EA has copped it this silly season.. but the chorus of people asking questions about whether or not to buy Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is steadily growing with the announcements they’ve has made regarding changes to its lootbox system.

It begs the question – how would we have found the game if the whole microtransaction issue had never arisen?

Check out the video and don’t forget to leave us your thoughts at the Game On AUS facebook page!

 

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Review

-Pete Curulli

What can I possibly say about this game that hasn’t already been yelled? Actually, that’s not a bad place to start.

EA has, whether it deserved it or not, always copped a lot of abuse from the gaming community. Big corporations are an easy target because they’re faceless. This time though EA has a face, and that face is Star Wars: Battlefront 2.

I too joined in the chorus of boos from the wider gaming community when we first began hearing about how the microtransaction system would work, however behind the boos in my head was a little Star Wars fan who was trying desperately to be heard, and as the boos steadily quietened down, this little fan grew louder.

He had a question:

“What if the whole microtransaction fiasco never happened?”

It was a fair question, and it led to a heap of others:

Would the same Star Wars fan in me who whooped with excitement when he found out this one was getting a campaign mode have still bought the game?

What if the campaign mode was actually pretty good?

What if they had made improvements to the multiplayer? Remember how many hours you sunk into Battlefront 1?

So when I was presented an opportunity to review this title, I donned my Jedi robe and dove headfirst with the promise I would approach it from the “what if” perspective a gaming journo actually should. What I found made me sad. Sad because this is a genuinely beautiful, and enjoyable game, that tickles every Star Wars bone in my body.

It still lacks some elements I was hoping to find, the gameplay could be repetitive in parts, and the campaign can jump to moments that make it feel disjointed – but it improves upon its predecessor, and the campaign told a great story with a few teasers to new storylines that left me feeling like there’s more to come!

The Campaign

The first time I heard Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was getting a campaign I was slightly concerned. Let’s be honest, campaigns built from movie franchises are rarely well received, generally because they follow a story where the audience knows what is coming, or because most people can’t distinguish the experience of going to the movies to playing a game and mark them against each other too closely. Of course, I’m generalising but the beauty about a campaign based on the Star Wars universe is that there is so much lore, world’s rich with exotic environments, filled with characters that never cease to amaze – and you would hope that the developers would be able to make full use of this.

My expectation of a campaign built on a universe like this is a hope that we would see enough from what makes Star Wars so revered and familiar, but that we’re put on enough of a tangent from the regular story to keep us interested.

Having played through the almost 8 hours of campaign (that’s if you stop to admire the scenery) my hopes of there being enough of what makes Star Wars great were realised, however EA as far as the tangent is concerned – take a punt!!

Let me explain.

You’re dropped into the hotseat of the Empire during the storyline of Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi, playing the role of Iden Versio, the female leader of an infamous Imperial strike team known as Inferno Squadron, and I was very excited as the last time I’d had as immersive an experience playing from this point of view was probably 1994’s Tie Fighter.

Iden is well executed as a character and even though at first I felt a little uneasy killing rebels, I quickly found myself enjoying a view of the universe from the other side of the battle field. So many games I’ve played, books I’ve read, movies and TV shows I’ve watched, that have been built in the SW universe revolve around being the hero on the light side of the force – it was really refreshing to step into the boots of the enemy, and cheekily I actually started to enjoy it!

This presents such beauty in a campaign because you don’t feel like you know what is going to happen next. It also present other opportunities like using the vehicles and weapons, and being able to tour ships and bases held by the Empire. Usually you’re running through these places trying not to get shot, rather than enjoying and exploring them.

It wasn’t long though before you started to see the cracks in this particular theme of the story appear, and it disappointed me somewhat because I felt there was so much further to go staying away from the Hero Complex Star Wars has become so famous for!

*Spoiler Alert*

You know in Rogue One where everyone dies? It had been the first time in a long time I had truly felt satisfied as I walked out of the cinema because I originally expected the usual story of the hero’s living happily ever after!

All that aside there is a lot to love about the campaign.

When I play a movie based franchise game like Star Wars, I do want an immersive experience that takes me close to feeling like I’m in the franchise myself – playing through a movie, and in this regard Battlefront 2 certainly doesn’t disappoint!

Iden Versio is a strong female lead, as a father of a young daughter I love seeing this particular style of storytelling because I want my daughter to have strong female characters to look up to – and in this case, Iden eventually turning to the light is only a good thing for making an impression on a two year old… (shout out to my wife, just letting you know she hasn’t played this yet)

The voice acting and facial capture is spectacular across all of the characters throughout the campaign and executed with feeling and balance across the story. There are peaks and troughs in the emotions you feel, joy, pain, and humour, and even a little romance at the end as you generally come to expect with Star Wars – but keep this in mind, the story doesn’t end at the kiss, and for that I must say thank you to everyone behind this campaign, because what happens after completely blew me away, not just for the game play but in particular for the story.

There’s no shortage of being dropped into the boots of some of Star Wars’ most famed characters including Lando, Han, Luke, and Leia either. Most of the time the cuts to these parts of the story feel a little clunky, like they’ve just been thrown in there to give some really quick context to what will happen later in the campaign, but they did provide moments where I laughed out loud (great banter between Shriv and Lando), and some moments that genuinely piqued my curiosity (what exactly is it that you picked up Luke Skywalker?).

In terms of gameplay, the balance of the story is the usual kill ‘x’ amount of enemies to unlock ‘y’. There are moments where the game leads you to believe you can stealthily drop those enemies, but a lot of the time there wasn’t really any point in doing so when lobbing a grenade and alerting everyone, then raining down fire with your weapon would suffice. However there are some extraordinary battle fields that you do get to visit as you do this, particularly towards the end of the campaign, that make you forget about the repetitive quality of the run and gun, whether that is a detriment to the overall perception of the game, is yet to be felt.

