No one is really sure what Star Wars: Battlefront II is at the moment. As some of you may be aware, Star Wars: Battlefront II has undergone more than a handful of changes, each dialing back the egregious Star Card system and progression attributes just a tad to appease an enraged fan-base. The game is pretty and don’t get us wrong because its possibly the most realistic and best looking title for this year alone. However, pretty cannot cut all the corners this game tried to take in making an experience that set out from the beginning (from a certain point of view) to milk its consumer base dry if you want any competitive chance in the online scene. Sure, you’ve got a decent single player campaign (but in the end it feels like a bad fan fiction and way too short) and a welcomed arcade mode with couch co-op options but its not enough to save the train wreck that EA forced itself into.
The fact we get a single player campaign this time around is very welcomed. Apparently its all canon too which is cool since it seemingly ties in to Star Wars: Episode 8, so props to all who are involved. You will find that the campaign actually starts out very clever with some unique stealth mechanic you didn’t expect and follows up with what feels like it could be one great ride! It’s too bad that you start to realize there are some plot holes when inserting the main protagonist Iden Versio, and her two compadres onto Endor. If they are such an elite unit, then why did they allow Han and his small gang to blow up the shield on Endor? While the empire looks really stupid in Return of the Jedi, this just makes the overall good judgement of the commanding admirals and emperor to be even more so non-existent.
The following 1 to 2 hours aren’t as plot-holed but more of a means to guide the transition from the Empire to the First Order. Iden and her crew are sent on a few missions thwarting rebel attacks and acting on the emperor’s final commands. It seems a little silly to follow a command from a dead person, as if it matters, but I guess its to further stereotype the bone-headedness of every imperial officer. That being said, this is probably the best part of the game and adds a mixture of stealth, space, and ground combat. It doesn’t last long though and *SPOILER ALERT* you end up switching to the rebels… because.
It’s not really a big shocker because every cannon main-line protagonist has been “good” for Star Wars for as long as we can remember (except Episode 3 Anakin). This change leads to a lot of suspicious plot direction where Leia, Lando, and Han are far too trusting of an imperial special ops who very well got behind enemy lines before and destroyed captured empire secrets. Oh well, its the vehicle that gets us to the check-list of special hero sections. You get to alternate between Luke, Leia, Han, and Lando along with Iden of course. Truthfully, they are fun in their own special way and does give you insight to what these characters have been doing since Episode 6.
The campaign is still qwerky though and sometimes uninspired but it just sort of works. The main draw isn’t even Iden at a certain point because that is thrown out the window. The missions where you play as your favorite icons is about the best of it after the first two hours. The overall plot of Iden is mishandled in a lot of ways which leads to a questionable rescue adventure finale for the sake of who knows what. We are also left on a cliffhanger which might tie into the movie but as for a game that you paid $60 for, you are going to wish it was just resolved outright or rather not even shown the “extra scene” portion at all.
The multiplayer experience (excluding Arcade) boils down to different modes. You have Galactic Assault, StarFighter Assault, Strike, Heroes VS Villains, and Blast. So sure, you have less options on the surface than Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) but a lot of the game-mode ideas like Walker Assault, Supremacy, and Cargo get split up into Strike and Galactic Assault respectively. These modes stretch over 3 eras and 11 locations. There is actually a far bigger and more fulfilling selection of maps this time around like Kashyyyk, Naboo, and StarKiller Base!
- Galactic Assault– Battle on a series of large team-oriented, objective-based maps. Join two teams of twenty in conflicts across iconic locations, pilot favorite vehicles, choose from among four trooper classes, call in reinforcements, and be a hero.
- StarFighter Assault– Two teams of pilots take control of fighters, bombers, interceptors, and hero ships and engage in multi-stage, objective based starfighter battles.
- Strike– In Strike, two teams of eight players compete in objective-based scenarios.
- Heroes VS Villains– Star Wars ‘ greatest characters pitted against one another in a four-on-four team battle. This is your chance to act out your dream duels between Star Wars ‘ most powerful heroes and villains across cinematic eras.
- Blast– Blast invites players to leap in to fast paced, close quarters combat. Your standard team death-match mode.
