Star Wars: Battlefront II Review
One could easily describe Star Wars Battlefront with one word: controversial, but my first instinct is to describe it simply as immersive. Part of the idea of Battlefront is making the player feel at home in the Star Wars universe. For all their flak, the prequel films had some amazing battles and settings and even the original trilogy had epic battles like Hoth and settings like Endor that still hold up decades later. More than anything else and in spite of its faults, and there are faults, Battlefront II achieves this immersion into a galaxy far, far away with flying colors.
EA has gotten a lot of flack about Battlefront’s pay-to-win system already, but I am an optimist so I’ll start with the good news. The multiplayer far surpasses that of the 2005 Battlefront II so far, with one exception. The missing mode that I would have loved is the starship assault as it was in the 2005 game where you can fly from your capital ship into the hanger of an enemy star destroyer and wreak havok from the inside, or fight the space battles outside.
Instead, Battlefront II focuses on two separate but complete modes, galactic or starfighter assault. Galactic assault is sort of like operations in Battlefield 1 but with map specific quirks. Invade Kashyyyk as the droid army in a scene like a fantasy D-Day, or steal an AT-AT as the rebels in Endor and finish the mission by marching it straight into an empire base. The only downside is that when the defense wins on the first objective it’s somewhat unfulfilling.
Starfighter assault sees a huge jump in playability and fun from the last game. Visuals are great and flying is easy to get into and hard to master. Hero ships stand out in this role, whether you are just in an upgraded X-wing piloted by Poe, or in the iconic Falcon or Slave I. other modes pit 4 vs 4 heroes vs villains only or objective based small-scale strike and good old deathmatch but these are clearly second tier as seen by their smaller screen space on the menu.
Lastly, the singleplayer campaign is a welcome addition and is officially canon in the universe, so it’s a must play for fans. The writing and story are pretty bland and predictable at times, but the gameplay is enjoyable. I wish they would have taken more risks in the storytelling, as it seems like they took the safe route.
The last mission seemed like a useless and weird addition to an already complete story that was compressed to begin with. I am a little conflicted about the campaign. It could have been better, and the emotions at play demanded longer time to develop and thus a longer than four-hour playtime. I did enjoy the majority of it however and the gap between episode VI and VII was fun to explore.
Battlefront 2 is as close to perfection as I could imagine with their presentation of all eras of the Star Wars universe. Each world or level is practically breathtaking and the details are amazing. From leaves rustling in the wind to actual moving wildlife on each of the planets, the details on ultra with my 1080ti were outstanding.
DICE did scans of outfits and weapons from the films and put those directly in the game, so the authenticity is unquestionable. For locations like Sullust, DICE scouted places like Iceland and consulted Lucasfilm to agree on the look for unshown or briefly mentioned locations or assets from the universe.
The only odd bit is that the faces of iconic characters, while still looking pretty good as far as face rendering goes, don’t often look like their characters. Leia and Han, in particular, looked just off, and I’m not sure why. Otherwise, particle effects, smoke from an X-wing engine and the signature lasers and sparks look great.
The sound also matches the excellence of the visuals. The soundtrack is a mix of original scores and new stuff that blends right in. the music is so good that I often forgot it was there as I was so immersed. The guns and explosions are again, perfectly lifted from the films for the most part, and where they aren’t, they still sound great. The gun venting (reloading), shields, grenades and more are a joy to listen to.
When it comes to how the game actually functions, it’s mostly spot-on, but with a few disappointing quirks. From infantry to heroes and starships, every class gets three star cards and a main weapon. The star cards all have base functions that can be replaced or modified through other acquired star cards. Most weapons are simple, with a select few having a secondary fire.
This is a simplistic system and it works for what DICE is trying to do. Battlefront feels like a really good looking arcade game; lots of action and simplicity. Some seem to be confused by the card system, but compared to the vast array of choices and player configurations in games like Battlefield 4, it is more simple.
The hero unlock system is vastly better than Battlefront I. Players earn battle points through kills and mostly through playing the objective, so even poor FPS players can still get in through holding points, shooting AT-ATs and more. Lower tier point in galactic assault unlock spawning into vehicles or lower level enforcer characters.
The enforcer charters make a great gap between regular infantry and heroes. These are things like jetpack-wielding rocket troops, Wookie warriors, flame troopers and more, each costing about 1/5th what a Vader or Boba Fett costs.
