The reboot of Star Wars Battlefront arrives next month, but players can get an early look at it starting today with a public beta. We got some early hands-on play with several of the missions available in the beta, including the Survival Mode on Tatooine, the Drop Zone, and a gruesome look at the Walker Assault, which recreates the Empire’s attack on the Rebel base on Hoth. This mode left the ground soaked in Rebel blood.Although Battlefront is developed by DICE, and has many mechanics in common with the Battlefield series, it is still a distinct and separate franchise. The characters use laser blasters rather than real-world guns, and the recoil is less than what one sees in modern military games. Rather than having to reload, the blasters can overheat and have a cool-down time. As part of the unique Star Wars feel, the characters have a limited choice of loadout when compare to the Battlefield games. There are a handful of authentic Star Wars weapons, but the vast array of accessories seen in Battlefield is missing.To add variety and customization, players do get to equip support powers through a system of unlocks called Star Cards. Players can equip up to three of these cards at once, forming a hand of cards. The cards are support weapons and abilities like thermal detonator grenades, energy shields, and jump packs. The jump packs don’t allow true flight or wall-running, just an extension of the jump. Despite this limitation, they are clearly a fan favorite based on our playtime with the game.While the jump pack is flashy, some of the other cards provide practical and highly specialized uses. There are Ion weapons that do extra damage against vehicles, and the proper use of these can mean the difference when trying to bring down one of the enormous AT-ST bipedal walkers. Another card is a long-range rifle that fires a single shot, with a long recharge time. Even grenades are handled through the Star Card system, with each kind of grenade being its own card. They have unlimited uses, but a cooldown after each throwWe tried three modes during our time with Battlefront, but the Walker Assault mission stood out as a unique ordeal that best represented the Star Wars franchise.This mode puts up to twenty players in the Rebel base on the planet Hoth, and has another twenty players as Empire stormtroopers trying to capture it. Before taking the base, the Imperial forces need to capture several strategic points on the map while the rebels defend these Uplinks. Meanwhile, throughout the battle, Imperial AT-AT’s can be seen in the distance slowly, ominously lumbering towards the base.If the Empire manages to capture the uplinks, the walkers will arrive on the map and make their way towards the final strategic point. In our matches, the Walker Assault mode was usually a meat grinder for the Rebels. In the beta, many players are still unfamiliar with the long-term strategic play of Walker Assault, and the Rebel soldiers often fired in vain at the heavily armored AT-ATs, only to be blasted into wampa fodder.Imperial players have to escort the walkers towards the rebel base, but lucky Stormtroopers can take direct control of the walkers by finding a power up on the map. Once inside the AT-AT, these players can mercilessly pound the rebels. The walkers are mostly invulnerable to hand-held weapons, unless the rebels call in a special bomber strike against them. At this point the defenders have a brief time when they can use their weapons to nibble way at the powerful walkers.The Walker Assault mode is theoretically a balanced match despite its asymmetry. However, our experience indicates that the Rebels need an experienced team, or at least experienced team leaders to coordinate their defenses, otherwise the fight will inevitably play out like it did in The Empire Strikes Back.We also played a few rounds of Drop Zone, which is the Battlefront take on the classic King of the Hill game mode, or Hardpoint. An escape pod drops down from orbit on a random location, and each team tries to capture the pod. When a team successfully claims an escape pod, it will provide special power ups like devastating one-use weapons. This mode uses smaller teams than Walker Assault, up to eight versus eight.After one pod is claimed (or contested for too long), another will drop somewhere else on the map, so teams end up spread out as fast-moving players arrive the latest spawn site while slower players trail behind. Clever players inevitably stake out choke points alone the way. The symmetrical objective made it a more newbie-friendly affair when compared to Walker Assault, while still maintaining more variety than a standard death match.The Battlefront beta shows the game’s wave-based Survival mode. We played this on the Tatooine map. This puts rebel players against fifteen waves of Empire forces that grow progressively more dangerous. Surprisingly, a fight with an AT-ST was not the final wave. Although the two-legged AT-ST is not as powerful as the giant AT-AT from Hoth, it is still an intimidating enemy that can quickly bring down foolish players. It’s also an example of how strategic use of Ionic weapons is important. Other waves have stormtroopers with specialized equipment like stealth camouflage, sniper rifles, and their own jump packs.In survival mode, players can respawn if they make a fatal mistake, but they have a limited number of lives — and these lives are shared between players when in co-op mode. Occasionally drop pods come down and, if the player can reach them safely, these pods will provide special power ups like in Drop Zone. These power ups scatter all over the ground near the pod and can be left there to save them for later rounds.Players have a limited selection of Star Card hands in Survival, but these all include jump packs. Aside from being used to jet over cliffs and chasms, these can also be used to cushion falls. Deaths from falls were quite common in our playtime, due to Tatooine’s deep canyons, and the jetpacks were an essential Card. There was, unfortunately, a recurring problem with players accidentally jumping off the map when using the jump packs, and players who got stuck off the map for more than ten seconds would lose a life.The beta only shows a small portion of the game, but Walker Assault is certainly the most impressive part of this appetizer. Players who are curious can try the beta on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC through Origin. It begins noon EST today, October 8.