When Dice/EA released Star Wars Battlefront, some battlefield game modes ended up in a reworked and improved format in Battlefront. One these game modes is Walker Assault, the Star Wars take on the classic Rush game mode. In translating Rush for Star Wars, Dice made a number of design changes which ended up improving Walker Assault compared to its battlefield counterpart. In this article I will describe these design changes and include the impact of the Star Wars canon on the game mode and player behavior.
Rush: Players must defend or destroy pairs of M-COM stations until either the attackers run out of respawn tickets or all of the stations are destroyed. Lost tickets can be regained by reviving fallen team mates. An M-COM station can be destroyed by planting a charge, using explosive weapons or ballistics, or simply by demolishing the building in which it is located. However, not all M-COM stations exist in destructible buildings, forcing players to use a variety of methods to achieve the same goal. When a charge is planted by the attacking team, an alarm is activated and the defenders have a limited amount of time to get to the M-COM station and disarm the bomb before it detonates. (source: wikipedia)
Walker Assault: Imperial troops escort 1 or 2 giant AT-AT vehicles on approach to a rebel stronghold or space ship. Rebels try to arm 2 satellite posts which make the AT-AT vehicles vulnerable to ground fire. The rebels have 3 opportunities to arm satellite posts. If at least one AT-AT reaches the end of the map, the imperials win. If both AT-AT’s are destroyed the rebels win. (source: author's description)
For clarity I will use the same rush terminology for both game modes
Design Change 1: Similar yet opposing objectives for both sides
In Rush, attackers and defenders have a different objectives. The attackers must destroy all M-coms before running out of tickets in order to win. The defenders have a far simpler objective: make sure the attackers run out of tickets. For the defenders it does not matter how many M-coms they lose. As long as they have still at least one M-Com standing when they depleted the attackers tickets, they will win. And unlike the attackers, defenders have no tickets to worry about, allowing them to send waive after waive against the attackers without fear of losing the match through too many deaths.
In Walker Assault the objective is similar yet opposed for attackers and defenders. Attackers need to ensure the AT-AT’s are still standing, while the defenders do their utmost to destroy them. Neither side has tickets, so both sides don’t have to hold back in combat.
Design Change 2: Reversal of M-Com responsabilities
In Rush, it’s up to the attackers to arm the M-coms and to defenders to prevent that. As a result, defenders tend to push the defensive line as much forward as possible. Holding that line, denying attackers access to the M-com is the defenders best method of winning the game.
In Walker Assault the job of attacking/defending the M-com has changed hands. It’s now up to the defenders to arm the M-com and defend it long enough so that they can attack the AT-AT’s. The attackers must now prevent the defenders from reaching the M-com’s until the AT-AT’s can safely pass.
This ensures that all the action happens around the M-coms in Walker Assault, where defenders rush in to arm the M-coms and the attackers push forward to prevent defenders from reaching the M-coms.
Design Change 3: Removal of tickets
In Rush, attackers have a limited number of tickets. Each time an attacker dies, a ticket is lost (although there is a medic class which can revive and restore the lost ticket). This means that whatever move an attacker makes, he must consider the impact of a lost ticket if he dies. Having to conserve tickets also means that attackers hold back from a full on rush to the M-coms. Defenders are not constrained by tickets and can rush the attackers without of fear of losing a match through careless squander of tickets.
In Walker Assault, there are no tickets (although abstractly the tickets are still there in the form of the giant AT-AT’s). Without tickets to squander, there is nothing holding both sides back to engage in full on combat regardless of (virtual) death.
Design Change 4: Guaranteed Match Duration (unconfirmed)
In Rush defenders can already win the match at the first pair of M-coms, since their objective is so simple: kill all attackers. As far as I can tell from one weekend of play, this seems not possible in Walker Assault. In all matches I played the AT-AT’s survived long enough to reach the last M-coms. This might indicate that Dice coded the game so that the AT-AT’s survive long enough to ensure that matches don’t end too soon.
If this is the case, this would guarantee for both sides that everything is still possible right until the last M-com. This could convince players not to quit a match until after the last M-com is destroyed.
Design Change 5: Impact of Star Wars Canon
Speaking of losing side, in Rush it could often happen that players quit early when they felt there was no hope in winning (be it as attacker or as defender). Perhaps here the Star Wars lore and canon helps out, since attackers are always imperial troops and rebels are always the defenders. So it’s from the start clear for the player who are the good and the bad guys.
There are also two maps in the game which represent battles, battle of Hoth and Battle on Endor, where respectively Imperials and Rebels won according to the Star Wars canon.
Perhaps the knowledge that according to the lore, you should have won or lost, and the fact most players will want the rebels (the good guys) to win, softens the blow when you lose. This might hold players back from quitting a losing match too early.
In adapting the game mode Rush for the Star Wars universe, Dice encorporated a number of changes in the design, which in my opinion improve the game mode. It will be interesting to see how these design changes will affect the next battlefield game.