Star Wars Battlefront 2 – Xbox One Review
This isn’t the Star Wars game you’re looking for.
Star Wars is a franchise that is near and degar to my heart. It’s been a part of my life every since I can remember and I’m not only talking about the films. I read books, watch documentaries, collect memorabilia, built the LEGO and I’ve played countless Star Wars video games in my time. For a Star Wars game to impress of it has to aim high and never miss.
When DICE were tasked with rebooting the Star Wars: Battlefront series my hopes for a return to glory were stratospheric. Sadly those hopes were dashed when I finally got hands on with the game. It looked like Star Wars and it sounded like Star Wars but it felt totally lacking in the gameplay department. There was nothing thrilling and remotely exciting about the game and it just became another FPS that I played every now and then before it got sidelined.
Fast forward to 2017 and Star Wars: Battlefront II has been released with a promise that this game will fix all the flaws of the original, it will include a single-player campaign and there will be no season pass because every single piece of DLC will be released for free so the community doesn’t become fractured by the haves and the have nots. So what could possibly go wrong.
DICE have addressed one of the main gripes from the original which is the lack of a single player story. It never bothered me because I’m fine paying for a multiplayer only game as long as it’s done right. But sometimes what the people want the people get and unfortunately it’s not always for the best. The story takes place immediately after the Death Star has been destroyed at the end of Return of the Jedi. You are placed in the boots of Iden Versio who is the commander of the elite Inferno Squad and also the daughter of Admiral Garrick Versio who is one of the Empire’s highest ranking officials.
I was really looking forward to getting stuck into a story told from the perspective of the Empire. A new canonical Star Wars story is always worth investigating so when I set out on my mission to protect the Empire and crush the ever growing rebellion my hopes were high. It’s a great premise and there aren’t a lot of games that have focused on the side of the Empire
My initial enthusiasm was soon dashed though when it became clear that this is storytelling by the numbers. Considering that this is suppose to be a story about the Empire and more specifically Iden Versio it’s shocking how little game time she gets. You are put into the shoes of one character after another. Playing as iconic characters is great but not when I stops the flow of the main campaign. Some of these other missions do tie into the main story arc but the majority of them seem to serve on other purpose than fan service and it’s a huge mistake.
None of the story missions do a good enough job of capturing that epic Star Wars feeling and the story quickly loses its momentum and thankfully it’s a very short four to five hours. There are more story missions to come but they won’t be released until the release of The Last Jedi hits our cinema screens and I’m not in any rush to play them.
The multiplayer is the main reason why most gamers will buy Star Wars: Battlefront II and I’m sorry to inform you that after the dirge that was the original Battlefront this game fairs no better. The multiplayer itself is broken into four modes. Strike puts you into a small Squadron tasked with a set of objectives to complete. Blast is your straight up Death Match and and Heroes vs Villains let’s you play a four vs four battle royal where four hero character’s face off against four villain’s.
The main draws in the multiplayer arena are Galactic Assault and Starfighter Assault. Galactic Assault is a forty player objective mode. One team must push forward and attack attack specific objectives while keeping an eye on the ever dwindling life counter because when this hits zero it’s game over. The other team must repel the attackers and defend the objective until the opposing team run out of lives.
It’s during these battles that you’ll find yourself fighting alongside a myriad of Star Wars vehicles, both ground and air vehicles are available to select after a while but not on maps that take place inside a case. These maps only allow troops and Heroes/Villains. But it’s those moments when someone calls in one of the games heroes or villains to fight alongside you that the game comes into its own. How you access these vehicles and heroes/villains has changed since the first game. You no longer have to seek out pickups you have to earn them.
Everything you do in a match earns you Battle Points and when you have enough you get to spend them on whatever you can afford. If you have earned enough Battle Points you can bring in a ground based vehicle to do some serious damage or even a starfighter and take your battle to the sky’s. If you have amassed a small fortune you can even bring in one of the games heroes or villains and set about slaughtering anyone that dares to stand in your way. This system works much better than the old system and everyone gets a chance to bring something or someone into the battlefield.
Starfighter Assault originally called Fighter Squadron does a great job of making you feel like you are engaged in epic space battles compared to the original. The handling is much tighter so pulling off epic turns and zeroing in on an enemy ship to gain an advantage is much easier and tighter to perform. This time around it’s an objective based mode with one side leading the attack and the other side defending. You’ll soon find yourself flying in and around massive capital ships high above Endor while not only dogging enemy attacks and laser turrets but also space debris.
