A surprise to be sure, but an uneven one.
The reboot of Star Wars Battlefront back in 2015, introduced more grandiose battles than ever before. Two years later, Battlefront II works to quell the largely casual appeal of the first game, adding more maps, characters, and even a single-player campaign. But it’s hampered by a progression system that chokes on its aspirations.
Compared to the first game, the environments here are more varied, textures are more richly detailed, and everything you do is complemented by an authentic soundtrack of blaster bolts, explosions, and a fleeting orchestral score. The ground combat remains diverse and satisfying, too, with four different classes all offering unique traits. Regardless of which class you choose, the game makes short work of players who go in all guns blazing, accurately conveying the illusion of playing a small role in an epic battle.
You don’t always want to blend into the background, though, and that’s where Battle Points come in. This system replaces the random token mechanic from 2015, allowing you to acquire mid-match reward points to use on special troopers, vehicles and classic Star Wars heroes. Playing the objective and scoring hits is the best way to rack up your Points, but with varying costs for characters, spending them demands a tactical approach. This has its pros and cons, as while it makes for a more varied and intelligent system than before, it also alienates less skilled players.
In BII, you can embark on a single-player campaign following Iden Versio, an Imperial commander. Her tale takes place during the period between Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens, making for a unique point of view. Her chapters are broken up with side-missions in which you take control of Luke, Han and Lando, which sadly wrestle the focus away from Iden. Because of this, it’s tough to feel for most of the new characters in the 5–6-hour campaign.
Multiplayer, however, remains the core with Galactic Assault the game’s primary offering. Here, 40 players engage in vast battles while also meeting a series of objectives. Starfighter Assault sees you take part in full-on space battles. The mechanics of flying have been enhanced, and now you’ll find yourself weaving in and out of impressive set pieces to achieve your goals.
However, all of the online multiplayer elements are affected by a progression system. You upgrade using ability-enhancing add-ons called Star Cards. You get them in loot crates, which you can buy with in-game credits. When the game launched, the option to purchase them with real money was included; causing a backlash from the gaming community, so it was removed.
This type of approach is nothing new, but here its sheer invasiveness leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It’s a system that never emits any kind of charm. Here’s hoping with the DLC and further tweaks, it lives up to its mass potential.
Fraser Gilbert Verdict Your StarWars fantasy made real, wrapped around a poorly-designed progression system.
Pew pew pew pew! No Star Wars game has ever looked or sounded this good.