Star Wars Battlefront II Review
When Star Wars Battlefront II is at its best, it displays some of the most polished and satisfying gameplay and visuals I’ve seen all year. Unfortunately, its highest moments are vastly overshadowed by the obtuse lows it presents, and a disappointing story campaign leaves the game lacking.
Battlefront II delivers on sucking you into a beautiful recreation of landmark environments throughout the generations of the Star Wars universe. From the visual architecture of iconic buildings, to the small details of every individual character and weapon, Battlefront II consistently provides a visual treat. Blaster sounds and lightsaber whirs only add to this experience, as your satisfying weapons bring fun gameplay to the visual and audio spectacle.
Unlike 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront, the sequel features a single player campaign. Utilizing the beautiful aesthetic the game effortlessly recreates from the film series, Battlefront II looks to tell a new story, something that has been absent in Star Wars video games for years. Set in between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, you follow the story of Iden Versio, a high ranking Storm Trooper on the side of the Empire. It is not too often we see the enemy’s side of the conflict, leaving me to wonder if the concept will live up to it’s potential.
Unfortunately, while this is an interesting premise going in, the story doesn’t dig deeper than the surface level concept it proposes. The story introduces interesting characters, but does not give any individual character enough time to flesh out their motivations or why you should care about them. This, alongside a poorly paced and disjointed story, makes the campaign feel rough as an overall package. It has some memorable and incredibly fun moments, but the jarring jumps between perspectives the campaign puts you through leaves you dissatisfied, similar to a buffet. Yes it’s good to have a large variety of food to eat, but you never feel like you appreciate any individual food.
The campaign may be the new flashy feature in Battlefront II, but it’s only a part of the overall package. Included is an Arcade Mode, allowing you to compete in challenges to rack-up high scores, as well as earn some currency to use for unlocking abilities and characters for the game’s multiplayer. These arcade challenges are fun at first, but lose their appeal over time when you realize you are doing the same thing repeatedly throughout multiple challenges. Add a 5 challenge cap to your ability to earn in-game credits, and Arcade Mode loses its appeal pretty quickly.
The game’s big focus is on multiplayer, and this is where we see things start to fall apart. Despite how fun it is to run around as a Storm Trooper or Battle Droid, the game has a hard time incentivizing you to make progress. Battlefront II’s biggest flaw comes in the form of its progression system, as it is one of the worst and unintuitive systems I have ever seen in a multiplayer game.
When you finish a multiplayer battle, you are given experience points, alongside a bundle of in-game credits. The experience goes towards your overall multiplayer ranking, and the credits can be saved up to either purchase Hero Characters, or a randomized loot-box called a ‘Crate.’ These loot-boxes can contain abilities in the form of ‘Star Cards,’ emotes, victory poses, crafting materials, and small bundles of credits. It is the Star Cards where Battlefront II’s progression problem arises.
Due to the random nature of the Crates, you are never guaranteed a reward for playing the way you want. Playing as a heavy class, for example, doesn’t guarantee you abilities that benefit the heavy class. In fact, you are statistically more likely to earn either Star Cards for another class or other random items, which goes against any progression you may be working towards. While the other way to unlock Star Cards is to craft them with the crafting materials found in loot-boxes, they are too infrequently found in them to rely on this alternate method. Add the fact that the average multiplayer match nets you between 100 and 500 credits upon completion, the loot-box prices between 2200 to 4000 gate you from any significant “progression.” Deciding whether to purchase these loot-boxes or save up for a Hero Character (Ranging anywhere between 5000 and 15000 credits) is another problem in itself, as saving up to play as iconic characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker can hinder you from gaining any Star Cards for normal troops.
There are several more problems with the multiplayer progression, such as Star Card upgrades and their multiplayer advantages, the inability to play as certain Hero Characters despite earning the needed Battle Points, only to be told the character is unavailable due to someone already using them in the match, and the big one; buying loot-boxes through transactions with real money. While, at the time of writing this review, the ability to purchase the crates through micro-transactions has been temporarily taken out, I witnessed firsthand the advantages players had throughout the early access the Elite Trooper Deluxe Edition gave me, alongside the edition giving me unfair advantages. While you can still earn credits and other items through completing challenges and milestones, the amount of work needed to achieve them do not fit the rewards given. These problems can seem small on an individual scale, but when looked at as an overall package, they add up to a large and convoluted mess.
Overall Star Wars Battlefront II is inconsistent in its quality. While the gunplay, audio, visuals, and even moments in the campaign are fun and enjoyable, the disjointed progression system, overall lack of coherent use of the in-game economy, and uneven storytelling of the campaign prevent what could be a fun and enjoyable Star Wars game. As EA has stated that changes are on their way in the future, it’s unfortunate they are needed in the first place.