Now I’ll be the first to admit we’re a little late to the party with Star Wars Battlefront 2. But blessings come in all shapes and sizes, and with one of the biggest fears surrounding the title being the accessibility of the game for players joining the game at a date later than launch thanks to the game’s card system, we’ve had the chance to see just how much of an issue this poses to players, as well as assessing the well documented damage control measures implemented by EA following the absolute PR nightmare the title has faced surrounding its launch.
I came into the title just prior to the launch of ‘The Last Jedi’ season, therefore this content will be included within the realms of this review.
Loading up Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a rather slow state of affairs, the game almost debating with itself about starting at all, it takes that bloody long. Upon loading-in you’re greeted with your Daily Crate, and beg for a card that will give you some form of leveller for the multiplayer. You’ll inevitably get 3-5 common cards and go about your day. Battlefront 2 splits its experience down into 3 main areas, campaign, multiplayer, and arcade. Scrolling further through the menu will take you to your collection, where you can see how many cards you possess for your heroes and classes, how much you need to save to buy the next hero, and how many of the frankly pointless emotes you possess.
From there, the challenges menu, which possess a rather stacked selection of challenges for all of the game’s modes, which grant you various rewards upon completion, be it credits or crates, weapons or upgrade tokens. Ending out the home screen are a selection of Settings menus, where you’ll find the settings don’t go into one-third of the detail that Battlefield 1 does.
I’m going to make a lot of comparisons to Battlefield 1 here. While not the most solid release in history, being the most recent multiplayer title to come from DICE and EA prior to the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2, the title is a great representation of the scale of implementation the studio and publisher can achieve, and what they should by rights be achieving with every release. The options menu’s were a big let-down for me, after the incredible detail featured in the options of the Battlefield titles even as far back as Battlefield 3, I was disappointed to see the lack of customisation within the options. While options such as colour-blind mode and HUD are there, the lack of real in-depth customisation of sensitivities across all areas was rather disappointing to note. Being options that have been seamlessly implemented into the engine through the course of the Battlefield franchise, with options that usually only came to PC users hitting the console scene, it’s disappointing to see that development not make somewhat of a feature here.
Alongside the options are Star Wars Battlefront 2 challenges, a series of rewards given for achieving feats throughout the game, from completing missions and playing rounds in multiplayer, to more boutique challenges such as kills and victories. These challenges are one of the best ways for players to gain credits and upgrade points, as well as offering specialised crates for classes and characters.
Graphically the game is as impressive as you would expect from a title developed by DICE, but it’s not without its graphical drawbacks. Objects in the distance often do not render until you zoom in further, the most common offender being cargo crates, especially on maps like Kashyyyk, with the longer lines of sight. This can have an adverse effect on gameplay, where you notice a player in the distance, only to find they’re hidden behind a crate once you zoom in engaging in combat. This obviously affects the reverse also, as you can be spotted at great distances even though you should be completely hidden. Aside from this, the game’s rendering of facial expressions leaves little to be desired. With the extent of cut-scenes in the single-player, this becomes painfully noticeable. Lastly the armour worn by Stormtroopers can often look like thin cheap plastic. Of course in films this was often the case, but in a game setting, it would be nice to lose this illusion.
Going into the games campaign, the story starts with our protagonist, Iden Versio, who is a special forces operative, part of the infamous ‘Inferno Squad’. Captured by the Resistance, you find yourself quickly playing a droid, diving about the ship to free Iden and capture vital intelligence before throwing yourself out of the airlock. Standard stuff. After which you’re presented with a lengthy cut-scene, which features the destruction of the second Death Star, setting the events of the story right around the end of Return of the Jedi, and centres around the death of the Emperor, leaving you as a part of fulfilling his dying wish.
From here you’re thrust planetside with the rest of Inferno Squad, Del and Hask. You’ll begin to realise that the storyline is very much a case of cutscene-action, cutscene-action, and the cycle becomes rather repetitive. The cycle does get broken up with the perspectives of other characters, although these feel as though they are implemented more for the sake of actually giving players a chance to play someone other than Iden and get away from her rather drab and frankly annoying personality.
The Star Wars Battlefront 2 campaign was, for me, my first real taste since the Beta at the game’s flying mechanics and I can say they’re just as bloody backwards as they were then. The system lacks the polish that makes flying in battlefield titles so fulfilling, and quite frankly, I do fail to see the logic behind making the system so drastically different. Yes this is flying spaceships in space, not a biplane or modern jet in atmosphere, I get that. But the change to the system used here just makes no sense to me. It might be my 100+ hours flying in other titles talking, but not having the option to change to the previously loved system really feels like a miss-step. By the end of the campaign you’ll be used to them however, because boy oh boy did they pad the story out with it.
Much like my ex in college, the padding does little to make up for what’s missing. The storyline throws all the predictable poorly built plot twists you’d expect, and really does miss out on building a compelling story, and instead tells what feels like a drastically shorted version of events. one minute you’re here next you’re there, and the cut scenes while abundant, do little to really explain what is going on. You’ll be wrapped up with the campaign in an afternoon, which is rather sad because the story really does have potential, it’s just so rushed together that it becomes so forgettable.
Even with the extra content added with the latest patch, the campaign only really gains another 45-50 minutes, which is rather needless. Once again the same issues arise, and you’ll quickly learn that the new faction added into the campaign is little more than meaningless filler. The first mission shows the faction using Arc 170 fighters as well as Naboo Starfighters, which are claimed to be used as ‘salvage’ but just come across as lazy game design, re-using assets to pad out an already padded campaign. As such, with the painfully predictable story, you wont be tempted to come back for a second look.
Star Wars Battlefront 2’s bread and butter for most will come in the form of the game’s multiplayer. The multiplayer is split into 5 modes. Galactic Conquest, 20 Vs. 20 battles on vast maps, similar to Rush from Battlefield in terms of linearity. Starfighter Assault, a mode that pits teams of Starfighters against each other in objective based scenarios that usually ends up being a game of who can kill the most. Heroes Vs. Villains, a mode that pits, you’ve guessed it, heroes against villains, giving players the best chance to play their favourite heroes, only for some knobhead with the purple Vader cards to force choke you off the map. Strike, a mode that pits teams of 8 against each other in objective based, one-sided gameplay, and lastly Blast, a 10 Vs. 10 mode that forms as the game’s team death match mode, featuring close quarters maps.
With Galactic Conquest being the game’s main mode, offering that big battle Star Wars experience, it’s rather disappointing to see the mode limited to 40 player servers, and not stretching to the 64 player environments that EA has done so well with in the past. With proof that the engine can comfortably hold that many players on large-scale maps, finding myself in a rubber-banding frenzy on Kashyyyk when I played my first game was rather disheartening. The Map itself is small in comparison to those found in the Battlefield titles, and yet even with 24 fewer players, the connection to the game was still dire. The issue has been somewhat rectified by the latest Patch for the release of the Last Jedi, although it is worth noting that this is technically the game’s 1.0 patch, and should have been there from the start.
In terms of gameplay, Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s multiplayer really highlights the issues surrounding the game’s upgrade cards. The controversy surrounding the game’s loot boxes has been the talking point of the past month, and while much has been done to make their implementation into the game more feasible, they remain a core mechanic within the title, one that cannot be avoided. While the latest patch gave all players access to all 3 card slots for the game’s 4 classes, that was originally locked behind the number of cards for a class, and remains so for special units heroes and vehicles. Your level with a class is not dictated by points gained as said class, but instead by the number of cards you own. The level effects how many slots you own, but also the level you can upgrade your cards to. Because of this, you are forced to use your credits to open packs to gain cards, in the hope of getting cards for the class you want, as well as hoping for some higher level cards. Given the effect that these cards can have, effectively making your abilities better than those of anyone with a lesser card, you can see the heavy focus that has been put on this mechanic which completely throws balance out of the window.
Another issue that throws balance to the wind is the game’s weapons. Each class has 4 weapons, the classes starter weapon, which changes by faction, but possesses the same stats, and 3 other weapons that are unlocked through reaching kill milestones with weapons in the class. The issue arises in that each class has one gun that is infinitely better than the rest, making the other weapons obsolete once unlocked. To add insult, these weapons also possess attachments, which are unlocked behind kill milestones with the weapon. These include the standard upgrades of scopes and cooling, but also some of the more troublesome upgrades, notably reduced recoil, making rifles painfully powerful, as well as bolt speed, which makes the game’s sniper rifles even more accurate. Coupled with the already overpowered weapons, these absolutely devastate the game balance. The starter weapons do not have any available attachments, further increasing the deficit.
Special units feel very oddly balanced, with the Wookie being an absolute powerhouse, while others feel like a waste of 1500-3000 points you could have spent elsewhere. Lastly heroes are a bit of a mess, with some being fantastic, and others just plain useless. Darth Maul can’t deflect blaster fire, which I find very hard to believe. As of the latest patch Lando is nothing short of disgusting, and has gone from one of the worst to arguably the most useable hero, as opposed to being brought up to par. The power of these is once again effected by the players cards, and further illustrates the strength of these cards once you play a round of Heroes Vs. Villains, as you get absolutely decimated by someone who has 3 fully upgraded cards. I truly feel that the card system lies at the heart of the games poor balance, with the gun’s adding insult to injury.
Aside from poor balance, the game suffers heavily from some frankly piss-poor map design. A lot of the maps really suffer from their own linearity, with a majority of the maps being a dead straight line, most notably Kashyyyk and Naboo, which lack any form of feasible lanes, thanks to the linearity of the moving objectives. both maps end inside a closed environment, which naturally leads to becoming a grenade orgy. Speaking of, lets not even get into the Death Star map. The mess of tight chokes and doors that open and close like a desperate teenager, lead to a horrible camp-fest of explosives and failing to push past the first objective. EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. The same issues come in the smaller maps used in Heroes Vs. Villains, Strike, Blast and arcade, with the maps featuring imbalanced objectives, and generally exaggerated chokes. Kamino is a festival of being thrown off the map by Vader, and you’ll probably be throwing your controller out the window in the process. The Last Jedi update adds in the new map Krait, featured in the new movie. Sadly this map holds many of the same issues, with the first objective being a flat open plane home to teams of snipers.
Lastly comes Star Wars Battlefront 2’s arcade mode, which brings challenges that can be played alone or co-operatively, giving players the opportunity to fight against AI through a variety of challenges, mostly based around the ‘kill X number of enemies’ scenario. These challenges have 3 difficulty levels, which unlock progressively upon completion. This does mean you’ll be playing through the challenges on the easiest difficulty and getting rather bored of the complete lack of challenge, then playing it once again on the middle setting, which is again rather simple, and then boom, the hardest difficulty comes and you’re shitting yourself at the difficulty hike.
I feel as though this has been done to pad out the arcade mode and increase its longevity, by not letting players jump in at the hardest difficulty forcing them to play out scenarios multiple times. The hike in difficulty has no balance to it, and it would be nice to see the middle difficulty boosted somewhat to pose more of a challenge to prepare players for the higher setting. Arcade is fun but ultimately forgettable, and very much feels as though it has been tacked onto the title for the sake of challenges, which is really disappointing to see.
Ultimately Star Wars Battlefront 2 is rather a disappointing title. The release was set up to fail by the whole controversy surrounding it, and the title sadly does little to make up for the negative press. The game controls in a clunky manner, the campaign is forgettable at best, the multiplayer experience leaves little to be desired for anyone jumping in at a latter date, and the arcade mode feels almost as tacked on as the campaign. The imbalanced and repetitive nature of the multiplayer is really disheartening for anyone coming into the game post launch, and sadly the game’s latest update has done little to improve upon the issues with the title.