Star Wars fans have been deprived of a worthy video game tie-in for several years, with DICE’s previous effort feeling lackluster and shallow in comparison to the studio’s own Battlefield series. With Star Wars: Battlefront 2, the studio has aimed to rectify many of the complaints raised against the original, with an abundance of content, a class system, revised space battles, as well as a full-fledged single-player campaign that bridges the gap between episodes VI and VII.
The campaign puts players in the role of Iden Veriso, a loyal soldier of the Empire who leads the special Inferno Squad unit. After the events of the Battle of Endor, she is to prepare the Empire’s counterattack against the rebellion. While the idea of a campaign depicting the Empire’s side of the story sounds great on paper, its execution is largely lackluster. Instead of delving deeper into the motives of the Empire and its characters, the storyline takes odd twists and strays away from the established intentions of the Empire.
There’s no meaningful reason for players to care about Iden, mainly due to the inadequately conceived character development. It doesn’t help that you’re occasionally put in the shoes of popular Star Wars characters such as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo between levels where you control Iden, further preventing a stronger connection with the protagonist.
Many of the areas in the campaign are recycled from multiplayer maps. It often gives the impression that the story and mission design have been built around these recycled areas, as opposed to vice versa. It does however feature a few nicely executed scripted sequences that occasionally manage to keep things interesting. Outside of these occasional highlights, the campaign often feels like a training session for the game’s multiplayer modes. It’s a common occurrence for the game to throw wave upon wave of enemies with sub-par AI at you.
The core experience of Star Wars: Battlefront 2, however, is found in its multiplayer battles. Unlike the first game, Battlefront 2 doesn’t just cover the original trilogy. The entire Star Wars lore is explored here, including the full repertoire of locales, weapons, vehicles and heroes. This adds up to a total of 11 maps, 14 playable heroes and dozens of vehicles. It’s far more content and variety than what was there in the original Battlefront. With the theatrical release of Episode 8: The Last Jedi, additional maps and characters from the movie will be added for free.
Once in a multiplayer match, players are given the option to choose from one of four classes: the Assault focuses on shooting and blasting, the Heavy wields powerful guns and a barrage, the Officer places gun turrets and heals his comrades, the Specialist acts as a scout and sniper.
You receive battle points for performing kills and fulfilling mission objectives during the course of a match. These points can specifically be spent during the ongoing match for temporary use of ruffians, star hunters or heroes/villains such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo or Boba Fett. This adds a little to player motivation, as you strive to perform better in order to work towards the goal of unlocking your favorite hero/villain.
The shooting itself feels good, and maps are generally well-designed with plenty of vantage points. There are a few odd design choices, however. Successfully performing class-specific abilities doesn’t net you additional rewards. Hence, there’s little incentive to play class-specific roles. You can’t respawn on any of your teammates either. This is a stark contrast to Battlefield 1, where teamwork is usually encouraged.
By far the most engaging mode in the multiplayer lineup of Battlefront 2 is Starfighter Assault. Here, up to 24 players can get inside the cockpits of well-known starfighters such as the TIE fighter or X-Wing and battle it out in outer space battles. The mode features objectives that each side works towards achieving, such as taking out the key vulnerabilities of a large ship.
The class system from other modes is also carried over here, and you’re able to choose from hunters, bombers and interceptors. Each comes with its own flight characteristics and special abilities.
The Starfighter Assault mode is where Battlefront 2 truly delivers the Star Wars experience, and it’s here that the sequel feels like a step above its predecessor. Due to the objective-driven gameplay, these battles don’t feel like your standard team death match. Also, Criterion Games’ involvement is clearly evident here, as the starfighters feel great to control.
Progression is deep rooted into the game’s loot box system by design, and it’s virtually impossible to level up the character class of your choice. You level up a character belonging to a particular class by attaining its corresponding star cards through your earned loot boxes, and the probability of acquiring a card is dependent on the random numbers game. The aforementioned star cards allow you to improve the stats of their corresponding soldier types or replace them with entirely new ones. It’s all pretty similar to the game economy models found in free-to-play games.
Game balance is naturally also affected as a result of this progression system. It’s entirely possible for you to encounter a fully upgraded star hunter or hero that can inflict or withstand significantly greater damage due to better equipment. This is particularly noticeable in the Heroes-versus-Villains mode, in which teams of four heroes and villains battle it out with each other. Those with better equipment are usually the ones who turn out victorious.
With respect to the audiovisual presentation, Battlefront 2 has completely nailed the look and feel of the Star Wars movies. This is particularly true for the Starfighter Assault and Galactic Assault modes, where a lot of mayhem results in particles and weapon fire flying all over the screen space. As one would expect, the game is just as excellent in the audio department, with tracks and sound effects seemingly borrowed straight from the movies.
All in all, while Star Wars Battlefront 2’s campaign is lackluster and forgettable for the most part, there’s a great multiplayer game here that is unfortunately held back by its progression system and, in turn, balancing issues. Regardless, it’s worth experiencing for its engaging multiplayer space battles alone.
Star Wars Battlefront II Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Star Wars Battlefront II is an action shooter video game based on the Star Wars film franchise. It is the fourth major installment of the Star Wars: Battlefront series and seventh overall, and a sequel to the 2015 reboot of the series.
Star Wars Battlefront II features a lackluster campaign, but there's a great multiplayer game here that is unfortunately held back by its progression system and, in turn, balancing issues. Regardless, it's worth experiencing for its engaging multiplayer space battles alone.