Unfortunately the multiplayer soon becomes stale and I really can’t find anything in there to draw me back. The game is fun in short bursts but I can’t see myself spending hour upon hour in front of the TV in one sitting. I hate to say it but there is nothing in the gameplay that distinguishes it from every other FPS multiplayer game that’s already out there. The fact that it’s Star Wars will be enough for some people to keep playing but for me it needs to be much more that that.
In all my years spent gaming and leveling up characters I have never felt so confused as Star Wars: Battlefront II’s progression system made me feel. Your character level is based around Star Cards and you won’t get anywhere without them. Star Cards can boost your character in several different ways from gaining passive abilities like higher health, quicker healing or being rewarded with more credits at the end of a game.
Star Cards are now split into two separate tiers common, uncommon, rare, and epic. As you play you will rank up your overall multiplayer rank but this is not tied to your character’s rank. Each multiplayer character, hero or starship now have their own leveling system which is tied into the how many Star Cards you have unlocked for each of these classes. There are three Star Card slots for each class and you will need to reach level ten to unlock all three tiers.
My multiplayer rank is ten but my Heavy Trooper is only ranked at five.this is because of the frankly bizarre ranking system that is in place. At first I couldn’t understand how my Heavy Trooper was stuck on zero ranking after hours of play. After a quick Google search I quickly found the answer. Your character’s rank is tied to whatever Star Cards you assign to them. So the more powerful the Star Card the higher your character’s rank. So you could either buy your way to a higher level or grind your way up and considering the pitiful amount you’re given after each match it’s going to take you a long, long time.
When you start unlocking Star Cards you can begin to upgrade them by using crafting points that you get in-game or via loot crates which are available in Trooper, Hero and Starfighter varieties and this is where the problems begin. Let’s say you open a Trooper crate. You’d expect to find items specifically for that class, well you’d be dead wrong. You’re not guaranteed to get anything for that class at all. You could end up with items for heroes that you haven’t even unlocked so they become useless or even cards for Starfighter that you’re not even going to use.
You earn Loot Crate’s with the in-game credits you receive from multiplayer games and buying crystals with your hard earned cash. At the time of writing this review this microtransaction system has been turned off due to a player led uprising against the unfair advantages this grants players in-game with more money than sense in other words a pay to win modem more frequently found in free to play games. EA have also greatly reduced the amount of credits you need to buy the games hero characters as well because of the insane amount of time it would take to earn enough credits to unlock each one.
To say I found this system confusing would be an understatement but to make matters worse it also creates a lot of unbalance. I’ll give happily hold my hands up if I’m getting my arse kicked by a better player but when that player is holding a good set of Star Cards you have little to no hope of taking them down. This also creates a feeling of frustration and ultimately suspicion as to how they gained such good cards in the first place. Did they grind their way to them or did they just simply buy their way to success. The crazy amount of grinding you need to do becomes meaningless when the rewards are so sparse and in some circumstances completely pointless. It’s a problem that’s so deeply rooted in the game that I don’t see any way that DICE/EA can fix it. It’s a huge shame because it quickly kills any enjoyment that you might get out of the mediocre multiplayer.
As if all that wasn’t bad enough to actually claim any rewards you have earned you have to exit out of multiplayer. Now that might not seem like a game breaker and it’s not but why can’t you just collect whatever rewards you have without exiting at all. Quite often I’ve exited out of good sessions just to claim some rewards hoping that I might finally gain something worth having only to be given something pointless. It’s a ridiculous system that needs addressing. After all you’re looking to get whatever advantage you can at the moment and this is the only way to see what you’ve been rewarded.
Every time I picked up the controller I wanted Star Wars: Battlefront II to make me feel like I was engaged in a epic battles across the many planets and bases from Star Wars lore, it didn’t. The game just never reaches the lofty heights it aspires to and the ridiculous leveling up system and the insulting pay to win model just grate the hell out of me. The seemingly tacked on singles player story did little to engage me either. In its current state I can’t recommend Star Wars: Battlefront II to anyone and I include the staunchest Star Wars fans I that statement.
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Website: STAR WARS Battlefront II
Twitter: @EA / @EAStarWars
Star Wars: Battlefront II is available now for £59.99
Review code supplied by XCN.