It took a couple of years of teasing, but Battlefront gameplay footage has finally arrived, and when it rains it pours.
We’ve so far seen (and played!) a 20v20 battle on Hoth, and more recently, a new co-op “Survival Mode.” This mode features teams of two players fending off increasingly difficult waves of Imperial soldiers as you wait for reinforcements.
The specific level we got to try (playable all over E3) takes place on a desert planet, and features this stunning image:
That screencap from the Force Awakens trailer takes place on the planet of Jakku, in the aftermath of a giant battle that took place there after Return of the Jedi. When the gameplay reveal of Survival Mode dropped, astute fans immediately drew the parallels, and wondered if this might actually be the moment that created that epic trailer shot.
So is this a look at the Battle of Jakku?
Surprisingly enough, it is not Jakku we’re looking at here in the Battlefront footage. It’s actually a much more familiar Star Wars planet.
It’s easy to miss, but the footage opened with a brief look at the iconic twin sons of Tatooine (a feature Jakku does not share):
The game demo itself at E3 is also introduced with this text, confirming the mission’s location (and yes, Admiral Ackbar does talk to you):
After a daring escape from an Imperial attack you find yourself stranded in a desolate canyon on Tatooine. Admiral Ackbar has ordered a rescue operation but the Imperial forces are rapidly closing in on your position. You will have to fight until help arrives. May the Force be with you.
So sorry to rain on that parade, but don’t be too disappointed. The Battle of Jakku will actually be playable in Battlefront, as part of a free DLC pack out on December 8, a few weeks after the game’s release on November 17.
Fair enough, but why are Star Destroyers crashing all over the place then?
As Aaron pointed out after playing through the Hoth map, Battlefront is not trying to be a pitch perfect recreation of these Star Wars battles. Instead, it’s using those iconic movie moments as a sandbox to let players experience some Star Wars action on their own terms. Think of the established canon as a base, instead of a destination.
So in this Tatooine map, we’re not supposed to take a crashing Star Destroyer as a new piece of the Story Group’s lore. In actuality, it might crash on your playthrough, it might not. It’s determined by a new feature called Battle Beyond, which organically evolves the battlefield depending on how your team is performing.
Here’s how DICE explained it to IGN:
We have a concept we call Battle Beyond. The cool thing with this is it’s actually part of the player feedback. So depending on which side is winning or losing, these events [in the background] actually change….It’s what you usually do in a UI, you make it bluntly obvious. It’s slowly hinting at who’s winning, and I think it’s a brilliant concept to give you the information and emotion you need to understand or change your plans…. You don’t need a gauge blinking. It’s part of the world.
In short, not a lot we see in Battlefront will truly be “new canon.” Instead, it’s an opportunity to use the Star Wars universe as a jumping off point to make some stories of your own.
Battlefront is out this November. In the meantime, EA has uploaded two minutes of gameplay from the Tatooine mission online, which you can enjoy below: