Battlefield 4 - FPS 30 Day Challenge: Update #1

So it seems like it is time for an update on my escapades on Battlefield 4. Firstly, I have been bumped off the "newbie" servers, which wasn't great for me as I am now facing players that are usually 20 levels ahead of me and some have even been 100+ ahead of me!

This gives them access to far better weapons and modifications. But this isn't something I will complain about, it's more for posterity's sake and seeing if this could have a potential impact on the K:D ratio. 

Anyway, looking back at last week there were marked improvements with my results although there seems to have been a dip in form after some initial success. 

For the first period I was looking at the K:D ratio was 1.17, a .11, or 11 extra kills per 100 deaths, improvement on my first foray into BF4. Another comparison to make is that during this period I had 10 positive results (K>D) to 4 negative results (K<D). 

In the initial run there were 9 positive results to 6 negatives, and one neutral (K=D). So there was also an improvement in the number of games where my results had a positive impact on my team. 

In my next set of results the K:D ratio dropped to 1.12, while this was still an improvement on the first set of results it was an unwanted dip in performance. There was also a drop in positive results, with a ratio of 6:5 and one neutral which was worse than the initial results. This does mean that when I was doing well I was doing really well but I was not doing this well consistently.

And then I had to step up to the big leagues. I knew that moving from the newbie servers to the regular servers would have an impact but I was disappointed with the fact that I had more negative results than positives (8:9). However, on the flip side of this I did push the K:D ratio up a tick (1.13). This would suggest that while my base performance remained the same the game by game results fluctuated massively. I scored 19:8 one game but another saw my score swing to the opposite end of the scale with 8:12 for example. 

The one positive I can take from these latest results is that the most recent 5 games have been as follows:


This would suggest that I am making the required adjustments to the regular servers, and hopefully there will be an uptick in results after this plateau/dip. 

Outside of results I am currently sticking to the official servers, this means that I can continue earning XP and receive some of the upgrades other players have already received. My hope here is that this will level the playing field to some degree. While I am happy with some of the assault builds I currently have they are not considered optimum by the players with more experience.

On the weapons front I have decided to avoid any laser sights of flash lights as I find these give away your position too easily in the close quarters combat they are designed for. Additionally I don't make the most of the hip fire bonuses they offer as I spend most of my time aiming down sights. In Operation Locker I have found that the night vision sight can offer some benefits, especially in the darker corners, but you can also be easily blinded by flashlights or laser sights. A simple red dot sight is my preferred option right now, it offers better visibility than iron sights and helps with accuracy. 

Teamwork has also proven key. Going off as a lone wolf doesn't seem advisable on BF4 as you are too easily picked off, but working in teams of 3 definitely boosts your survivability, even if it costs you some kills. I do seem to get a lot of "assists" but I haven't found a way of tracking these. I would be curious to see how many assists I have in comparison to kills. 

Finally, I have been learning more and more about the maps which is definitely beneficial. Knowing where your enemy is is one thing, but having 3 or 4 options to get to them is a lifesaver. Literally. Early on I would go route A every time but now I know a bit more about the maps I can choose a different route if my enemies are solely focused on one area.
Well I think that is about it for this update. Hopefully next time there will be some more consistent results and we will see steady improvement in my gameplay. Then I just have to transfer that knowledge over to Star Wars battlefront in 2 weeks... May the Force be with me...

Bolt Action Battle Report #2 - 1000pts (and 8 extra) US vs Italians

Today we have our second Bolt Action battle report, at around 1000 points, between the Americans and the Italians. Going into the game I felt that the Americans would have a distinct advantage over their European opponents seeing as they had a late war tank that most of the Italian forces would be unable to touch and also their favourable national rules allowing them to move and fire without penalty and enter from reserves without the -1.

As you can see below, the battle would be fought between two very experienced forces, both airborne focused although the American choice of two inexperienced vehicles could prove decisive.

Early/Mid War Italian Airborne

2nd Lieutenant SMG, Veteran Soldier SMG

Veteran Paracadutisti - NCO with SMG, 1x Rifle, 1x LMG, 6x SMG, AT grenades
Veteran Paracadutisti - NCO with SMG, 1x Rifle, 1x LMG, 6x SMG
Veteran Paracadutisti - NCO with SMG, 1x Rifle, 1x LMG, 6x SMG

Veteran MMG team
Regular Light Mortar
Veteran Sniper Team

Regular Autoblinda 41 (AB41)
Regular M14/41

Late War US Airborne/Rangers

1st Lieutenant, Veteran Soldier

Veteran Forward Air Observer, Veteran Soldier

Veteran Ranger squad - NCO with SMG, 8x rifles, BAR
Veteran Airborne squad - NCO with SMG, 8x rifles, BAR
Veteran Engineer squad - NCO with SMG, 5x rifles, 2x BAR
Veteran Airborne Light Mortar
Veteran Bazooka team
Veteran Sniper team

Veteran Light Howitzer
Inexperienced M3 Halftrack 
Inexperienced M4 Sherman

 The Scenario

Scenario 4 was the order of the day and the Italians came out as defenders, thanks to their national rule allowing the re-roll for attackers/defenders. This benefited the Axis forces as it allowed them to set up one emplacement and meant that they could set up two units close to the objective. The D3 roll for emplacements only saw the Italians have one, but this was all they needed.


The Hanomag at the crossroads marked the objective, and the Italians picked one Paracadutisti squad and the AB41 as their two units to start on the board.

The American infantry divided into two. The HQ, FAO, Sniper team and Airborne squad pushed on from the cornfield in the top left, while the Rangers worked their way down the road to the right.

The Italian Sniper team set up in the house overlooking the Hanomag from the "South".

Turn 1

The Americans made the first move with their sniper rushing into the house at the "Northern" end of the board. The sniper team would set up shop here for the rest of the battle, although this may not totally have been out of choice.

After this first move the momentum quickly swung to the Italian side. The Paracadutisti squad by the Hanomag advanced to the other side of the bocage and opened fire on the sniper team from within 12". While the sniper team survived, it did lose the second man and was impeded for the remainder of the game. The AB41 rolled through the bocage in the opposite direction and laid down suppressing fire on the Airborne squad hiding in the field, claiming one rifleman.

The Italian first wave was comprised of the Light Mortar Team, a second Paracadutisti team and the M14. With the majority of the American forces on the far side of the board the Rangers bore the brunt of the Italian firepower. The sniper hit the squad but failed to cause a casualty, unfortunately for the rangers the 3 MMGs of the M14 (2 hull-mounted, 1 co-axial) did cause a casualty and forced them to go down when they failed their leadership check.

The remaining American forces shuffled forwards but were unable to cause any damage. The Italian light mortar dropped some smoke in the middle of the board (which the American's placed).

Turn 2

Turn two opened up with the American sniper team again. This time managing to hit the Italian sniper, but failing to cause a casualty. But this did force an order check on the Italian sniper which it failed. The American vehicles both faced their first order checks, and both failed to roll under 8, this also pinned the engineer team off the board as they were in the M3 Halftrack.

The AB41 continued it's personal vendetta against the American Airborne, laying down some more fire on them and picking off one regular rifleman with the light auto-cannon.

While the Rangers managed to get some respite from the sniper fire the second Paracadutisti squad quickly took the place of their sneaky comrade. With the additional firepower of the M14 backing them up the pins piled up on the Rangers, and to make matters worse and exceptional MMG bullet found it's way through the squad to take out the NCO.

Two American teams did manage to enter from reserves, the Light Mortar and the Bazooka team. The Light Mortar attempted to hit the Paracadutisti team on the road, but missed and the Mortar team tried to hit the AB41, also missing.

The Italian MMG ran onto the board behind the M14, the third Paracadutisti squad arrived and the Italian Light Mortar dropped some more smoke into the middle of the battlefield.

Finally the US FAO decided to make a break from cover to call in an airstrike next turn, but was left out in the open for the first Paracadutisti squad to fire at... Also placing them within 12". The next dice out of the bag would prove important. If it was Italian then the FAO was likely to die...

Turn 3

... And the first dice was an Italian dice. The 1st Paracadutisti squad charged the FAO, wiped out the squad and regrouped back to the other side of the bocage. Getting some revenge was the American light mortar landing a hit on the Italian team and causing some casualties.

The Airborne decided to push forwards towards the objective, using the American Lieutenant's leadership bonus but the AB41 kept them back, with an exceptional shot taking out the NCO.

The American Light Howitzer arrived but, being a fixed weapon, could only sit and watch for the rest of the turn. The engineers and Halftrack failed to arrive, leaving the Rangers all alone facing impossible odds. A quick flurry of Italian dice saw the second and third Paracadutisti squads, the Sniper, the M14 AND the MMG open up on them. Needless to say, those that survived the onslaught broke and ran for home (I believe at the end of it they had to roll a 3 on the leadership test to remain in the game).

The American sniper fired a futile shot at his Italian counterpart, missing. And the Sherman finally arrived and opened fire on the first Paracadutisti squad. The American light mortar missed his target, as did the bazooka team and the Italian light mortar decided that more smoke was required so that the battlefield looked more and more like a men's toilet at a football game during halftime.

Turn 4

With the tide turned well and truly against the Americans the Halftrack finally decided to arrive... And summarily get wrecked by the Paracadutisti. The Engineers picked up 3 pin markers (MMG, 2x Paracadutisti squads) in the process. 

The M14 decided to pick a fight with something it's own size but failed to hurt the American Sherman, before the first Paracadutisti squad charged it. Unfortunately, there were not enough men left to hurt it and so they took cover on the other side of the bocage. The Italian sniper took a dislike to the American howtizer team and managed to hit them, while the AB41 continued to pick off US airborne who had barely managed to advance beyond the field they started in.

At this point, with 3 teams already wiped out, another two well and truly pinned down and no full Italian squad destroyed the American commander signaled the retreat. 


Post Battle Analysis

Well the first thing I want to do is make sure that I either 1) write up our report sooner next time or 2) take notes during the battle! While I believe I have managed to relay the story of our game correctly I can't help but feel that I have missed something or got one thing or another muddled up.

In terms of the game, we both realised just how much of a liability inexperienced units are. With the two American vehicles spending most of the game out of the fight the US forces were at a distinct disadvantage. If the Sherman had arrived earlier then there is every chance it could have pushed back the Paracadutisti squad that knocked out the US FAO, and this was without a -1 to the reserve roll!

The American sniper may also have been too close to the main battle to be truly effective. While the house did provide excellent cover for him, he ended up too close to the Paracadutisti, and was duly punished. With that -1 from losing his squad member and most targets of opportunity being over half range, his ability to hit targets was severely reduced. With only one shot per turn, you do not want to see your greatest strength nullified.

Although it may seem that I went a bit crazy with the smoke in the middle it really did prove to be a lifesaver on one occasion, as the it blocked the bazooka from targeting the AB41, which was then able to keep the US airborne stuck on the wrong side of the board.

As the Italians I knew that I had to make sure the centre of the board, and the objective were securely held throughout. If I abandoned the objective to go hunting some of the smaller American teams, which was tempting, then when the Sherman eventually turned up it could have feasibly held me back. Also, by staying close to the objective, it forced the Americans to bring their forces in close to my Paracadutisti, and with the overwhelming number of SMGs, as soon as they were in range I was able to tear apart the American squads, as shown with the rangers. Against a more effective long range force I may have had issues, but I felt that I used cover quite effectively to deny LOS and get the -1 to hit modifier.

What are your thoughts on the game, where else can we improve our tactics for our next game?

I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as we enjoyed playing the battle. 
Until next time, thanks for reading!

Battlefield 4 - FPS 30 Day Challenge

Hi everyone,

So for those of you who haven't been reading this site over the past couple of weeks (where have you been?) I recently was one of 9 MILLION people who played the Star Wars Battlefront Beta. Well I say played... Died repeatedly is a more accurate description, and this got me thinking. I really want to play SW:B when it comes out, but I don't want to be the guy propping up the scoreboard every time. Thankfully this did not happen in the beta, but with my lack of FPS experience I could see this happening when the full game arrives in November.

Anyway, back on topic! This got me thinking, I should set myself a challenge and try and improve my FPS skills in the 30 or so days leading up to the release and see if a bit of dedication and perseverance could help me improve my scores! The best game for me to improve these skills on, in my opinion, is Battlefield 4, as this is the last release by the team that are producing SW:B. This will also be a test of whether or not it is the hours and hours of practice that some players put in, or just natural skill, that allows someone to top the leader-board repeatedly.

So, as with any good experiment, we need a baseline to test against, we also need to have some controls to make sure that the results coming back are not being skewed in any way. To create a baseline I have put in some practice hours on Battlefield 4 (honestly this is my first time playing the game, I have played previous Battlefield titles a long time ago but never the online multiplayer) to get the first set of results. I will compare back to these on a weekly basis to see just how much progress I am making.

As there are so many different modes on Battlefield 4, this could impact the information that is brought back, so I will limit the results, and practice, to only the Team Deathmatch game mode. This seems similar to the Drop Zone mode on SW:B but without capturing objectives. This will allow me to solely focus on the K:D (Kill/Death) ratio which will hopefully be a good judge of how much I have improved.

Finally, Battlefield 4 has its own matchmaking system, my hope is that this will mean that I face opponents of a similar ability to myself. If I am faced with opponents with many hours more experience than me then it will be less of a learning experience and more of a bloodbath!

So, without further ado, the baseline K:D ratio to begin with is.............

131/123 or in other words 1.07 kills per death.

Not exactly great, but probably better than I was expecting. There also seems to have been some improvement as I was playing, which could just be me getting used to the game mechanics.

First 5 games:

5/8, 8/6, 6/11, 5/3, 5/11

Most recent 5 games:

17/8, 10/8, 11/7, 11/10, 15/10

So in my last 5 games my K:D ratio is 64/48, 1.33 kills per death.

Of course a sample size of 5 games is too small to see if the practice is paying off but the results are looking more promising.

If you have any tips or tricks for Battlefield 4 please feel free to drop a comment below and I will see how effectively I can incorporate them into my gameplay! Alternatively you can also add me on PSN, my username is JDRedSox87.

Good luck out there everyone! I think I will need it!!

Star Wars The Force Awakens - new trailer, potential spoilers?

Ok so potential SPOILER warning. These are all just educated guesses based on the new canon but if you want to go into The Force Awakens with no potential storylines spoiled maybe look away now. 

Country bumpkins Finn and Rey believe that all the stories about Jedi and the fall of The Empire are just that, stories. Han corrects them. This suggests that the Iron Blockade is still in place or has grown into the First Order. 

The one clip we have seen of "Luke" is on the fiery planet where Kylo Ren is getting all slashy with his strange lightsaber. Will Luke become a force ghost like Yoda/Obi-Wan? Will he be guiding Rey/Finn to become the next Jedi? Is Luke on some personal mission involving the Knights of Ren?

Leia appears to be telling Rey (or Finn?) to let the force in. It also looked like two women passing Luke/Anakin's old lightsaber between them in the previous trailer. We also know that Bespin was in the sector blockaded. 

Looks like JJ has decided it isn't Star Wars without a "Death Star", we have seen it on the poster, it appears to be firing when Kylo Ren is on the bridge of the star destroyer and we see the forest planet being devastated by some sort of red fire later in the trailer. 

Poe Dameron seems to be getting the Han Solo Bespin torture treatment from Kylo Ren. Will this be his back story or at the end of the film. Or is it in the middle? Finn certainly looked surprised to see him when he was marching off to battle on the forest planet. Has Poe been turned to the First Order?

Finn and KR's lightsaber battle is on the same forest planet. That isn't snow. It's ash. After the super weapon has been fired at it. Why does Finn have the lightsaber if it was give to Rey? Is he protecting her from KR who has come to take her back and indoctrinate her in the Knights of Ren? Has Finn found his cause to fight for?

Rey is getting the Luke on Tatooine treatment. Looking longingly at a ship leaving Jakku, she just wants to go off and join the academy or trade power converters with her friends but she's stuck there... Until Finn and Han show up. 

What is Han doing on Jakku? Running errands? Has Luke had a vision of a new Jedi there and sent Han to fetch them? Has Leia sent him? And why did he say "we're home" in the previous trailer? Did someone on Jakku steal the Falcon and he's gone to get it back?

Who are Han, Chewie and Finn surrendering to on the forest planet?

Oh, and JJ I really don't like the Star Trek hyperspace jump. Get your act together!!

So I have been talking to a friend and they have offered this additional theory on the female voice over:

I think that the woman who speaks in the trailer is Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong's alien character)

The scene of Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren in the rain is the rumoured Jedi Academy massacre. 

Han, Chewie and Finn are at the castle of Maz Kanata when it's attacked before being rescued by the X-Wings. Rey isn't captured as she ran into the forest which we saw in a previous teaser as she looks up through the trees and sees the First Order ships. 

So this would add up with the earlier "Rose" rumours in February which I had forgotten earlier. There is also talk of Rose/Max having special powers she uses to defeat the stormtroopers so she could be a Jedi. She definitely knows Luke and the lightsaber came to her in the rumours. 

Attached to this rumour was an additional snippet that said you only see Luke at the end of The Force Awakens or in flashbacks. So could this be why we haven't seen him yet?

The battle is over, the war has just begun - SW:Battlefront Beta issues

A week ago today I started my latest Star Wars adventure battling for the Empire and the Rebellion on Hoth and Sullust. Now that I have had time to collect my thoughts, I want to take a cold hard look at some of the issues I personally encountered in the Star Wars: Battlefront Beta. Don't get me wrong, I still love the game and its authentic Star Wars feel, but there are certain areas that I feel DICE and EA need to improve on if Battlefront is to deliver on its early promise.

Let's start off with something easy, and that I know DICE are looking into, first of all. The weapons. There was a lot of early talk about the cycler rifle being very overpowered for the Beta and the developers took note and made sure to post on the official forums that this would be dealt with come the official release. An additional issue with the Beta weaponry was that a lot of the guns felt like they were the same weapon in a different wrapper. Most of this, in my experience, came down to the fact that there was very little recoil on the guns. This meant that a weapon with a higher rate of fire was hitting with roughly the same accuracy as a pistol, but the damage output could prove to be exponentially different.

It has been confirmed that we will see a number of new weapons that didn't make the cut for Beta when the game is officially released in November. I also expect that they will be very different to our experiences over last weekend. EA and DICE collected an awful lot of data during the Beta phase and I expect that they saw, as many players did, that the lack of recoil enabled a number of players to sit on the far side of the Hoth map and snipe "ants". The weapons available to players were designed for more close quarters play but could easily be used in this different format; I even gave it a go myself. As a rebel I used my jump pack to get up to the ledge by the Ion Cannon and proceeded to fire on those below with the Rebel rifle available to everyone.

Now I am admittedly not a great FPS player, I spent most of my formative gaming years playing RTS games like Age of Empires and so I am a late arrival on this scene. But with the rifle's decent rate of fire and damage output I was able to sit at the front of the ledge, fire away until my gun overheated and then duck back into cover before my opponents could figure out where the shots came from and retaliate. I could then move to a different part of the ledge, rinse and repeat. This simple tactic quickly boosted my K/D ratio but was tiresome. Where is the fun in shooting someone who can't hit back? So I jumped back down into the thick of it and continued to die alongside the rest of the Rebel Alliance. Some small adjustments to the weaponry could easily fix this.

As we are on the topic of Hoth it seems fitting to cover a few other issues that came up in the Walker Assault mode. Firstly, we have the DICE-acknowledged problem of the mode being unbalanced in the Empire's favour. I did not have a massive issue with this as it felt like an intentional inclusion, anyone who has seen The Empire Strikes Back (the few of you who haven't just go sit in the corner with your shame) knows that the Battle of Hoth was a lost cause for the Rebels. They were covering the evacuation of their base and had no intention of defeating the Empire there and then. But there was a massive disturbance in the force as a million voices cried out... well you get the picture.

As it is a game, and not a story/movie, I can understand DICE wanting to balance the level out. I hope that this won't see a complete revamp of the level and or mode, maybe just giving the Rebels an additional set of objectives could be good. Activate the uplinks to get "X" number of transports away which can be shot down by the TIE Fighters and Interceptors adding a new dynamic to the aerial combat, all while the battle on the ground focuses on destroying the shield generator allowing Lord Vader to make his descent.

On the topic of Lord Vader, the heroes may need a little bit of tweaking as well. Jumping around force choking or pushing, depending on if you were Dark or Light side inclined, is a lot of fun and the time limit that each player has as a hero makes complete sense. If there isn't a time limit then you will end up with the same players hogging the hero characters throughout the whole playing experience. But I think that the heroes should start much closer to the action so that you can make the most of your time as Vader or Luke.

Additionally, it really shouldn't be that easy to kill one of the big heroes of the franchise, or send them into some sort of meditation. Honestly, there were a number of times where a short burst of concentrated blaster fire brought down both heroes. Sure, in a 1 v 1 fight Luke will take down a snowtrooper every time, but this game mode is 20 v 20, some well worked team play could bring down the big hitters too easily.

Next we have what could be a major issue for this title, in my opinion. If you are involved in a big 20 player team then it makes sense that you should be able to communicate with your team, it is a fundamental requirement of achieving some of your objectives. Even in the 8 v 8 mode of Drop Zone communication would not go amiss, but unfortunately DICE and EA do not want to include a full chat function.

Some players from earlier DICE titles have ruined that for us. DICE want this to be more family friendly, they don't want some teenager swearing at someone halfway across the world because they just got them killed, and they don't want to see a player have their experience ruined by someone who is just trying to annoy everyone by blasting the music they just made in their bedroom across the team airwaves.

There is a party chat function, but if you are like me then fitting in playing at the same time as 7 of your friends will prove nigh on impossible when you are all working 9-5 and have other obligations outside of work. So you are left to fight what is basically an individual battle against your opponents, and if they are all from the same party then you are at a distinct disadvantage. This will put players off. If you are playing as part of a team, you must be able to communicate with them, I really hope that DICE change their stance on this but it doesn't seem likely at the time of writing.

A smaller issue that has occurred as part of the team functionality is the random spawning after you die. You can quickly get caught in a cycle of dying before you even adjust to your surroundings as you are dropped right into the sights of your opponent. This happened a number of times to me, once even spawning in as a thermal detonator went off, and proved increasingly frustrating. I was going to die anyway but at least let me get some sort of input into how.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the spawn points for all of the fighters. These are locked, and if one side can gain superiority they can quickly set up camp around these points and prevent their opponent from competing in the air. Anyone who managed to jump into the cockpit of the Beta fighters will know that your entry to the map is locked on rails for around the first 5 seconds, but you are not shielded from enemy fire, and a crafty opponent will just glide up behind you and blow you out of the sky before you can take evasive manoeuvres. This will have to be fixed one way or another, otherwise players will become tired of the fact that they cannot use the iconic vehicles of the Star Wars universe.

One small glitch that the developers were working on while Beta was active but they were unable to fix before close of play. I think most people became aware of how popular personal shields were, but purchasing additional charges proved an issue as you could not do it on the server side, e.g while you were in game waiting for your match to boot up. You could only purchase them from the main menu. DICE were looking at fixing this and I expect it will be fully operational in the full release. Unfortunately, a related issue I found was that the charge purchases I made would also disappear after I exited a match, so if I bought 20 charges but only used 7 the remaining 13 would disappear from my inventory before my next match. Considering each ten charges cost 500 credits there were a lot of credits thrown down the drain, especially in Drop Zone where the personal shield was a key tool when activating pods.

Finally, I want to discuss something that appears to be a divisive topic online. Matchmaking. There seems to be two trains of thought on this, first up is that you only learn to play the game better by playing the best players that are available, the second idea is that you start off against players of a similar skill level and work your way up to playing the best. Now I am in the latter camp, and feel that you need to include some sort of matchmaking system to make the game enjoyable for all. This will probably upset a number of core gamers but my view on it is that you can't expect Bob from down the street to learn to play football by putting him up against Lionel Messi every day. Sure he may learn a trick or two, but he will be beaten so many times that he is more likely to just give up.

On the other side of this example, what would Messi gain from beating Bob every day? He isn't really learning any new skills for taking on better players because Bob will not be playing in the same way that the better players are playing. It would appear to be just an ego trip.

But I digress. All DICE need to do is include a basic matchmaking algorithm to try and ensure that players are facing people of a similar skill level thereby increasing everyone's enjoyment and skills at a maintainable level. Sure you will get the odd player that has decided to beat the system and drop down some levels for the ego trip but the majority of players would get the experience that they are after whether it is casual, core or competitive.