These modes are all heavily objective based (not including Blast) and the concerns over teamwork insinuation and squad identifiers in the beta have been addressed since then. At it’s core, every mode is fun at base level for Star Wars: Battlefront II. The gun play is more solid than Star War: Battlefront (2015) and the new class system it gives really makes it feel more like a team game. Much similar to the Battlefield games you have 4 basic classes (Assault, Heavy, Officer, Specialist) but not so similar is the stark contrast of each class. Each class has their own gadgets and perks that rely on the new Star Card system. You can change out your guns if you wish but you better hope you get them with progression or in a loot crate!
If you do well enough in-game, you can use your points earned in game to unlock special units like those in the image below or even vehicles and heroes/villains. Just don’t expect to be any villain/hero you want right away! More on that later.
This is the part that takes the train screaming and flying off the rails. Progression is tied to these loot crates. You can get some for completing the campaign, doing arcade challenges, or multiplayer challenges but ultimately its a progression system of chance. Sure completing some challenges may give you specific rewards but in all honesty, its mostly a crapshoot as to what you’ll really get. When you play, you earn credits (which is pretty set and doesn’t vary much if you do better in a match or challenge) and you can redeem them for the loot crate depending on what crate type you’d like to open (Soldier, StarFigher, Hero).
Not giving a pass to Call of Duty but for instance, in their game setup, you can progress and unlock new guns and equipment by just playing and leveling up (minus the guns locked behind their nefarious loot crates). You have a set path of progression that is not entirely random and you can unlock that certain gun/equipment/perk once you reach a certain level. Worse yet, if someone gets lucky crate openings and get rare Star Cards for the class they are best at, you are screwed against them if you didn’t have the same. People might argue that “you just need to get good” but if the other player got a star card that makes them more efficient than you and you are on the same skill plane… it comes down to one person having a distinct advantage versus the other, no matter the outcome. The question is, how do they balance this since they don’t know what players are going to have what at a certain playtime hour into the game?
If you want, you can spend a little extra money and get an up and up on the Standard Edition people if you get the Deluxe Edition. How is that not pay to win? Since the bombshell with fans, Disney, and the EA stocks, Dice has since removed the ability to buy more in-game currency to acquire loot crate that way, but they assure us it is indeed temporary. Right now without others having a direct line to pay into an advantage (other than the Deluxe Edition), the game is actually a little more enjoyable, but I wouldn’t purchase it knowing that switch is going to be flipped on any coming day. It’s hard to root for a multiplayer experience with such a shaky future in question.
Iconic figures like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Palpatine are locked away by a grind wall unless you play for a long time (or previously, buy loot crates and get credits to unlock quicker) and that’s been a real kick in the teeth. The price to unlock them has since be dramatically dropped but the whole system is silly and pointless so it does little to rectify the whole problem. Just let us play any hero we want like the first game. As if that wasn’t enough, the Arcade mode in the game lets you play various scenarios (1 to 2 player) and gives you credits in return. They even go so far as to cap the credits that mode give you, so good luck trying to play the game your way.
Star Wars: Battlefront II is bad for a lot of reasons but its based on a foundation of something that could have been good. The story feels rushed and pushed in the wrong direction but if you turn your brain off, you are bound to enjoy at least some part of it. The Arcade mode is okay and gives plenty of scenarios to play through; its too bad they discourage you playing it by capping credits earned through it. The StarFighter mode in this game is leaps and bounds above the first game’s and with the help of Criterion and Motive… its possibly the best mode in the game if you are into that (and although we didn’t touch on it, its very self explanatory).
When it comes to the full on multiplayer system though with the whole Star Card progression, that is where everything good, multiplayer wise, gets maimed. Sure, its more enjoyable now that someone simply cannot pay their way into greatness and has to actually play the game to unlock gear (unless you AFK of course since playing better means nothing in this game). However, the system in itself is broken with no real thought of balancing the game and giving people who are “luckier” the keys to win it all. Once and if micro-transactions come back into the game, if they are anything short of cosmetic only… we are going to see this game get progressively more frustrating to those who don’t have time to play it hours every day. It’s flawed at the root and we can’t recommend it unless you are just bursting with curiosity.
UPDATE 12/7/2017: Some changes to the player progression has been made since the writing of this article. Here are the details below, so at least have some consideration for them. As for the initial opinion piece, don’t jump into the game if you haven’t already, until you can see the final product.
- The end-of-round payout has been increased.
- Earn 3X more Credits daily in Arcade Mode.
- Daily Login Crates will now provide three times more crafting parts than before.