Let’s get one thing clear before we continue on with this preview: I didn’t play the first Star Wars Battlefront from 2015. I was very turned off by the fact that not only was there a lack of content but you had to shell out $110 for both the game and the season pass for the full experience. But now that there’s the promise of free DLC with no season pass in sight along with promises to improve the gameplay overall, I’m happy to give the game a second chance with Star Wars Battlefront 2. And so far, I’m glad I did.
Author’s Note: Beta codes provided by publisher.
The controls and combat are rock solid as to be expected. I love how reloading is handled. You can reload or stop firing for a bit as your gun cools. Or you can overheat it and pass a minigame to cool it faster than normal. While i’m not used to holding down the button to crouch, the dodge roll is a welcome addition in increasing mobility and dodging incoming fire. And overall I enjoy how weighty your character feels. Though I think your movement while aiming down sights and running could have been a bit quicker.
I also enjoyed how squads worked. Multiplayer shooters are always more fun and tactical when you’re fighting in groups, and it’s great that the game not only spawns you with groups of allies but rewards you with extra points for fighting with them.
Adding to the fun of playing in squads is the different classes playing off of each other. Assault troopers are more rounded fighters, heavy troopers are more powerful and defensive ones, specialist have long-range weaponry, and the officers have buffs and sentries. I especially enjoyed playing as the officer; while you’re a weak fighter on your own you can deploy sentries and buff your teammates to take care of enemies for you. The specialist was also fun for their ability to pick off far opponents.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 takes the Counter-Strike approach to playing as better units. You earn Battle Points depending on how good your performance is in the game. When you die, you can spend points to play as vehicles, stronger troops, or even iconic Star Wars heroes and villains. So by getting better at the game, you’re able to become even stronger. You also have to choose when to spend your points. Do you spend your points to play as an Arial Trooper now? Or do you wait until the second phase so you can play as Han Solo? However, I am concerned that this will lead to a “the rich get richer” situation where novice players are never able to play as heroes while experienced ones always do and decimate the other players.
The main draw of the game, at least from the beta, is the Galactic Assault multiplayer mode. Up to 40 players wage war against each other in a multi-phase battle. The beta had us fighting on Naboo, as an MTT kicks down the door of the palace and the adorable Battle Droids storm the palace. Each match was exciting and changed quite dramatically as you moved from the open areas of the streets of Naboo to the cramped and ornate halls of the palace. I didn’t like playing as the vehicles in this mode, however. Playing as the gunship is essentially a turret section where you have to attack opponents the size of ants that appear in your line of sight infrequently. Starship combat is even more uncomfortable with you targeting tiny infantry or trying to attack ships with the slippery controls. Just save your money so you can play as a better trooper.
But my thoughts on starship combat changed when I checked out Starfighter Assault, which pits 24 players in objective-based dogfights. Everybody was on an even playing field and the more open space allowed me to come to better grips with the controls (though they’re still quite slippery).
Strike is a comparatively much smaller version of Galactic Assault with only 16 players and a single objective but it was just as fun. The smaller scale made the mode more intimate and everything from the objectives to moving to different points on the map felt snappier while retaining the tactical edge of Galactic Assault. My only gripe with Strike is that the rebel forces have this important artifact to protect but when the New Order troops attack they just leave it out in the open.
The graphics are on point. Not only does it have the visual polish of games like Destiny 2 while still running at a smooth 60 frames per second, but it also captures the feel of Star Wars perfectly with the sound and visual design. The rebel base map from The Force Awakens especially looks like it was taken right from the set. I did see some graphical hiccups such as doves erupting from the ground and dead characters falling through the map.
Now Star Wars Battlefront 2 may have free DLC and no season pass, it still has microtransactions. You know the drill, you earn crates in the game to get cosmetic items as well as game-altering buffs to equip to your character. These buffs come in the form of passive abilities and even new sub weapons and abilities. You earn about 100 to 200 credits for completing a match depending on how well you do and most crates cost over 1,000 credits. This means that if you really want a skin or a certain ability and you’re sick of weaving through tons of useless items (what use is a new MVP pose if you’re never going to be MVP?), you can of course buy you way to them. It’s essentially gambling where you put in money hoping to get something substantial while you risk getting something useless. This sort of psychological pummeling is expected in a free-to-play game, which is why it’s so unwelcome in a premium-priced game.
If you were on the fence about checking out Star Wars Battlefront 2 because you were turned off from the first game like I was, I still encourage you to check it out. Even with the threat of microtransactions, it’s still a highly polished and tight shooter with the iconic visual style and sound of Star Wars. The combat encourages teamwork more than most shooters out there and the missions are grandiose and fun. At least try out the beta before you purchase it, which runs from now until October 9.
Check it out and may the force beam you up.