Being able to look at a list of servers and then pick where to play an online shooter is slowly becoming a thing of the past. In its place we find matchmaking systems that work off increasingly complex algorithms. Well, complex in the sense that they usually just plop you on the server with the lowest ping and average number of players. But for many PC players, being able to manually select a server by looking at its ping, the number of players, and where all their friends are at, is pretty important. Playing DICE's Battlefield 4 any other way would feel, wrong. So why then, is Star Wars Battlefront (also from DICE) going the matchmaking route?
For those of us who live in Australia, being able to select a local or low ping server is pretty important. Our distance from the rest of the world and insatiable appetite for seamless online gaming are but two of the many things that make us special. So hearing about a multiplayer matchmaking system for any upcoming game, makes us a little suspicious. Or at the very least, a tad skeptical. Star Wars Battlefront, from Swedish developer DICE, is using such a system. And coming from the developer behind the Battlefield series, which has a long history of server-browsing, this news has come as a shock to some. And naturally, has upset a few people.
But, should it? Although for all intents and purposes Battlefront is viewed as Battlefield: Star Wars Edition, the game is actually shaping up to be a very different experience. For one, the Star Wars name lends itself to a broader audience. So things like squads, commanders, iron sights, and other team-based shooter ingredients are being given the miss. Instead, players will only be able to team up with a single friend, or play co-operative missions with friends.
In turn the matchmaking system being implemented by Star Wars Battlefront will be based on player skill, although detail on how it will actually work are still vague. All in all it sounds like a clear attempt to ensure that casual players don't get thrown into an experience where they die repeatedly, without knowing why, how, or who. And are then chastised by their team for not being good at playing a pretend virtual war game. Or some other strictly hypothetical scenario. In a sense, matchmaking sounds about right for a Star Wars game. If it works as intended.
But, no server-browsing makes you wonder if the game will feel at home with the sort of hardcore audience that plays a game like Battlefield. At the very least, in a country where low ping is king, this news makes us a little bit skeptical.
Star Wars Battlefront will be available November 17, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.