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EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2 – Review

Overview

Battlefront 2 is part of a new breed. The same kind as No Mans Sky and Destiny 2. One of Redemption. The shaky launch of the sequel to the reboot of the cult classic series almost ensured a slow and painful death (That was a mouthful). But it would seem, that this game showcases that even if DICE had their souls torn out, they were just too displeased to die.

“Losing the Battle, But Winning the War”: Star Wars: Battlefront 2 – Review

Gameplay

The core mechanics across the wide variety of multiplayer and more limited single-player options are similar. The game operates as a shooter, third or first person to player preference. Each class and character are equipped with swappable “Star Cards” acting as abilities. Luckily these are not the only differentiators between said classes and characters. Each class has a set specific weapons they can utilize similar to DICEs Battlefield entries. Though those limit the DPS a class can put in, the real star of the show are the Star Cards which can act as buffs/stat modifiers or going as far as full blown replacements for gadgets offering a wide variety of customization.

Al’s comment: ‘Member when Star Cards were paid for? Pay to win sucked donkey dick when you would have jackasses who dropped $100s of dollars to get the purple tier thermal detonators before they hit level 5, un-fucking-believable.

The (thankfully) revamped leveling system incentivizes playstyles and experimentation as before the player knows it (to the midweek and weekend xp events) they will have more skill points to buy Star Cards and upgrades than they will know what to do with.

Al’s comment: If you have the celebration edition, the same thing applies to credits if you don’t meet the Star Card requirements yet.

Clones hanging out with their pay-to-win gear on Naboo, Source: IMDB

Diving deeper, the multiplayer and single player mode(s) are slightly differentiated. For example, the single player campaign provides more linear styles of progression. Wherein the player will find new gear and weapons as they progress being able to switch out their loadouts whenever they are near a loadout station. This is in contrast to the leveling required by multiplayer to earn new weapons and access to Star Cards, given the bar to clear is not very high. In addition, higher damage or ability classes in multiplayer are unlocked on a play instance basis, like how one would purchase weapons in a game of CS. Battlefront 2 adopts that model for classes and heroes. Though this additionally incentivizes doing team objectives that pay out more, it is easy for a single player to cop a single hero for the duration of a 40 minute supremacy round.

Blaster bolts and beams are heavy and require leading. Aiming down the sight is not recommended due to the arcade hip-fire emphasis of the game. Starfighters are agile and tanks drag the weight of their inertia. Rtroopers move sluggishly but are able to roll and every hero/ine moves with the gait that their on-screen counterparts carry. Overall the finetuned balance is in reach with slight tweaks that are different on a player-opinion-basis. Regardless, the game plays well, rewards skill and does not require casual players to find various game exploits to be able to enjoy playing. Which is a surprising issue for modern shooters.

Al’s comment: Gears online is probably played grossly different than what it was intended to be played like. The developers are calling the cover hopping a tactic but in reality it was an exploit back in ’06 that they can’t remove without changing the game’s core cover mechanic. Honestly look it up, Gears pvp simply is not fun and newbie friendly.

Heroes play similarly to MOBAs in the sense of their abilities and placement in both smaller scope hero modes and larger scale battle modes. Each hero borrows movement animations, combat styles, lines and aesthetic elements from their on-screen counterparts. They each have different combat styles, advantages and disadvantages which creates a player oriented balance of playing their favorite characters in the franchise or their favorite playstyles and skillsets.

Aesthetic : Visuals, Sounds, Soundtrack and Score.

Battlefront 2 is a very good looking game, it was in 2017 and it still is 2021. Though in lower resolution, framerates are stable and smooth which is only further amplified on premium consoles (One X and PS4 Pro) and PC.  Textures are sharp, player models have a good mix of film/show and custom inspiration. Direct translations of movie figures, such as promotional characters like Finn, Lando and Han from Solo are striking resemblances of their cinematic counterparts, as others (Obi-Wan, Anakin, Leia and normal Han, etc.) are off just enough to notice, but overall keep their likenesses. However, troopers, droids and aliens are all wonderfully modeled and lit whether they are in the ice caves of Hoth, the darkness of Endor, the Geonosian sandstorm or Crait’s salty surface. It’s always a visual treat to see the blaster bolts illuminate the darkened areas around them.

