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Learn How Iconic Star Wars Battlefront Locations Were Created

Andrew Hamilton, art director at DICE, has uploaded three videos showing some of the different ways his team created the levels of Star Wars Battlefront. From on-set scouting in harsh environments, to how a level is actually built, this behind-the-scenes look is extremely insightful into the creation of one of last year's most beautiful games.

The most impressive of the three is the "Photogrammetry On Location" video that shows how far  DICE went to to capture reference material for Battlefront. Going to beautiful rain forests for Endor's inspiration and searching frozen caves and various harsh winter environments for Hoth, the extra mile the team went for an added layer of realism is impressive – and possibly a bit crazy. Check out the three videos below.

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For more on Star Wars Battlefront, make sure to read our review.

[Source: Andrew Hamilton]

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Top Of The Table – Star Wars: Rebellion

For years, even as board games grew in sophistication and thematic depth, one of the most popular franchises in history was left out of the mix. Star Wars is awash in potential for cool tabletop play, but licensing relationships meant that great Star Wars games were hard to come by. That has all changed in recent years, as Fantasy Flight deployed a host of rewarding adventures in the Star Wars universe, from miniature battle games like X-Wing to story-driven adventures like Imperial Assault. The latest release zooms out to a galactic view, and delivers an ambitious strategic conflict between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance. Put another way, Star Wars: Rebellion is the vast, hero-driven, classic trilogy-focused experience you probably imagine when you think about what a Star Wars board game could be.

On a physical scale, Rebellion is a big game. Not built for compact tables, the linked double board takes up a lot of real estate, even before you throw in the hundreds of cards, tokens, custom dice, and over 150 beautifully crafted plastic miniatures of Star Destroyers, X-Wings, AT-ATs, and Death Stars. Card and board art is colorful and evocative, and focuses in on the aesthetic and storytelling tone of the original trilogy, rather than branching out into prequel or sequel trilogy territory. While you won’t see any Qui-Gon Jinns or Poe Damerons running around the galaxy, the spotlight on a single era ensures narrative clarity and a unified vision.

The multitude of components can take some time to wrap your head around, especially for newcomers to tabletop gaming. Thankfully, smart and organized rules offer a clearly delineated “first game setup” to help ease you into the action. When placed beside games of similar size and scope, Rebellion is surprisingly accessible. That ease-of-play is thanks to a streamlined turn structure that keeps players on track, even though the two opposing sides are pursuing separate goals for victory. Of the game’s systems, only the nuances of ship and ground combat are likely to take some time to fully grasp. 


Star Wars: Rebellion, Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games, Designer: Corey Konieczka

With its many tiny ships and galactic map board, first glance might suggest that Rebellion is a war simulation game in the vein of familiar titles like Risk or Axis & Allies. While army and fleet combat certainly plays a role, Rebellion distinguishes itself through its focus on heroes that shape the course of the conflict. Darth Vader can venture forth to conquer Corellia. Princess Leia can travel to Mandalore on a mission of diplomacy. Han Solo can fall to the dark side. Like in the movies that inspired the game, overpowering fleets aren’t the deciding factors of the galactic civil war; heroes and villains shape the course of the game, deploying on missions, turning the tide of epic battles, or countering the machinations of the enemy team. 

While my love of Star Wars characters is the chief factor in my enjoyment of Rebellion, it’s the asymmetric nature of the conflict that fascinates from a design perspective. Even as both sides follow an identical turn order, the Empire and Alliance have different paths to victory. For Imperial players, the game demands that you track down the hidden enemy base. Deploying your enemy fleet into planetary systems, gathering probe droid reports, and carefully tracking your opponent’s movements all help to zero in on the prize. All the while, your subjugation of planets like Alderaan and Kashyyyk fuel your conquests, while traitorous systems can be blown away by your fully armed and operational battle stations. 

For the Alliance, it’s all about winning hearts and minds. Your smaller fleet excels at hit-and-run tactics, and missions focus on sabotaging Imperial fleet yards, leading Wookiee uprisings, and proving to the people that the despot can be defeated. Rebel victories shorten the number of turns that the Empire has to track you down. Hold out long enough, and even fear of the Death Star won’t be enough to keep the local systems in line. The intricate balance between competing goals amazes me each time I play.


The highly detailed minis are one of Rebellion's biggest draws

Conflict resolution, whether to determine the success of a mission like Boba Fett’s attempted capture of Obi-Wan Kenobi, or the outcome of a grand space battle over Nal Hutta, is determined through the rolling of custom dice. While dice-rolling introduces an element of randomness, each player can alter the number of dice rolled through smart and strategic use of resources. Different leaders bring their own expertise to each conflict, deployed tactics cards alter results, and each additional combat unit affects the outcome. Keeping track of all the variables takes a little time to learn, but since every conflict that unfolds uses the same mechanic, my experience has suggested that players catch on quickly. 

