That’s No Server Browser, It’s A ‘Skill-Based Matchmaking System’ In Star Wars: Battlefront

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.

89 Comments

  1. scannerbarkly says:

    Hmmmmmm. Server browsers offer a lot to the community. From easily organising events and tournaments, to help support higher skilled comp scenes, fan trailers and cinematics and screenshots (which EA/DICE very much embraced around BF4) , testing (we found and broke down more than a few bugs in the game by being able to go into empty servers and test things repeatedly) and lots of other good stuff that gets a lot harder without a server browser. Seems like a step backwards to me.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I don’t know how difficult it is to make these server browsers, and I don’t really care either since I’m strictly a singleplayer gamer, but it seems to me that companies time and again refuse to deliver server browsers/dedicated servers no matter how many times people say they want them. “The customer is always right” and “give the people what they want” doesn’t seem to be phrases they’ve ever heard of when it comes to these things.

  2. Dogsbody says:

    GOD DAMMIT DICE

    Don’t fuck this up. Don’t you dare.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      Err, too late? Methinks it’s just a tad too late.
      It was too late when they showed how dull the actual gameplay looked. But at least with real server browsers and the ability to pick and choose which you join, with players renting their own servers, they can at least do something to mix it up a bit, like taking out overpowered classes/weapons or whatever.
      But hey, it’s star wars, so plenty of fools will still be rushing out to pre-order just because they dubbed in movie-sounding radio babble and movie music and sound effects into the gameplay video’s they showed.

    • Xzi says:

      I mean, they pretty much already did. Not that EA’s terrible browser-based server listings were anything to brag about either, but they were still a step up from essentially putting Hearthstone’s matchmaking system into what is supposed to be a large-scale multiplayer FPS. Eww.

    • mbeck says:

      This deal is getting worse all the time!

      • RealityJones says:

        They’ve altered the deal. Pray they don’t alter it further…

  3. EhexT says:

    Of course they don’t have a server browser and ways for people to host their own servers. They want to sell Battlefront 2: Please-Forget-there-already-is-a-Battlefront 2: Battlefront harder in 1-2 years. If they had server hosting for people they might still play the game at that point, like they’re still playing the BF1942 demo.

  4. LegendaryTeeth says:

    Well, I WAS going to pick this up. Guess I won’t bother now. You can’t have decent PC shooter without people admining their own servers. Otherwise you end up playing with assholes and cheaters.

    • Iajawl says:

      It isn’t a PC shooter though. It is a console game that will be ported to PC. My only experience with console shooters is watching my little sister play them two or three times.
      She could be lying to me but I was working under the impression that console games all use match making. It is hard for me to understand why so many people are getting upset about a console game being a console game.

      • Distec says:

        Because when you bring it to the PC, I expect at least a half-assed effort to make it conform to the standards of the platform. Being primarily a console game doesn’t excuse or justify the lack of a good server browser. It just makes it a hobbled, short-lived product on PC.

  5. terves says:

    There have been countless instances in countless games where I’ve been kicked out of a server for ‘cheating’ or ‘exploiting’ (being better at a game than a server admin). I would rather play peer to peer multiplayer for the rest of my life than accidentally join another ’24/7 *map* NO ROCKETS/NO CROUCHING INSTANT RESPAWN FAST XP’ 64-player shitfest ever again.

    • EhexT says:

      The positives of server browser and community hosted servers still outweigh the negatives – that’s just a fact.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        Well, no; that’s an opinion, obviously.

        • McPartyson says:

          No, he’s right. It is a fact. I agree 100%.

          • LexW1 says:

            Um, if it was a fact you wouldn’t need to “agree”. By saying you agree 100% you’re pointing out that it is indeed an opinion. It might be a well-supported or common opinion, but it’s an opinion, in the end.

            Personally I prefer being able to pick servers if I’m going to play a game, like, frequently. At some point being stuck in with a bunch of random players gets pretty old – even if you’re not playing with friends, playing on a specific server or servers means you will see some of the same people, and might actually build up some kind of community.

            I’m also very skeptical about the match-making – every match-making system I’ve seen has been problematic in various ways. Typically, the better they work, the longer they take to let you into a match, and if they don’t work well, or are “hasty”, then they’re actually worse than just going up against random players, in my experience.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      Or instead of accidentally joining a server you dislike, you could purposefully join one you do like?

    • urbanraccoon says:

      Part of the issue started with BF3, when they decided to allow people to rent their servers. This was supposed to compliment DICE’s servers, but instead they just replaced all the official servers with these random player-rented servers.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        That’s the good part though? Not being reliant on official servers.

