You’re the pilot of your very own X-Wing starfighter, blasting through the outermost reaches of space with the stars streaking along your sides, and a set of skills and a blaster at your disposal; you enter the worlds of a galaxy far, far away, ready to take on the entire war all on your own. This is Star Wars: Battlefront II by developers EA DICE: a third and/or first-person action shooter that will toss you into the last moments of the Empire’s reign, and keep you on your toes in its viciously fast-paced multiplayer.
The Emperor is dead, the rebellion has taken down the second Death Star, and you’ve been captured by a rebel fleet and contained for interrogation. Unlike the previous game, Battlefront II is not a entirely multiplayer-only experience. This time you are the Empire. You are the dark that blacks out the light. You are Iden Versio, leader of the Empire’s Inferno Squad, and it’s time to escape from the rebels’ grasp and end their resurgence once and for all.
Battlefront II takes place moments before the film ‘Star Wars: Episode 6: Return of the Jedi‘ ends. Legions of Imperial troops are still alive and lost in the chaos of the aftermath on the planet Endor. After a clever and daring escape, Versio makes her way back to base where she receives one last order from the deceased Emperor that is sure to send the galaxy into a tailspin. Brewing is a clandestine plan set in motion that even Versio doesn’t have all the facts on. This story is definitely designed for hardcore fans of the films only and has little to offer for anyone else.
"Many of us are already aware of the controversy surrounding EA’s intentional misuse of loot boxes, heavily holding down the full experience in Battlefront II. It is a disturbing trend that feels like it’s stretching across many other games of this type as of recently."
You will now be trekking around a vast galaxy in this fully fleshed-out and ever exhilarating single player campaign. And the whole time you’ll really feel like you’re in far away lands thanks to the attention to detail Battlefront II imposes. Familiar characters, an ever changing plot, and plenty of action and stealth help push the story along the entire time in exotic and far-off locales.
To much debate about the previous game only containing a multiplayer mode, Battlefront II’s true emphasis is still placed on its strong online gameplay, and EA’s terrible implementation of loot boxes and a pay-to-win strategy.
Many of us are already aware of the controversy surrounding EA’s intentional misuse of loot boxes, heavily holding down the full experience in Battlefront II. It is a disturbing trend that feels like it’s stretching across many other games of this type as of recently. At the time of getting this review up, EA and DICE have confirmed that they have pulled out microtransactions. In the process they have made things grindy but what is available in the multiplayer mode is Battlefront II’s defiant strength.
Though single player focuses on the timeline during the aftermath of the film ‘Return of the Jedi‘, multiplayer is a no-holds-barred, amalgam of eras and concepts that is not cannon. You’ll see characters and locations from the prequel trilogy, original trilogy, and ‘The Force Awakens‘ films as the heroes and villains of the franchise cross over into each others’ timelines and worlds — it’s crazy and cool.
Characters models such as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Rey (last name withheld for now) look spectacular and all-too-real, especially on Xbox One X in 4K and on a HDR display. But the (sadly limited) heroes and villains that can be played, unlocked or purchased is disappointing.
There are some very memorable, and very detailed maps within Battlefront II. From the everlasting monsoon water world of Kamino, to the arid, heat-induced planet of Tattooine, every single world feels authentic. If you are here for the multiplayer only, and care little for the story of Star Wars, you can enjoy a jaw-dropping experience filled by inspiration and concepts of worlds not of this galaxy.
Unless you’re playing the game mode Heroes vs. Villains, you’ll likely be stuck with a background character. Depending on what era the current map is on, characters will change accordingly. For instance, on the elegant waterfall and prairie field planet of Naboo, you will have the option to choose (depending on if you’re on the ‘Light’ or ‘Dark’ side) a Clone Trooper or Battle Droid variant.
Officers carry a small pistol but can heal teammates. Specialists are great at long-distance but are weak and vulnerable up close. Heavies carry a repeater blaster, but are slower all-around. And Assaults are the common soldiers who carry around a standard-issue assault rifle and are average all-around.
Weapons are all laser-based and comes in many similar styles: Pistols, assault rifles, repeater rifles, sniper rifles, and other specialty weapons such as thermal detonators, RPGs, turrets and more. When you get into movie characters such as Yoda and Emperor Palpatine, you’ll get more audacious weapons and powers like a lightsaber and lightening strikes, respectively. But not all movie characters are equal. There are the likes of Han Solo and Boba Fett who both carry around pistols. Though Fett can fly around with a rocket on his back, making him a very powerful character that can shoot from the sky for long periods of time.
Both weapons and characters can be attached with Star Cards. Star Cards are extensions and added abilities to certain weapons and characters. Each character can support three Star Cards, but only one slot is unlocked upon starting the game. Remaining slots must be unlocked with character progression. The more you play the better chances of unlocking new Star Cards you’ll have. Also, the game offers a daily login loot box. Each time you login to the game you’re guaranteed one loot box. This box contains any number of random items, from Star Cards, to credits, to weapon parts. Weapon parts help you construct a weapon that fits your comfort and gameplay, along with making the weapon better at handling and other abilities.
