There certainly has been quite a lot of buzz about “Star Wars Battlefront II” lately, but most of it hasn’t been very positive. Well before the game released to everyone, the concerns about micro-transactions and loot crates had caused quite a few people to give up on it altogether. But here at The Gaming Outsider, we love Star Wars entirely too much to keep us from giving this one a shot. We played through the campaign and spent a good amount of time with the multiplayer as well. Does it live up to the Star Wars name, or has it gone to the Dark Side?
One thing lacking from the first Battlefront game was a single-player campaign. In Star Wars Battlefront II, developer DICE finally gave fans what they asked for. Instead of offering a story centered on familiar characters, we instead assume the role of Iden Versio, a soldier in the Galactic Empire. Yes, you are on the wrong side this time around. Iden is the commander of Inferno Squad, an Imperial Special Forces unit assembled by Admiral Garrick Version. The admiral also happens to be Iden’s father.
The story of Battlefront II takes place right after the events of “Return of the Jedi“. In fact, Iden and her crew witness the destruction of the second Death Star from Endor. From that point, she’s on a mission of survival, as she leads her squad in a desperate attempt to keep the Empire alive. There are also several other surprises along the way that vaguely fill in the gaps between episodes VI and VII. Most of this story is Iden’s, however, and it’s surprisingly solid.
Unfortunately, the campaign’s gameplay doesn’t quite live up to its narrative. The majority of this five-hour experience has you clearing areas of enemies on foot with various laser weapons. While the levels look gorgeous and feel very reminiscent of the movies we love, they simply aren’t exciting to play. The AI is extremely predictable, and the weapons aren’t very satisfying to use. I can tell that a ton of love has been put into making this look and feel like a Star Wars experience. The look is definitely there, but not the feel. It will make fans of Star Wars wish that a developer would go back and make current generation games based on the original trilogy.
Even the upgrades in this game feel incredibly clunky. Each hero has at their disposal three “powers”, each with its own cool-down. As you progress through the game, you’ll come across areas that give you different options for these slots to try to make the combat a bit more interesting. But none of these abilities really add to the fun department in any way. It feels more suited for multiplayer, which seems like this game’s primary purpose. If you’re going into Battlefront II expecting a deep, enriching campaign, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed.
There was one mildly bright spot during the campaign: the flight combat. Piloting a TIE fighter feels really cool, as does the other craft that are eventually available to the player. The controls feel tight, and the cool-downs make a lot more sense here. Much like the boots-on-the-ground missions, these levels look incredibly details and gorgeous. You really feel like you’re soaring above the familiar planets from the Star Wars universe, and if you’re a fan of the Rogue Squadron series of games, you’ll probably be wishing for more.
A game of this magnitude is bound to have a couple glitches, but the Xbox One version has some very massive ones. For some reason, the game doesn’t like this console’s sleep mode. Coming back to the game after putting the console to sleep causes the game to be unplayable. Character movement slows to a screeching halt, and the character may even float straight up into the sky for several minutes Hopefully this will be corrected with a patch in the future, but it can be easily avoided by actually exiting out of the game after each session instead of putting the game into sleep mode.
There’s some genuine fun to be had with the campaign in Battlefront II, but overall it feels like a bit of a letdown. It’s a shame, because the level of detail to make this game belong in the Star Wars universe is extremely high. It takes more than a decent story and gorgeous graphics to make a good game. At the end of the day, it’s a video game; and video games are supposed to be fun. Let’s home Battlefront III offers a more exciting campaign. Otherwise, we may have to put our faith in Amy Hennig.
The bread and butter of Battlefront II is the suite of multiplayer modes that will likely draw in most players. Like its predecessor, Battlefront II is essentially Battlefield-lite; as in, it consists of large-scale battles while peeling away a few layers of depth in order to appeal to a broader audience. Players will still warp into vehicles and special hero characters like before, but Battlefront II cuts the floating icons out of the maps. In order to earn a vehicle or hero character, players must cash in battle points earned while accomplishing certain actions in order to spawn into one. This is easier said than done and in most situations only the most skilled players will likely earn them due to the high costs of spawning them.
There are five main multiplayer modes that each focus on a specific type of gameplay. The most popular will be Galactic Assault, which is a traditional 40 player mode on large maps that require teams to work together towards certain objectives. Squads make a return which spawn groups of players together so they can work as a unit to effectively attack the opposing team. Bonus battle points are given to squads to promote sticking around and working together, but the incentive doesn’t really mean much since most players end up running solo anyway. Galactic Assault can be a really enjoyable mode in the right situation, which we’ll get into shortly.
