Star Wars Bat­tle­front II

A promis­ing new hope, ac­cord­ing to Nathan Lawrence

Hyper - - CONTENTS -

It re­ally isn’t hard for Star Wars Bat­tle­front II to im­prove on the short­com­ings of the 2015 re­boot. The loud­est gripes for Dice’s 2015 at­tempt are eas­ily ad­dressed: add more con­tent, throw in a cam­paign, and boost mul­ti­player depth. Sorted! (Sorry, devs.) So far, what I’ve seen and played of Bat­tle­front II shows that, like John Wil­liams’ iconic film scores, the de­vel­op­ers are tar­get­ing all the right notes.

There’s promis­ing com­part­men­tal­i­sa­tion, with three stu­dios play­ing to their strengths. Dice is in charge of the bulk of mul­ti­player. The newly formed nar­ra­tive-fo­cused Mo­tive Stu­dios is han­dling the cam­paign. And mas­ter-me­chan­ics Cri­te­rion Games, renowned for the Burnout se­ries, are re­build­ing and tun­ing the ve­hic­u­lar parts of the game.

Cri­te­rion’s Starfighter As­sault mode was the re­cent star of my hands-on pre­view. And it shines brightly. My first hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence with Bat­tle­front II was with As­sault on Theed: the same map and mode from the Dice­forged in­fantry mode that was show­cased at E3.

The po­ten­tial of the ground­based modes is there, but it’s hard to look past the preva­lence of choke­points in the sec­ond phase of the map, im­pos­si­ble to gauge the depth of the in­ter­play of the class sys­tem, and frus­trat­ing to re­alise that the lim­ited heroes are your only hope of dig­ging out a wellen­trenched de­fend­ing team.

Starfighter As­sault, on the other hand, was a night-and-day ex­pe­ri­ence when stacked next to Bat­tle­front’s shal­low Fighter Squadron mode. The im­me­di­acy of the depth and re­ward for skilled play was beaten only by the re­al­ity that Cri­te­rion has nailed the ship han­dling. It’s not just in the nec­es­sary ad­di­tions, like the abil­ity to roll your starfighter; it’s also high­lighted in the class-based logic be­hind the starfight­ers.

Hero ships are pow­er­ful and self-ex­plana­tory, and the ros­ter has been ex­panded to in­clude the likes of Poe Dameron’s Black One X-wing, and Darth Maul’s Scim­i­tar, the lat­ter

of which is in­cred­i­bly deadly with the right pi­lot be­hind the stick. But while TIE fight­ers and X-wings are part of the same bal­anced Fighter class, they han­dle dif­fer­ently.

Sim­i­larly, In­ter­cep­tors, like the Rebel A-wing and Im­pe­rial TIE in­ter­cep­tor, fly dif­fer­ently but are both glass can­nons: per­fect for speedy hit-and-run at­tacks. Then there’s the all-new Bomber class, like the Y-wing and TIE bomber, which sac­ri­fice speed but make up for it with strong ar­mour and stronger ar­ma­ments. The space-based Fon­dor map of­fered a sat­is­fy­ingly asym­met­ri­cal bat­tle, with the Al­liance tasked with de­stroy­ing ob­jec­tives, and Im­pe­ri­als in charge of vapouris­ing Rebel scum.

The asym­met­ri­cal mode means Rebel pi­lots are re­warded for play­ing the ob­jec­tive, and Im­pe­ri­als are in­cen­tivised to fo­cus on Y-wings, which tend to deal the most dam­age. This meant that if the Im­pe­ri­als play the ob­jec­tive well, Rebel pi­lots are forced to evolve their tac­tics, and di­ver­sify their fleet with A-wings and X-wings to pro­tect the harder-hit­ting Y-wings. This, in turn, means that Rebels who’d rather duke it out with Im­pe­rial pi­lots aren’t pun­ished for sup­port­ing their team­mates who are play­ing the ob­jec­tive.

When it comes to dog­fight­ing, the skill fac­tor has been upped. For­get about lock-on can­nons, that’s suf­fered the same fate as Alder­aan. If you want to use lasers to oblit­er­ate a foe, you need to land those hits man­u­ally. The re­sult: kills feel a whole lot more earnt and, there­fore, sat­is­fy­ing. Starfighter As­sault shows that the devs care about con­tent, depth and, per­haps more im­por­tantly, cre­at­ing a skill gap to sep­a­rate the aces from the green­horns.

THE ROS­TER HAS BEEN EX­PANDED TO IN­CLUDE THE LIKES OF POE DAMERON'S BLACK ONE X WING

Sabre­fights are just part of the bat­tle. There's space com­bat and blaster shootouts, too.

DE­VEL­OPER PUB­LISHER PLAT­FORM RE­LEASE DATE Dice, Mo­tive, Cri­te­rion EA

PC, PS4, Xbox One 17 Novem­ber

Roll the DICE

Star Cards are back, but they now have dif­fer­ent rar­i­ties. You can mix and match Star Card abil­i­ties be­tween ships, but you’ll need to un­lock them first. Ran­domly. That’s right: RNG has in­vaded Bat­tle­front II, and the op­tion to pur­chase Star Card packs is likely why all of Bat­tle­front II’s DLC will re­port­edly be free of charge.

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