Star Wars Battlefront II

Campaigns are overrated. DICE’s vignettes in Battlefield 1 were  enjoyable but fleeting and over-praised – that game’s multiplayer was its heart, a situation familiar to the developer’s fans. In Battlefront II again the highly advertised and teased single player offering is pointless and short lived – admittedly with some decent budget behind it.

The game charts the story of Iden Versio, imperial special forces commander and the most obvious traitor in recent memory. After the Death Star’s destruction over Endor she almost immediately switches sides, repercussions foregone. The plotting is prosaic, the cutscenes half-hearted justifications for locale changes, and the finale lacklustre. This offering will serve as an enjoyable tutorial for newcomers, and a fair distraction over its handful of hours for more experienced players – nothing more.

Battlefront II is a multiplayer game, in essence, with its campaign bolted on, and done so in response to confused criticism from the “good value” brigade online. Its 2015 prequel was derided as content-light, but in reality was an enjoyable, well-paced multiplayer shooter with beautiful visuals and superlative sound design. Its sequel retains and improves on the latter factors, but isn’t able to iterate on its gameplay formula with particular distinction or invention.

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The internet’s ire has fallen upon EA and DICE for this game’s use of microtransactions, and in truth they are a curious influence on the game experience. I have felt no need or pressure to buy loot crates to aid my progress; the locked heroes have attainable prices; I’ve unlocked new abilities with relative ease in my few hours of play. These systems were tuned and tweaked during private and public betas, and indeed a week of early access. I see no worthwhile controversy in these events, and no great issue with their finished products. Regardless EA have felt enough pressure to turn off microtransactions until further notice.

More importantly, the multiplayer arena of Battlefront II is again an enjoyable, variably paced scramble, set on beautiful maps from across the Star Wars oeuvre. Throughout, the attention to detail and care lavished on the sets is remarkable – Tatooine in particular teems with life, while Kamino’s gorgeous white corridors look better than they ever did on film. The variety of backdrops is also much improved over the previous iteration of the series.

However, whatever tuning DICE eked from their beta wasn’t applied to these maps and, especially in the flagship ‘galactic assault’ mode, certain chokepoints and bottlenecks are frustratingly insurmountable for attacking teams in particular. Theses hurdles are present on, at least, the Starkiller Base, Kamino and Endor environments, and lead to failures that do not feel like the product of simply bad teamwork. They will likely need lane tweaks and small map changes to improve them, if DICE is able.

The ‘controversy’ surrounding this game is overblown, just as the package itself is overhyped. This is still a somewhat slim-feeling but undeniably diverting multiplayer shooter whose attraction lies primarily in its authentically realised universe. It is no Overwatch in mechanical terms, and doesn’t look likely to sustain a large-scale player base over the next two years. Its merits, though, are clear enough to reward Star Wars and shooter fans alike.

5 thoughts on “Star Wars Battlefront II

  1. As someone who will occasionally rant about why Overwatch of all things should have a single player mode of some sort (i know the characters were created for an MMO that never came to be but goddamnit you can’t try to be serious storygame AND fun arena shooter. The game runs entirely contrary to the plot goddamnit!) I will say that I found that Battlefront 1 didn’t hold my attention for overly long (although that is also due to some internet issues that I had at the time). If anything though, I find that the DICE Battlefront games are hounded by a particular kind of black dog: the fact that they are treading on ground that has been done before, and extremely well.

    Having not played Battlefront 2 yet (Crusader Kings 2 DLC currently has my wallet by the throat) I find that it would have to have been a superlative game of its genre to compete with it’s predecessor of the same name, which managed to have both amazing multiplayer action whilst also telling a compelling and fun story in its single player. Whether it is entirely fair to judge this Battlefront in comparison to the one that came before it is up for debate but I would argue that by naming it the same thing, they are explicitly drawing comparison.

    As a massive Star Wars fan, I want the game to be good, even with loot boxes/microtransactions. But as someone who doesn’t get particularly drawn into shooters, who only plays Overwatch on Quick Play or Arcade with friends, I found Battlefront 1 lacking, and by the sounds of it, would find it’s sequel equally so.

    (also, review was informative and well put!)

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    1. Yeah to be fair, I see both this and the 2015 Battlefront as fun but not massively long-lasting diversions – that’s fine with me, but people are entitled to hope for more.

      To be clear the campaign is decent, and the story, by videogame standards, is fine – I just resent videogame standards and wanted more from it!

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      1. Nothing irritates me more than when something COULD have been better. When the ways that it could have been improved are clear to see. Tilting at windmills, 100% but nevertheless.

        Also it was always weird playing Battlefront 2 round yours cuz i was used to playing it on the PS2 and was like “what the hell why is this in first person”

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  2. “I have felt no need or pressure to buy loot crates to aid my progress; the locked heroes have attainable prices” – I guess the question is to what extent characters should be locked as part of a full price game in the first place? You’re right, the reaction has perhaps been exaggerated, but the backlash perhaps not unfairly broaches the question of what customers feel they’re entitled to as part of their purchase, especially if it’s things that seem like they’d be fundamental to a Star Wars game.

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    1. Totally feel that question – but for comparison I would ask why it’s fine for Call of Duty to lock away its full arsenal of weapons behind rank progressions, but not for playing as Luke Skywalker to be earned in Battlefront? It’s felt like people have forgotten that experience points, ranks, and in-game currency are basically the same thing translated differently, during this whole row.

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