Wednesday 16 May 2018

Star Wars: Galactic Conquest - A Mode of Many Battlefronts [Gaming]

The original Battlefront of 2004 started Galactic Conquest off. However, the mode has definitely been improved a lot more since this game. The original didn’t even have any strategy involved. The map consists of all the planets featured in the game [bar the two era-specific planets that are not related to the era you chose], with each planet except the era-specific ones having a perk attached to it. If you own that planet, you can choose the perk per match. There are things like increasing the accuracy of your troops or having an increase in reinforcements, but the only one that really matters is getting your team’s hero out into play. So capture that planet as soon as possible and unleash the invincible lightsaber-swiping hero onto the enemy.

As for how you capture the planets, you select one and win the match. That planet then becomes neutral. But since you won, you get another turn, so you select another planet, and win that match as well. After four consecutive wins, you can choose a planet to remove from the map. Once all the planets are yours, you can then attack the enemy main base which is one of the two era-specific planets. It works as a mode for playing most of the maps in turn – as let’s face it, getting wins is easy – but it offers nothing else. Then again, the same can be said of the campaign within the 2004 game, with it simply being conquest matches but sometimes with a twist.
Thankfully, Battlefront 2005 offers a much better mode that offers some strategy. The layout of the map was similar to a board game, with the cruisers being the game pieces. Credits enter into the mode as the perks previously placed on the planets get moved into a buy menu – where you can have a total of three held in reserve for when a battle starts. These perks are now single use, but you can buy them again if you feel the need. Classes also form a second buy menu, where only the basic trooper and pilot are available at the start. Buying new classes improved the offensive capability and offered an extra advantage that the enemy possibly didn’t have. Space battles also form a part of the mode.

Each team would take a turn moving their cruiser to a different space on the board. If that space held a planet, battle for control of it would begin if it was under enemy control. After the battle, credits would be given out, and the other team would move. If two cruisers met, a space battle would begin. If the same happened while on a planet, a ground battle would take place immediately after so long as the attackers won the space battle. The aim was to control every planet on the map. New cruisers could be bought to offer additional defence/offense options at an additional 1000 credits per cruiser on the map [the first cruiser being free to place, which needs to happen whenever a battle has been lost]. It could be played in local multiplayer, which offered a better challenge than the AI depending on how good the other player was.

While I used to be able to play Renegade Squadron, the PSVita doesn’t allow it to be downloaded to the console, so I’m running this one through information from the wiki alone [with a bit of remembering from previous plays]. The mode had a complete makeover, with very little in common with the one found in Pandemic’s take on the mode. There was one map, with four sectors, played only in the Galactic Civil War era. Instead of buying and commanding ships to take over planets with the same amount of reinforcements, the map had a base planet for each side along with one or two other planets already controlled. The only aim was to take control of the enemy base, and to do that you needed to manage the reinforcements of each individual planet under your control.

Neutral planets could be taken with as little as ten reinforcements being sent to it, but enemy planets would need more unless you were particularly skilled to make do with just a few. Since Renegade Squadron removed classes [as well as a few other changes to the core gameplay], the mode instead had a tiered system of purchases. Logistics tech improved the reinforcement cap, space tech added to the collection of ships available for space battles, and infantry tech reduced damage and unlocked heroes for use. Along with this were leaders. When you had control of a sector, you could use a leader’s ability to help in the battle. Everything cost credits to buy, including reinforcements, so the more planets you had under your control, the easier it was to keep the number caps of planets full along with buying new tech. The new way of playing offered a more strategic mode, allowing a host of plays that weren’t readily available under Pandemic’s system.

Elite Squadron offered both eras for use, with easy, medium, or hard difficulties of scenarios for both. The easy difficulty had just two sectors, while medium and hard had three. There’s also free mode, which uses the three sectors as well. Tech purchases return, but weaponry tech replaces space tech. Weaponry makes more sense, as it increases the customisation options for troops. Both Squadron games had a credits system in place for customisation, with a cap at 100. With additional weaponry tech, it gave greater options to carry more powerful equipment without sacrificing in other areas. Logistic and infantry tech remain, but the useable hero was removed as a perk for level three of infantry to make way for the new addition – one sort of inspired by Battlefront 2.

Three one-shot bonuses were available to purchase which – as the name suggests – could only be used once. The hire of a hero was one of them, where you would always be that hero during the next battle. The other two one-shots being insurgency – to turn an enemy planet [except the base] neutral – and distraction which will make the opponent miss their next turn. However, these one-shots were expensive to buy, with the hero hire being the cheapest at 250 credits. Commanders return, operating the same as in Renegade. Though with one less sector comes one less commander for use. Both Squadron games also had an auto-resolve feature, where it becomes purely a game of numbers. The higher number will normally win out, but if you have more tech purchased, the randomiser will take that into account.

As for how things could be under the EA games… A new mode would be added specifically for use in Galactic Conquest that allowed scenarios for both sides to be the attackers. All planets in the game would be on the map, regardless of which era they belonged to – except for base planets which would be at either end of the map. That does mean the number of planets from both Clone Wars and First Order-Resistance eras get reduced, but if content comes to expand both, I don’t see much of an issue with it. The mode itself is a mix of both Pandemic and Rebellion styles, with a map similar to that of Pandemic along with the class purchasing menu, but the aim being the same as Rebellion’s style along with the credit distribution. The play style would be a mix of both.
Putting that into play-by-play terms – a team starts with one cruiser and several planets under their control. The cruiser is placed on the base planet, which needs to be protected. The Assault, Speeder, and Fighter classes are unlocked from the start, with other classes needing to be purchased [heroes coming under one label and being the most expensive to purchase]. The first phase of the turn will be to purchase new classes or cruisers. Then the second phase allows movement to happen. When a battle for control of a planet starts, the new mode comes into play that has the attacking team make their way through the map destroying the look-out points of the defenders before reaching the base to attack that as well. In a way, it is the same as Galactic Assault mode but with only the one objective type. Once the battle ends, if the attackers lost the cruiser they used to get to that point is destroyed.

Space battles play out differently. They’d be similar to how space battles play in the 2005 game. Each cruiser has a shield that needs to be zeroed, before attacking the critical systems of it. If all systems of a team’s cruiser are destroyed, they lose the battle. The only thing lost from the 2005 game is the ability to enter the inside of the cruiser to do damage that way. As you control more planets, you get more credits on each turn. New cruisers can only be built on the base planet, so if you manage to push to the enemy base, you can stop them from building a sizable defence and quickly overrun them. The same as in the 2005 game, if you win the space battle while over a planet, the ground battle will then begin. However, the base of a team will have a different turn of events.

The battle for the base planets begin in space, where the attackers must defend gunships as they proceed to get through to the planet. Depending on how many survive, that will be the amount of reinforcements the attackers have for the ground battle. The gunships land, and the attackers again proceed through the ground map. This being the base though, there are more structures to destroy. If the attackers reach the command centre and destroy it, they win. If not – depending on how they set up their cruisers on the map, they still have a chance to win in the next few turns.

And now, the idea of turning it into a spin-off strategy game while keeping with the Battlefront name. And rather than keep it turn-based, I’m borrowing from Empire at War and making it real-time strategy. It’s an ever-changing galactic war, after all. May as well make it feel like one.
The three eras are represented in the game, with a wealth of planets from across films and TV series. While I’m not going to list them all, it does allow for quite a large map with all of them combined [and of course we don’t have the entire of the sequel trilogy to pull from yet, so trying to even the amount from all three eras would be near impossible at the minute]. There would be three map sizes of small, medium, and large, each with a different layout and planet selection.
As for how you play, choose an era and select a side. You have just a base planet to start with, and credits start building straight away with the single low-tier income facility. All facilities come in three sizes of low-, medium-, and high-tier. The class system is similar to Battlefront 2005 with set weapon sets, with assault, heavy, engineer, sniper, officer, jet-trooper, and a special unit type for each faction. Each class is available to hire through barracks, with each class having a set time to produce one unit. These times increase further for medium- and high-tier facilities, which allow more reinforcements to be combined into one unit. Vehicles and starfighters are also able to be built.

With all of this comes the need to transport them, which is where cruisers come in to play. Cruisers come in three sizes, with the small ones allowing eight units, medium allowing twelve, and large allowing sixteen. All you need to do to capture a planet is take the cruiser to its position and build something on it. If a battle were to happen, only the units on the ground will be used to defend it, so once you’ve built something, it’s better to drop a few units to reinforce.
As for battles, that’s where the Battlefront gameplay comes into it. The attackers will have one command post to launch their battle from, while the defenders have the facilities to launch from. Each team has a reinforcement count that is made up of all the units combined. Low-tier units add ten for ground troops and three for vehicles. Medium-tier of twenty and six. High-tier of thirty and nine. If the attackers reduce the reinforcements of the defenders to zero, they get a free win and take control of the planet.

You as a player control one of the reinforcements on the battlefront, with each unit type having their own reinforcement count. On the spawn screen, you can send in vehicles, place targeted points of interest for units to follow, and view the battle on the map. As for how the attackers destroy the facilities, they either need to get inside and attack the generator or use the vehicles and attack the building from the outside. To make it a bit easier to manage, both share the same health meter. If you so choose, you can even spawn in as a vehicle.
Space battles work a bit differently. Since each planet can hold three cruisers in orbit, if you attack with only one, you might find things difficult to work with. Yes, you can group cruisers and move up to three together. Just as in the idea on an EA Galactic Conquest, space battles take a similar form to Battlefront 2005, but with the interior of the cruisers being accessible. After all, if there’s three cruisers to take out, you need all the advantage you can get.

Just as with ground battles, you can command units from the spawn menu. Since the vehicles are out in the open of the hangar, there isn’t the option of sending them to the field. Instead, you can position where the cruisers move to, trying to get the advantage of position. You can also command units to target specific system or even take the fight inside the enemy cruisers. Just like with the ground battles, if the defending faction lose all their reinforcements, the attackers get an instant win.
The aim of the main mode is to wipe the opposition completely from the map, but this being a full game, there’s a few different modes to it. Commander Assault hands you three leaders of the faction, with the objective being to defend them. However, with the added bonuses they bring to the battlefront, it makes more sense to bring them into the battle rather than keep them at the base. And when the aim is to defeat the opposing faction’s leaders, you’ll be needing the help.

There’s timed modes that require you to wipe out the opposing faction before they can unleash a devastating plan, a battle station mode that requires multiple attacks on it before it can fully be destroyed, and even a mode that swaps out the single opposing faction for numerous pirate and criminal factions that will be at each other as well as you – with the objective being to wipe them all out.