Since even before its launch, Star Wars Battlefront II was already divisive. There were a lot of problems with the original Star Wars Battlefront when it launched in 2015, and developer DICE has been listening to the fans, tweaking and learning what players want. While Battlefront II does fix a lot of the mistakes from the original title, it does make some completely new ones that overshadow the leaps and bounds that they’ve made in the last two years.
The biggest addition to Star Wars Battlefront II is the inclusion of an all new story mode. The campaign follows Iden Versio, an elite member of the Inferno Squadron, and bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. The campaign beings with Iden Versio being captured by the rebel alliance (of her own accord) in order to erase a transmission so that the rebels don’t know what the Empire is doing. The campaign ends up skipping large chunks of time occasionally, so there is plenty of opportunity for other media to tie in to fill some of the gaps. The most important thing about the 6 or 7 hour campaign is that it feels genuinely Star Wars. The campaign is generally pretty varied, and players can choose to play how they want between stealth or blasting their way through the levels.
The only thing that really marred my experience with the campaign were a few technical issues. On more than one occasion, Iden Versio literally floated away. Star Wars Battlefront II crashed a few times, and the frame rate didn’t hold up during cutscenes. I was playing on Xbox One X, so dropped frames during cutscenes was surprising, but wasn’t heartbreaking.
Even with the dropped frames, Star Wars Battlefront II is absolutely beautiful. The world is stunningly realized, and HDR helps bring the world to life. The planet of Endor is intricately detailed, as are all of the hallways and ships Iden will be navigating. The textures on the One X are some of the best on display for Microsoft’s new console. It’s very clear that DICE has a lot of love and respect for the Star Wars franchise with how realized every mission is crafted.
The new campaign is only a small part of the whole Star Wars Battlefront II experience. In terms of the actual multiplayer, Battlefront II really nails what it set out to do. Blasting through Maz Kanata’s castle, or running through the trees with Ewoks scrambling to avoid blaster fire feels better than ever. The amount of polish and attention to detail is pretty impressive, and the meat of the game feels really good to play.
Much like Star Wars Battlefront before it, players find themselves blasting through iconic Star Wars locations in objective based gameplay. The two main game modes are Galactic Assault and Starfighter Assault. Galactic Assault feels a lot like rush from Battlefield Bad Company 2. DICE has always been an extremely competent developer when it comes to objective game types, and the battles here are no exception. There are 4 basic classes to choose from based on how players want to play. The assault class is a general infantry type class. The heavy class is a little slower but features some powerful weapons. The support class features long range fighters, and lastly the officer class use special skills to buff allies.
The real star of Star Wars Battlefront II is Starfighter Assault. I’m not usually a fan of vehicular combat, but Starfighter Assault feels like the most dynamic game mode on display. The flight controls have been completely revamped from the first Star Wars Battlefront, and the ships are a ton of fun to pilot. Instead of just a dogfight, there are various objectives to complete throughout the match. Matches of Starfighter Assault are a slow give and take as defensive players attempt to stop attackers from destroying various objectives.
Something that can be seen across all of the various game modes is the inclusion of battle points. As players work towards objectives or defeat other players, they earn points. These points are banked from death to death and can be spent on stronger classes, ships, and heroes. One battle, I earned enough points to use Poe Dameron’s X-Wing and was ultimately able to decimate the enemy team. Some of the heroes and power ups felt a little overpowered, but not anywhere near game breaking like some of the star cards. Star cards are where the real problems lie, in the loot boxes.
There has been more controversy leading up to the launch of Star Wars Battlefront II than any other game launch in history (that I can remember). While I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as people are making it out to be, it’s clear that people who can drop the extra cash have a clear advantage. A quick run down on how the loot boxes and the various different currencies work are in order. As players complete matches they earn credits which can be used to buy various unlockables in Battlefront II. There is no way for players to spend real money on credits, and these can only be earned in game. Loot boxes can contain a variety of different items, like scrap (which is the crafting material in Battlefront II), emotes, and star cards. Crystals are what players can purchase with real money, which can then be used to purchase loot boxes. The star card system is the biggest reason that players feel like Battlefront II is pay to win.
Star Cards honestly can offer some pretty substantial upgrades for players, like reduced grenade damage, improved shields, or even drastically reduced cooldowns for abilities. Going up against players who are kitted out in a full deck of star cards can feel like punching a wall. Players who start shooting first, accurately, and well before a player knows what’s happening don’t always win against a fully decked player. As players earn credits and scrap, they can create the star cards that they want to use, and scrap can even be used to upgrade them. However, the grind in Star Wars Battlefront II can feel pretty significant. After about 9 or 10 hours of multiplayer, I felt my progression slow to a crawl and it was taking me a while to level up.
All the negativity of the loot boxes aside, being fully equipped doesn’t naturally make you good at the game, and I generally could hold my own against most players, even those who had a lot of upgrades. As someone who is pretty good at shooters, I generally could hold my own. The point I’m trying to make in regard to the loot boxes is that yes, people who have the extra money to sink into Star Wars Battlefront II will have a significant advantage against some players, I didn’t feel like it was game breaking. My actual experience with Star Wars Battlefront II wasn’t hampered, but it felt dirty. This hasn’t been well received by gamers either, and since then EA has actually removed all crystal purchases until the system can be tweaked and reworked so it is fairer. (This review will be updated after the relaunch of the crystals system).
There are a couple of other game modes here too, like Arcade and Heroes vs Villains. Arcade mode can be played offline or online and has players defeating waves of enemies. Heroes vs Villains is one of the modes I sunk a ton of time into. As its name implies, this mode consists of 4v4 iconic heroes and villains from the Star Wars franchise. Going into battle as Darth Vader with Kylo Ren at your side is pretty incredible, and even though they come from different eras of the Star Wars saga, they complement each other really well.
It’s really unfortunate that the launch of Star Wars Battlefront II has been overshadowed by the loot boxes and progression systems, because there’s a lot of fun to be had here. Battlefront II is packed with different modes to play, and a fun campaign that doesn’t reinvent story modes, but offers a peek into Star Wars history that has gone unknown until now. EA has made the smart decision to remove crystal purchases until further notice, but is it enough to bring in already off-put players? Again, Battlefront II is a ton of fun, and helps players live through some of the most iconic battles in Star Wars history. Once EA and DICE ultimately turn on the crystal purchases will be the real test to how survivable Battlefront II is in the gaming landscape.
Star Wars Battlefront II is available now for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on an Xbox One copy provided by the publisher.
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