(NOTE: I previously published the review before EA had disabled the monetisation of the multiplayer aspects. As such, I am now re-reviewing that element of the game to greater reflect the experience at time of release.)
EA brings the Star Wars universe back to our gaming screens for their second attempt at Battlefront. The first game did a great job at delivering a fun, immersive multiplayer experience but gamers wanted more. Specifically, we wanted a campaign, we asked, and they listened so in Battlefront II we got a campaign, a new story featuring new characters. I have a good feeling about this.
Iden Versio is the commander of Inferno Squad, an elite team of soldiers for the Empire who are brought in when the going gets tough and the mission absolutely calls for it. You could say she’s doing well for herself, except for living in the shadow of her father Admiral Garrick Versio who is a hardcore Imperial preacher, he lives by the Empire. What I love about this story is the glimpse you get into the other side, the norm is to play as the rebel alliance or Jedi, but not this time around, the story unfolds around the bad guys which is just awesome. Being able to learn more about the mindset of the soldiers some of which fully believe they are doing good in the world and others not so much.
Aside from the main protagonist and her father there are a cast of interesting characters, some lovable and some punch-able. Ranging from familiar ones that we have come to know and love from the films to new ones created specifically for this game. Shriv is one of the fresh faces that I have come to love, bringing a little fun and comedy into his interactions with the other characters that benefit each scene he’s in.
Interactions between old and new characters take place which lead to some of the best and more memorable moments. Del is a part of Inferno Squad who has been sent to a planet to destroy things (really trying to make this as spoiler-free as possible, but), he encounters a certain Jedi along the way. It’s their final scene together that made me smile and appreciate the writing so much more than I already did, which inside cutscenes is fantastic. One issue that I realised early on is the writing outside of cutscenes, it came across as boring with almost no emotion, repeated phrases in battle when new enemies entered the fight or objectives being announced again and again in the same manner, this disrupted the immersion.
Both the story and characters undergo development throughout with some twists and turns that can either surprise or shock you. At the same time however, there are predictable moments and even missions that are un-inspiring because you just know what’s coming.
I love the action and gameplay as a package, be it on the ground firing at enemies with the blaster, slicing them down with a lightsaber or soaring through the skies and space in hectic dog-fighting. Shooting feels just as solid as before, a slow moving yet fast action style that sounds bizarre, but it works for a Star Wars game. Piloting the fighters and engaging in space battles is my favourite thing to do, in real-life too, the developers did a fantastic job in creating a large-scale war atmosphere through incredible level design and the use of AI players.
What I feel Battlefront does best is allowing players to take on the role of some of the most loved characters from the franchise, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda and Chewbacca just to name a few. Playing as these heroes and villains are supposed to be special and as such, in the multiplayer you have to earn the right to be them. First by unlocking them and then whilst in a match online, earning enough points to then spend on spawning as them. Each come with their own set of abilities that have been tailored to fit their backstory and traits. Yoda has so far been my favourite hero to play as, his proficiency with a lightsaber is prominent with his acrobatic style shining in combat.
The multiplayer features five varied game modes and does a good job in catering for different people and their preferences. Galactic Assault features the big 40 player battles that take place on objective based maps. Starfighter Assault allows 24 players to fight in objective based space battles. Heroes Vs Villains is a 4v4 mode in which players become the established characters from the series. This variety prevents things from becoming stale, you can switch things up and play what you want.
If that isn’t enough Arcade Mode allows you to take on the AI in Battle Scenarios that span all eras of the Star Wars universe. These can be taken on in solo, co-op or versus, the caveat to co-op and versus is that it supports split-screen only and not online. I can’t fathom why there isn’t an online element to this, the scenarios I feel add so much more overall and yet your limiting how many people can access all of the content, if you don’t have someone to split-screen with then your out of luck, missing out on several scenarios.
I am reviewing this title after changes to the heroes purchasing system that lowered the cost of heroes by 75%. The new prices for heroes such as Darth Vader and Luke of 15,000 credits are certainly more obtainable through gameplay than they were previously. However, the fact that the two most iconic characters, the ones on all the marketing are locked behind an in-game pay-wall sucks for those who can’t spend enough time early on, even the main protagonist is locked away. The items locked away are your incentives to keep playing but now without being able to play to get them early, your stuck with the grind. I personally like this, you have to earn the rewards, but appreciate of course that not all players have the time available and as such their experience will suffer.
Hands down the most stunning visual experience I have ever played. The universe has been so expertly replicated, the characters, maps, weapons, fighters come together to create an authentic Star Wars experience. The level of detail, range of colours and visual effects are astonishing, the fact games have now gotten to the point where they look this good makes me oh so happy. The glow of the lightsaber illuminating a darkened area is reminiscent of classic duels between Luke and Vader or Anakin and Dooku, satisfying to say the least when you come up against a saber-wielder in a dark hallway only to then realise your about to get cut down.
Immersion is something I often bring up, I feel it is one of the most important things a game can and should deliver on, a part of delivering an immersive adventure rests on the sound design and boy oh boy does everything sound exactly how it should. Every possible sound-byte needed has been taken from the films, blaster fire, movement of AT-AT walkers, and even the opening of doors. Accompanying the effects is the soundtrack that is enough to make any fan of the franchise smile from ear to ear. The best moments are made even better when the beloved music of Star Wars is blaring out of the speakers.
It’s well-rounded, excelling in both visual and sound design, story, and gameplay. It’s unfortunate that microtransactions have brought with it such negative connotations that could tarnish the game’s legacy. The multiplayer can be divisive and lead to many players feeling left behind. EA have said their going to be looking into the system and work out how to make progression, loot crates and the microtransactions better, may the force be with them.
OVERALL: 8.5/10 – GREAT
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Star Wars Battlefront II, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)