This may have been released almost two years ago, and if I reviewed it back then the score would have been much lower, but EA has surprised me with their second instalment into the revamped franchise. When this first launched it received a lot of deserved criticisms for not learning their lessons after the reception of the first Battlefront game, released in 2015. They looked and sounded the part but as great as the menu was the food itself was lacklustre at best and was all bread and no filling. I was very disappointed in particular because of my love for the Battlefront games that came out on PS2 (which I still have). I tried sticking with this game at first and was mortified at the continued inclusion of loot boxes and the like, thinking that they were never well received before, but EA remained fixed on the notion that they were an interesting mechanic. Disney-Lite could just not fathom the idea of a game that was paid for only once and included a season pass upon release, which many games do, but knowing they wouldn’t supply content that matched the value of the cost. All of this was reflected in the average scores from many notable reviewers and critics, reducing the player base significantly.(“Are we the droids you are looking for?”)
Then, EA did the unthinkable. They removed the loot boxes and they removed the season pass and announced that any future DLC would be free. They promised to give us more for our money and continue to release updates that added more features and game modes, to stick with the game rather than waiting to release the next. I was pleasantly surprised at this change of nature from the usual money grabbing corporate fat-cats. Did they keep to that promise? Yes, they did, and more.
I am loving this game. I did stop playing after a while but as soon as more content is announced I find myself climbing back into the cockpit and battling in space once again. It is a typical shooter set in the Star Wars universe and you will find yourself fighting in the iconic locations of the movies in tense battles, both on foot and in a vehicle. There are different multiplayer modes to play through that will give you some objectives, with one side attacking and the other side defending, and a lot of intense encounters. The modes aren’t completely different from one another and would only differ in the number of maximum players that can join as well as the size of the maps you will be playing on. Some maps will allow ships and vehicles to join the fight too, but they are optional, and some are exclusively in space. Unfortunately, they are not readily available on any map but rather they are like a character to choose before spawning into the game, so you cannot enter and exit them at any time.
As you play you will earn battle points that can be used to play as an advanced class, or a vehicle. Each advanced class has a cost and they would have a cost equivalent to their efficiency. A Jedi or Sith would obviously be worth more than a jet-pack soldier but it also depends on how well you can play as a specific class. It is sometimes worth spending less, so that you can spend it more often. There are four different classes to choose from when you are first starting a game and the longer you play as one then the more experience you build around that class. Each one has a semi-customizable loadout just to make the character less of a “clone” (see what I did there?) and to make some changes that suit your play style better. I’m not a big fan of the loadouts to be honest. There isn’t enough variety to really make it worth being in the game.
Other shooters have many different options for weapons with numerous attachments. Star Wars doesn’t, at least not really. There are at least four blasters per class and only a maximum of three attachments each which made me think that they should have either added in more weapons or better yet, stuck with the way it was done in the original 2005 Battlefront 2 and give each class a primary and secondary weapon set that cannot be changed.(Ahhh that’s the stuff!)
This game isn’t just a re-skin of Battlefield, another EA Dice game, and stands out on its own merits. I do find it hard not to compare this to the Battlefront 2 first released by Pandemic Studios back in 2005, and why shouldn’t I do it? The BF2 of 2005 was epic, and still is fun to play. If you were to come from one to the next you may feel some twinges of disappointment and I still do. BF2 2005 had a large variety of maps, different soldier units; different space battles where you spawn on a capital ship and take over a starfighter from the hangar area before heading out into the thick of it, or you can stay behind and defend your ship. EA BF2 is missing a lot of what made the original such a great game to play. I liked entering a map and having to capture command posts, earning medals for my gameplay and unlocking buffs that would eventually stay with me. I liked being able to climb into a hover tank and defending a command post before climbing out, switching my class to an engineer and repairing my vehicle before climbing back in and moving forward to engage the enemy.(“Achtung Mother-Fucker!”)
EA have tried to take a different approach and, as mentioned before, have you spawn in as the vehicle. This means the vehicle is just there as a player rather than an accessory of the battlefield. It’s strange to me because this was never done in the Battlefield games (except for aerial vehicles). I understand this was probably a way of allowing people to earn the right of getting into a tank instead of allowing anyone to get in, but it’s still a direction I don’t like.
There is also the option of playing as one of the iconic heroes from across all three eras (Republic vs. CIS, Rebels VS Empire & Resistance vs. First Order) and there have been more heroes added to the roster since the release in 2017. We now have characters like Count Dooku, General Grievous and Anakin Skywalker. Now sadly we still don’t have as many heroes as the original games but unlike the originals we can have more than one per team playing at once, and the option of which hero/villain we want to play as. Now this does bother me a little because I didn’t expect to see Darth Vader, Yoda, Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker duking it out on Tatooine, not restricting heroes to the era in which they were active, rather than including more from each timeline but I suppose this does allow me to play as Darth Maul at any time (gotta love that double-bladed lightsaber).(“It’s Mauling time”)
The modes are more objective based in this instalment which is a positive. I have never seen battles as just kill all the enemies dead and have more bases before time runs out, I always thought there should be more substance to it. I know there were other modes in BF2 2005, but they were the typical team deathmatch, capture the flag kind of modes. Having more direction makes each battle feel like a true battle, knowing that failure comes from not playing the objective, and those that are trigger happy will get more kills because they know that in defending/attacking an objective will put them in the way of the enemy. Galactic Assault was the biggest mode for some time. Each map has unique goals, fashioned in a manner to reflect the movies where the battles have taken place, but will always keep you on the edge of your seat. When the attacking side completes an objective, they will get to progress across the battlefield and the defending team will have to fall back and keep fighting, to deplete the enemy forces or until time runs out.
