Gamers have been waiting over five years for the next entry in the Star Wars: Battlefront series - closer to a decade, if you discount mobile and portable spinoffs - but the next entry in the acclaimed squad-based multiplayer shooter franchise is finally on its way. In production at Battlefield developer DICE, Star Wars: Battlefront should make its way to store shelves in December, 2015, just in time for J.J. Abrams' highly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII.
DICE and publisher Electronic Arts have been fairly tight-lipped about what gamers can expect from the Battlefront revival, although they've shown footage revealing classic Star Wars locations like the ice-planet Hoth and the lush forests of Endor. A description of the game provided by Microsoft promises that gamers can "jump into any vehicle, man any turret on the battlefront, and conquer the galaxy, planet by planet." The game uses DICE's proprietary Frostbite Engine, which also powers last fall's hit Dragon Age: Inquisition, as well as the upcoming Mass Effect sequel.
Now, a few more details have escaped. EA and DICE have provided IGN with a piece of gorgeous concept art, as well as more information regarding the game's maps and technology. The art itself depicts a battle in a burning Endor forest, as two rebel soldiers lurk in the underbrush, stalking a pair of Stormtroopers and a chicken-legged AT-ST walker. It doesn't say much about the gameplay, but it is unmistakably Star Wars. As far as atmosphere goes, DICE is on the right track.
Battlefront design director Niklas Fegraeus also spilled a few details regarding the game itself. Maps vary wildly in size - Hoth, for example, is much, much bigger than Endor - and each one is tailored for a specific game mode, facitilitating "gameplay that will allow players to live out some of their most memorable Star Wars battle fantasies." Additionally, the latest version of the Frostbite Engine has been augmented by in-house photogrammetry systems; in short, this lets DICE use photographs to build stunningly realistic environments (similar technology was used in last year's The Vanishing of Ethan Carter).
Most importantly, however, the game really feels like Star Wars. In the past, DICE discussed the pressure that comes with working on such a beloved franchise and such a high-profile license. According to Fegraeus, feedback from developers and play-testers has been incredibly positive. That's important. After all, there are many multiplayer shooters, but there's only one that takes place in a galaxy far, far away. With Battlefront, the setting is almost as important as the gameplay; thankfully, DICE looks like they're well on their way towards providing the modern, Rebel-on-Stormtrooper action we've been waiting for all this time.