he’s been characterized and how he plays, Emperor Palpatine might be my personal favorite character in Star Wars Battlefront. But getting to that point has been a challenge.
We wanted many different things with the Emperor. We wanted him to be very mobile, but also about deception and fooling people that he’s fragile and weak. As you've seen in the original Star Wars™ trilogy, Palpatine pretends to be a weak old man, when he in fact is extremely powerful. That two-faced side was something we wanted to convey in gameplay and the Emperor’s abilities.
Unlike the Heroes discussed, The Emperor has four unique skills, which are Force Lightning, Chain Lightning, Force Dash, and Imperial Resources.Force Lightning
: As fans well know, Emperor Palpatine uses the Force to generate deadly lightning attacks from his fingertips. This ability can be used to devastating effect when dealing with troops within reach.Chain Lightning
: Even more powerful than Force Lightning, Chain Lightning expands the range of the attack, making it a deadly Area of Effect skill.Force Dash
: Activating this ability lets Palpatine dash with incredible speed in whichever direction he's facing, a very effective tool for closing the space between himself and Rebel enemies, allowing him to often take his foes by surprise.Imperial Resources
: This skill is The Empire's answer to Princess Leia's Supply Drop; Emperor Palpatine can hand out Power Ups to his fighters and Health Ups to fellow Villains.
Keen gives us tactical advice on how best to use his favorite character:So is there a good strategy playing as Palpatine? A hit-and-run tactic is always good: get in close but don’t get stuck. Jump into fights, be aggressive with your lightning attacks, and then jump out again using the Force Dash. Just be careful where you jump in, since running into five or more enemies spells trouble.
The Emperor also plays a support role for his team. It’s tempting to simply run towards the center and use Force Lightning to fry everything that moves, but try to play a bit more defensively and use your support abilities. Other players can also spawn close to Palpatine as the more powerful Shock Troopers, a tactic you should have in mind and utilize. Master all this, and your team will be quite safe from your pitiful Rebel enemies.
I hope you will have as much fun dealing out Chain Lightning and Imperial Resources as we've had developing Emperor Palpatine. Use the tips in this post wisely and you’ll be the unstoppable force of the Galactic Empire when Star Wars Battlefront arrives
In addition to advice on how to use particular characters, Keen gives more general insight on how to choose which Hero or Villain might be best for you. I’d like to leave you with one other tip that’s applicable for all the Heroes and Villains in Star Wars Battlefront. Make sure to try the Hero Battles mission. This is a really good testbed, where you’ll get a sense of the playstyle of Leia and all the other iconic characters. You’ll learn the characteristics and timing of abilities and you’ll get a feel for how different ones work together and how you should combine them.Battles and Hero Battles
In addition to the character details revealed by Jamie Keen, we have information on two of the battle modes provided by Level Designer Jim Fagerlund. Firstly is Battles mode:Battles is classically Rebels versus Imperials, and can be played against a team of AI enemies or against another player. When playing against another player, it can be 1 vs 1 only, or each player fighting alongside AI enemies against each other. The choice is yours, and the goal is to collect points by picking up dropped tokens from your defeated enemies. Reach 100 points and the match is yours.
Battle mode started out simply enough as one-on-one couch co-op. The developers soon realized, however, that if one friend has a slight skill edge over the other, that player would always win. Where's the fun in that? That's when the team came up with the idea for tokens. Adding AI fighters on both sides of varying strengths and token values adds more variety and a bit of luck to the game, making it much more interesting experience.
In the same vein is Hero Battles. They work exactly like Battles mode, except players may choose which of the iconic Heroes or Villains they wish to play as. Of course, taking down Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker is a much harder enterprise, but the token rewards are proportionally higher, as well.
Fagurlund leaves us with a last bit about his personal favorite:Battles and Hero Battles are available on all the Star Wars Battlefront planets, but on Sullust and Hoth you’ll fight on map layouts unique for the mode. Jim Fagerlund is particularly fond of one scenario:
I have a soft spot for playing Battles on Sullust. You’ll see so many cool moments there, fighting among the hangars, catwalks, and huge AT-ATs that the scenery consists of. In particular, when Luke and Vader are fighting here, the atmosphere is great and you see shades of their duels in the original film trilogy.Heroes vs. Villains
The next mode discussed is Heroes vs. Villains, a straight-up light vs. dark battle between the main players of the story. Lead Level Designer Dennis Brännvall provides some details.Heroes vs Villains is a game mode with short, intense rounds where iconic Star Wars characters will clash in dynamic fights. The matches are divided into rounds, where three players from each team randomly spawn as the Heroes and Villains of Star Wars Battlefront. In other words, you’ll see characters like Luke Skywalker face off against Darth Vader and Boba Fett, along with other Heroes and Villains that we’ll announce soon.
