DICE created a brilliant game, with an immersive storyline and a very impressive online functionality. EA ruined people's hopes with pointless paywalls and an utterly obnoxious ignorance of what fans want.
Ever since it was announced last year, Star Wars Battlefront II had garnered an immense amount of hype and excitement, considering it was going to improve on its average-at-best predecessor and hopefully revitalise the gaming scene for the Star Wars franchise, which has stumbled and slipped around since the release of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga way back in 2010.
The first improvement that Battlefront II makes on the 2015 predecessor Battlefront is the inclusion of an interesting new single-player story. Playing as Iden Versio, a commander in the Empire’s elite Inferno Squad, you find yourself starting just moments before the stunning climax to Return of the Jedi. As you witness the destruction of the Death Star II, a final directive from Emperor Palpatine arrives, via your Imperial Admiral father. It is known as Operation: Cinder.
Without wanting to spoil too much more, there is a brilliant sense of progression. You traverse various new planets, as well as old favourites as you and the squad attempt to restore order by destroying the rebel scum, collecting intel and intense space battles. Certain chapters (out of the 13 in total) have you playing as different characters outside Iden’s own timeline, such as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia completing various objectives and missions to further bridge the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Although at times these do distract from the excellent Iden Versio narrative, they are fun enough to play, albeit lacking in replay value. As the storm progresses, the lines between peace and order that Iden sees as a product of the Empire become increasingly blurred. This creates an emotional and mental gravitas rarely seen in any video games, let alone the Star Wars franchise.
Onto more general gameplay aspects, the controls can at times become a bit repetitive, but that is the nature of every shoot-em-up. Select your class, grab your kit and wreak havoc. One definite improvement for Battlefront II is the control of spaceships, which was clunky and unwieldy before. Although it isn’t quite perfect, it feels a lot smoother and precise. Tight corners and asteroid fields are still going to be a challenge, but it isn’t quite the hellish task in the original Battlefront.
Regarding online matches, there is no denying that DICE, the developers have created a wonderful polished product. The cinematic quality of cutscenes and background is absolutely gorgeous, capturing the various alien planets in all their glory. Stormtroopers, First Order soldiers, rebels and of course the iconic heroes and villains are all unique in class as well as carrying their own special traits to diversify them. Naturally, characters like Emperor Palpatine, Rey and Han Solo are more powerful than your average mooks, however, this is also dependent on how competent the rest of your team is.
Unfortunately, for the online gameplay, EA decided to try and ruin any semblance of competitive balanced gameplay by a ridiculous implementation of unnecessary cash-cow lootboxes that ultimately led to one of the biggest fan backlashes I have ever seen. Not to mention an unbalanced progression system which locked away some of the most popular characters in the Star Wars franchise: Luke Skywalker and Darth bloody Vader, behind a paywall or a laborious and tedious grinding session. For these reasons alone, it is enough to deduct marks. EA have forgotten the principle rule in the gaming industry- you are only as popular as the number of fans who buy your game. Massive share-price drops is a perfect karma.
If you’d prefer offline gameplay with your friends, then BFII offers up a new Arcade Mode, which draws on Battlefront‘s co-operative missions, offline multiplayer, and most importantly, you can still have the classic Heroes vs. Villains on Mos Eisley. The only gripe in this aspect is that offline, everything is still locked unless you unlock it online as well. Anyone who doesn’t have WiFi, or isn’t particularly adept at the game faces a long trek to unlock everything, which will obviously not be very fun to take part in.
I had such high hopes for Star Wars Battlefront II and in some ways, these hopes were met and perhaps exceeded. In other ways, they most certainly fell short. Whilst it is better than 2015’s limp offering, it still certainly leaves me pining for the PlayStation 2 original which remains the best.
Check out the trailer for Star Wars Battlefront II below and judge the game for yourself: