When EA announced Star Wars Battlefront a few years ago, I was very happy to see the franchise making a comeback. I spent a lot of time playing the old Pandemic Studios games back in the day, creating countless memories with friends. Staying up late, or skipping a class to play one more round was a common theme in my college dorm.
While the spirit of the franchise was there, unfortunately, DICE’s first attempt rang somewhat hollow. The team nailed the visuals and sound but the gameplay felt uninspired and boring. It was missing that spark which hooked my friends and I back in the day. With Battlefront 2, you can see that DICE took the feedback to heart, rectifying many things that didn’t sit well with fans. Chief among them is a new single-player, story-driven campaign, as well as finally including all three Star Wars eras into the multiplayer.
Thankfully, fans got a taste of what DICE has planned thanks to a beta test that happened earlier this month. After letting my thoughts stew for a couple weeks, here’s what I thought of the experience.
While the beta was purposely light on content, it did feature three modes, each set within different Star Wars eras. The showpiece mode, Galactic Assault, took place in the prequel era movies (Episodes 1-3) pitting the Trade Federation droids against the Republic clone trooper soldiers. Starfighter Assault featured the familiar X-Wings and Tie Fighters from the original trilogy of movies (Episodes 4-6) and the smaller Strike mode saw First Order troopers going up against Resistance fighters from the new trilogy (Episodes 7-9).
I had a great time with Galactic Assault which is a 40 player objective mode, where the match evolves based each round. In the beta, the droids were trying to escort their large weapon to the palace while clone troopers tried to destroy it before it reached the front gate. If the droids succeeded, the match took the fight into the palace, with the same attack/defend style combat. It was more cinematic than the other modes and made you feel like you were participating in a large scale battle.
For shorter and more intimate matches, Strike was available to play. Essentially one team would try to capture an item and deliver it to a point on the map while the other team tried to stop them. It’s more basic but no less fun and I did appreciated that the matches were shorter and was available if I didn’t have a whole lot of time to play.
The third mode was Starfighter Assault, putting players behind the wheel of the various space ships from Star Wars. I was surprised by this mode as I figured this would be one I didn’t really care about as I’m not huge into flight style modes. It’s completely fun though and really makes you feel like you’re up in space flying around. It’s also completely disorienting at first, but with a little time and patience the controls start to settle in.
While the single player campaign was off limits, players could mess around in a single player or co-op enabled arcade style mode. For the beta, players could select Darth Maul or a rocket droid in an effort to kill ‘X’ number of enemies before time ran out. While this mode was fun, it doesn’t strike me as something that’ll hold my interest months after the game is out. I’m curious to know what other kinds of missions are in there and at the very least, I could see this being a sort of palate cleanser when you want to mix it up.
The standout change for me this time around is the class system. While DICE has done this previously with their Battlefield series, this version is a call back to the old Pandemic games, which relied heavily on classes. Players can pick from the classic Assault class, tanky Heavy class, support oriented Officer class, and the recon-style Specialist class. I tried them all, and they all feel great. Oddly enough, I found success with each, so that was a pleasant surprise.
As you play and earn kills, assists, play the objective, and other methods, you gain points which can be spent on special classes, vehicles, and heroes. These points replace those random field pickup and power ups scattered across the map while playing. Instead of randomly finding items, players use classes with specific gear load outs and use those earned battle points to unlock heroes and other special classes like the rocket trooper or a Wookie.
Customization is also a focal point now, something that was entirely missing from the first game. Though the beta was certainly limited, players can use star cards on the various heroes and classes to empower them or perhaps replace an ability with something else entirely. Based on the menus and grayed out settings, there looks to be more in the full edition of the game.
Give credit, where credit is due. DICE knows how to make a gorgeous looking game, though that shouldn’t surprise anyone by this point. Picking up where Battlefield 1 left off, Star Wars Battlefront 2 nails the look, feel, and sounds of the Star Wars franchise. While it’s not the only thing, it’s a major aspect to the total package and I’m glad DICE kept that attention to detail.
People seem to be hung up on the idea of loot boxes, and I can’t blame them. Originally, the idea was that players could earn star cards and even craft upgraded versions from these loot boxes, essentially letting them enhance their characters. It seems EA and DICE were also receptive to these concerns because a lengthy blog article was posted after the beta detailing the changes being made to the system before launch. Is this going to be effective in stopping the pay to win feeling fans have? We’ll need to wait until launch to find out, but it is a start.
So overall, I’m feeling pretty good about the game leading up to its November launch. You can feel and see the changes made and from what I played, it already feels a lot better than its predecessor. In addition to the attention to detail and visuals, DICE seems to have been able to bring the actual gameplay up to the same level, something that I felt was missing from the previous game. At the very least, it’s going to have plenty of content out of the gate, so that’s already a better start this time.
Did you play the open beta? Let me know what your thoughts were after playing.