Battlefront II Q&A
Sallie J. Anglin
Battlefront II has a lot to live up to as the sequel to arguably the best Star Wars game ever, and it appears that the developers are making sure this title outshines its predecessor. Garnering a nomination for Best Online Multiplayer Game and winning the title of Best Xbox Live Game at E3, it is clear the developers of Battlefront II aren't playing games.
Gamershell.com had the chance to chat with Assistant Producer Corrine Wong of LucasArts in order to glean more info about this highly anticipated title:
1. Battlefront was a terrific success commercially and critically, but of course, die-hard gamers always want more. Based on the fans' feedback, the developers' vision, or a happy synergy of the two, what changes and additions can we expect in Battlefront II?
We received a lot of great feedback from the fans, and much of it aligned perfectly with what LucasArts and Pandemic wanted to do in Star Wars Battlefront II. We kept elements of what fans loved about the original Battlefront, added on top of it, and attempted to fix the issues.
Some of the new and exciting features include space battles, playable Jedi, a load of Episode III content, an engaging objective-based story for single-player campaign, new game modes (i.e. Capture the Flag, Acquire, Defend, etc), and new classes for each of the four factions. Some of the cool changes the dev team has made include the ability to sprint and change your soldier class at a friendly command post.
2. Battlefront II appears to be placing more emphasis on the game's story, including more single-player missions. Can you describe some of these missions and enhancements that are being made to the single-player game?
We've added a new single-player campaign mode featuring the story of the 501st Legion. You know those guys who dress up in stormtrooper outfits? They're all a part of the 501st - also known as Vader's Fist - and Battlefront II is their story. It's sort of the ultimate homage to hardcore fans.
The player fights battles through the eyes of a clone trooper, and through many missions will eventually become part of Vader's personal elite team of stormtroopers. You'll get to relive some of the greatest moments in Star Wars history. For example, you get to take out the capital ships in the space battle above Coruscant in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In addition, the missions are more objective-based rather than just pure conquest.
3. When does Battlefront II's story line take place in relation to the films' story lines?
Battlefront II's storyline begins in the Clone Wars and ends with the Empire's most infamous victory against the Rebellion - the 501st's finest hour. The objectives and battles that take place in the game relate to the overall story arc of the movies; however, not all the missions mimic that of the movies. It's a great opportunity for players to experience what else was happening in the galaxy while the major events in the movie were taking place.
4. How do you hope to create an immersive gaming experience in the single-player campaign? What effects will player actions have on the galaxy and the story line?
As mentioned above, we hope to captivate our audience with the intriguing storyline of 501st Legion. In addition, objective-based gameplay has been added to the single-player campaign. This makes for a much more interesting and varied experience. The player is able to do anything from defending a strategic command post against swarms of enemies to destroying key structures to capturing top-secret plans. Furthermore, the player's actions determine the outcome of the battle - no longer will the reinforcement meter be the sole determinant of your victory or failure. New and varied voice lines, sound effects, and music enhance the player's experience as well. We've also updated the Galactic Conquest mode, which we'll tell you more about in the coming months.
5. You plan to unleash the Force and make Jedi powers available to players. How do you plan to resolve the tricky issue of allowing players to feel the awesome power of the Force without overpowering them?
Ah, good question. First of all, the Jedi class is not always available to the player. In single-player mode, the player needs to earn the right to play as a Jedi by completing certain objectives. In multiplayer mode, the host determines the parameters at which you can be a Jedi. Secondly, the ability to yield a lightsaber and use your cool Force powers comes with a time limit. The nice thing is that your time limit can be extended if you effectively use your Jedi. However, if you choose to kill your buddies and allies or get hit by an enemy one too many times, your time is shortened. So use your Jedi wisely - and be good to your fellow teammates! :
6. What is this sixth class we've heard so little about, and how will it differ from the ones currently in the game?
For Battlefront II, a sixth class has been added to each faction. In the same way that the other classes have specific uses, this sixth class will have unique abilities and add a specific element to gameplay. This new unit falls under a leadership-type class and provides a bonus to surrounding team members. These bonuses include such enhancements as increased damage or increased health. Unfortunately, I can't go into any further detail. However, there will be more info to come in the summer and fall, so stay tuned. :
7. You plan to remove the framerate lock, so that there are no framerate limitations. What other technical innovations will Battlefront II include?
The engineers have been hard at work improving much of the Battlefront II technology. One of the most noticeable is the AI improvements. AI characters are much smarter now. They'll not only defend/capture command posts, but also react to the current objectives and to what the player, enemies, and allies are doing.
The ability to play as Jedi is another technological feat for this game. The ability to use melee-style fighting and awesome Force powers in a game such as Battlefront adds a whole new element of gameplay. Just wait to play as Darth, Obi-Wan, or any of the others we still haven't announced and you'll see! :
There has also been work done to improve framerate issues, add multiplayer hosting features, revamp Galactic Conquest, and improve the targeting system. More advancements will be announced as we come closer to our launch date.