The soundtrack comprises of John Willams’  instantly recognizable score setting the backdrop of intense warfare while little excerpts play heroes in and out. The small edits and original score that creeps in on the original content like new characters and story set pieces aren’t remarkable or memorable in either way. This is a good thing, as it does not try and re-invent the aesthetic of the score, but to blend with it.

Then there are the details. The emphasis on replicating practical effects are more persistent in this installment. Lightsabers spark against surfaces and other blades. Blasters leave sparks and smoke on any point they hit. Characters are muddied, dusted, wet or covered in snow as they navigate the highly detailed and true-to-form replications and envisions of their reference areas.

Al’s comment: All credit due to all actors for this game but it’s really hard to replace iconic voices, even Darth Vader. A for effort though.

Content

As a direct response to the previous installment, there is no shortage of content in this game. All three eras are explored with some side-stream content. Exploring in this case are beyond planets, maps and set-pieces. Characters, weapons and skins are all represented across all eras as an attempt to appease the entire breadth of audience.

Al’s comment: I never understood why the prequels were left out of many things, like a prequel campaign would’ve been amazing. But I’m happy that this campaign had more of a supplemental impact to the sequels than the sequels did. Similar to its 2005 predecessor providing context for the 501st.

The single player content can easily be split down the middle. As there’s the narrative content on one end, and the arcade/instant action on the other. The narrative content plays linearly with wide paths guiding the player from point A to point B. The level design and gameplay itself is reminiscent of DICE’s usual technical work. It’s not bad, but it’s nothing noteworthy outside of some larger set pieces such as the finale on Jakku. The plot plays out like a fan-fiction as a way to capitalize on all the celebrities who allowed their likenesses on screen as well as training the player on character Star Cards. Though these characters are limited to those who appear in the original trilogy, it’s still a neat addition to a game that would otherwise be expected to drop the ball on single player content. The expansion picks up closer to the sequel era and hits many of the similar notes of the mainline, just scaled down and centralized around the original characters that were created for Battlefront 2. Thankfully, the expansion was free as it would not justify a price point of any kind.

Original Character Iden Versio of Infero Squad vibing on an Imperial Star Destoryer, Source: ABC News

The other half of single player are the Arcade/Instant Action modes.

Al’s comment: I’m classifying arcade as single player because split-screen is not as normalized in modern gaming as it was before.

Arcade was a neat attraction at launch, not because of the very trivial deathmatch modes and variants, but for the set pieces that place heroes in various locations in those trivial modes but with additional objectives as challenges. Beyond this, Arcade acts mostly as the watered down offline/private multiplayer replacement for those who prefer playing against bots like previous installments in the franchise. Emphasis on the offline, though there is 2 player split-screen for Arcade and certain scenarios, there is absolutely no way to boot up a PVP style deathmatch with your friends whatsoever. The only real method is to queue matchmaking for the preferred mode at the same time. Even if players are lucky enough to be paired as expected, they will not be able to enjoy the privacy, customization and control of a private lobby. This would not be as large of an annoyance if the previous installment didn’t have better support for this style gameplay even though it is 1v1.

DICE half-alleviated this flaw by introducing the Co-op mission modes, and it’s supremacy (placeholder for classic conquest) mode as a single-player exclusive mode under the title of Instant Action. This does allow for player-vs-bot matches outside of online content, but simply is not enough.

Al’s comment: I’m sure if EA didn’t prematurely pull the plug on what could’ve been their biggest star-wars moneymaker, they would’ve implemented 4-player instant action. Among dozens of other items. Here’s to hoping everything in previous installments are ported to Battlefront 3, like Hitman style.

Battlefront 2 shines most at multiplayer.

A wide plethora of modes (and even rotational modes when the game was at its return peak) are available for players. Ranging from small scale modes with only four players, to huge battles spanning across multiple maps and 40 or so players mixed with bots. Each mode takes advantage of classes, heroes and planets without forcing any form of Star Card or playstyle changes.

