My work PC, which I mostly use for writing and cluttering with open browser tabs, runs like crap. Its specs are decent—a Core i7-990X @ 3.47GHz, 12 GB of RAM, and a Radeon R7 260X—but I've been using it since 2011 and it's a bit of a mess, and the R7 260X isn't exactly top-of-the-line. With early access to the Star Wars Battlefront beta today, I took my abused, four-year-old PC to Tatooine to see how it fared given the high recommended system requirements.
It survived. With all graphics settings on 'Ultra' at 1080p, I was getting 30-48 fps. Dropping them down to 'High' and 'Medium' got me between 40-55. On 'Low,' I was hovering just above 60, occasionally dropping below. That's not great, but Battlefront doesn't look totally awful on 'Low.' It's not as crisp, you lose lighting complexity, and there's some annoying geometry pop-in, but it's not like it turns into Dark Forces or anything. The only thing I didn't test is what happens if there are a ton of characters on-screen.
But considering that the recommended specs call for 16GB RAM and a Radeon R9 290 4GB or GeForce GTX 970, I thought it'd do worse. It was quick to start up, I had no problems alt-tabbing, and while lower than desirable, the framerates were stable—I didn't notice any big dips. If it's 60 or 144 fps or nothing for you, then yeah, you'll absolutely need a newer GPU. It's definitely a demanding game, but an R7 260X is actually a tier below the minimum recommended HD 7850, and it was plenty playable.
But what if you have an even older card? Unfortunately, I don't have a lower-end desktop on hand to test Battlefront on, but I do have a laptop. This little guy's got an Intel Core i7-4800MQ @ 2.7GHz, 16GB RAM, and a GeForce GTX 765M. It didn't do quite so well. It was totally stable, but couldn't manage more than 28 fps and mostly sat at around 17 with the graphics on 'Low.' That's what I expected.
The minimum specs seem pretty close to the true bare minimum you want: an Intel i3 6300T, 8GB RAM, and a GeForce GTX 660/Radeon HD 7850. As for the recommended specs, though, I definitely don't think a GTX 970 is required for 1080p/60fps. Once the beta is available to the public and a bunch of systems are running it, we'll know what sort of card you want to be looking at depending on your desired resolution and framerate.
A few other things to note: there's a resolution scale setting that goes from 25% to 200% for easy up and downsampling, and yes, there is an FOV slider, though it adjusts vertical FOV, so finding your usual preference will take some calculating (opens in new tab). There are also colorblindness settings for deuteranopia, protanopia, and tritanopia, which I'm glad to see.
The keybindings are, of course, remappable, and the HUD is customizable and can be fully turned off (good for habitual pretty screenshot takers). There's a toggle between stereo and 5.1/7.1 surround sound, as well as wide, medium, narrow, and 'headphone' dynamic range settings.
As for playing the actual thing, all I've done is jump into survival mode alone. I had fun blasting stormtroopers, but Sam's coverage (opens in new tab) is where you want to look to get some in-depth impressions. I'm just here to tell you that Battlefront has nice-looking rocks and didn't melt my PC.