Anger leads to loot boxes.
I played an unhealthy amount of the original Battlefront. Star Wars is a universe that draws me in. One of the biggest issues though was the season pass and the splintering of content among players. Each new DLC pack meant fewer players in the hopper. So when EA announced the second game would offer all DLC for free, I was excited. Combine that with the single player campaign we all thought we wanted and Battlefront II was destined to be the Star Wars game to play.
Well the game is out and while I have enjoyed blasting droids and Storm troopers alike, it comes with a lot of caveats. It is still early, but there are a lot of things wrong with Battlefront II.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $49.99
Let’s start with the campaign. One of the biggest complaints about the original was the lack of a story mode set in the universe. EA has remedied this with a 6-8 hour romp featuring a brand new storyline and some new characters. The events take place immediately following Return of the Jedi and follow the story of Iden Versio and her team known as Inferno Squad.
The story has some bright moments and I really liked Iden as a character. My issues arise around the fact that it almost feels like fan fiction at times. There are a lot of cameos that seems shoehorned in for the sake of generating a response from players. These also take time away from the development of Iden herself. There are entire levels where I didn’t even play as her, or even with her around. I get it, but I also feel like the story suffers for it. I would have loved just to see her arc and the events that unfold around it.
There is also an arcade mode for solo and split screen players. This is similar to the horde-style outing of the original. Sadly it is only offline for now, so any multiplayer has to be done via the same screen. There are a lot more options as far as scenarios go. This also gives players a chance to try out some of the heroes that are locked at the start in proper multiplayer. It is endlessly satisfying to mow down tons of enemies as Yoda, it simply never gets old.
Of course the biggest hook to Battlefront is its multiplayer. The sequel changes things by locking heroes to battle points as opposed to pickups on the battlefield. There are also load outs now with the star cards and weapons. The problem comes from the progression system, which feels plodding, even after a few patches. It is worth noting that this review is coming after a lot of the loot box controversy. Initially, unlocking heroes such as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker would require tremendous amounts of time and/or real money. This has been tweaked, but progression of basic characters still feels off.
Earning new weapons requires kills with that class. It seems standard, but a lot of the modes in Battlefront II are not kill-based. Couple that with the idea that there are an abundance of players and for someone of my skill getting 7-10 kills a match is not unlikely. The first gun unlock comes at 50 kills, so by that math it took me over five matches to unlock one gun for one class. There are four classes. I get it, it gives incentive, but the drip feed feels too slow. Then there are star cards.
The star cards grant abilities and are earned from loot boxes. In order to equip more I had to increase my star card level. Yes, this game feels like it has a lot of free-to-play hooks in a $60 title. When the game launched loot boxes could be purchased with real money, which meant I was going up against people with higher star cards on day one. That has been removed, but now earning loot boxes requires plenty of credits, which I am currently saving to unlock characters, or completing challenges. Challenges are cool and there are plenty of them, but like gun progression they feel decidedly slow.
Pushing that aside I love the multiplayer. The maps are fun, and being a massive Star Wars fan it is incredible seeing Kylo Ren take on Luke Skywalker on the battlefield. The sound is perfect. Dice is unmatched when it comes to audio and not to mention just how amazing the game looks running on an Xbox One X. The locales now span all the movies with planned DLC for future films. Combine that with the fact that all DLC will be free, and hopefully the player base will not splinter after the first pack drops.
Speaking of visuals I tested the game across the original Xbox One S, the X, and even saw the beta running on PS4 Pro. This game is a looker on all consoles, but Pro and X really make it shine. The X version hits native 4K and is superbly detailed. The cut scenes look washed out compared to game play and the frame rate never dips below 60. It is a marvel of technology. Every map was more beautiful than the last. This game is a showcase for these new consoles.
Star Wars Battlefront II stumbles out of the gate with its progression system. I hope it gets ironed out because the underlying multiplayer is extremely fun. The campaign is short and sweet, but a little too fan-servic-y for me. As it stands this is a solid sequel with some highly noticeable blemishes. I will continue to play because of my love for Star Wars, but I do hope it gets ironed out before players lose interest.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.