Where this game truly shines is up in the air – the X-wing and Tie fighter battles are as expansive as ever, it’s hard to put into words that feeling you get as you survey the scale of ships and fighters around you, as you maneuver your craft through the clouds of bespin amongst giant floating balloons only to realise they’re actually living creatures, or as you chase an interceptor down your sights, it’s just classic Star Wars, and classically good!

The controls are responsive and there is plenty in the way of cards and primary, secondary, and tertiary weaponry, to keep the way you approach a field of enemies different from one fight to the next – if you want to take the time to do so that is. You see, the use of cards, perks, and weapons crates where you could interchange your loadout generally felt redundant, as I was fine most often just using what the default loadout of that level had given me.

Playing on PC, the default bindings often had me struggling or stretching for a few of the keys I had to use, especially ‘g’ which is the go to key for activating most key points of interaction on the maps, but this isn’t a game changer as it is easily fixed by rebinding the keys.

All in all, the campaign whilst feeling a little repetitive and a touch expected in how it turns out, is enough for me to pay the price of admission. The environments are bright and colourful, the characters are well acted and executed, the weaponry and vehicles are plentiful, and only Star Wars can give you that incredible feeling you get as you are surrounded by the ever recognisable sounds of the universe that has captivated our imaginations over three generations!

The Multiplayer

Strike

Where two teams of eight compete in objective based scenarios, good for those who like a little more strategy in their fight, this was a stand-out for nights when my mates and I managed to get ourselves online at the same time.

Blast

For those who love fast paced closed quarter combat.

Starfighter Assault

Where two large scale teams are put into fighters, bombers, interceptors, and hero ships like the Millenium Falcon or Boba Fett’s Slave 1! This was by far my favourite multiplayer mode, but more on that later.

Heroes vs Villains

Four on four team battle where you can live out your dream duels between Star Wars’ most powerful heroes and villains – which would have been awesome, if there were enough people to actually play the thing..

Arcade Mode

Single player mode that also provides a split-screen multiplayer on console, where you can take on AI enemies in a variety of scenarios – aka, training!

Galactic Assault

Large scale, team oriented, objective-based maps set in the most iconic locations from the Star Wars Universe. You can pilot vehicles, choose from four different trooper classes, call in reinforcements, and basically live out your fantasy of being a hero.. Or a villain….

Fighter assault kept me the most entertained. There’s nothing like hopping into a fighter, bomber, or hero ship to chase down others. The dog fights make for spectacular moments living out fantasies of flying through the sparks that are left over from your latest kill, and the flurry of familiar sounds kept me well entertained, the overall experience is really well executed, and the addition of new craft, maps, and objectives since Battlefront 1 left me feeling like there was always something new to see, do, or fly!

One of the unfair moments I did notice in this mode is that there are bonuses for flying around with a group of other fighter pilots. This is great if you can consistently get your own squad together, but feels a little unbalanced during solo-queue as most of the time everyone is of doing their own thing.

For the ultimate all-round feeling though, Galactic Assault is where it’s at. As traditional as it is, the four basic classes (Assault, Heavy, Officer, and Specialist) each bring their own unique abilities and weaponry to the battle, but do it in such a way that never makes any one of them more or less important to the fight.

I was pumped to see that the new reload mechanic I had encountered whilst playing through the campaign, was also present during multiplayer. This added a minor layer of depth to the game play as it enhances the experience of approaching each gun fight. If you let your gun overheat, instead of hitting reload to cool it down early, you get a skilled-based opportunity at a faster reload, or even a short bonus window where your shots don’t overheat your weapon at all.

I was also pumped to see that the random hero and villain spawn icons (which after playing countless matches in Battlefield 1 weren’t so random after a while) have been done away with. Instead you now have to earn enough battle points from your in-game performance until you have enough to spend on upgrading your trooper to an iconic character. This again adds to the strategy of Galactic Assault, because as overpowered as these characters can feel, you still have to think about your timing when spending the points to bring one of them into the match. I’ll be waiting on some balance from EA regarding these characters being used in multiplayer – there’s nothing worse than turning a corner to come face to face with Darth Maul when you’re a lowly trooper. The good news is that only one of these can be on the field at any given time.

If you can’t be bothered gathering enough points to reach a hero or villain, there are cheaper spends on vehicles and more powerful troopers.

Progression

It’s no secret that the progression in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 has been the most panned system of our time – it needs a major overhaul, regardless of what EA says about how it wants to provide a feeling of achievement, it doesn’t feel like you’re accurately rewarded for the time you put in, and often unlocks feel a little too far away for the amount of time I can play this game as a casual gamer.

Maybe instead of having three tiers of crates, have just one and sit it at an average of 2500 credits? Often I found myself only wanting the Trooper crate (4000 credits) because this is where my most frequently used base class cards were, not to mention that I was only earning 100 to 300 credits every 15 minutes or so!

Oh, and one other thing – separate cosmetics and abilities please? Or just go with one. It takes a long time to save 4000 credits and I don’t like the feeling of opening a crate only to find a victory pose… yawn!

Actually one other.. Other.. Thing – duplicates, no.

Verdict

That aside, cut EA some slack. They’ve genuinely produced an incredible looking game that will satisfy any Star Wars fan. It’s immersive, expansive, provides a solid (if a little expected) storyline with great acting and characters to laugh at or feel for.

To top it off EA is promising plenty of free DLC, and the addition of factions have added something extra to play the game for.

This game is worth the entry fee, and in a lot of cases you can get it even cheaper, but for $80 AUD you get a lot of bang for your buck!

#gameonAUS