        I found a bunch of good servers for BF3 and had loads of fun on them. Why would I want to play on anything else than servers I’ve determined to be good?

    • Shockeh says:

      Wait, the two reasons that everyone should be handed this utter, utter storm of everything awful about ‘enforced matchmaking’ are:

      1. “Some servers are bad.”
      2. “I lack observation when using a server browser.”

      And on this basis, everyone should be put into matchmaking? Are you the reason ‘Contents May Be Hot’ is on my coffee cups?

      • gwathdring says:

        It’s worse on some stuff here. “Caution, product becomes hot when heated” is a phrase I have seen on actual products.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Making “Quest For The Not-Shit Server” the majority of a game’s content is never a good idea. Allowing unofficial custom servers on the side for groups of friends &c would be nice, of course, but nowhere near as nice as the ability to actually pick up the game and have a reasonable match straight off the bat.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        whynotboth.gif

      • gwathdring says:

        DICE made a game called Battlefield 3. It had a server browser. It also had matchmaking. You could auto-join a server and the game would pick one for you based on various preferences and it’s own whims.

        You could also select a server.

        Astonishing, then, that they have decided that’s a terrible idea and that instead they should make it essentially impossible for a dedicated community to spring up and create organized play, something that has worked wonders for these games in the past. Sure, being able to “just play” is awesome. But these things aren’t mutually exclusive.

        What it implies is that DICE doesn’t want to build a community. They want people to buy their game, play it, and then move on. They don’t want people to keep playing it or get invested in playing it.

        Sounds like a lovely multiplayer game, then, doesn’t it …

    • that_guy_strife says:

      Accidentally joining servers ? Does that happen to you more than once every blue moon ? You’ve got worse things to worry about.

      Being able to select a server based around your preferred playstyle (hardcore infantry only conquest large ticket for example) ensures you play the game how you want to play it. not how the publisher does. did you hear about Titanfall ? such a clusterfuck they ended up giving away all the DLC in hopes of keeping it alive.

      Matchmaking is okay-ish for simpler games. but there’s nothing like finding a server you like, and getting to know the people there.

  6. FireStorm1010 says:

    i think its a bad idea even when it works. And with an automated mechanic that complex im pretty sure there will be alot of problems:
    from total failures, to baddly chosen servers, lag etc.

    Futhermore if i want to play with friends who got different skill, its not an option? Sounds really weird.

    • Haxton Fale says:

      That will likely be an option – to form a “party” with friends and join a server as a group, much like CoD does that.

      Not that anything makes this a good idea by any measure.

  7. Spider Jerusalem says:

    This is bad for PC players all around. BF games depend on community, community is built through servers. The only reason I still play BF4 (and this was true of BF2, BF2142, BC2, etc.) is because of the one or two servers that have people I like on them. I know I can hop on at any time, see familiar names, etc. It’s like playing pickup with friends. Infinitely more enjoyable than randoms I’ll never see again.

  8. w0bbl3r says:

    Anyone surprised by this news hasn’t been paying attention over the last few years

  9. Drew says:

    “and perhaps not even modes and maps” – That seems exceptionally unlikely. They’re going to base this off COD surely and you can customize a fair amount in there…

  10. Universal Quitter says:

    I’m more irritated about the off-hand reference to a lack of ADS. I kind of figured adding that for a modern take on the series was a no-brainer. Apparently, they have no brains.

    Are they gonna have a bright red reticule on the screen when you push the “aim” button, like in Goldeneye? Wooden crates full of ammo and free lives? Jesus Christ.

    • Shockeh says:

      And what does ADS add to the game? That usual, wafer thin pretense at ‘realism’? ADS doesn’t really do much in nearly any game apart from make people move slowly if they want to be accurate, and require one additional button to be held/toggled; It doesn’t really achieve anything from a game standpoint anyway.

      Moreso given it’s Star Wars.

      • that_guy_strife says:

        Meh. I can’t stand Source games, because no iron sights. not having them ruins any immersion. I really wanted to play CS GO too …

        • Herr_C says:

          Nucler Dawn, Titanfall, E.Y.E., Insurgency,… It’s not a Surce engine thing, it’s a design choice when it comes to CS, TF and some other games.

          • SirRoderick says:

            I mean I AGREE with you. But Insurgency is very much an ADS game, it even has optics for you to choose :P

    • scannerbarkly says:

      There is ADS in the game, plenty of the weapons had scope options in the Alpha. There is no aim down ironsights, thats all.

