Despite its iffy UI, I really enjoyed Star Wars Battlefront. Sure it had some issues, but it looked great and gave me the experience of being slap bang in the middle of the Star Wars universe – and with authenticity at its heart – how could any Star Wars fan dislike it?
Upon staring Battlefront 2 I headed right for the shiniest new thing – and something that fans have been crying out for – a single player campaign. Playing on the wrong side of the force, you take on the role as Special Forces badass Iden Versio. The game begins with Iden in custody. Your mission is to escape and prevent the rebels from learning the true plans of the Empire’s trap on the forest moon of Endor. Well we all know how that played out… the main guts of the story is the telling of how the stragglers of the Empire moved on after the events of Return of the Jedi.
The campaign plays like smaller individual multiplayer missions that are strung together – but unlike Battlefront 2’s multiplayer – I really enjoyed the campaign. The story fills in many of the blanks to the Force Awakens and plays out from the perspectives of different key characters while also visiting several locations from the films, giving each one a history and purpose that is otherwise absent from the films.
Mostly the campaign is a whirlwind tour of the most loved heroes and locations of the films while pausing on Jakku to tell the story of the famous battle and climaxing with an ever so slightly juxtaposed ending that links to the beginning events of the Force Awakens.
Unlike the first game, there’s plenty of content to keep single players happy and the arcade mode has received significant attention to make it worth something more than just a fleeting visit with a variety of dark and light scenarios that span the Star Wars universe.
In a rather novel twist, it’s the multiplayer of Battlefront 2 that feels tacked on. With only five modes – three of which play exactly the same albeit different player counts – there is a real lack of variety to the multiplayer that is also lacking in an overall defining mode. The first Battlefront had the epic battles of Walker Assault, which have been sorely overlooked in the sequel.
Nothing in this multiplayer offering delivers that same wow factor or creates the expanse of an ever-changing playing field. Without this excitement I felt rather deflated by a bland set of modes that not only lacked in fun, but also lacked a sense of scale and that’s despite a 20 vs. 20 player count.
To make things worse – and in a similar way to Battlefield – Battlefront is unkind to new players. Starting with only one star card slot, new players will fall victim to opponents with a full complement of buffs. This isn’t helped by a ticket system that each team is restricted by – new players are a huge burden as they whittle away spawn tickets because they simply can’t complete against high-levelled players. Simply put, multiplayer is a mess.
To get to the good stuff you must grind hard to get new weapons and star cards, which can also be unlocked via a random loot crate system that has seen much criticism from the fan base. Let’s make it clear devs – an element of luck to unlock buffs puts an odd (and unfair) spin to a game and one that I can’t be arsed to entertain. I like to know what I’m playing for. Hitting a level grade and being rewarded with a new piece of gear is fine but random loot drops is just lame.
To be honest this perfectly sums up how I feel about multiplayer. The exciting world I once found now feels cumbersome. The thrill of escorting walkers is long gone, while long load times is inexcusable – I have to wonder what has gone wrong with the game’s development. Even the shakeup to Heroes and Villains, which introduces multiple spawns as you seek to kill a specific target on the enemy team and the introduction of epic space battles falls victim to the system of star card buffs.
Battlefront 2 looks gorgeous, it sounds gorgeous and even the single player experience can be defined as gorgeous. It’s just a shame that the multiplayer is lacking on so many fronts. It boggles my mind at how the excellence of the first game hasn’t been built upon. Maybe with numerous tweaks and content that will be inevitably delivered via season pass content, the multiplayer can reach the scope and variety of the first game. Meanwhile, I will be sticking with the campaign and playing couch Arcade co-op with my son.