While in the midst of controversy, Star Wars: Battlefront II is now available digitally and on store shelves. You may be asking; is the vocal and frustrated fan base correct in their outrage?
Unlike the original Star Wars Battlefront, this sequel boasts a standalone single player campaign. The canonical story takes place soon after the events of Return of the Jedi and stars Iden Versio, the commander of the Empire's elite Inferno Squad. Iden also happens to be the daughter of Admiral Garrick Versio, one of the highest ranking officials beneath the now-deceased Emperor Palpatine.
While Iden is the main character of the campaign, you'll end up playing several levels as other characters as well including famous heroes and villains from the Star Wars universe. The campaign boasts three different types of gameplay styles. You'll start off with the traditional first-person shooting (which can be altered to third-person if you prefer, which I do) but you'll also spend a significant amount of time navigating starfighters in space and playing as the game's "heroes" in a third-person mode where you control the most famous characters in the franchise. Swapping between characters sometimes makes the narrative feel fractured but for the most part, it creates an enjoyable five hour long campaign with an interesting ending.
The bulk of your time with Battlefront II is probably going to be spent in its robust online multiplayer component. This consists of five multiplayer modes and encapsulates the three gameplay styles as mentioned above (traditional shooter, starfighter, and heroes). There is a team deathmatch mode as well as small-scale and large-scale objective modes, an exciting heroes vs. villains mode, and an action-packed objective-based starfighting mode. There's no doubt that the multiplayer gameplay in Battlefront II is top notch and can easily suck hundreds of hours from your life although several of those hours will be spent in overly-long lobbies and load screens. If you jump into multiplayer right at the beginning and feel a bit overwhelmed, I recommend taking some time to play the single player campaign. This will orient you with basically everything you'll need to know for multiplayer.
As the source of much fan outrage, multiplayer progression is definitely a sore spot. There is a lot of locked content including access to several of the heroes and villains like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Upgrading specific classes and heroes is locked behind Star Cards, a few of which can be unlocked in the campaign but the vast majority must be unlocked by purchasing crates or crafting them with Crafting Parts. The crates are random by nature. Therefore, you can't actually get the Star Cards you want from them. For example, you may want to boost your favorite villain Darth Maul but every time you unlock a hero crate, you end up with Chewbacca Star Cards. Therefore, your only choice is to use your precious Crafting Parts on Darth Maul upgrades or get used to playing as Chewbacca.
These unlocks are nothing new and in fact, I'd expect there are some Battlefront II fans who are looking forward to the long slow grind of unlocking everything they want. The issue is that there are 324 Star Cards, all of which have 4 upgradable levels. Along with heroes and in-game weapons, there is truly an overwhelming amount of content to unlock. While I'm not as outraged as many in the gaming community, I understand why they believe the amount of unlockable content is unreasonable and simply implemented to encourage players to use real-life currency to unlock content (although EA has currently temporarily disabled microtransactions).
Alongside the campaign and online multiplayer, you can also play Arcade mode which mostly consists of multiplayer-style gameplay but with custom rules against bots. It's a great way to practice certain modes, grind credits by completing challenges, or dial down the difficulty and ruthlessly slaughter hordes of Rebel or Empire scum. You can also invite a local buddy to join either cooperatively or competitively but you're limited to only one and they must be local as Arcade mode doesn't allow for any online teaming up. It also features sixteen pre-built challenges that are based on different scenarios and locations in the Star Wars universe. Each of these has three levels of difficulty which allows you to unlock 48 total stars if you choose to complete them all. They make for a good distraction but they're usually fairly straightforward and involve killing a certain amount of enemies, sometimes within a specified amount of time.
Star Wars Battlefront II is an enjoyable but flawed title. The campaign offers a short and simple yet enjoyable experience and the online multiplayer features tight and creative gameplay marred by an overbearing progression system.
- + Interesting campaign filled with variety
- + Robust and satisfying competitive online multiplayer component
- + Starfighter and Heroes modes are a blast
- - Progression is overbearing and too random
- - Arcade mode isn't terribly exciting and lacks online play
- - Storyline feels fractured at times