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Star Wars Battlefront II Review

First Impressions

Background

I absolutely loved the old Star Wars Battlefront games from the PS2 generation, I played through the campaign on co-op with my friends, engaged in competitive 2v2 split screen conquest matches, and even played through the galactic conquest, a strategic board game-like mode, against the CPU. So when the first reboot came out in 2015 I was there day one, and was disappointed in the lack of content. There was no campaign and very few co-op missions. I spent some time in multiplayer team death matches, but it was forgettable. The game was fun, but really lacked the spirit of the original series. In this second installment of the new series, more content and a campaign mode was promised, but I came in skeptical because I heard how shaky the release was in 2017.

Presentation

Battlefront II looks good and sound good, which is not surprising coming from DICE and EA, the same developer and publisher as Battlefield. The environments were colorful and interesting, and the characters looked great, all doing justice to the Star Wars name. Familiar environments and sounds were welcome and the voice acting in the campaign was some of the better that I’d experienced in a video game story.

Performance

I experienced a lot of bugs playing the campaign. Textures would pop in and audio would cut in and out, especially in walk-and-talk sequences, and although Quick Resume was supported, every time I opened the game back up it was broken, either running in fast motion or not allowing my character to move. Some similar bugs happened on and off all game, but with Quick Resume it was guaranteed. Online I experienced issues as well, with my character lagging often.

Initial Thoughts

I was happy to see a full campaign mode, and in my first couple of hours I was happy to experience a good variety of gameplay, controlling different characters and fighter ships, and I was interested in this new Star Wars story with interesting characters and great voice acting and environments. I was confused at the perk system, though, and the ability to customize my loadout which was an option at certain times but not others. I also noticed some wonky AI, but hoped things would improve.

Gameplay

Campaign

The campaign offers a good variety of gameplay, starting out controlling a droid from the start on a stealth mission, then controlling Iden (the main protagonist) as a shooter, and hopping back and forth between shooters, star fighters, AT-AT’s, Jedi, and more throughout the linear story. This kept me engaged and kept me from getting bored as no section overstayed its welcome. Any character or vehicle could also be controlled in first-person or third-person, which was a nice touch seldom seen in shooters.

It was interesting, though, that Battlefront II’s campaign implemented a sort of perk system where Iden’s loadout could be customized. New perks were unlocked naturally as the story went on, though, and there was no leveling up or further RPG mechanics, just a small bit to personalize the experience. This was a welcomed addition, but the fact that only Iden could be customized this way. Other characters and all vehicles are simply taken at face value and seeing how Iden only gets controlled for less than half the campaign, it seems like a strange inconsistency.

Combat in the campaign can be frustrating. Third person shooter sequences that make up most of the game, and though many modern third-person shooters implement a cover system, Battlefront II does not. And unlike more engaging healing mechanics like in Outriders, the player will heal after a period of taking no damage. This has obviously been done before, but without a cover system it is made annoying as I would run and hide and find places off the beaten path to recover, when I would have much rather been able to stay in the moment and in the action out in the open.

There are minor stealth mechanics, too, but they are surface-level at best. Enemies won’t detect the player until they are in their line of vision, and players can stealth takedown enemies if unseen, but being seen was inevitable for almost every mission, and once seen by one foe every enemy will know exactly where the player is at all times. This meant a relentless barrage of stormtroopers coming at me from all angles even when I thought I had escaped combat and found safety.

The AI can be annoying in other ways too. At times they will frustratingly and rapidly duck up and down behind cover if I am aiming at them, and other times find themselves stuck behind a barrier useless. I never felt like I was learning and improving at how to engage each fight or each enemy, it felt more often like I was just getting lucky or unlucky in standing at a spot that exploits the AI the best.

The levels and missions are linear, with only a few sections where I left to wonder where to run and gun next. What was frustrating, though, was that most missions had me take out a group of troopers and move forward to the next point of interest, but some missions kept spawning infinite troopers until I moved forward to the correct location. It was impossible for me to tell what type of mission I was in, and sometimes if I stayed back fighting endless troopers it was a waste of time, but other times if I went forward before I had taken out the right (undisclosed) amount of troopers they would spawn behind me and it would mean certain death as I was caught in no mans land with no cover.

Overall the campaign was fun and enjoyable, but it was far from perfect.

Multiplayer

I spent more time in the campaign than I did in multiplayer, and that is mostly because of how unwelcoming the game is to new players. No competitive multiplayer experience should allow seasoned players to start the game with strictly better troops than the new players, but this is the case, and its unforgivable.

The multiplayer progression is deep. As players can choose from different trooper types and gain levels with each different variant. After progressing through these levels (which is a slow grind) more powerful perk options become available. Since new players will start with no perks for any class, they are at a disadvantage.

A points system allows each player within a game to unlock an even more powerful class for one life, be that a stronger trooper or droid, a vehicle, or even a jedi or sith lord. A risk/reward game comes into place deciding whether to choose a droideka for a life or keep saving up to hopefully be Darth Maul if the battle lasts long enough. This system, in my opinion, is flawed as it leads to most matches being a runaway with the team that starts strong getting heroes quickly and dominating from there.

The main game mode is supremacy, which has players vying for five control points and gaining points for controlling more positions for longer. This may be familiar to the original Battlefront II or to Battlefield players, but is a daunting mode to get thrown into for new players. Working with teammates and spawning on them is key and no new player wants to focus on objectives, they just want to shoot, and this mode is not kind to that strategy.

I did not try out the co-op missions, but they appear to be limited, like in the last installment, and it would have been more interesting to be able to play the entire campaign co-op or to even see the return of Galactic Conquest.

Lasting Impressions

Story

Those who will enjoy Battlefront II the most will surely be those who came for the story. It is a brand new plot that takes place between Episode VI and VII and holds up the quality of the Star Wars name. Without spoiling much it stars Iden Versio, an imperial officer, dealing with the tough decisions that need to be made for the Empire in the wake of the Emperor’s death. The player will run across many familiar Star Wars characters and locations and that alone will be enough to keep fans going throughout the short campaign.

Play Time

The campaign only lasted me around 7 hours, and as far as replayablility there is no reason to want to jump back in. Those who want to dive deep into the multiplayer will surely be able to, with plenty to unlock and those perks taking a long time to do so, though getting through the early stages as an underpowered newbie will be annoying. Co-op game modes may add more replayabilty, though battling this game’s AI for more than the length of the campaign may be exhausting.

Takeaway

Battlefront II has a short and varied campaign that kept me engaged as it was benefitted from using the legendary Star Wars name, worlds, and characters, with a story that I was already invested in before I pressed start. From there, though, many missteps were taken, from the game-breaking bugs, to the wonky AI, to the strange progression system, to the fact that the campaign can’t be played in co-op. Competitive multiplayer made even more inexcusable choices, with perks allowing players to strictly improve their characters that are locked behind either a long grind or a paywall. Even to those willing to pay, many game modes are not very approachable to newcomers, meaning I would not recommend this multiplayer experience.

As a Star Wars fan, I still had a great time with the campaign as it had memorable characters and fun set pieces, but those looking for a deeper, more challenging, engaging third-person shooter will not find it here.

Pros

Interesting Star Wars story

Varied campaign gameplay

Noteworthy environments and music

Cons

Poor AI

Numerous bugs

Unwelcoming multiplayer environment

Overall

4/10

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