The taste of Electronic Arts’ Star Wars: Battlefront offered in this weekend’s public beta, which opened Thursday and ends on Monday, feels like nothing so much as an argument for the primacy of aesthetics. From the moment I hit the ground, it was clear that this is not a multiplayer shooter with a Star Wars skin. It’s Star Wars. I’m not yet sure if this is a liability or a triumph.
The first gunfight you see in the Star Wars universe is brief and messy. Imperial Stormtroopers board a Rebel ship and exchange blaster fire with its defenders. The Stormtroopers cut through them. Each shot fired—the now-iconic thick, heavy red bolt of energy—creates an improbable amount of smoke and sparks, and the whole thing looks like a homemade fireworks show.
Star Wars: Battlefront, to be released November 17 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, seems designed to replicate the feeling of that encounter. In that regard, it’s shaping up to be a huge success. It captures the clumsy, slightly unreliable feel of the universe’s gunplay. Every aesthetic element, from the shapes of the matte-black small arms to the way each shot fired careens across the map in real time, is a meticulous recreation of the design in the films.