Al’s comment: This doesn’t mean that you can play being in a large field and waiting to get pummeled and pounded by Chewie’s meaty bolt caster is poor design if you are accustomed to playing small scale modes. Strategies and Star Cards must be adjusted based on the mode and objective, but overall playstyles can remain consistent.

Larger scale modes like Galactic Assault, Supremacy and Starfighter Assault are all immersive in placing players in main and off stream battle/scene re-enactments while enforcing and incentivizing team, strategy and objective (albeit slower) style gameplay. Middle scale modes speed up the pace to centralize and focus conflict while keeping the incentives. The smaller scale gameplay becomes focused and strategic as a bad decision can turn the tide of a round at any moment. 

A Clone Commando peacefully waiting for his franchise to be rebooted, Source: Pintrest

The Co-op mode easily becomes repetitive and mundane even across all the maps available across all eras. But it is the closest that the game will get to private lobbies against bots until the hopeful launch of the finale of the Battlefront trilogy.

Al’ comment: And then there’s Ewok hunt, the horror game you never knew you wanted.

Each mode is acceptable and enjoyable (for short periods of time) for every player, though many choose their favorite modes and prefer them. The starfighter content started strong, but then was sidelined to avoid muddying the launch of Squadrons (which was being produced in parallel to the content updates to Battlefront 2, using the same engine).

Though initially progression was tied to gambling with loot crates and real-world currency, it now is more of an aesthetic element. By the time a player reaches level 30 with a character or class, they will be able to access nearly the full extent of said character/class’s skillsets and stat buffs. Even then the aesthetics are unlocked with leveling, currencies, or completing challenges which all emphasize the older arcade-style focus of the game.

Al’s comment: Unless you got the celebration edition which is pretty much paying real world money for 90% of the aesthetics. Or you got it for free from Epic. What a fuckin deal.

Conclusion

Battlefront 2 was not always what it is today. Before it was a mess: inconsistent content inclusions, paying to level up, and alignments far too close to the corporate dark side. The harsh failure left EA and DICE with three options: To wrap it up and pump out a full blown sequel 2 or so years from now, to scrap the franchise or to work on it; to evolve the game from a digital casino to what it is today. Though most content additions were closely aligned to be promotional (which were still solid in their own right), the items that were meeting fan wants showcased how much the team at DICE, Motive and Criterion loved the franchise themselves, and what they wanted to see in the game.

They made the right choice.

Al’s comment: Videogames should be the only medium to intake fan-service as a key factor. Movies and narratives are never interpreted well enough due to the hit or miss nature (i.e. Rise of Skywalker), but games can envision and improve fan-service wants far better.

Stormtroopers defending Starkiller Base, Source: Express.co.uk

Though the frustrating lack of key elements (private lobbies in particular) will always linger in the back of the minds of everyone who was able to experience this game grow from what it was. Battlefront 2 (and it’s aptly named Celebration Edition) are here to celebrate the franchise and the fans. This is furthered even by becoming a part of Xbox’s Game Pass, EA Play, and free for a short period of time on Epic to make this product of love (and of course corporate alignment) accessible for many to enjoy. Every era and most preferences are represented leaving those who enjoyed it craving more.

Al’s comment: Help us DICE, you are our only hope. My only request is to port everything from the previous two installments in the reboot as the bare-minimum before any new content additions. It shouldn’t be that hard if they’re all running on the same engine right?

I’d recommend this game to: Fans of Star Wars, third person arcade shooters, and first person arcade shooters.

Dogfighters would probably enjoy the technicality of Squadrons more, though the variety of content offered in Battlefront 2 is superior.

I would not recommend this game to: People who hate Star Wars, shooters and team gameplay.

Al’s Abstract – EA pulled the plug on DICE, Disney pull plug on EA, all is balanced. I give Battlefront 2 a #####. To view rating please purchase EA’s Al Abstract Score Viewer for $44.99.

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