SW: Battlefront II Q&A
Interview By: WoLf | Posted: 26/07/2005
Shara Miller, Battlefront II's Producer at LucasArts kindly answers some questions about the game.
Q: What were the main problems that fans/players had with the original game?
A: The biggest problem was that people couldn’t find their friends in multiplayer games, an issue which we’ve resolved with Buddy and Clan support. In terms of the game mechanics, people didn’t like the fact that they had to die to switch character classes, and they wanted the ability to sprint. We’ve addressed both of these issues for Star Wars Battlefront II. Beyond that, fans did have a lot of “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” requests, like being able to play as the heroes running around on the battlefield and really wanting to tear it up in the flying vehicles without quickly hitting the edge of the map. These are issues we’ve addressed in spades for the sequel, with the addition of unlockable hero characters on all the ground maps and entire capital-ship-to-capital-ship space battles.
Q: Is the Battlefront II game engine the same as the first game, or is it a tweaked/enhanced/new version of the engine?
A: It’s based on the same underlying engine, but the development team at Pandemic Studios has been making improvements and additions for the past year. Performance has improved, the AI characters have gotten an upgrade, flying vehicles are even more fun than last time, and the graphics are even better than before.
Q: What would you say that Battlefront II offers over the competition?
A: First and foremost, it’s a Star Wars game -- you can’t ask for a more iconic cultural touchstone! Second, you can battle both on the ground and in space, with over 30 vehicles to rip around and cause mayhem in. Just imagine a multiplayer game, where you and your buddies can dogfight in space, land on enemy hangars, and attack your enemies on their own turf. Third, this game is HUGE. With so many game modes – Conquest, two variants of Capture the Flag, Hunt, and Assault – this is a game with infinite replayability. Finally, there’s scalability. Players can quickly enter in a battle and get 10 minutes of fun, or they can sit down for an evening and play a strategic game of Galactic Conquest. There’s literally something for everyone here.
Q: How many players can we expect to see on the various versions of Battlefront II?
A: All of our max-player numbers have increased since the original. In Multiplayer, the maxes have been upped to 24 for PS2, 32 for Xbox, 64 for PC. Our new PSP version will support 4-player ad-hoc wi-fi, as well as a cool Party Play mode, where players can all compete using one PSP.
Q: We have heard a lot about the Singleplayer experience in Battlefront II, can you define that for us as much as you’re able, what can players who don’t often game online expect from the game?
A: Star Wars Battlefront II has a story- and objective-based campaign that offline players will love. It follows the evolution of the 501st Legion, a group of elite clone troopers whose exploits eventually gain favored status of Darth Vader and become known as “Vader’s Fist,” the hottest group of storm troopers in the galaxy. The 501st itself is based off of the worldwide fan organization of the same name that does its own Imperial costuming – so this is sort of the ultimate homage to hardcore fans.
I also mentioned Galactic Conquest before, which I predict will be a huge hit, especially among our single-player PC gamers. Finally, we still have Instant Action, which delivers all the intense action of the Star Wars battles in scalable chunks. Queue up 25 battles in a row in any game mode you choose from either era, or pick it up for some quick Conquest on your favourite planets.
Q: Is there going to be split-screen Co-op MP across the console versions as in the first game, if so, what are the major differences if any?
A: Like the original, we’re supporting 2-player split-screen for PS2 and Xbox. But Xbox players can now *also* play up to 4-player split-screen, on one console or over a LAN. People who don’t play online will get loads of enjoyment from playing split-screen, especially with the added twist of the new objective-based gameplay.
Q: We have heard a lot about the Space Battles in the game, including the fact that there are cap-ship battles, where you can pilot a transport to get troops onto the enemy ship – is this true, and if so, can you explain a little more about it?
A: This is totally true, and you’ll love it. Picture a scenario where your goal is to invade your enemy capital ship and destroy its critical systems from the inside. You begin in your own hangar and can choose a number of flyers depending on your play style. Have your friends or friendly AI’s join you and take out as many enemy ships on your way as you can. When you land, you’ll encounter a firefight in the enemy hangar and need to fight your way to the engine rooms to take down their shields. On the way, you can stop in the turret room, man a turret, and gun down more ships from safe inside. Finally, when the rubble has cleared, you can dash back to the hangar, jack an enemy flyer, and take back off into space. Seriously, it’s going to be awesome.
Q: We have heard there are Jedi in the game, how does this work and will it be a single player only feature, mass Jedi battles or what?
A: Star Wars Battlefront is about playing as the grunt on the field and influencing the battle the way you want to. But even soldiers have dreams of being heroes. In Battlefront II, players will unlock the ability to play as Jedi and other Star Wars heavy hitters for a one-time use in each battle. The hero characters will help you turn the tide of the battle, and the more wisely you use your hero, the longer you’ll get to use that character. Eventually, though, the hero will leave the battlefield, and players will need to use their wits and their skills to achieve final victory.
Q: Are there any new character classes or factions?
A: We’re sticking with the same four factions from the original, but the designers have added at least one new character class for each faction. Each faction will now have a leader class, who can provide buffs and support to surrounding troops. With the addition of space maps, we’ve also allowed for a bit more unit customization. Pilots are no longer necessary on ground maps, so that freed up the developers to add a Technician unit, who can do repairs but also pack a punch.
Q: What would you say that your favourite feature in the game is?
A: Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’m gonna go with... Hunt Mode. Predator versus prey, Stormtroopers versus Ewoks, that kind of thing.
Q: What would you say the biggest problem for Battlefront II has been so far?
A: I think in any development effort, the answer will be the same: there’s so much that we want to do and only so much time and technology to do it. Between the development team, QA, Production, and all of the other parties that go into making a game, we have to pick and choose what’s most important to great gameplay because we can never do it all. Sadly, this means we have to exercise more patience than we want and save up some truly incredible game ideas for the next go-around.
Q: Tell us a little more about the Bots in the game? are the order commands the same as the first game or is there a lot more you can do with the Bots?
A: Based on our observations from the original Star Wars Battlefront, we’ve actually streamlined Bot commands down to the “Follow me” order. AI’s are smarter this time around and will naturally stay focused on the objective at hand, whether that’s protecting the player as he or she captures a flag, attacking security turrets on a capital ship so that you can sneak past them, or mounting a full-scale assault on the enemy.
Q: What would be your favourite weapon in Battlefront II?
A: The Clone Commander has this rad chaingun. It’s really satisfying. I don’t know, it just feels good.
Q: Tell us some things about Multiplayer to whet the Games Xtreme readers appetites, what can they expect in the way of maps – are there any from the first game and what would be your favourite map for this game?
A: Some old faves from the first are returning, refined and better than ever. Hoth and Kashyyyk are two examples, but of course there are others. For this game, I’m thinking that the Death Star Interior will be my favourite map. On a visceral level, it just brings me back to my childhood. But from a gameplay perspective, it’s got a maze-like and multi-level quality which will allow for some great sniping, tactical pursuit, and some cool ways to use the jet trooper.
Q: Finally: Dark or Light side of the force, which do you choose and why?
A: Although I appreciate the ambition and superior fashion sense of the dark side, I must admit that I’m a light side girl at heart. But opposites do attract. ?