The first thing I experienced at EA Play this year was being stung by a bee. That doesn’t have anything to do with Star Wars Battlefront II – I just thought I’d share that detail. It was actually two bees, to be precise. If you needed some logical through-line to keep this thing grounded, there you have it.
I never really played 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront. Not out of any dislike for the sci-fi franchise or DICE’s efforts – I just never got around to it. But after writing news reports about the game for several years, as well as the reaction from critics and fans prior to EA’s conference, there was a common consensus; there just wasn’t enough. The developer crafted a sturdy skeleton to be sure, but without enough multiplayer content or a compelling singleplayer to flesh it out, players were just left with bones to gnaw on.
While EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson promised that Star Wars Battlefront II would have triple the content of its predecessor (what does that even mean?), I only managed to get my hands on the multiplayer build. The scenario featured clone troops against the annoying droids from Episodes 1 through 3. The mode is a linear scenario-based affair; one team is moving a payload to its destination, while the other tries to shut it down. As teams push-and-pull, objectives surface, organically moving the action to desired locations – meaning you’ll have to keep active to keep your score high.
Unlike 2015’s entry however, that score comes with real benefits. You no longer pick up tokens on the battlefield to get access to vehicles or hero units. Getting kills, assisting squadmates, or completing objectives rewards you with Battle Points. Between deaths, you can cash these in for tiered rewards; cheap ones include heavy mechanised units, while pricier tags will let you play the lightsabre wielding Rey, or puckish rogue Han Solo.
The system seems like a step-up over what was there before, but I’m worried about those who languish at the bottom of the scoreboard and the experience they’ll have in the long-run. But in terms of rewarding players for their skills, and creating mini-goals throughout the match, I certainly understand – and appreciate the decision.
More depth has also been added with classes, akin to those seen in Battlefield. These dictate the weapons you can bring to the fight, but also the types of abilities you have access to. The assault droid for example, can throw a grenade or suppress the abilities of nearby hostiles. His passive skill also heals him after getting kills – perfect for that last-minute push to the control zone.
The map had us marching down a straight road to a large, enemy-controlled complex at the far end. While the first stages of the mission provided varied encounters in the form of back-alley skirmishes and heated main-road firefights, the latter stages felt messy. To win the match, we had to control a zone next to the enemy spawn. In-between however were tight corridors and singular choke points, leading to very samey, boring encounters. Breaking through the bulwark of soldiers didn’t feel like a hard-earned slog; just that we caught them by surprise as they were reloading.
From what I’ve seen so far though, I am impressed by Star Wars Battlefront II – and many of the press and hardcore fans I talked to shared that sentiment. The core of the multiplayer may feel familiar to DICE veterans, but the minutiae – the Battle Points and classes – add a layer of depth.
Star Wars Battlefront II releases November 17 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.