During our E3 Precap series, I asked whether Star Wars will be stealing the show at E3. The answer thus far seems to be a resounding, "Nope."
As expected, EA opened its press conference with a segment on Star Wars: Battlefront; but unlike previous DICE demos, there was no thundering reverb or collapsing skyscrapers. Instead, we got live footage of developers on fact-finding missions at Lucasfilm and various original locations. And then... nothing.
Like much of the rest of EA's press event, Battlefront was little more than a conceptual prototype that only barely hinted at what to expect from the final product. In essence, Battlefront was teasing an informational reveal for Spring 2015, more or less confirming that DICE won't have Battlefront ready in time for the release of Star Wars: Episode VII. I would be lying if the news didn't come as a bit of a letdown, especially after the disappointment of Microsoft's press conference.
What we did get was snippets -- a reenactment of the Battle of Hoth (more Hoth), shots of speeder bikes on Endor, and AT-STs on the march. It was all quite early, with much of the content being presented as still frames or untextured models. It was a demo that leaned heavily on nostalgia for the original series; the prequels being nowhere in sight (though material from the Clone Wars will probably pop up here and there). After a year of waiting, it amounted to almost nothing.
Still, if the new trailer is anything to go by, it's not hard to see what DICE has in mind for Star Wars: Battlefront. In many ways, they will be following in the footsteps of the original games and allowing players to participate in various classic battles from the perspective of a variety of participants -- pilots, troopers, Jedi, and more. At least some of the battles will be reenactments of scenes from the original trilogy, including moments from Endor and Hoth.
Among other things, the unfinished Death Star from Return of Jedi is briefly featured, suggesting that the Battle of Endor will be one of its centerpieces. In the context of the series, it makes sense. If Star Wars: Battlefront is to feature seamless space and ground battles, then the Battle of Endor is a perfect showcase for that mechanic. And unlike Hoth, no one has really gotten the Battle of Endor "right." The closest was Rogue Leader for the GameCube, and even that rendition felt a tad sedate compared to what was on the screen more than 30 years ago. Properly nailing it would make for one memorable video game experience.
That said, I'm hoping that they don't lean too heavily on the original trilogy's selection of greatest hits. For one thing, they already did Hoth in Battlefront II (and pretty much every other large-scale Star Wars game going back to the Atari 2600). For another, part of the charm of Battlefront II was that it drew upon elements of the story that happened offscreen. I'm no great fan of the prequels, but it was kind of fun to lead the 501st in capturing Naboo after the fall of the Jedi, and to take revenge on the rebels following the Battle of Yavin. These are moments that resonate with fans as much as the onscreen battles; and though they aren't technically "canon" any more following Disney's decision to wipe the slate clean, they are the sort of offscreen moments I'd like to see pop up in Star Wars: Battlefront.
I'm also okay with DICE going the extra mile and actually carving out their little piece of the Star Wars mythos, much as X-wing and TIE Fighter did back in the day. I understand the impulse to reproduce all of the big moments from the movies you loved growing up, but the Star Wars universe is a big place. Coruscant, Corellia, and dozens of other worlds deserve as much attention or more as Hoth, Endor, and Tatooine. Having played Star Wars games for more than 20 years now, I would be delighted to go somewhere in the Star Wars universe that I haven't already seen.
Regardless, I still count myself as excited for Star Wars: Battlefront, despite the disappointment of having to wait even longer for relevant info and DICE highlighting the most obvious possible moments in their prototype footage. The original Battlefront games boasted a scope that came close to eclipsing even Battlefield at the time, and that was on technology more than a decade old. It makes me downright giddy to think of what DICE can do with the series in this day and age. The only shame is that I have to wait a while longer to learn more about it. If EA's fall lineup is any indication, they need all of the Star Wars-driven hype they can get.