Star Wars Battlefront is going to be a big deal. This long-awaited follow up to the PS2-era franchise is set to launch within a month of Star Wars Episode VII, and the nostalgia alone will inevitably propel the sales sky high. Over the last couple of days, EA has been running a beta test of across the PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and I’ve been watching it closely.
Now that the public has had an opportunity to see first-hand what DICE has been working on, let’s examine how this beta holds up from a technical perspective. Of course, the final release may be significantly different, so take everything here with a grain of salt.
Let’s start off with the bad news: the PS4 version is only running at 1600×900. It’s definitely disappointing, but as you can see above, the end result still looks fairly solid. The visual fidelity is roughly on-par with the “high” settings on the PC build, but the pop-in is substantially more noticeable on the PS4.
While the game still can’t quite maintain a solid 60fps frame rate in some areas, there is hope. The dips are smaller than we’ve seen in previous builds, and it’s not unusual for developers to be optimizing performance right up until release day — sometimes months after release as well.
Weirdly, the split-screen multiplayer actually halves the target frame rate to 30fps, and renders two views at 1920×540 (making a complete 1080p picture). After spending so much time enjoying Metal Gear Solid V at 60fps, I’m a bit spoiled. I think I’ll pass on this mode all together.
If you want a better look at how the game holds up on a small map, check out this extended footage I captured directly from the PS4. Just make sure to crank the quality setting to “1080p60″ on YouTube for the best results.
Over on the Xbox One, the situation isn’t quite as pretty. It’s stuck at just 1280×720, and the Digital Foundry breakdown shows exactly how poorly it stands up to the PS4 version. While the lighting effects and textures are nearly identical across platforms, the significantly lower resolution on Microsoft’s console is a hindrance when you’re dealing with long-distance enemies.
Even with the compromised resolution, the Xbox One version still drops frames more often than the PS4. Keep in mind, this is still just a beta. It’s theoretically possible that DICE will be able to offer a rock-solid 60fps by the time the November 17th release date rolls around, but I’ll remain skeptical until I see it for myself.
As for the PC version, our own Joel Hruska recently examined how well this beta performs in the real world. As long as you’re using even a modest discrete GPU, you won’t have much of a problem running at 1080p. Obviously, you’ll need to invest in higher-end cards if you want to play at higher resolutions, but these results seem promising.
Technical issues aside, how does the game hold up? Exactly how’d you’d expect. I played around online and offline, and I didn’t much enjoy myself from a gameplay perspective. The visuals continue to impress (especially the way the engine handles light), but the moment-to-moment gameplay feels a little dated to me.
It doesn’t help that this genre isn’t my cup of tea, but this beta doesn’t play as well as other recent first-person shooters either. The mobility improvements we’ve seen with Advanced Warfare and Titanfall aren’t fully represented here, so the movement always felt a little sluggish in comparison. But if you’ve been waiting a decade for a Star Wars shooter, this seems to be a competent — if slightly bland — execution on that idea.
As it stands, I can’t recommend pre-ordering this game — especially on the Xbox One. Wait until reviews hit, see what problems still exist on day one, and then make your purchasing decision. After the buggy nightmare that was Battlefield 4, you can’t be too careful, right?