Star Wars Battlefront received a mixed response when it was released in advance of The Forces Awakens last November. The biggest complaint leveled at the game was that it was pretty anemic for a full-priced, triple-A release. Yes, it did feature some pretty cool moments from the original trilogy (as well as some less interesting ones that were sort of based on Episode VII) turned into large-scale Battlefield-style firefights.
But it was also something that, as a freeform-ish Star Wars plaything, lost its appeal very quickly. Multiplayer alone just isn’t enough – just look at Titanfall – and it was the lack of real campaign mode that was the most glaring omission. Last week EA Studios head Patrick Söderlund said that cutting any campaign from Battlefront was a “conscious decision” so that the game could release along with TFA for “strongest possible impact; this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since triple-A games are often released on a rigid quarterly schedule, but it certainly doesn’t cast the game in a great light, either.
With a sequel not due until 2017, it looks like LEGO’s take on The Force Awakens might (surprisingly) offer a bit of what Battlefront was missing: space battles and an actual campaign. The trailers released seem to suggest as much. LEGO games have always had a lot of personality, with the developers adding and expanding on whatever movie or series their respective games are adapting, albeit staying within a fairly unchanging design framework.
LEGO Force Awakens appears to have tweaked things by adding actual shoulder cam third-person cover shooting. That wouldn’t really be much of a thing, except LEGO games usually look and feel more like an old-school beat-em-up or platformer than a more modern genre – at least from a visual standpoint, that slight change to presentation could make all the difference during gameplay. (And might make for a decent surrogate until a proper Battlefront arrives. Look at the stormtrooper’s head pop off!)
Though DICE would be smart to also incorporate full space battles into any sequel (rather than the in-atmosphere skirmishes of their first game), LEGO Force Awakens looks to have them too, though who knows if the game will use them in more than just a few levels. It’s not a perfect analogue either, given that the game only spans an assumedly extended, goofy version of Episode VII, the full design scope of which is unknown, and all the ships and characters are made out of LEGO, obviously.
That said, LEGO games have also evolved immensely since the days of the original LEGO Star Wars trilogy, mostly for the better. Basic design improvements to give gameplay more immediacy are a great idea the developers probably should’ve thought of years ago, though they have flirted with more satisfying types of control in more recent titles. Along with real designed levels (plus, y’know, brick Harrison Ford), it’s probably a more fun proposition – this gameplay snippet suggests it than just feeling like cannon fodder.