  11. Jenks says:

    My negative reaction to this is tempered by the enjoyment I had with PvZ Garden Warfare.

  12. Catweasel says:

    Somehow worse than the frustrating Battlelog web browser server browser junk. Eugh.

  13. rocketman71 says:

    This was dead the moment it came from EA and required Origin, but whatever. They like to piss on their customers and those keep buying their games, this is what happens.

  14. Chorltonwheelie says:

    What did you expect?

  15. James says:

    Stop it EA! We can’t fit any more nails in the coffin!

    • aleander says:

      It appears that EA’s coffin has built-in wifi, satellite connection, wheels, machine guns and loudspeakers. Pretty sure no sensors, though.

  16. grodit says:

    well, this blows

  17. suibhne says:

    On the one hand, how disappointing. On the other…my list has plenty of other games that properly support the PC, so it’s easy enough to cross off DICE and save some money. Pre-order cancelled.

  18. Enkinan says:

    These guys will just never fucking get it will they.

  19. Shockeh says:

    “which I think means it will take advantage of friends lists on Steam, PSN etc”

    One minor correction; It won’t be friends lists on Steam (which frankly everyone can coordinate now) it’ll mean you have to have everyone you want to play with on Origin. Remember Origin? Yeah, it’s not got any better.

    • TheTingler says:

      That’s a pretty big correction really. My Steam list must have about 50 people on it. My Origin friends list has one person on it who I never play Origin multiplayer games with, it was just to chat about Dragon Age.

  20. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    They should just do both, like CS:GO. CS:GO has, in my opinion at least, an excellent matchmaking services, and the ‘Play Game’, or something labeled like that, goes to the matchmaking which uses official servers and rule sets. There is another button ‘Server Browser’.

    This prevents ‘casual’ players from being confused or overwhelmed, and also a handy place for people that want to quickly and easily find vanilla rule sets, while still offering most, if not all, of the advantages of custom servers. The only real downside I see is that it would potentially split the community a bit, but for a game of Battlefront’s size, that is not much a worry.

    • gwathdring says:

      More to the point, like BF3. You know. That other game they also made that did both. :P

  21. aircool says:

    I’m not so sure… many games that matchmake for you tend to do just fine regards ping and populations. They usually have filters for game types and whatnot.

    For example, Rocket League may have limited options (number of players and server location), but it gets you in the game quickly, most often just before a game starts and with a ping that’s always under 50ms.

    • gwathdring says:

      But a game of Rocket League takes 5:00 minutes; it’s less of a deal breaker if you can’t find a server you click with.

      Further, you don’t think Rocket League would benefit from proper organized play? The ability to have community run, well, Leagues on top of the normal way of playing?

  22. goettel says:

    Deal-breaker for me.

    • ikanreed says:

      Yeah, it’s not like it’s something I’m outraged about or anything. It’s just another game that I have to pass over because I don’t like the tone it sets for consumer interaction.

      There’s too many of those.

      • goettel says:

        We’ll always have that Steam back-log, right.
        It’s a magical place.

  23. Jane Doe says:

    Sounds to me like they’re going down the Wargaming-line of Press-and-Play. I don’t see anything wrong with that. With a skilled MM (if it works) they’re also lightyears ahead of Wargaming.

    Dedicated servers, often hosted by unreliable private individuals, are a thing of the past. Unless you totally want your BFF-servers, this will just speed up the time between matches.

    Who says anything about no control over the Ping? Did they state anywhere that they won’t offer localized servers for the MM to connect you to? Aka that they force you to play in the USA? Please …

    Why isn’t RPS asking the important questions?
    * Will there be platoons/teams/squads?
    * If yes, what’s the player limits? If no, screw the game.
    * Will there be company battles? (larger premade teams vs each other, like CWs)
    * Will there be clan wars support?

    • ironhorse says:

      You’re completely ignoring the player retention that comes from established communities.. something that has kept many of their games alive for much longer than would have otherwise occurred.

      I do not enjoy being dropped in with randoms every single time i play. Especially do not enjoy lack of admins depending on the game..

      • Nereus says:

        I agree. I don’t play BF. Partly because I got into PC gaming (sorry, ahem, purchased PC gaming…) after EA’s origin push. Having said that, I used to play world of warcraft. When I started the game they had not introduced a matchmaking system for dungeoneering. When I left, they had. I saw first hand how that system just wrecked the social community that was a server, because the only way to talk with people in your game was to joing their guild or help them with quests. Because the matchmaking system just grouped you with randoms across the various game servers there was no incentive to get to know each other. I did runs where nobody spoke to anybody.

