Developed by DICE and published by Electronic Arts, Star Wars: Battlefront II is here to deliver the experience missing in Star Wars: Battlefront (2015). Improved gameplay, breathtaking locales, an original campaign set after the events of Return of the Jedi and tons of multiplayer maps across all Star Wars series. Unfortunately, it also features microtransactions and loot boxes compromising the progression.
Star Wars Battlefront II
Initial release date: November 17, 2017
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows (tested)
Developers: EA DICE, Motive Studios, Criterion Software
Designers: John Stanley, Niklas Fegraeus
Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) was criticized for many things, but DICE has really stepped things up with the sequel. Star Wars: Battlefront II features an original campaign set after the events of Return of the Jedi, tons of multiplayer maps across all Star Wars eras, a sweet and impressive starfighter game mode, and lots of smaller improvements due to the feedback received from players of its predecessor.
The first Star Wars story told in a video game since 2010’s The Force Unleashed II will take you about 4 to 6 hours to complete. The story features well-written and interesting characters in some decent twelve missions where fighting your way through mindless waves of Rebel soldiers, Stormtroopers and X-wings will become repetitive. Iden Versio and the rest of Inferno Squad share some great interactions, not only with one another but with a variety of well-known Star Wars characters.
Iden Versio has some really fantastic moments that are further made better thanks to the voice acting of Janina Gavankar. However, Iden’s story starts to fall apart halfway into the campaign. After seeing the lengths that the Empire is willing to go to assert its power in the galaxy after the death of The Emperor, Iden defects and joins the Rebellion, which is unfortunate. Battlefront II was supposed to be a unique story following a character on the “bad” side for once, rather than showcasing another Jedi or prototypical hero. Instead, having Iden Versio defect to the Rebellion breaks the promise of exploring a character from an Imperial point of view.
To make things a little worse, the whole narrative feels so sped up. The story of the campaign takes place over the course of thirty years, and we never get to go deep into a character or place to really know a bit more. Several characters are interesting, but we never get to really know any of them, including the protagonist.
The worst offender though is the conclusion. It is obvious how many missions were chopped off only to release them as free DLC next month. EA and DICE have been beating the drum about how Star Wars Battlefront II will be receiving all its DLC for free throughout the life of the game, which is a good thing. However, the current state of the game feels half-baked, on purpose, to make it coincide with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
On top of this, the campaign doesn’t offer any unique or interesting mechanic. It is pretty much an extension of the multiplayer which you can gun through without much thought.
Star Wars Battlefront II’s multiplayer is fun, and a far better experience than that of the first game. You can play the game across five different modes: Galactic Assault, Blast, Strike, Heroes vs. Villains, and Starfighter Assault.
The main game type that Star Wars Battlefront II pushes to the forefront is Galactic Assault which is a 20 vs. 20 mode. Absolute mayhem at scale and insane objectives that are carried out in these matches lead to some crazy situations such as the Rebellion piloting an AT-AT or watching Kylo Ren chop down armies of Clone soldiers.
Any time that you save up enough battle points — the in-match currency used to give you access to playing as Heroes and other classes — to play as a Hero character is when you truly find Star Wars Battlefront II shining. The sense of power and speed that you feel in these moments is unmatched and makes you really feel like a Sith Lord, Jedi, or smuggler.
The other marquee mode is Starfighter Assault where the space combat is all that matters. Space battles were one of the most requested features to be seen in Star Wars Battlefront II and the wait was worth it. All the starfighters control incredibly well and similar to standard battles, getting in a Hero ship like the Millennium Falcon is an absolute joy. While objectives in Starfighter Assault can become a bit too similar, the variety of different locations and battle stations that you face off against helps keep things fresh for a while.
Heroes vs Villains is purely about the Hero characters squaring off. This game type is a ton of fun, even though it’s often devoid of any sort of strategy compared to something like Galactic Assault.
Unfortunately, you don’t have access to all Hero characters from the outset and are forced to purchase certain ones such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Iden Versio. There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding this over the past week and while EA and DICE did end up reducing the in-game values of these characters by 75%, there is no reason to lock them in the first place.
Strike and Blast are the final two game types in multiplayer. Strike is a smaller 8v8 mode where one team is defending a set of objectives while the other team attacks. It is simple and fast-paced for when you want to take a break from the other modes. It is way more personal and competitive, and where high skilled players will shine the most. Blast is simply a team deathmatch.
The Star Card system, while controversial, allows you to customize your play style. You can add stat bonuses to equipped weapons, equip new items, or grant your character class increased passive stats. Every character, Hero, and vehicle within Battlefront II upgrades through this system and in theory, it works well and gives you the freedom to play how you want. Unfortunately, the primary way that you earn these Star Cards is through opening loot crates. These loot crates can be acquired by purchasing them with in-game currency called credits or through another currency called crystals, which were previously purchasable with real money.
A broad overall level is also within the game, but the benefit of increasing it is nearly purposeless other than gating you when looking to increase the level of your Star Cards with crafting parts.
As of this writing, EA has removed all microtransactions from Star Wars Battlefront II with the intention of bringing them back later. Many claimed that due to the inclusion of these microtransactions, Battlefront II was essentially a pay to win title since those who poured money into the game would be able to earn more Star Cards of a higher level. However, this claim is a moot point now until we learn how transactions will be reintegrated into Battlefront II.
Taking all of this into account, this iteration delivers a far better experience than what we saw in 2015’s Battlefront, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
This mode allows you to both play against your friends in split-screen versus matches or play through a variety of short missions called Battle Scenarios. These scenarios typically see you filling the role of one of the Hero characters from the game with the goal of defeating a certain number of enemies in each time.
As of this review, there are sixteen different scenarios to play with eight each centering around the light side and dark side characters. Additionally, each scenario has three levels of difficulty to choose from with a star being awarded upon completion of each one. For some reason, you are not allowed to choose the highest level from the outset and you instead must beat the scenario on the lowest two difficulties before reaching the expert tier. I would have greatly appreciated the ability to simply dive right into the harder combat situations from the beginning since the lower two difficulties were mind-numbingly easy. You receive 100 credits after every mission you complete, but after a while, you will stop receiving in-game credits as rewards for completing a scenario for a certain period of time. DICE claims that the reason for doing so is so that players aren’t able to take advantage of the credits system and earn more loot crates or Star Cards without playing the multiplayer.
Should you play it? Star Wars Battlefront II is a good game overshadowed by the controversial loot boxes and microtransactions, but often you will feel that it should be better than what it is. It can bring the joy of the Star Wars universe that fans of the franchise need and want, but mostly because no one else has the license to make a game based on Star Wars. Both campaign and multiplayer are enjoyable experiences, but also very forgettable.