“Star Wars Battlefront II” would have been a force to be reckoned with if it hadn’t gotten in its own way .
Unlike the original “Star Wars: Battlefront” game, it features a full campaign story mode following the adventures of Iden Versio, the leader of an Imperial Special Forces group known as Inferno Squad. The campaign takes place shortly after “Return of the Jedi,” showing how the Empire dealt with the death of the Emperor, and follows 30 years worth of battles and events leading up to “The Force Awakens.” The game features both single player story mode, as well as both single player and multiplayer arcade mode, where they can engage in predesigned battles or custom matches. “Battlefront II” is currently available for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
While the overall story within the game was engaging and exactly the kind of nostalgia fix a “Star Wars” fan can appreciate, the story and level design were far from perfect. At times, what should have been high-stakes battle sequences felt more like tedious target practice to fill time between cutscenes rather than fun victories.
It’s when you finish the campaign and move on to the multiplayer matches that you come face to face with the game’s greatest issue: the loot crate system. While the purchase of loot crates with real money is not currently a feature within the game, the remnants of the loot crate system are still there. You can still purchase loot crates, which is the only way to progress and acquire item cards to improve your characters, using credits that you acquire from multiplayer matches, and completing the story campaign. This means players have to grind hours upon hours in multiplayer matches for enough credits to buy the next item or level up star cards. Controversy has arisen, though, as micro-transactions have allowed players to simply buy credits in order to buy loot crates and unlock characters, giving those players a significant advance in battle. In response to the pay-to-win nature of the multiplayer matches and the high cost of credits, many gamers and franchise fans have boycotted the game. EA DICE, the game’s developer, has since lowered the price of credits and issued an apology to its customers.
Paywall aside, the actual gameplay was done better in this installment of the franchise. Many of the playable characters gain new abilities as you grind for credits and gain experience and new abilities, making the hero characters especially nice assets on the battle field. Lightsaber heroes have the ability to block and redirect blaster fire at their opponents, and also possess crowd controlling abilities, allowing most of them to dash across the battle field or take out groups of enemies quickly and efficiently. Gun slinging heroes have better long-range abilities than the average soldier, and some have support abilities that help their allies. Playing these heroes feels powerful and nostalgic, and if you manage to live long enough while playing them, you can truly cause havoc on the battlefield for your enemies. Players can choose which side in battles they want to play on, meaning they can unlock Sith and Jedi alike, such as Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, Rey or Yoda.
Unfortunately, though, because of the large amount of credits necessary to unlock a hero character, one should not expect to play as an iconic “Star Wars” character early in their “Battlefront II” career. For instance, to unlock Darth Vader, one would need to log 40 hours worth of gameplay and not spend those subsequent credits on anything else in order to afford him. While the grind can be part of the appeal for a lot of players (delayed gratification/sense of accomplishment, an excuse to play more matches with friends, etc.), this can be daunting to others. In this aspect of the game, it comes down to whether or not they are willing to work hard in the longterm to unlock something incredibly satisfying, or if they would rather play casually.
Over all, the game is beautiful to look at, more so than its predecessors, and its story plunges players right into the “Star Wars” universe. The gameplay mechanics are solid, but quickly turns into a grind for hero points and credits. The loot crate system and micro-transactions have been detrimental to the multiplayer aspects of the game, but steps are being taken to improve the situation. If you enjoyed the previous installments in the “Battlefront” franchise, you will enjoy “Battlefront II,” too, if you can get past a few divisive aspects.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars