The gaming community is apparently turning away from Star Wars Battlefront in droves. I’m told PS4 players can still pretty easily find games, but Xbox One gamers are telling me it’s getting harder to find a game, and don’t get me started on PC. Well, actually, do. One of my launch buddies has since uninstalled it, I haven’t been able to find a match of Supremacy (my favourite mode) since the launch of the Battle of Jakku DLC, and I’ve basically stopped playing it altogether.
Last time I tried to cycle through every mode, I could only find matches for Fighter Squadron and Walker Assault. The other modes may as well not exist. Something needs to change. Fast. Here’s a breakdown of what DICE needs to do to save Battlefront before the dedicated (and shrinking) fan base gives up altogether.
Add a server browser
This has been called for since it was announced that Battlefront, inexplicably, wouldn’t have a server browser, but it’s clearly needed now more than ever. Whatever matchmaking algorithm DICE is using for Battlefront doesn’t work very well. While it should be taking into account location and skill, among other factors, I’ve played on international servers (with crazy ping spikes and rubber banding) and there don’t seem to be enough players on PC to separate high-level players from lower-ranked newcomers. While we’re on the topic of things that should be no-brainers in 21st century games, please add a straightforward option for viewing in-game ping (preferably numerical), too. International servers mess with the hit registry, which makes the game a whole lot less fun to play.
Or at least be more transparent with matchmaking
If DICE really, really doesn’t want to add a server browser, or it would be too much of a logistical nightmare at this stage, at least add some transparency for the player base looking to find a game. If there actually is a player-base exodus, DICE might not want to show the total amount of players online at a time, but it can show percentages. Add numbers (or percentages) of players to each mode, so we can know whether it’s worth our time even clicking on it to find a match. On top of this, please also add an estimated time for connecting to a match, and some transparency about the server location when connecting.
It really, really needs VOIP
I though the lack of VOIP wouldn’t be too much of an issue, given I tend to only play Battlefront with friends and we use external VOIP services to communicate, but it really is a sorely lacking feature. Having no way to let your teammates know that, say, Darth Vader is fast approaching, or to tell a friendly player to not block your grenade throw is as essential as having the option to educate newer players on some of the finer points of the game and the specifics of a mode. At least on PC we have the option to type to the server, our team or Partner, but it’s still not enough, and that text often goes unseen.
Offer greater control over the UI
While text goes unseen in Battlefront, a lot of the intrusive UI does not. It’d be nice to have the option to shrink or even reposition certain parts of the UI (instead of just removing it entirely). It’d be even better to have a second-screen experience, like in Battlefield 4, wherein players can have a full-screen map on a second monitor, and/or drag across elements of the UI that I don’t want cluttering up their primary screen. By far the worst in-game offender, though, is the obnoxiously large centre-of-screen pop-ups whenever you grab a pick-up. I’ve died more than a few times because these pop-ups blocked an enemy that came around a corner.
Add Turning Point to more maps
It’s not surprising that the bigger Battlefront modes are (or, rather, were) the most popular. Given the DICE’s Battlefield pedigree, this was a safe assumption prior to launch. The catch is that no-one is playing Supremacy, and Walker Assault is the only other choice on all five planets, while Turning Point still only has the one map on Jakku. It’s a great mode, and it should be made accessible (for free, please) on Tatooine, Endor, Hoth and Sullust. While I’m on the topic of more maps for specific modes, adding Endor to Fighter Squadron would be great, too.
Stop splitting the community
The Battle of Jakku DLC was free for all, and while pre-ordering players had access to it a week ahead of everyone else, there really is no need for there to be a tab to switch between ‘Main Game’ and ‘+ Battle of Jakku’. Everyone has Jakku now as part of the main game, so it’s redundant to have the option. It also makes me worry that there are players missing out on Jakku-related content because they haven’t selected the option prior to searching for a match. That’s fewer players for me to play with and fight against, so that’s a problem. Moving forward, when the inevitable DLC starts splitting the player base, this switch should be obliterated, anyway. Let your matchmaking—or a manual option in a server browser—determine how people with compatible content are put together.