        But perhaps this is what the vast majority of players want. The success of mobile gaming suggests that people prefer short, shallow experiences over lengthy nuanced ones.

  24. neoncat says:

    Ugggggggggh. I think I’ll just stick with my Battlefront 2, because this newfangled thing is sounding less and less fun with every new announcement.

    *sniffle* why can’t we have nice things? :(

  25. Distec says:

    I could have been willing to give a pass on Origin this once, but… ahh, well, I guess it’s not a concern any more.

    Sometimes I feel like this is pettiness on my part. But no, it’s a necessary feature if I want to play a multiplayer game the way I want to; not according to whatever company thinks is “best”.

    I’m told that instant respawn in TF2 just ruins the game. I couldn’t give a fuck since all I ever feel like playing is the 24/7 2Fort meatgrinder. Lo and behold, I’m still playing the game today.

    • gwathdring says:

      I think my feelings towards TF2’s changes over time would have been a lot less rose-tinted if I didn’t have my happy place of 24/7 Two-Fort CTF. That ray of stability in the growing chaos. Sure, I’d play other maps, modes and such. But … I always had that standby as things changed.

      Also being able to hop into a server at a specific time with a bunch of people you met in, say, the RPS forums? That’s an awesome thing. I reinstalled TF2 after a hiatus to do just that. Kept playing for months afterward.

      Not being able to do those things is a deal breaker for me, too.

  26. Zack Wester says:

    So no Friday Evening game whit that 3/4 team worth of player I usually sticks to but are not on my friends list on any social media but just regulars on one partial server that I also play on.

  27. buzzmong says:

    Yeah, no. I often play with loose group of friends, we like to be able to hop onto the same server together and move to another together when we want a change of map/mode. We also individually come and go as we please and party systems very rarely support that behaviour.

    No server browser means that’s impossible.

  28. typographie says:

    It feels like 85% of the marketing material for this game has been about what it doesn’t have. This is one more in a long list of reasons that I am so chronically un-hyped for this game.

    • gwathdring says:

      They had this big thing about all the ways it isn’t BF3.

      I mean … fair enough to a point. People are worried it’s just BF3 in Space. But … BF3 wasn’t bad. It was pretty good. Had some things to recommend it. I would have expected more of a focus on the ways it is Battlefront [3].

  29. Kefren says:

    I was hoping for LAN. That’s my favourite way to play games (after hotseat).

  30. charlie4727 says:

    ANNNNNNDDDD ELECTRONIC ARTS ARE DOING IT AGAIN

  31. Hitchslapped says:

    Nowadays it gets harder and harder to tell whether game developers make shitty decisions on purpose or not. There are so many of them that it’s almost impossible to do all those mistakes by accident.
    Now all we need is the classic unchangeable low FOV and maybe throw in some of those 30fps locks. People just love that true cinematic feel to their games.

    • scannerbarkly says:

      Over time it has become more and more apparent that this isn’t so much a DICE game, or even an EA game. It’s a Disney game. They are very much aiming to carefully manage both the player experience and the content output from the game, because that is how Disney operate.

      DICE are little more than a third party contractor on this project as far as I can tell.

  32. Lachlan1 says:

    If not for all the pointless whinging about a battlefield re skin, we might’ve got just that, and it would’ve been fine. See what you fuckers have made DICE do?!

  33. worzak says:

    Is this 100% clear for PC though? Seems like the response from the EA guy was from a cobsole specific question.
    *fingers crossed*

    • Nereus says:

      Yes, a guy asked EA on twitter specifically about the PC version and got the same response, that there will be no server browser.

  34. Synesthesia says:

    I think i see what they’re trying to do. It’s the same thing titanfall did. This is not a CoD type shooter. Hell, i don’t think it’s even a Battlefield type shooter.

    If i’m not mistaken, many of the enemies are effectively creeps. So they are going the dota/titanfall way. If done well, it’s very satisfying, and very good for these sort of games. Theys hould still include some sort of private match functionality, as dota does, but hey, let’s all kneejerk! I have a spare torch!

    • MultiVaC says:

      Oh, like Titanfall. Count me in, that matchmaking system panned out wonderfully! Just ask all of the people who play it these days. I’m serious. Personally ask the opinion of each one, it won’t take long.

    • gwathdring says:

      So because it’s a game with a lot of AI controlled units, no one will be as interested in organizing the way they play the game beyond maybe making a small posse of people on their friend’s list and checking some boxes about game modes?