Blast mode is a smaller, close-quarters combat game type that plays out more like a Call of Duty game. If you want to run around frantically and blast through enemies, this mode is for you. I figured this mode would suit me very well since I tend to favor fast-paced skirmishes, but I found the physics and weapon-types to sort of work against this style of play, making it more obnoxious than anything. Strike mode puts players in two groups of eight players to tackle special objectives. It plays out more like a smaller-scale Galactic Assault mode. Again, this is fine for players who want smaller matches, but I still feel like Battlefront II was more designed for large-scale combat, making Strike mode feel a bit weak.
Starfighter Assault is an aerial space combat mode that consists of nothing but aircrafts. Teams of players will fly around and engage in dogfights in space. The cool thing about this mode is that they throw in little bot controlled ships in the mix. The bots reminds me of Titanfall’s AI enemies that run around the maps that can be harvested for XP. Even if you’re performing poorly in this mode, blasting through bots makes the player feel like they’re still accomplishing something. If you enjoyed the aerial combat in this game, there’s a lot to love in Starfighter Assault mode.
Finally, there’s Heroes Vs Villians mode that makes a return from the previous Battlefront game. In this mode, players are split into two teams of four that consist of the light side and the dark side. Each player will control a specific popular character from the Star Wars universe and battle it out. Want to take on Darth Vader as Rey? You can do that here. The problem is that the dark side characters feel a bit overpowered compared to the light side heroes, making many matches feel uneven. It doesn’t help that light saber combat is sort of janky here too.
All of the controversy surrounding Battlefront II comes from the game’s loot box and star card system. Even though the real money loot boxes are not currently live, it won’t take you long to see how its eventual inclusion will cause some major problems with this game.
Each loot box you earn in-game includes star cards, weapons, crafting materials and in-game currency that can be used to enhance your character classes in multiplayer. Star cards add special perks to each character class or hero character that isn’t given to the player from the start. The currency and crafting materials allow players to create new star cards or upgrade existing ones to enhance their properties. So essentially, the more time or money you put into the game, the more items you’re given to give you an advantage in battle. It doesn’t help that everything is randomized too, which will never guarantee you’ll get something useful.
This system basically forces the multiplayer modes to feel horribly uneven. The team with the most players who have decked out equipment will always win. I purchased the Deluxe Trooper edition of the game that came with bonus loot boxes including weapon and perk unlocks. I noticed that after I equipped these deluxe items, I had a much easier time killing other players, proving that throwing a little more money at the game gives you an advantage. No match that I participated in felt like everyone was on a level playing field. As a result, this makes Battlefront II very frustrating to play at times.
Each kill from another player will display his or her setup to you, basically making every player in the game transparent in what they own. I found myself in a couple of situations where I had a huge advantage over another player, yet I still found myself on the wrong end of a blaster. Upon viewing that player’s equipment, I noticed they had many legendary star cards that gave them an advantage over me, even when I had the higher ground tactically.
I also noticed some server bugs on the PS4 version of the game. It seems like I get a 50/50 chance of the servers disconnecting at the end of a match when I back out to the main menu. When this happens, my earned credits and battle points won’t appear in my account for a certain amount of time before the servers finally catch up. I don’t lose any progress, but I also don’t actually lose a connection either. Two weeks later I still see these issues crop up.
I’m not going to sit here and say that I didn’t enjoy playing Battlefront II online though. There were several matches I found myself in that were a lot of fun. However, it seemed like the frustrating, horribly uneven matches crept up far more than the fun ones. When the paid loot box system goes live, this will become an even bigger issue. Until EA and DICE address this in a more meaningful manner, I do not see me sticking around for very long.
“Star Wars Battlefront II” Final Verdict
EA and DICE have crafted an amazingly authentic audio and visual experience with Battlefront II. In theory, it should be a better game than its predecessor since it includes more modes, more maps and improved gameplay. Yet in reality, the game isn’t much better at all. There’s a mildly enjoyable campaign that’s over before it even starts and a loot box system that will make playing online more frustrating than fun.
Overall, we feel as if Star Wars: Battlefront II spun in a 360, ended up right back where it was and shot itself in the foot. The good outweighs the bad and at this moment, we would recommend sitting this one out until EA and DICE address some of our major issues with the game. There’s certainly some fun to be had here, especially with the Starfighter Assault mode and some cool campaign moments. This game can be salvaged if EA continues to listen to feedback. We’ll see how it goes.
This review was co-written by Scott Clark and Josh Faulkner. Scott played the campaign on an Xbox One, and Josh played the multiplayer on a PS4.
Star Wars: Battlefront II59.99
- Campaign mode has some great moments
- Starfighter Assault mode is very fun
- Graphics and sound are outstanding and authentic
- Buggy campaign on Xbox One and connection issues on PS4
- Loot boxes and progression ruin balancing
- Story goes into disappointing territory