Review | Star Wars: Battlefront 2
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 offers up a campaign and a heaping helping of multiplayer, but it’s hard to say if it can overcome a tidal wave of negativity that feels – to be frank – like it’s all-too-often the misplaced ramblings of people who haven’t played the game and are simply echoing ‘what they’ve heard’ nonsense.
I have a problem with much of the backlash for a simple reason: they’re not the most accurate of criticisms – basically the Stormtrooper’s weapons of complaints, firing a lot of shots and missing the target a whole lot. Take the Reddit report that it would take 40 hours to unlock some of the game’s dozen or so characters, for example.
The post prompted such an outcry that EA responded by reducing hero costs by 75%, even though the angry responses missed some key facts – namely that the calculations involved only the game’s two most expensive heroes, and that they deliberately excluded the credits rewarded by completing the plethora of challenges available in the game. Once people had hands-on time with the game, they found the calculations misleading…but the ’40 hours’ estimate still pops up in complaints today.
Then there’s Star Cards, the much-maligned progression system that – while I admit it’s an odd choice for unlocking new equipment and talents – works well when gamers figure it out, at least well enough to justify holding off the tar and feathers. You buy loot boxes to get cards – and you can choose what type of card you primarily get in the box by which one you buy. Need hero upgrades? Buy that crate. Want starfighter stuff, or trooper stuff, etc… You ALSO get items from the other categories as well as crafting supplies in boxes, used to improve your cards from common to epic with corresponding stat increases.
Complaints that the loot boxes will inspire kids to buy more boxes using real-world funds rings a bit hollow. Earning the crates isn’t a long process, with a new crate available every two or three games, and the ballyhooed advantages offered up by Star Cards proved weaker than expected. Having the ability to turn your TIE fighter 5% faster than the other guy sounded powerful on paper, but blaming a multiplayer death on the cards the person was using feels a lot more like a copout than a legit issue.
As for the game itself, Battlefront 2 seems like a game made by people who recognized the issues with the first game and came out swinging looking to fix them in the sequel. The biggest issue from 2015’s original was the lack of a campaign, so that’s the first thing they showed off this time around. The campaign could have been great, but it’s hamstrung by a short runtime of 4-5 hours that completely neuters any emotional impact it had a chance to create.
Coming out of the gates strong, Battlefront 2 opens with gamers escaping a Rebel ship as Iden Versio, commander of the Imperial Special Forces’ Inferno Squad, the most elite of the special forces. After getting to know Versio a bit through some opening missions, the game switches to the Force-wielding boots of Luke Skywalker. When it switches back, Versio is now a full-fledged Rebel, trusted by everyone including Princess Leia and as you think “surely they’ll explain what happened” hopes are dashed as it’s now time to play as Lando Calrissian, then Leia herself, etc…
The campaign could have introduced a solid new character to Star Wars fans. It didn’t.
The campaign could have been great. It isn’t. It’s good, but would have benefited from being a greater priority for the development team. A few more levels as Versio, a little more information on what makes her do the things she done…you know, character development. As it is, stunning graphics don’t overcome a rushed experience, leaving Battlefront 2’s campaign a gorgeous, hurried mess that could have been so much more.
In addition to the campaign, there’s an Arcade mode that allows offline single player and co-op play against AI in battles that test your talent in return for rewards, as well as the multiplayer suite that’s the meat and potatoes of the title. Battle it out in 10 vs 10 team deathmatch in Blast, or take to the skies against your enemies with 12 vs 12 Starfighter Assault. Game size ranges from the intimate and deadly 4 vs 4 of Heroes and Villains all the way up to the 20 vs 20 objective-based battles of Galactic Assault.
Multiplayer games are intensely paced, with quick time to first encounter and low time-to-kill and fast respawn combining to make sure a death doesn’t spoil the fun for long. Players start out as basic trooper from Imperial or Rebel armies, in the Assault, Heavy, Officer, or Specialist class. Earn battle points while playing and you can respawn as a more powerful character, whether that means spawning in a Y Wing bomber, as a Flametrooper, or even as one of the heroes or villains you have access to. While several are locked at the outset, heavy hitters like Darth Maul and Yoda aren’t, so hit the battlefields as your favourite!