Initial Release: November 17th 2017
It’s clear that upon release this will feel like a well-rounded package that, at least content-wise, is worth its hefty price tag.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Star Wars Battlefront 2, from the inclusion of a much needed single-player campaign to the lack of a season pass EA seem to have created a game that’s actually listened to the complaints the previous one faced. It’s rare for EA to do something so accepted by the general public, so going into Battlefront 2 I had high expectations. For once EA has not let me down, I currently only have to access to around ¾ of the multiplayer content and the first 3 chapters of the single-player campaign but already they’ve outdone the original Battlefront in terms of content. It’s clear that upon release this will feel like a well-rounded package that, at least content-wise, is worth its hefty price tag.
Let’s start by talking about the very much anticipated Campaign, you play as Iden Versio a member of the Imperial Inferno Squad a team who “fights to save the Empire during its most desperate hour”. You start the campaign arrested in jail upon an imperial vessel and with the help of your companion droid have to escape and get back to well, killing more rebels. Set in between Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens its intention is to fill in the gaps of what happened to the empire once the second Death Star fell and the Emporer died. I should mention now that the opening of the game is very exposition heavy so expect a lot of film references, some subtle but most obvious. It should also be said though that none it ever feels crowbarred in, you can tell that it’s investing a lot of time into building up the world, which I hope will pay off in the later missions. From the little I’ve been allowed to play I have enjoyed the campaign, Versio is a likeable character to root for, her situation and position in the Star Wars universe is one that I adapted to fairly well. It’s difficult for a game to make you care about the villains but somehow you do manage to care about Inferno Squad. I have to admit that unlike the most recent shooters, after my third mission came to a close I was genuinely interested in what was going to happen next.
Throughout the three missions I played I was breaking out of jails, fighting Rebels on Endor and weaving in and out of space debris at ridiculously high speeds. Even in its first 3 missions I can’t help but praise the moment to moment variation. While none of the campaign stands out to me as revolutionary it does feel like some genuine effort to keep the player interested has been put in. But even with variation, the main run and gun foot solider segments are nothing to rave about. Most of what I played was running through linear corridors or forest pathways, fighting Rebels and moving on to the next linear pathway to fight more Rebels. I found even in more open areas I was restricted to where I could actually move which led to consistent annoyance when I wanted to traverse certain areas. The fact the multiplayer focuses so heavily on huge open and expanding environments just adds to my confusion as to why it all felt so linear.
Another thing that disappointed me was the lack of huge set pieces, in a Star Wars game you have so much potential for massive movie like set pieces and besides the space debris section of chapter 2, that’s nowhere to be found. I was expecting (especially in the opening mission) some big graphical spectacle like in Destiny 2 but what I got was a rather dull uninspired corridor hunt. That’s not to take away from the graphics though, much like the first Battlefront, Battlefront 2’s graphical capabilities are unrivalled in the shooter genre. It’s incredible to see the forests of Endor or the expanses of space in such great detail even on console. It never fails to amaze me that even in a rather uninspired corridor I’m still marvelled by the graphical capabilities of the game.
There are also some other smaller points id like to mention before I round up and talk about multiplayer. Firstly the length of the game. I blasted through those three missions in little over an hour, which is pretty short considering the full game doesn’t feature a huge number of main chapters. For all I know the game could surprise me and turn out to be 10-15 hours long but at the moment I am worried that what we’re going to be getting isn’t going to be much more than 3-4 hours long at a push. Both the campaign and the multiplayer have an irritatingly long loading time, which is annoying when you want to get into a game fast. Finally, the stealth segments in the game seem unnecessarily forced and without purpose, you are constantly being thrown into these stealth missions where you are easily spotted and are limited in gameplay options. If the game wanted me to use stealth there should be a significantly larger amount of ways to go about it. Not only that but even when you are spotted in these clearly stealth orientated segments you aren’t punished, as guns blazing is an incredibly more convenient way around things.
The multiplayer portion of the game doesn’t feel hugely different from the first game, the introduction of new characters/heroes/factions from the whole Star Wars canon is much appreciated when compared to the limited roster of the first. As far as modes go, Galactic Assault is a still a fun Battlefield-esque war, Heroes VS. Villains is great (as long as your not stuck with a vastly under-powered hero when compared to Darth Maul or Yoda) and the classic Strike and other basic modes all play fine without any complaints.The Starfighter Assualt mode is also surprisingly a lot of fun, as someone who’s never been keen on space combat in any games I did find myself really enjoying dog-fighting against the millennium falcon or taking part in high speed chases through the underbelly of a spaceship. It’s also testament that the space combat modes don’t just feel tacked on, it feels like a fully-fledged important part of the game, I just wish there were different modes other than just the one. The same goes for other modes in the multiplayer, fingers crossed well get more modes in the future but the severe lack of any new modes right now is a notable disappointment.
One of my biggest problems with the original Battlefront was multiplayer maps, the Star Wars universe has so many locations and so much information it can go with so it was disappointing that it really only skimmed the surface with its map design. Instead of the movie location replicas of the first set of Battlefront games the reboot took it upon itself to just make its own maps in the Star Wars universe. This didn’t sit well with me, my favourite part of the PS2 era Battlefront was playing through maps like Jabba’s Palace or the Mos Eisley canteen. It was me and my friends recreating the epic battles of Star Wars on the locations we’d seen a thousand times before and all of that was stripped away when the maps were stripped down to the dull areas of the first reboot Battlefront. Now admittedly some DLC fixed a bit of that and the maps in Battlefront 2 aren’t as bad as the first but its still not the movie level recreation I wanted from the map design. Hopefully, in the maps, I’ve been unable to play but I know are coming I might just get that.
As a whole Star Wars Battlefront 2 has a strong start, it’s a significant improvement from the first but it still feels like a loveless entry to the Battlefront franchise. While the original Battlefronts focused heavily on recreating movie moments these reboots just cash in on the Star Wars theme over a basic FPS template. The story so far is intriguing but it needs to do a lot more to impress me and the main multiplayer experience still just feels like a reskinned Battlefield. That doesn’t mean it is a fundamentally bad game in any sense of the word, it just means I’m not playing anything revolutionary and I can’t imagine on release date that will change significantly.