The rest of your team spawn as Rebels or Imperial troopers, making it a 6 versus 6 game mode total. When a Hero or Villain is defeated, that player will respawn as a regular trooper. Your team’s objective is to defeat all the opposing Heroes or Villains, or conversely have the highest number of Hero or Villain characters alive at the end of the round. In other words: both offence and defense is required.
In addition to basic techniques like staying close to support characters who drop Power and Health Ups, Brännvall gives some great insight into playing as characters other than the most powerful, as well as changing tactics when the chips are down:So what’s it like playing as the three ground troopers? Well, you’re up against some pretty powerful foes so expect to be considered, well, expendable. That said, you’ll notice that the opposing team’s Hero or Villain characters rarely are after you – they’re chasing their powerful counterparts! And just because you’re not currently playing as a Hero doesn’t mean there’s no room for heroic deeds. Find a powerful pickup like the Smart Rocket and deal a healthy amount of damage to Darth Vader or whoever you’ve got in your sights.
It’s been great to observe the dynamic gameplay in early playtests of Heroes vs Villains. When the first Hero or Villain is defeated you’ll notice how that team adapts, staying away a bit and going for sniping shots instead. It’s also interesting when one team is down to their last Hero or Villain and the opponent has two or three left. The only way to win then is to attack, even though the odds are against you. You’ll see a lot of those thrilling rounds with action going on down to the wire.Fighter Squadrons
In Fighter Squadron mode, you get the chance to fly two legendary fighters: Boba Fett's Slave I and Han Solo's Millennium Falcon.
Senior Designer Björn Sundell has spent years developing the amazing rides available in Battlefront
. You'll normally be in a regular Rebel or Imperial fighter, but the Slave I and Millennium Falcon are both temporary pick-ups on Fighter Squadron maps. You'll only get one spawn per pick-up, so make it count. While both are super fast and super powerful compared to regular ships, they tend to have the downside of attracting far more attention then one might want.
Sundell says:Don’t be surprised if you suddenly spot multiple foes at your tail when piloting these ships. During playtests we’ve noticed how excited players get to be the one taking down the Millennium Falcon or Slave I. You should always keep both offense and defense in mind.
Should you spot the Millennium Falcon or Slave I as a regular starship pilot, your best bet is to stay behind them and try to team up with other players. Since the Rebel and Imperial standard ships are smaller than the Hero Vehicles, you can also dive against the planetary surface and use crevices to shake off Solo or Fett’s pursuit.
A crucial part of the devlopment process for Sundell was that the ships make gamers "feel truly cool, powerful, and heroic when piloting them." This is true of not only the Slave I and Falcon but of all the ships one can fly.
Finally, we have a developer's Q and A with Viktor Lundberg, Mission Scripter, on how to become "a master of blasters, X-wings, snowspeeders, and even advanced villainy playing as Darth Vader himself."
What do the Training Missions consist of?
There are five different Training Missions, and also a tutorial called Probe Droids where you’ll learn about blasters, Star Cards, and blowing up Imperial hardware. In the Beggar’s Canyon Training Mission, you’ll soar through the Tatooine skies, bringing down TIE fighters with your X-wing. You’ll master yet another iconic vehicle in the Invasion Snowspeeder mission, set on the icy planet of Hoth.
Do I get to play as the Empire as well?
Absolutely. Playing as an Imperial soldier, you’ll get a feel for the powerful AT-ST Walkers in the Overpower mission and in Endor Chase your objective is to hunt down Rebel scum who have stolen speeder bikes on the forest moon of Endor. Finally we have The Dark Side, a Training Mission that lets you play as the galaxy’s most feared villain, Darth Vader. Use your Lightsaber™ and Force powers to attack a Rebel base on Hoth, and team up with a friend to get none other than Emperor Palpatine fighting beside you!
Can I play the Training Missions with a friend?
Yes! You can take on all Training Missions together with a friend online or in splitscreen co-op.
Are the Training Missions just a tutorial?
Our goal was to make the Training Missions more than a straight-up tutorial where you just get thrown into a shooting range. You’ll find a lot of context and familiar Star Wars moments in all missions. In the AT-ST Overpower mission for instance, you’ll see big fights between capital ships in the sky and action going on all around you on the battlefront.
Who are the Training Missions designed for?
There is something both for casual and more advanced players in there. If you want to learn the fundamentals and get a feel for the controls, the Training Missions are a great start. You can jump into a snowspeeder and practice the Tow Cable maneuver without the stress of doing it in a live multiplayer match.
What’s in it for the more experienced players?
There is quite a lot of replayability in these missions – something our very competitive development team can confirm. Internally at DICE, we’ve held competitions for the Endor Chase mission to see who the fastest speeder bike driver is. Another great challenge is to complete the Invasion mission with a completely undamaged power generator. Competitive players can really test their skills in the Training Missions and go for the max rating of three stars on them all.
Join the fight when Star Wars Battlefront
hits Xbox One November 17th.