      That hasn’t got a thing to do with it. I played Battlefront 1 and 2 on LAN–at group events and 1on1. I had servers I liked going to. I didn’t need to put everyone I liked playing with in a uselessly long friends list. If it doesn’t matter who I play with, and most of the enemies are bots, why are we bothering with multiplayer, exactly?

      I like multiplayer games because I like other players. I’m not particularly competitive; I don’t need to test myself against the very best. And while I get that some people just want, essentially, other players to stand in as a superior form of Artificial Intelligence … that’s not why I play multiplayer. It will never be why I play multiplayer.

      Match making is fine! I use it sometimes in games that have both. You can’t find a good community if you don’t look around a bit. But the less control I have over who I play with, the less interested I am in playing. When I find a fun group of players, I don’t want to have to fiddle with a friends system and mess around with queues and weird semi-automated nonsense. I want to just come back to the same server tomorrow, see who’s still around, who’s new, if it’s still more my style than other servers.

      If you really think that’s irrelevant to Battlefront … I’m very confused. I’ve been playing Battlefront since BF1. I have no interest in relying purely on matchmaking for that game.

  35. Janichsan says:

    [I]t will take advantage of friends lists on Steam, PSN etc.

    I seriously doubt that.

  36. Player1 says:

    After reading about this mess I suddenly remembered having a blast (literally) playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 on my trusty old PS3 a few years ago (unfortunately, servers are dead). Upon googling for gameplay videos I found out that you can still buy the game on Steam, and that there are plenty of active servers. The game is cheap too, so I went and bought it. Installed, and again I had a wonderful time. This will be my biggest time sink for the next months, I’m sure. IMHO it’s the best title in the series next to BF1942 and BF2, which are bigger in scope, but the destructible buildings and the wonderful maps more than make up for it. Also, there is plenty of stuff to unlock, but not to the point that it feels tedious or game changing like in later titles. It’s such a beautiful shooter that I can’t believe they didn’t make a decent sequel until now.

    • drinniol says:

      As an added bonus, Rainbow Sprinkles is the best trailer ever.

  37. tonicer says:

    Meh, my hopes where already very low for this.

    No serverfiles, no bots, no mods, no fun … so the same as BF3/4.

    I don’t regret buying any other game more than BF3/4.

    With BF3 i thought “It’ll be just as glorious as BF2.” and with BF4 “It’ll be better than BF3 they learned a lot about all the mistakes they did with BF3. This time around we get server files, bots and mods.” and it turned out to be almost the same game with all the flaws (if not more) from it’s predecessor.

    Now Battlefront goes that same route … and who can i thank for another broken franchise? Consoles! Fuck them all. They never did anything good for gaming.

  38. Cinek says:

    BF games evolution:

    Proper server browser -> server browser in a web browser (WTF?!) -> no server browser.

  39. gunny1993 says:

    Ahhh yes, removing all single player, bots and server browsing, that’s exactly what I wanted from a fucking star wars fucking battlefront game.

    Jesus christ, way to take a game that was fun star wars nonsense at its core and try to turn it into fucking mlg bullshit esport cod titanfall shite.

    In case you can;t tell I’m not in favor of this so far.

  40. Jungle Rhino says:

    Come on guys do you honestly think EA care about fostering a ‘player community’? HA – they just want to push units and get a good Metacritic score. They are in the business of making money not making quality games.

  41. DThor says:

    All I’ll say is after the first trailer my interest in the game was around 70%,basically really excited but my cynical side refused to allow more SW investment for ultimate disappointment. The instant I got half way through the first paragraph of this article it plummeted to the 30% range. To me it’s one of the key descriptors of “console game”, with all the acne-scarred mainstream blandness that entails. Oh well. I’m happy to wait for the initial reviews with incredibly low expectations.

  42. WarKiel says:

    It’s almost like they’re actively doing everything they can to discourage people from wanting this game.
    Next thing they will announce will be: “Preorder and we’ll kill your dog. If you don’t have a dog we’ll get you one, wait for you to form an emotional bond and then kill it.”

  43. Iskariot says:

    If the game has a good solo mode with good AI, then I might buy it (multiplayer doesn’t interest me at all). But even then I will wait and see, read some reviews etc.

  44. hansmeizer says:

    Lol man the author alec meer acts like he didnt realize the constant degradation of complexity in the franchize ever since bf2… I think he has no clue about what he is writing and may even be a EA slave twink.