The Dark side is defeated. Star Wars Battlefront – the 2004 one, not the 2015 one – finally has online multiplayer again. After over a half-decade of awkward workarounds and shuttered servers, a small update to the Steam and GOG copies of Pandemic Studios’ galactic toybox lets us finally return to Star Wars’ low-poly 64-player battlefields, assuming there are even enough players to fill a match these days.
When it launched in the hazy days of 2004, Battlefront supported massive online 64-player battles. But like many other games, those battles ceased when service provider Gamespy shut down in 2014. Like its 2005 sequel, Star Wars: Battlefront II, you could still sorta play matches through some hacky workarounds, or else stick to the actually-quite-good bot matches.
That sequel would eventually have online support properly reintroduced. Two years later, and the same favour’s been offered to its smaller, simpler predecessor. Pandemic infamously closed before realising their own vision for a third Battlefront, one that found new life as a fan project for Battlefront II. The planned threequel promised colossal battles that scaled from ground skirmishes to orbital dogfights, a promise that sort of lived on in EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II with Capital Supremacy.
Battlefront’s coming on a bit, 16 years later. It’s no looker, and the once wide-open maps feel surprisingly claustrophobic, but Pandemic knew how to make a fun wee arcadey romp. I never got to play it online back in the day, either, settling for trying to break out of maps and pull off daft X-Wing stunts with my brother in our Xbox copy way back.
Its online woes also feel surprisingly poignant at this time. Star Wars Battlefront II saw its final update land this week, raising curiosity – if not concern – over that game’s long-term lifespan. If you’re up for trying out some quaint old galactic firefights, Star Wars: Battlefront is currently going for half-off on Steam and GOG.