I was wrong about Star Wars Battlefront II

The reason is better than you think…

So, here’s a quick fact for you: I’ve played EA’s Star Wars Battlefront (2015) for over 280 hours. 280 HOURS. Nope, I can’t believe that either, and I refuse to let it cloud my judgement with whether the game was actually any good or not. It wasn’t. But, I did love it.

I’m allowed to say that because now that I’ve checked my Xbox profile and statistics, I have evidence. After my lifetime spent playing the bare-bones, lack-luster, but stunning-looking Star Wars Battlefront I can admit that it wasn’t a fine moment in gaming history. Quite the opposite. In fact, it goes to show how heartless a game can really be. As I write this, I have the haunting sounds of bad Han Solo and Luke Skywalker impressions circling my thoughts. Ugh.

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Classes make a well-received return

No, it definitely wasn’t the action-packed callback to the original we had all been hoping for, but here we are in the summer of 17, already hyped up for the sequel. It looks good though, right? It’s not just me? All eras, space combat, Darth Maul, Rey, Classes, customisation, Darth Maul, point system, Rey, land vehicles for both armies, Darth Maul, Rey, REY. You can’t say that criticism has been received and not acted on.

This is the game the fans (that includes me!) had been dreaming of from the first teaser in 2013. I was wrong about the sequel in my last post because I didn’t think they’d include the latest era, or the original trilogy, actually. The announcements at E3 blew me away, and I just cannot wait any longer to play as Rey, Kylo Ren, Maul, Jango and Grievous (they better bloody be in it…). No excuses now EA, you’ve opened the Star Wars floodgates onto Battlefront, so now it’s time to deliver.

Abandoning the season pass has already tipped the public in favour of the sequel, and it’s a nice gesture. It feels like an apology for the first one’s embarrassment, and so it should be, but don’t let that distract you from what EA plans on doing next to make an extra buck off loyal Star Wars fans… loot crates. Dum, dum, dum.

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Uh-oh

So far, in a galaxy far, far away, Battlefront II’s promotional material has been emphasising (like a sore thumb) the significance of Star Cards, cringe. I’d have to place a bet on EA going all-in on this money-making-model which has worked so well in previous games (Overwatch, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Injustice).

It’s not great, but I’m honestly ok with it. They’ve already said that the crates can be earned through in-game progress too, including the more advanced tiers of loot crates. Looks like I’ll be battling it out again for another couple hundred hours for those special legendary powers (yay).

Ignore what people have been saying about Battlefront II going pay-to-win, such as TotalBiscuit (I still respect the guy), because it’s nothing new. Battlefront and Battlefield already have pay-to-win packs, but I’d definitely agree that it’s not a great culture for games.

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We’re getting a single-player campaign! The force is strong with this one

It’s like cinemas. You buy a ticket to watch a film, the cinema has paid the rights to show that film, so now the two cancel each other out. In order to make a profit, the cinema sells you expensive extras, such as popcorn, slushies and exceptionally fair-priced pick-and-mix sweets. Now that all future downloadable content packs for Battlefront II are free, EA have to sell extras (loot crates) to fill the gap.

Ok, I’m not very good at analogies, but I tried to explain it. I worked in a cinema, alright…

I guess we’ll see when Star Wars Battlefront II releases on 17 November if it makes up for the hole in our hearts, and the 40GB of disappointment on my Xbox One.

 

Alexander Jones

P.S. I have recently written a piece about DLC and season pass culture, packed with sources and case studies, that I’m hoping to share with you real soon!

I’m a journalist?

An update!

Hey everyone, long time no speak.

I haven’t updated this blog in a very long time, so I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing in the meantime.

Firstly, it’s probably worthy to note that I’ve been completing my magazine journalism MA at Cardiff University. So far, so good. I feel like I’ve already learned more than I did during my BA – but, this course is much more practical, so that’s probably why.

I spent my time before Christmas writing articles for Alt Cardiff , learning of new writing techniques and multimedia capabilities. My feature-length article for example, was a good demonstration of the range of multimedia I could produce. This feature article, regarding animal testing in Cardiff, went on to receive my highest mark (a first-class) last semester. I was pretty chuffed!

Another project I’ve been working on is Missing Pixels, a site aimed at welcoming all gamers. It was created for a digital project assignment but I think I might carry on contributing to it anyway. Feel free to join the community if you’d like!

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The week after we broke up for Christmas, I found myself in one of the UK’s largest magazine publishers: Haymarket.

Spending my nights a minute away in the hotel across the road, I was lucky enough to spend a week working with Stuff Magazine. Stuff Magazine deals with gadgets, tech, gaming; basically all the things I love. It was an inspiring work experience that made me feel confident in finding a place within the field. I am grateful to the Stuff team for having me on board, especially Rob Leedham, who got in touch and started it all.

