One of the enduring confusions around the new Star Wars Battlefront [official site] was the ditching of any kind of meaningful singleplayer mode. The adverts were so very geeky 30/40-something-focused, with all their misty-eyed pining for childhood X-Wing fantasies – the only logical next step for the marketing campaign would have been Kelly Kapowski wearing a Huttslayer Leia bikini. Then the reality was just getting shot in the back of the head by bug-eyed teenagers a thousand times over, and spaceships limited to sporadic icon pick-ups. Also, the original Battlefronts were known for having decent bot modes, while recent stablemates from the Battlefield series boasted campaign modes, no matter how dumb, so it was an odd break from tradition too.
Speaking about Battlefront’s future and plans to improve its reception, EA claim the lack of singleplayer was a “conscious decision” made in order to ship close to the Force Awakens.
“We made [the choice] due to time and being able to launch the game side-by-side with the movie that came out to get the strongest possible impact,” EA Studio head Patrick Söderlund told investors yesterday (as reported by Eurogamer). From a pure biz perspective it’s hard to argue with that: Star Wars fervour was at its peak then, and there was simply no better time to launch a Star Wars game. But that decision at least partially contributed to Battlefront’s 75% Metacritic average; a Metacrisis as far as a big publisher is concerned.
Soderland sought to defend this. “I think the team created a really good game based on the premise that we had. I would say the game has done very well for us and reached a very different demographic than a traditional EA game. So from that perspective, it’s a success. Are we happy with the 75 rating? No. Is that something we’re going to cure going forward? Absolutely.”
I’m presuming that “different demographic” is Parentsquad, who sorely missed their AT-AT toys. Hello! As for the proposed cure, he’s talking about the recently-announced Battlefront sequel, due in the next year and which will be at least partly based around the new movies. Whether that’s Force Awakens or Rogue One we don’t know yet – but I’m to bet a battered Wicket figure (h.b. headscarf missing) that it will feature some kind of singleplayer mode.