Star Wars: Battlefront EA looked beautiful, however once players got past the Frostbite engine, the game was accused of being shallow and void of any competitive gameplay. DICE has heard the outcry of fans and worked to improve on every front with Star Wars Battlefront 2, but the results are mixed.
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
The campaign is one of the most interesting parts of Star Wars: Battlefront 2. DICE has added a nice story mode that I’ve been told is canon. You play through the game through the eyes of “Inferno Squad,” a small group of elite soldiers that work for the empire: Del Meeko, Gideon Hask, and the main character, Iden Versio.
A problem that I ran into playing the campaign was the lack of background info on Iden. I found it hard to care about her due to a dearth of any back story. All you know is that she’s loyal to the Empire and her father is a high-ranking Admiral. The marketing and interviews by the game developers have said repeatedly that Battlefront 2's story is told from the Empire's perspective. While you witness the destruction of the second Death Star and some minor events during Return of the Jedi, this claim seems to be seriously overhyped.
Even though Iden and Hask are given no backstory, history, or interesting personalities, Del Meeko’s character is explored much more with interactions in missions with certain key characters and chatter from between NPCs. In one mission you discover why he joined the Empire in the first place, while Iden is given nothing for us to work with. One can’t help but think Del was supposed to be the main character in the campaign, even though Iden received attention in all the marketing materials.
The story isn’t bad, it’s just there. It is fun exploring planets and locations playing as iconic characters in certain missions, like Luke, Han, or Leia. The campaign also teaches players how to play as these heroes in online mode. Most missions have you going up against the odds and succeeding in typical Star Wars fashion, which is still pretty fun. It’s not a rushed campaign mode, but the developer's objective seems to be to steer players toward online mode, which will make or break the game's longevity.
“The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see the future is.”
The online multiplayer gameplay is certainly the meat of Star Wars: Battlefront 2. The game offers a lot of modes: Arcade, Strike, Blast, Galactic Conquest, Heroes and Villains, and Starfighter Assault. Arcade is the least interesting. It’s a co-op mode where you and friends destroy waves of AI enemies and try to beat your score and increase you rank. It’s okay in a pinch, but other modes offer more variety. Strike is an eight-on-eight mode that plays out like a Star Wars-themed twist on Seek and Destroy. Blast is the game’s classic team deathmatch mode, pitting players against each other on smaller maps. Heroes & Villains is a 4v4 mode that feels a lot like Overwatch, with players on your team playing an incredible powered hero such as Yoda and Luke, or villains Kylo Ren and Darth Maul. Starfighter Assault is objective based, space only combat, and finally Galactic Assault, which is where you’ll spend the majority of your time. It’s this mode that features the best of what Star Wars: Battlefront 2 has to offer. Objective-based big maps allow for 20v20 combat, with land and sky vehicles, and AI soldiers making each map feel like an actual war zone.
In all online modes players obtain points for things like kill an enemy player, take or defend an objective. Players can use these points to summon and control a hero/villain or an elite starfighter/soldier. It’s a good system that rewards players for not only a high kill/death ratio but actually achieving objectives. The game sports four classes of soldiers: Heavy, Assault, Officer, and Specialist. Each play differently and have a key role that they bring to the battle. On the Star fighter side there are three classes of vehicle: Fighter, Bomber and Interceptor. Each mode offers special heroes and elite soldier/ships based on points you obtain during the match opening up the play style even more. Gone are the random spawns of ship tokens found in the first game. Now you have to get points to call in an X-Wing or Tie fighter into the match and it balances out really well.
The game plays through the three timelines of the Star Wars universe, and although the classes are the same across all timelines it’s still fun to see each trilogy get its due. Online multiplayer is an absolute blast. It’s not just Star Wars with DICE’s Battlefield gameplay, it feels different enough to be its own thing. Strategy and teamwork play a major role in obtaining victory, and the pace feels perfect for those who aren’t a fan of fast-paced Call Of Duty-style gameplay.
The spaceship gameplay feels different, mainly due to the fact that a separate team worked on it, and feels like it could be a separate game. Dog fighting and objective-based space battles are absolutely a thrill to play. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 allows you to play the way you want and gives everyone the option to pick something that they prefer. The classes are given Star Cards, which make current abilities more powerful, or change them completely. Each fighter/solider/Hero can be outfitted with three Star Cards and there are hundreds of them to try out. Unfortunately, it’s the progression in getting Star Cards where the game shows its dark side.
“Fear is the path to the dark side.”
I didn’t mention the loot crates in my review of Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War, mainly because they in no way affected my gameplay experience as they were 100% optional. It’s the exact opposite when it comes to Star Wars: Battlefront 2. The loot crates are a key part in the online modes, you need them and there’s no getting around it. The only way to unlock Star Cards for your Class/Hero/Ship is to purchase loot crates, and it sucks big time.
You can get cards by opening crates and getting lucky, or by crafting them with crafting parts. However, the only way to get crafting parts is through loot crates, and DICE is stingy with them. I opened about 10 loot crates and received only 10 crafting parts. Loot crates themselves cost 4,000 republic credits, and on average I was getting 200-400 credits at the end of a match, making the grind egregious.
Loot crates should never be a part of core game mechanics. They need to be given out at a normal rate as reward if they are part of the core gameplay, which Star Wars: Battlefront 2 does not do. Players with better Star Cards have better abilities and have a major advantage.
People buy Star Wars games to play as their favorite characters and Star Wars: Battlefront 2 puts a massive barrier in the way of that fun. Locked heroes like Chewbacca, Leia, Luke, and even Vader require over 40,000 credits* to unlock them. This level of a grind is unacceptable given the 200-400 credits I was able to net each multiplayer match.
“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”
Star Wars: Battlefront II is a pretty good game and you’re going to get it if you’re a fan of Star Wars, no matter what anyone says. I’m just thankful that the game is an improvement over the first attempt and is incredibly fun solo, or with friends online. The loot crates diminish its value greatly, and it’s a shame EA forces them down your throat as part of the core gameplay, but the game looks gorgeous and is enjoyable to play.
Even if you’re not a fan of Star Wars, Battlefront 2 still a decent game. Just please don’t spend real life money on EA’s loot crates. Yoda’s advice on buying loot crates “A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.”
*EA has announced that they are cutting Battlefront 2 Hero Unlock Cost by 75% after complaints from fans.
This review is based on the PS4 release. The game key was provided by the publisher. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 will be made available for PS4, Xbox One and PC on November 17, for $59.99.