Beyond the minutia of gameplay interactions, Star Wars: Rebellion succeeds because of the emergent nature of its narrative. The core conceit of the Star Wars conflict is baked into the game, but the way that war unfolds is entirely in response to player choices. Perhaps Alderaan survives, but Bespin isn’t so lucky. And maybe Admiral Ackbar emerges as the defining hero of the Rebel Alliance.  In every game I’ve played, the players concoct their own amusing fictions about the interplay between heroes, ships, and planets. While a single game for two to four players is a full evening’s affair, this richly imagined game gets an awful lot right about its source material; it’s hard for me to imagine a group of Star Wars fans that wouldn’t enjoy this take on that most familiar of far-away galaxies. 

Not quite ready to take the leap into such a grand tabletop adventure? Check out some great options for tabletop games you can play in 30 minutes or less. And for other awesome recent games, don’t miss our selections for the best tabletop games of 2015

Are there other tabletop games or topics you’d like to learn more about? Hit me up via email or Twitter to let me know what you’d like to see in future columns, and I’ll see you in two weeks!

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Halo Wars 2 and the challenge of bringing new players into the RTS genre

343 and Creative Assembly think they’ve figured out how to attract new players to the strategy genre with their latest entry in the Halo Wars series. …


Gamasutra News

Free Droid DLC Is Coming To PlayStation Versions Of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Traveller's Tales announced today a free droid DLC pack will be coming to those playing Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens on PlayStation consoles. The DLC will be available at launch on June 28.

Available will be R5-D4 from A New Hope, IG-88 from The Emperor Strikes Back, the battle droids from the Clone Wars television show, Captain Battle Droid, Super Battle Droid, the Captain Commando Droid, their commander General Grievous, and the protocol droids ME-8D9 and W1-LE. Check out a new trailer for the droids below.

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The new content will be available for free on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. To learn more, check out out cover story hub by clicking on the banner below.

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Science-Fiction Weekly – God Of War’s Star Wars Roots, A New Theory About Rey’s Parents

If someone asked you where the inspiration for the newly announced God of War game comes from, most of you would probably say The Last of Us. The connection between Kratos and his son echoes that of Joel teaching Ellie how to survive in a harsh world. Odds are developer Sony Santa Monica is drawing heavily from The Last of Us, but Cory Barlog, the game's creative director, says that the inspiration for a more humanized version of Kratos comes from a canceled Star Wars television show.

In an interview with Venture Beat, Barlog, who worked at LucasArts for a brief time before God of War projects, says he was invited to Skywalker Ranch to read the scripts of the show. "It was the most mind-blowing thing I’d ever
experienced. I cared about the Emperor," he said. "They made the Emperor a
sympathetic figure who was wronged by this f–king heartless woman.
She’s this hardcore gangster, and she just totally destroyed him as a
person. I almost cried while reading this.”

A television show that focused on the Emperor? My initial reaction was "that would be awesome," but after much thought, I'm glad George Lucas and his team at Lucasfilm didn't move forward with the project. Some characters are better left in the shadows. We don't need to know everything about every major character. Sheev Palpatine (yes, that's his real name) is one of them. The funny thing, through Barlog's inspiration, I suppose we'll learn a little bit more about the Emperor as we see Kratos' new life unfold.

In other Star Wars television news, if you didn't watch Star Wars Rebels as it aired, the second season hits Blu-Ray and DVD on August 30. Along with all 22 episodes, these discs include a number of bonus features, including a video feature called "From Apprentice to Adversary," in which executive producer Dave Filoni dissects season two's big finale.

In a less serious part of the Star Wars universe, Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures kicked off its first season on Disney XD and video-on-demand services yesterday, and I absolutely adored it. Disney is airing a new episode every day up until June 23.

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Before I dive into a new theory about Rey's parents, let's leap to another universe to talk about Star Trek. One of the most unexpected surprises at this year's E3 was Red Storm and Ubisoft's Star Trek: Bridge Crew, a virtual reality game that places you on the bridge of the U.S.S. Aegis (NX-1787) with three other players. This is a cooperative experience that demands teamwork, as each player has a specified role on the ship. I was an engineer in my playthrough, tasked with routing power, activating the warp coils, and teleporting people onto the vessel. The only things I had to do were listen to the Captain, who is controlled by another player, and interact with just a handful of buttons on the terminal in front of me. It sounds simple, and it is, but once the action starts, and the Captain barks out commands to other players in helm and tactical, the experience turns surprisingly intense. Every second matters on the Aegis. Andy McNamara (who was piloting our ship as a helm officer) and I managed to keep the Aegis intact and transport every civilian aboard successfully. Ubisoft said it was one of the cleanest playthroughs they've seen, even after I asked the Captain if I could transport Andy to a nearby asteroid. He said I couldn't, but thought it was a great idea and would bring it back to the development team.

And now it's time to flash the SPOILER alert. If you haven't seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet (who are you?), turn back now. Additionally, if you don't want to know anything about Star Wars: Episode VIII, stop reading.

The next rumor to surface is supposedly from a script leak. I wouldn't put too much stock into it, as we see fake leads like this all of the time, but this one opens up a different line of thinking than I think most people have had when trying to figure out who Rey's parents are. The safe bet I hear the most (one that I believe to be true) is Luke Skywalker is Rey's father. Given just how powerful with the Force Rey appears to be, I suspect her mother is an equally powerful Jedi. I'd love it to be Mara Jade, but I doubt Disney opens up the Expanded Universe that much with the new canon in place.

I've also heard that people think Rey may be a descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi, perhaps his granddaughter. I like this idea too, but I don't think Obi-Wan (or his family) will be a part of this trilogy. A few people out there also think Rey is the daughter of Han and Leia. If you're not laughing at this idea, you should be. It's absurd. No chance this happens. I'd put money on Jar Jar Binks being the dad over Han Solo.

The newest rumor suggests that Rey may be related to the first of the Jedi. That's why she commands the Force so easily. The supposed leaked script says that the Force was contained in a single tree and was eventually freed and spread throughout the universe by a brother and sister. The boy was consumed by the tree's dark energy. The girl came from the light. Rey could be the reincarnated version of that girl. "The One" that the Jedi have been looking for.

The idea is a little silly, and the writing in the script isn't great, but I do like the idea of Rey potentially having old Jedi blood coursing through her veins. It makes me think Snoke could be from a similar era. Theorize away, people. Let me know who you think Rey's parents are in the comments below. I still stand with Luke being daddy, but I do like the old blood angle too.

See you again in seven days!

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Criterion Now Working On Star Wars Instead Of Its Extreme Sports Game

Update: Electronic Arts has passed along a statement directly to us about Criterion's current focus. You can find it below.

While Criterion has moved on from the previous project they’ve spoken about and aren't pursuing it specifically, they are continuing to build new ideas and experiment with new IP for EA. Criterion is also working on EA’s Star Wars Battlefront VR experience, and contributing to other games from EA, for example the speeder bikes in Star Wars Battlefront.

Original story:

In 2014, Criterion announced, or perhaps more appropriately teased, an extreme sports game that featured multiple vehicles, wingsuits, parachuting, and more. Since its initial announcement, we haven't heard much about the game, and according to a report from GameSpot, it may be Star Wars' fault.

An Electronic Arts representative confirmed to GameSpot that the extreme sports game was no longer in development saying, "While they've moved on from the previous project they've spoken about and aren't pursuing it, they are continuing to build new ideas and experiment with new IP for EA, in addition to continuing to collaborate with other EA studios."

Criterion has served more of a support role for Electronic Arts in recent years by assisting on the development of games like Battlefield Hardline and Star Wars Battlefront. At E3 2016, it was revealed that Criterion was developing a VR offshoot for Star Wars Battlefront. You can read more about that game here.

You can check out the game's E3 announcement trailer from 2014 below.

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[Source: GameSpot]

 

Our Take
Criterion is a talented studio, so it's good to see it lending a helping hand to EA's assorted projects, but I think I would prefer seeing it focus entirely on one of its own projects. It's been far too long since we played a new Burnout.

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Kylo Ren Gets The Spotlight In Latest Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens launches next week, bringing an adaptation of the latest film with the traditional Lego charm. The latest teaser for the game shows off the villainous Kylo Ren in action.

In this footage, we get to see some moments directly from the movie recreated with Lego characters. Kylo Ren is still voiced by Adam Driver, and we see his interrogation of Rey and a humorous twist on his interaction in a village on Jakku. Check out the new footage below.

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Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is available on June 28, with an optional Season Pass. For those who want to try out the game before it launches, a demo featuring the Niima Outpost level was made available at E3.

For more information on the game, check out our hub.

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Star Wars Battlefront Visits Cloud City In New Trailer

Expanding plans for Star Wars Battlefront featured prominently in EA’s E3 strategy, specifically as part of a big push illustrating the variety of Star Wars games currently in production. After the launch of Battlefront late last year, DICE has continued to develop new content for its game, and on June 21, season pass players can partake of the newest fruition of that work – a chance to fight it out on Bespin.

As previously reported, the Bespin DLC includes flyable cloud cars, new blasters, new heroes Lando and Dengar, a game mode called Sabotage, and of course new maps set on Bespin. While season pass holders get an early shot at the content on the 21st, other players can look forward to playing on July 5. 

Check out the trailer, and let us know below if you plan on visiting Cloud City. 

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Star Wars, Batman, And Final Fantasy Franchises Come To PlayStation VR

Sony has announced three upcoming PlayStation virtual-reality titles based on popular franchises. These include Star Wars Battlefront X-Wing VR mission, Batman Arkham VR, and Final Fantasy XV VR.

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These titles look to be spin-offs from their respective series. PlayStation VR hits October 13 in North America

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Lego Star Wars: Force Awakens Demo Available Now On PSN

During PlayStation's E3 conference, the publisher played a trailer revealing new footage of Lego Star Wars: Force Awakens. The end of the trailer revealed that a demo for the game is now available for players to check out on PSN, two weeks before the game's release.

As of right now the demo looks like it's only available for the PS4 version of the game.

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You can check out the rest of our Lego Star Wars: Force Awakens coverage here.

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