Oh dear. There I was, getting all excited about AT-ATs in DICE’s Star Warsy Battlefield doohickey, and missed the new disappointing news that the game will not feature server browsers. The game will instead auto-matchmake for you, then drag you off to a server of its choice – meaning you’ll have no choice about ping, server capacity, and perhaps not even modes and maps.
“Star Wars Battlefront will not offer a server browser, but will utilize a new skill based matchmaking system”, wrote EA rep Sledgehammer70 on the Battlefront subreddit last night, but has as yet not offered more detail in response to the assorted outrage in that thread.
It’s not at all uncommon for big-budget multiplayer games, especially on console, to go down this route, determined that they know best and casual players will be bamboozled by all the numbers on a server browser, but the Battlefield series has generally been pretty good about keeping The Old Ways in there. Hence, much worrying.
Then again, Battlefront and Battlefield are very different beasts despite shared blood, with the former generally ditching some of the latter’s complexity in favour of immediate, straight-up action. No squads, no iron sights, far more flexible classes: get in there and start blasting.
Fingers crossed for, at the very least, some sort of customisation to ensure you get the map and the mates you want. Sledgehammer70 did at least offer that “Platform party systems are supported” when it asked if it would be possible to party up with buddies, which I think means it will take advantage of friends lists on Steam, PSN etc. Cold comfort, perhaps: PC players are particularly unhappy about the lack of a server browser, needless to say: we do like choice and control, don’t we? It’s also bad news for persistent private servers, and suggests a game that’s more about casual drop-in than a way of life.
More positive news is that apparently Battlefront won’t use Battlefield’s irritating, front-loaded, browser-based Battlelog stats system/social network.