"Galactic Assault is back-and-forth style battling where one minute you may think you’re winning, but the next might feel like disaster is looming. This is a true feast for the big-battle-hardened warrior in us all. "
As for game modes, Battlefront II has several to choose from. And though I found them all sort of familiar to one another, some of them were incredibly fun.
In the Heroes vs. Villains game mode, matches are based on two teams of four players that consist of only movie characters. Unfortunately, not all heroes and villains are available to choose from, as some are locked and must be earned or purchased to unlock.
In Heroes vs. Villains you’ll team up with the heroes or villains, respectively, of the films on each team, and from across the many Star Wars era maps. So you can be on the Villains’ side as Darth Vader (from Episodes III-VI) while your teammate can be Darth Maul (from Episode I). Same for the Heroes’ team as well: Play as Yoda (Episode I-VI) or the heroine Rey from the newest movies. Each match will take place on one of many maps from across the Star Wars galaxy that characters may or may not have ever visited within the films. I found Heroes vs. Villains interesting but a bit unbalanced. Sure, I got to play as one of my favorite characters from the films, but I found that some of the powers and abilities from each character were better than others. For example: Yoda was small, fast and hard to hit when I played as Darth Maul who only has a light saber throw ability and quick dodge making it hard to keep up with the little green guy.
Abilities cool-down rather quickly, allowing more powerful characters to attack, run and comeback again for another round; this can be a bad situation if you have a character that can’t block such abilities. The concept of a lightsaber battle sounds a lot more fun than it actually is in Battlefront II. There are little-to-no parry moves, rebounds, or saber-on-saber bouts. Instead it is dulled down to hacking and slashing until one character inevitably goes down. Of course these moves should also be focused with Force abilities, but not every character is a Jedi or Sith. Some are just ordinarily human.
The Strike game mode is based on two teams of eight-players that are dropped into objective-based gameplay. One objective is to try and get the package to the enemies’ team’s side, while avoiding gun fire and special characters along the way. It’s really easy to lose focus within this mode with so much going on at once. I found myself running around and killing anyone in sight totally ignoring the objectives. But once you find the flow of this mode and get into the groove, it can provide a fun experience
If you’re looking for an authentic feel of Star Wars, head on over to Galactic Assault. Two teams of 20-players are set on a large destination map. An all-out battle royale of intensive laser flurries rain down over massive-sized maps. There are almost no spaces for you to hide in for long periods of time, and if you don’t help your teammates on the front line, you will lose ground fast and ultimately be defeated. This chaos-ensued mode where being the best doesn’t guarantee survival is beyond the concept of what any other Star Wars game has given us so far.
Galactic Assault is back-and-forth style battling where one minute you may think you’re winning, but the next might feel like disaster is looming. This is a true feast for the big-battle-hardened warrior in us all.
"Overall, Star Wars Battlefront II is a solid game that is ultimately weighed down by its wall of locked goods, unwanted pay walls and microtransactions. "
Starfighter Assault is all about space battles. These heart-racing dogfights are often objective based; where taking down a cargo ship is main focus. Of course, there’s nothing fun about taking out A.I. controlled ships in vast space with several other players zipping around the void. So everyone is often out trying to kill one another rather than complete the objective. I found these battles to be incredibly fun and exhilarating. Though I wish there were more automatic maneuvers; maybe pushing a button could help you out of getting locked-on to by an enemy ship, or allow an automatic barrel roll. Most of the controls are up to you in deciding how you go about determining your destiny. But some helpful automatic controls for certain moves would have made this mode unbelievably good. Again, you will be stuck with certain fighters, such as an average ship with standard blasters, a fast ship that’s weaker, or a heavier ship that can launch bombs/missiles. Other ships, such as the Millennium Falcon will take points to unlock before you can use them.
Of course each mode has unlockable characters and vehicles that can be earned by points accumulated through gameplay. However, even some of the already locked characters and vehicles are locked behind another unlock wall. These take in-game credits that can be earned through gameplay or real-money purchases. So once you’ve unlocked a character on the main screen, that doesn’t exactly mean you can just play as them whenever you want. You’ll still need to earn their in-game unlock while playing.
Overall, Star Wars Battlefront II is a solid game that is ultimately weighed down by its wall of locked goods, unwanted pay walls and microtransactions. At the time of getting this review up, EA have pulled down the pay to win aspect of the game. But we don’t know how the developers will tweak the progression system given that they do plan to bring microtransactions back in the future. However, the game is enjoyable even without all of the items.
The intense online battles were chaotic and well worth the wait. Single player campaign was developed ith great care that fits not only into the movies, but the Expanded Universe’s novel, as well. I think there is a great game to be found within Star Wars Battlefront 2 but given the controversy the game finds itself in, it will be interesting to see where DICE and EA take the game next.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
The game is beautifully detailed, Starfighter Assault and Galactic Assault make you really feel like you're in the Star Wars Universe, the campaign story is great, great music, superb graphics.
Characters take a long time and a lot of skill to unlock, some of the smaller game modes feel all the same, the story is not designed for non-fans, unwanted pay walls.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is fantastic follow up to the 2015 title but is ultimately held back from reaching true greatness thanks to its demonic microtransactions.