As soon as one match is over both teams will switch sides and get the opportunity to play as the aggressors or the defenders, giving everyone a chance to experience each side of the conflict. Just this year, we have a new game mode that I have immersed myself into quite a lot. We can now play Capital Supremacy. It takes inspiration from the classic BF2 and puts both teams on a large battlefield to capture command posts. Capturing one adds to the reinforcement count which, once it reaches maximum, will allow one team to reach the extraction point before being flown up to the capital chip where they must arm devices and destroy it from within. There is a nice twist though. Failure to arm the devices results in being sent back down below and starting again until there is a victor. More modes are expected to arrive in September this year and will feature better balancing and matchmaking improvements.
(“Talk to the hand”)
If there is one thing that cannot be ignored it is the visuals, and sounds. This game is stunningly beautiful. There may not be as many maps as the classic BF 2 but each one is much better to look at, a real-life example of quality over quantity. The design team should be proud at the amount of detail gone into the graphics. Every environment looks spectacular, such as the forest of Endor. Every bit of foliage moves in the wind, each tree retains the scorch marks from my many missed shots (I’ve landed as many shots as an actual Stormtrooper); the shiny white plastic armour gets covered in dirt after an explosion goes off and the lighting is something to behold. Standing back and watching the light show from blaster shots, debris flying everywhere and seeing the ships above it all blowing to bits is truly the bread and butter of this game.
Hearing the same music from the movies that most of us should be familiar with, playing the right tunes at the right time, puts us right into the heart of something that feels cinematic. The character controls are fine, because I cannot excuse myself in being shit at shooting. Everything was responsive and I didn’t come across any lag or frame drops. I did have my preference towards the standard classes, particularly the Assault and Enforcer classes. I avoided playing as the lightsaber wielding heroes whenever possible because I found their movements to be too stiff. Soldiers will strafe and roll quite often so when you get up close and personal, they can evade your attacks and begin shooting you from behind and before you know it you are surrounded. You can deflect shots back like a badass and recreate Vader’s final scene in Rogue One and slowly walk towards your victims like death, if he had an upgrade, and make them feel useless before slaying them all.
I did like playing as a hero, but just felt let down that they didn’t give them a unique play style. I thought duels between the Jedi and Sith would be something akin to the movies but instead I just seen two guys hitting each other with glow sticks. Even holding the block button just makes your hero hold his lightsaber in front of him as your opponent just hits it repeatedly. As there are no lock on mechanics you still have to aim your strikes and watch helplessly as your enemy dodges to the side and you have to try and turn to face them again before you can start attacking, but your attacks bring you forward slowly and trying to turn mid-strike is like expecting a geriatric to do a cartwheel.
Attacks would be better if they were omni-directional, taking advantage of the superhuman agility of a force user. Despite my lack of marksmanship skills I more than make up for it with my ability to charge into a room and throw a grenade at just the right spot and watch everyone disperse before they get thrown across every corner of the room, and then I would end up dying, but one death for a few kills is worth it. It took some time to get familiar with flying, and admittedly it is not easy, especially in a smaller map where the air space is restricted but it is optional. Sitting in first-person and seeing everyone be just as poor a shot as me when in space is a silent delight because the servers are still filled with players that are happy to keep playing anyway.
There is a campaign mode available, something that gets overshadowed by the multiplayer but is worth playing through. This was something highly in demand and was promoted to the max when this game was first announced. What EA didn’t tell us was how short it was. I completed the campaign in a single play through and it only took a couple of hours which was a shame because of how good it was. You play as Iden Versio, a Commander in the Imperial military and the leader of a small elite unit that is tasked with carrying out the Emperor’s orders after his death, an operation that shakes Iden’s trust in the Empire. What makes this story give me some feels was how dedicated Iden was to the Empire, being the daughter of a member of the Imperial brass, an Admiral, so she was raised on their ideals and to see her alignment shift because of how she witnessed the cruelty of the Empire towards its own soldiers before eventually joining the Rebel Alliance proves that EA are capable of putting something together that would make for a good movie.
(“I almost shot a bird once.”)
The campaign covers the time after the fall of the Empire and helps us find out what happened to its remaining forces after the incomplete Death Star was destroyed above Endor. The story is succeeded by an expansion which occurs before The Force Awakens takes place. It extends the story a little further, but it is also very short and sweet, and was completed by me in at least half the time it took me to finish the main story. The voice acting, facial animations, characters and missions were superb. I was engaged all the way through and appreciated getting a chance to see how the Empire really ended, knowing that they had a presence across the entire galaxy and that killing the Empire would only create a political vacuum with many looking to take his place. If Disney wanted to make this into a small movie then I would be more than willing to go and see it, taking a break from the usual Jedi/Sith storyline.
Any fan of Star Wars would enjoy this, no doubt. Seeing some my favourite locations come back into my screen and presented in such a way was well worth the money my fiancée paid for this. Despite the launch failing miserably EA Dice have not given up on this game and continues to listen to the community feedback and implement the changes and balancing that have made this game much more of a main course than a starter. I am excited for the new content that is coming soon and the updates in December that tie in with the release of The Rise of Skywalker. I have a lot of fun with this game but knowing that more stuff for me to try out is on its way still makes it feel incomplete.
Everything it has now, and everything it will have in the coming months, should have been there from the start. It is one of the best-looking games around and EA has spared no expense in making sure the level design, vehicles and characters look as good consistently throughout. Even if you aren’t a big fan of Star Wars you will still have fun running through the maps and shooting lasers at strangers online or playing through the campaign. This game is geared towards multiplayer so getting it for the campaign alone would not be worth your money, but there will be an offline/online PvE mode released next month, so you can shoot the AI instead if that’s what you like.