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That’s a very brief rundown of what I’ve been up to from September to December. Now, with the new semester, I hope to continue this progress in finally becoming an official NCTJ journalist. With more experience lined up for the Easter holidays, and hopefully some freelance opportunities, I think the next couple of months are going to be very exciting!

When I’m not being a journalist, I spend my days cleaning bowling alleys and shooting children with laser guns at Superbowl. Oh, the joys of paying your student debt…

 

Alexander Jones

 

For more information about me, check out my LinkedIn profile!

 

Doom – Open Beta Impressions

Fast-paced, gory, arcade fun is how I’d describe Doom’s multiplayer.

Holy moly! Who expected this game to be so fun? Simplistic, yet dense enough to entice you into further levelling up your character and customising various weapons. It’s punishing if you’re slow on the draw, but hugely satisfying when you successfully perform a killing streak. This may very well be my next big multiplayer game.

I was already pretty excited to dive into the single player onslaught of Doom, but this open beta has proven to me that the multiplayer is something that I can equally look forward to. E3’s gameplay demo showed a promising revamp into the Doom series, a series I have neglected for far too long. Clearly, I have been missing out on some messy, bloody action. Luckily, this open beta (available for all you fellow gamers until 17th April) gives everyone the opportunity to experience hell like never before.

 
The gameplay is extremely fluid and encourages players to keep moving. Camping does not bode well for you in this world, and you are sure to be penalised – either by being repeatedly annihilated by players who have acquired power ups, or simply from lacking any reasonable amount of points to progress or flaunt. From my own experience, players are eager to engage with enemy players constantly, yet thinking tactically and dodging attacks with worrying ease. The double-jump feature complements these evasive maneoveurs, opening up new tactics when approaching or escaping threats. Initially the trailers for the multiplayer convinced me that this experience would be very similar to recent Halo games and Titanfall, but it is different. There are similarities of course, but Doom is very much it’s own game and certain gameplay aspects prove this.

 
For example, the way in which ammo and health is acquired from pickups dotted around the map is a fairly nostalgic jump backwards. But in a good way, it’s fresh and scary in a way. When you’re punishing newbies with your super quick reflexes but find yourself low on health, it’s exhilarating sprinting for the health pack. There’s no actual sprint button, this is a very arcadey experience, fleshed out with very promising additions; such as demonic runes and more traditional power-ups. Power-ups appear at a number of set locations around each map, buffing the players with unique abilities such as increased speed, quad-damage and shields. My favourite is faster movement because this game relies a lot on how quickly you can react to situations. I personally find this very fun – for others this may not appeal so much. But each to their own.

Some low-res Twitch stream captures from my own archive (will edit these on my computer when I get my hands on it):

Lastly we have the demonic runes, which spawn a couple of times each game. These are the pickups people are likely to camp around, and likely to cause arguments among players – very much like the hero pickups of Star Wars Battlefront (see my review if you’d like). On full release I believe there’s meant to be a total of three demons you can play as, but in the beta you can only use the Revenant. The Revenant is the iconic jet-packing, missile-firing, skeleton beast that appears on numerous ads for the game. It’s a scary monster; and even more frightening in the game. The playstyle is pretty simple: one button to jet-pack, and one button to shoot dual-rockets from his mounted rocket launchers. What surprised me was the lack of close combat options, I guess that’ll be the focus of another demon, the Revenant is clearly the run-gun-snipe beast. You’re given one full minute to annihilate other players, and this does happen. The rockets just leave numerous piles of limbs in their wake; which makes it highly entertaining (and tactical) to hide behind the Revenant whilst pursuing capture points in the gamemode ‘Warpath’. It’s not invincible though, players can swarm and over-power the Revenant with some difficulty. When the demon is slain the rune becomes available again for anyone who claims it, however the timer continues from where it stopped. I look forward to trying out the remaining demons in the full release, this feature looks very promising.

 

With only two games modes: Team deathmatch and Warpath, there’s enough content here to decide if Doom satisfies your crave; be it gore, graphics or a new multiplayer experience. Personally I find both game modes compelling enough to confirm my purchase of Doom next month. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how hooked I actually am by the competitive online segment of the game. Now my expectations for the very interesting looking single player campaign have only stretched higher, and I believe Doom won’t disappoint. It deserves to do well and I hope nothing significant brings it down. Guess I can only wait until May the 13th to find out, but until then, back to slaughtering people with my shotgun!

Alexander Jones

Below: my very own Twitch live-stream capture, enjoy!