I want to get into Battlefront and enjoy a Star Wars experience like the Battle of Hoth, but I can't do that if someone is killing me every five seconds before I have had a chance to get involved in the battle. I need to start off against lower level players so that I can learn the mechanics of the game, I would love to have the time to perfect my Battlefront skills, but with a full-time job and other responsibilities I don't have the time to dedicate hours every night to learn what the optimum range for an E-11 Blaster is, or if I use my jetpack at this exact moment I will be able to reach that ledge where no one else can kill me. And I know that there are other players out there like me who would like this opportunity as well.

As I said at the start, I still love this game despite its faults. You have to remember that this was a Beta test and not the full release. DICE and EA were good enough to let us get an early glimpse at what could prove to be one of the most sought after titles of the holiday period. The finished product will be similar to the game we played in October but it will also be new and improved in November. Let's just hope that we don't have to buy the £40 Season Pass to get the most out of it!

There has been an awakening...

I emerge from hyperspace bang in the middle of the original trilogy. The Rebel Alliance are defending Echo Base and here I am, blaster in hand. It feels like a dream, but that dream comes to a sudden stop as two Snowtroopers appear round the corner and blast me before I can really take it all in.

Say what you want about DICE but they have really captured the original trilogy in this game for me. I have heard a lot of talk about the Hoth level being unbalanced, and in all honesty it is. But that is part of the fun of it, I am a diehard Star Wars fan and I know that at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back the odds are well and truly stacked against the rebellion. This isn't Call of Duty or Battlefield re-skinned (as some have accused), every fight isn't balanced but that shouldn't take away from the fun.

This isn't to say that there aren't issues with the game, come on it is a beta, the guns can feel very same-y, apart from the cycler rifle which was extremely overpowered. Hoth is a barren wasteland covered in snow and this lends itself to some of the more game-y players sitting at the back of the map trying to pick off their opponents with low recoil weapons. Hey, if you like shooting black specks on your screen so that your K/D ratio jumps through the roof then more power to you, but don't expect me to sympathise with you when you get bored after five minutes.

This truly feels like a game for the fans and to make the most of that you need to be in the heat of the action. But the action is not limited solely to the ground, oh no. Lock S-Foils in attack position, we're going in!

The naysayers will tell you that there are no space battles, how can you have Star Wars without the STARS... To them I say, did you never play Rogue Squadron!?!? All the old favourites are here, X-Wings, A-Wings, TIE Fighters and Interceptors, you even get to use harpoons and tow cables in a Snowspeeder! Aerial combat is here to stay and don't let anyone tell you differently. You may even see space combat return in the £40 season pass, which currently feels like a rip off, where EA promise to deliver 4 DLCs to you within a year from release.

But enough of Hoth, you're probably going snow blind by this point, let's move onto the next planet included in the beta. Sullust.

An inhospitable world, developers took inspiration from the volcanoes of Iceland when designing this world, although I hear it is a lovely place to visit (Iceland not Sullust). A maze built of basalt, your first few runthroughs will probably see you get lost a number of times. But while Hoth seems to stretch as far as the eye can see, the Drop Zone missions on Sullust are a tightly packed, adrenaline fueled affair where you are always one step away from the next firefight... Unless you spawn on the far side of the map. Spawning is another small issue that I expect DICE will address after the number of comments made about it throughout the beta process.

Your mission is simple on Sullust, capture the flag... or claim the pod. First to 5, or whoever has the most after 10 minutes, wins. During the first couple of days of the beta I found myself completely outmatched by the more experienced players who raced ahead to the max level (5) and had access to all the best toys. I didn't expect much less, I don't have the time to dedicate to the FPS skills required to compete with the gamers who can spend hours every day playing. While this was frustrating I still managed to find some enjoyable games where the teams balanced out, by the end of the beta period I was even starting to hold my own against some of the better players, and placing respectably in the postgame scoreboards. This gives me hope that I will be able to enjoy the full release and not end up stumped by a steep learning curve where I have to battle level 60 opponents with my level 2 pistol before I can really get into the game.

Looking at my storage I still have a good few gigabytes of data to go, so I expect to be posting some more of my Star Wars: Battlefront Beta over the next few days (anyone know why it takes so long to transfer data off a PS4?) and hopefully there will be some videos up on YouTube. Just don't expect me to provide any tips on winning, if you want tips on new ways to die then I'm your man!