“Star Wars Battlefront II” has been at the centre of some serious controversy recently, but every article and review I see deriding the initial – swiftly reversed – decisions by EA tend to skim over or downplay the inherent fun of Battlefront II. It’s not a perfect game by any stretch, but the core gameplay is strong with this one.
Unlike its predecessor Battlefront II offers a full single player campaign – and a canon one, at that. Whether or not the story of Iden Veriso is retconned in the future is up to the folks at Disney, but for now we finally have a story that fills in the blanks between 1983’s Return of the Jedi and 2015’s Force Awakens.
In a strange twist, we see the fall of the Empire at the hands of Luke, Leia, Han and … a bunch of stupid Ewoks (a narrative beat that I’m still unhappy with over thirty years later, if you couldn’t tell) from the perspective of the ‘bad guys’. Iden is a fun addition to the ever expanding universe of Star Wars characters we already love, and she’s played brilliantly by Janina Gavankar – someone I fell in love with during her intimidating presentation at this year’s E3.
The story starts strong but quickly falls into fanfiction territory by trotting out as many recognizable faces as possible, cramming the short campaign full of cameos and bit parts. It all ends up feeling a little messy, but it’s fun for fans as long as you’re willing to overlook a lot of convenient writing.
Gameplay & Multiplayer:
Where Battlefront truly shines is of course in its multiplayer suite. There’s a sizeable chunk of content here, with promises of plenty of free add-ons to come to fill out the package even further. Taking locations and events from all three trilogies (there’s supposedly some Last Jedi stuff hitting very soon to coincide with the new film) is a smart move, as it further cements this game as a dream title for series fans.
There’s a host of modes to try out online, with my favourite being the massive forty vs forty objective missions that see you pushing forwards into a base and taking control of particular points of interest (or trying to defend against these onslaughts as the opposing team). Often these missions don’t feel entirely balanced – there’s a particular stage where you have to defend a couple of heavy duty vehicles as they storm a base for instance, and the opposing forces will have to find rocket launchers, use them to down the shields and have everyone get some damage in before they’re invulnerable again. And these things are incredibly healthy.
It’s especially unbalanced because corralling a team of forty to focus fire on a distant objective in a five second window whilst a team of sentient players are raining down covering fire on the lot of you is almost impossible, and I never saw the defenders score a victory in this phase. There are quite a few levels with unbalanced objectives such as these. Admittedly EA seem more intent on making these encounters spectacular and fun, rather than fair all the time. Weirdly it kind of works – these moments are brilliant regardless of which team you’re on, but you’ll have to turn off the part of your brain screaming for victory and just enjoy taking part.
I also loved the Hero battles, where two teams of four square off as one of the large roster of Hero characters from the films. Whilst the objective missions are huge and you feel like you’re a tiny cog in a much larger machine, Hero matches feel intimate and allow you to become truly deadly.
Levelling your classes has proven the biggest bugbear for Battlefront II, and I have to agree – levelling the class you want is going to be down to luck rather than skill. This is thanks to a lootcrate-fuelled economy where you have to pour your hard earned credits into a roll of the dice. You’re not necessarily going to get upgrades for the classes you want, and these upgrades genuinely improve your efficiency on the battlefield. When the microtransactions were live, this system was undoubtedly pay-to-win, but now that EA have turned off that feature (maybe for good) it’s simply annoying. Grabbing rare upgrade cards for classes I didn’t have did have the added benefit of me trying them out and playing as someone I normally wouldn’t, but this was just a nice side-effect to an otherwise frustrating economy.
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