Any gamer, internet-goer or lifeform identifying as human will have heard about Star Wars: Battlefront 2. To say the game caused a bit of a stir in the video-game world would be as much of an understatement as claiming Donald Trump has slightly shaken up US politics.
The original Star Wars: Battlefront series is a much-loved piece of video-game history that many people were incredibly excited to see return two years ago with Star Wars: Battlefront (2015). However, after initially strong reactions, interest in the game slowly deteriorated. While striking and well-put together, it lacked a lot of what people look for in a game; including a single-player story or multiplayer with depth.
DICE seemed to have learned from these mistakes when Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was announced. Boasting multiplayer with an extensive range of maps, characters, game-modes and customisation options, while also including an original and exciting story-mode, the new title was set to sweep the gaming world and reclaim the lost love of the Battlefront series.
But, as you probably know, that didn’t quite happen.
The Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Controversy
We can’t discuss this game without addressing the elephant in the room. Microtransactions are commonplace in most video-games these days, yet Star Wars: Battlefront 2 seemed plagued with some of the worst offending uses.
At launch, players complained of pay-to-win gameplay and excessively difficult to unlock characters such as Luke — who could be unlocked with many, many hours of gameplay or a credit card. The controversy spread across media, both online and social, and found its way to Reddit, where a response to microtransactions in the game from developers received the most downvotes in Reddit history.
People were damn pissed about how extra content, important content, was seemingly trapped behind a paywall. EA addressed this issue by retuning the system. Microtransactions still exist within the game, as they do within many others, but they are scaled down versions of the embodiments that caused all the anger at launch. The credit system as also been adjusted to make it easier to earn rewards without financial input.
The damage was done though, and Star Wars: Battlefront 2 has earned itself a nasty reputation.
What About The Actual Game?
So, none of this controversy really relates to the question of quality in Star Wars: Battlefront 2. It only looks at a corporate side of the gaming industry that is being talked about across many platforms and genres. Indeed, Bungie is currently facing a lot of heat for the way it is handling Destiny 2.
If, like me, you don’t have a vested interest in how the industry works, all the hate surrounding this title will probably mean very little.
Instead, what you’re interested to know is likely whether or not Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is any good. Those looking for discussions on the issues of microtransactions will find plenty of content relating to this game elsewhere, but for others just wondering if this is a title worth paying for, purely from a gameplay perspective, Two Honest Guys has exactly what you need.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2: An Honest Review
On paper, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is leagues ahead of its predecessor. It comes loaded with so much more content than the 2015 version that those who played the previous incarnation with feel spoiled for choice.
With so much to dissect here, we’re going to break down this review into three core sections:
1. The Gameplay
There isn’t a huge amount to be said for the gameplay; either good or bad. It is functional. It does what you’d expect a shooter to do. It doesn’t really play with the boundaries much, or introduce anything you haven’t seen before. This isn’t really a criticism. While new elements are always fun, this game isn’t about taking you somewhere new in terms of gaming. It’s not an experimental title; it’s a Star Wars-themed romp.
There are, however, some fun little elements in the campaign that uses droid control, and I do quite like the way guns aren’t fitted with ammo but instead overheat and recharge.
Don’t hype yourself up for some new take on the world of shooters in a sprawling Star Wars world, but don’t worry that this game is all style and no substance. It doesn’t do anything new, but it works just fine.
Oh, and this is not really about gameplay, but I wasn’t sure where else to put it: The load speed of this game is utterly abysmal. I am playing on a fairly aged Xbox One, so there may be some fault there, but even so, shockingly slow.
2. The Multiplayer
The multiplier is where I sunk most of my time in this game and I have to say, I’ve had a blast. Pun definitely intended.
Let’s start with the negatives. Because nothing is ever perfect.
The multiplayer employs a class-based system, including different weapons and special abilities. While this works fine, for the most part, some of the weapons can feel like you are shooting wooden bullets and it isn’t uncommon to get mashed in a 1-on-1 firefight because somebody is kitted out with better gear than you. With most modes being flooded with players, it isn’t often noticeable, but frustrating in the occasional duel.
The heroes themselves are fun to use, but feel a little brittle. In massive, action-packed games involving teams of 40 opposing players, you’ll spend your time hiding around corners waiting to strike, rather than rushing out and obliterating foes with your lightsaber. With so many eyes on your glowing laser sword, getting caught out in the open means certain death in moments. It also takes a good couple whacks to kill even a standard trooper, which means while you tackle one foe, there is plenty of opportunity for others to gun you down.
Those skilled players will probably have no issue here, but for us casual gamers, picking up Luke, only to die after a couple kills, is not very satisfying. In Battlefront (2015) they seemed more robust.
Another gripe I have is with certain imbalances with game types and environments. Some of the playlists are almost unwinnable, with one team facing an uphill battle for victory. Of particular note is Maz’s Castle. The strike game mode sees one team having to capture an objective and take it back to a ship. Getting the objective to the ship is nearly impossible due to respawns of enemy players, who basically pop up in the direction you are trying to move. Another issue with map’s like Maz’s Castle, Endor and a few other maps is that their colouring favours rebel troops. Their dark environment and shades of brown contrasts nicely with the bright white outfits of stormtroopers while hiding the camouflaged rebels.
It gives those rebel scum a pesky advantage, and injects a bit of imbalance into the multiplayer.
All that said, there is plenty to love about the multiplayer. There is a wealth of diversity in this online experience, from a wide array of maps to a selection of game modes custom made for each environment.
On Hoth, for example, you’ll enjoy the classic Walker Assault, while on Naboo you’ll find yourself in the midst of a Federation invasion. The diversity also spreads to the playable characters and their customisation options too. There are more heroes and vehicles on offer than in the previous game, plus you’ve got plenty of upgrades and special abilities that can be fitted to all playable classes and characters; allowing you to optimise your experience to fit your play style.
Besides four standard classes, essentially an assault class, a heavy, a sniper and a support trooper, you also have specials, heroes and vehicles.
Unlike in Battlefront (2015), where you had to wait for tokens to gain interesting gaming elements, you can join the battle as Jedi, star fighters or upgraded troopers by earning points through completing objectives and earning kills. Essentially, it means everyone gets a chance to experience what they want, instead of a madcap dash for the best stuff and seeing those familiar with token spawns always getting to play as Vader.
This change is very much welcome and the perfect way to encourage players to get involved in the action and not camp for better K/D spreads.
The multiplayer itself is very face-paced, with objectives constantly moving, people rushing around and laser blasts flying everywhere. It very much feels like a Battlefield game (no surprises there) in the sort of manic situations you find yourself in. A life in this game is no precious thing, unlike games like Gears of War, Rainbow 6: Siege or even Halo, and you’ll be no stranger to the load screen by the time your gaming session finishes. Those who like a slow burn game, like Player Unknown: Battlegrounds, might find the speed of this game slightly off-putting, but for those who like to jump in and get stuck into the action, you can do no wrong with Star Wars: Battlefront 2.
We’ve also got to mention, that this is a multiplayer game set in the world of Star Wars, with stormtroopers, lightsabers, X-wings and the rest. It isn’t hard to get absorbed in this game, more so than in other shooters, simply because of the exciting and familiar world you find yourself in.
3. The Single-player
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 comes with two types of single player.
It has ‘arcade mode’ which is effectively an offline version of the online multiplayer, alongside some short, mission style levels. It’s great to see this mode return, as it existed only in a very limited capacity in the 2015 version of the game. You can jump in alone or co-op and enjoy a completely offline experience. It very much mimics the ‘instant action’ mode from the games released in the mid-00s. Perfect for a bit of offline multiplayer with friends or cracking on with some Battlefront when the internet dies.
What everyone was really excited about in this game, though, was the introduction of a story mode. I won’t give too much away, but the campaign is a fantastic addition to Star Wars: Battlefront 2. While a little cliche in places, the story is engaging with some interesting additions to Star Wars canon and exploration of a time after Return of the Jedi.
If you thought things were all hunky-dory after the destruction of the second Death Star, you were wrong. I certainly was.
In all honesty, if you aren’t a fan of multiplayer games, the campaign is definitely good enough to warrant picking up the title; especially now the price is coming down. It’s fun, well-thought-out, creative, employs some interesting gameplay elements and tactics, while also taking full advantage of the amazing graphics engine around which the game is built.
In total, you are looking at about 5 hours playtime for the campaign, which is fairly short. It’s not really all that surprising in a world where multiplayer rules, with plenty of other titles featuring similarly short story-mode runtimes. Despite this, its a cinematic adventure with relatively few shortcomings.
Probably not worth the initial retail of £50 on launch day, but now the game is middling at around £30 or less, entirely justifiable.
Overall Review: Our Honest Impressions
I got this game purely for the sake of reviewing it outside the context of the controversy, and I have to say I’m still playing it after gathering all my thoughts. It’s not the most original game in terms of story, multiplayer or gameplay, but it’s fun!
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is easy to jump in and out of, has plenty of entertaining elements and features much better longevity than the 2015 title. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than the 0.6 score it is languishing in on Metacritic? You bet your sweet ass it is.
Fans of Star Wars will get a kick out of this game. Fans of shooters will enjoy the environments and space-battles, and casual gamers like myself — who don’t often dedicate much time into getting good at video games — will find it’s a great game to switch on for 30 mins in the evening without getting pounded into the ground by veterans 100x than you.