Where Battlefront II stumbles is in hero/villain play. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast had amazing lightsaber on lightsaber combat, and that game is 15 years old. In Battlefront II, two lightsaber players seem to just ram into each other and who wins depends on how much they click or use abilities.
As a Jedi, I faced a trooper not six inches in front of me, but my lightsaber did no damage because a waist-high concrete barrier stood between us. My saber went right through him dealing no damage, I stepped to the side and killed him just fine. That’s just poor mechanics for the heroes.
As I mentioned, the campaign was short but enjoyable, and single players have a new customizable arcade mode as well. The arcade mode can be configured a variety of ways, from challenges to a more free-roam with AI enemies allowing you to hone your skills. In multiplayer you can earn a hero mid to late game only to accidentally fall down a pit, we all know Star Wars is not a fan of safety rails. thankfully, arcade lets you play any hero as often as you want making you comfortable for the few times you may get them in multiplayer.
Though hero play with lightsabers is a little off, the ranged heroes play well and the enforcers and vehicle play works quite well. The nice thing is that a standard infantryman can take out any hero if he is truly skilled enough and working with space and a teammate while a competent hero could likewise take out dozens of enemies if they play well.
The unfortunate aspects of Battlefront II lay in its complicated star card progression and loot crate system where you could pay for crates that unlocked or upgraded star cards. This is a pay to win system that causes much hate and unrest in fans looking forward to this game.
The counter to this was supposed to be that Battlefront II will have the standard $60 worth of DLC in maps, weapons, and heroes except it will provide this for free to all players. The loot crates were supposed to be what made up the difference and people hated it. Mostly because there were plenty of other options.
Star cards for starships illustrate the unfairness well. Players can unlock cards that give more weapon power, more ship health, and tighter turn radius all on one ship. Most players have a lower form of just one of these, if they have a card like that at all. This is blatantly pay to win. With infantry, it’s a little more nuanced, but advantages are still there.
EA/DICE could have had options like cards that provide more ship health, but at the cost of speed, or more powerful weapons, but a longer cooldown rate. These can be known as sidegrades and players can pay to customize their classes, but not for outright advantages.
Just recently, the day of release, EA/DICE released a statement that they removed all game purchases with real money for now. They stated that they heard the community and decided to remove this feature until they fix it. Take these as empty words from a greedy publisher, or an honest attempt to do right by the fans, that’s up to you. A good idea has to stand up to criticism, and this loot crate idea has crumbled under the weight of disgruntled consumers, a great example of the free market in that consumers can stand up to the biggest game publisher around today and actually cause change.
Of course, time will tell how significant that change will be. It does seem that the loot crates for money will return along with cosmetic customization which is still being worked on. This has long been a tolerated use of loot crates and will likely be accepted, if begrudgingly by some.
Gone unresolved in the eyes of many fans is the fact that some heroes/villains such as Vader have to be unlocked, but this seems to be an argument of whether you mind progressing through the game to get the satisfaction of unlocking it, similar to higher lever guns in most FPS games, or if you think everything should just be unlocked and ready because you paid for it.
Even with the crate controversy, there are missing aspects of Battlefront II. with three eras it could be easy to overlook what’s missing, but there are core maps that scream to be included. The arena at Geonosis, Scariff from Rouge One, and characters like Obi or Grievous, or even Ashoka from the clone wars series would be awesome. I know most of that is coming in DLC, but for now, I wish there was a little more or maybe I’m looking forward to what’s coming too much.
Yes, Battlefront II is controversial, but maybe the developers have or will do enough to appease the fans regarding the crate controversy. Aside from that, Battlefield is an amazing and easy game to hop into. Get in the cockpit of an X-wing, first or third person. Defend the palace of Theed on Naboo or fight off an invasion of the Clone Army’s home on Kamino.
Some of the mechanics, especially in the case of heroes could be a lot better, but much of the core gameplay is solid, free of bugs and stunningly beautiful. I know I have a beast of a graphics card, but optimization issues can cause framerate issues on any card, but I don’t think I dipped below 100 at any point during multiplayer or campaign.
If you wanted to see what it feel like to truly dive into the star wars universe, even if you waited 30 years to do so, this game is as close as you’ll get without VR. a truly great game with a few game flaws and terribly distracting and poorly designed game economics.
- Some of the best graphics in a shooter in years
- A truly immersive, entertaining Star Wars experience
- A promise of a year of free DLC
- Troubling Pay to win controversies
- Awkward hero mechanics
- Even without pay to win, starship cards are too unbalanced