8. How many new battlefronts will Battlefront II feature, and can you give us a description or two of some of the new battlefronts on land and in space?
We're going to have more than 15 new maps or locations that encompass a variety of environments, several of which are from Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. For example, you'll get to fight off the droid army and General Grievous on the infamous sinkhole planet of Utapau.
In addition, Battlefront II includes locations from the original Trilogy, such as Princess Leia's Tantive IV blockade runner. This is the first time ever in a LucasArts game that you'll be able to board the Tantive IV and participate in Darth Vader's ship raid.
Last but not least, we have a few fan favorites from the original Battlefront. These oldies but goodies will be given a slight facelift but will remain as fun as ever.
9. How will the graphics for Battlefront II compare to those of recent releases with powerful graphics engines?
The team has been diligently spending the last year improving the graphics engine. You'll be able to see improved lighting, shadows, and reflections. The textures, environments, and bump maps have been given more details and will provide a much more rich and vivid atmosphere. We are still working on improving performance, but you'll see a definite marked improvement from the original Battlefront.
10. What unique sound features can players expect?
The player will not only get to hear music and sound from all six Star Wars films, but will also get a dose of original material as well. New original sounds for such things as weapons and creatures are being created specifically for Battlefront II by Lead Sound Designer David Collins and Assistant Lead Sound Designer Jim Diaz.
Music and voice have also received some enhancements as well. Not only do we have a ton of new music for Battlefront II, but the music has been created and implemented to interact with victory, defeat, and mission objectives. We also have three times more voice lines this time around, so the player will not only get more varied chatter throughout the game, but also feel more immersed in the battle.
11. Discuss some of the new objective-based gameplay modes.
During the single-player campaign, you might, for example, be ordered to destroy structures like enemy frigates, guard a key post from being taken by the enemy until reinforcements arrive, or retrieve things like the Death Star plans.
The great thing is our designers are able to string a variety of objective-based modes all on one map. This provides the player with an exciting and varied experience for each map. Our designers are also diligently working to assign the modes that will provide the most fun and intelligent gameplay per map.
12. What changes and innovations will be included in the multiplayer modes?
For multiplayer modes, the dev team has spent countless hours improving the performance and framerate issues. You can now have a maximum of 24 players for PS2, 32 for Xbox, and 64 for PC. And for those of you who play online with friends, searching for them will be much easier!
We've also incorporated additional game modes like those mentioned above.
13. Battlefront II features something Battlefront lacked-space battles. Describe the flight mechanics and some other features of the Star Wars battles.
The space battles in Battlefront II include more than just dogfighting. You can choose from over a dozen space vehicles to fly. You can shoot down your enemies from within your flyer, or you can decide to land it on an enemy ship, participate in some good 'ol blaster fire fights, take over enemy turrets, and destroy the critical systems from within the ship. You can even stay on an ally ship and choose to defend it from attack.
As for flight mechanics, the team has worked really hard to give players the controls needed to feel like you are in a true Star Wars space battle. You'll have the ability to perform easy-to-execute aerial moves such as a barrel roll or 180-degree loops. In addition, a boost feature allows your flyer to attain high speeds for a brief period of time. You'll be able to perform these moves and combinations of them on a space map large enough to thrill both the casual and hardcore fans alike.
14. Give us some idea of what Episode III content will be included in the game. Which of the Episode III characters figure most prominently in Battlefront II's narrative?
Fans of Episode III will not be disappointed at the content included in Battlefront II. We've got everything from Episode III music, sound effects, locations, characters, and vehicles in our game. Some locations include the city you saw in the movie on Utapau, the volcanic-ash-ridden world of Mustafar and the space battle above Coruscant. And let's just say you might get a chance to further explore some of the planets that were seen in passing in the Episode III movie. As far as Episode III vehicles go, I can't give them all away, but expect to see the Jedi Interceptor, V-wing, and clone BARC speeder. As for Episode III characters in our narrative, I have already mentioned the use of the 501st Legion in the single-player campaign - and you can just imagine which Jedi and other characters might show up.
15. And finally, what do you think is the most exciting addition to Battlefront II?
Hmmmm... That's a tough one just because there are so many cool features in Battlefront II. However, if I really, really have to choose just one, I've got to say space battles! How awesome is it to have your buddies take down the shields with their flyers while you take some of your troops over to the enemy ship and take out the critical systems from within? Space battles really take the Battlefront II motto of "any way you want to" to a whole new level.
Thanks again to Corrine Wong for providing us with such informative and entertaining answers and whetting our gaming appetites for Battlefront II. LucasArts plans to release Battlefront II in the fall of this year, so look for it on the shelves!