Much anticipated Star Wars Battlefront II by EA DICE, Motive Studios and Criterion Software has blasted onto our consoles and boy has it generated some mixed responses from the gaming world, unfortunately mainly negative. I have had the erm… pleasure to play through the latest offering in the Star Wars world and have temporarily cast the negativity aside to try and give you my honest verdict, Red 5 standing by!
Star Wars Battlefront II’s newest feature is the single player campaign that sees you play predominantly as a female Imperial Special Forces Officer named Iden Versio. Jumping into her storm trooper boots just as the second Death Star is destroyed in Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi, you are sent on a mission of retaliation by your father Admiral Garrick Versio called Operation Cinder. All is not as it seems however and very soon you switch allegiances, like literally on the spot during one particular early on mission, and you are then shooting down Tie Fighters and blasting Storm Troopers to pieces.
The campaign has 13 missions if you include the prologue that all together takes around 6-7 hours to complete. The campaign lets you run around on Endor, Pilio, Vardos, Takodana, Sullust, Jakku as well as Star Destroyers while having the chance to play as iconic heroes such as Han Solo, General Lando Calrissian, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa and later on as Kylo Ren.
I found the single player campaign story levels fun to play with a great deal of variance in characters that brings with them a change to the way of playing a mission such as Lando’s smoke grenade and thermal imaging pistol and abilities like Luke Skywalker’s force push. Some missions require a degree of stealth while others are pure shoot-em up action. I’m useless at stealth so most of my campaign involved every planet knowing that I was about! As well as ground based battles there are also some thrilling flying parts to some of the missions that allow you to fly Tie Fighters, X-Wings and even the Millennium Falcon. The controls take a bit of getting used to as it is easy to press the wrong stick and rather than steer a certain direction you end up inverting yourself…and then panicking and flying into something. Talking about flying into objects, I struggled at times to gauge how long the ship was that I was flying and on occasion spread my body parts across space due to clipping the nose of another spaceship!
The missions are busy with a vast sense of depth instilled by the amount of things happening in the background while navigating to the objective. It was like playing within a movie with fights breaking out between rebels and Storm Troopers, AT-ST’s charging towards you blasting your cover to pieces and numerous space ships flying through the skies. The atmosphere and realism is heightened by the changing environments and weather conditions, I especially enjoyed the storm during the 4th mission of the campaign aptly named “The storm”. The dark skies, torrential rain and thunderstorms emulates the mood of the level with regards to the story.
Iden has a droid (ID10) that makes for a cool looking backpack and has the ability to “slice” certain objects. This allows interaction with items such as computer consoles to view surveillance cameras in order to plan your next move and also unlock door entry systems. The droid is most useful when slicing the large grey weapon containers that are dotted about on missions. From here your weapon loadout can be changed and also new abilities and weapon upgrades can be found through discovering Star Cards. Similar to the first Battlefront, it is upto you to select 3 cards from your ever growing deck to give your character specific abilities. The Star Cards (boost and ability) play a big role within Battlefront II, especially when playing multiplayer so I would advise playing the single player campaign first as the progress makes for a great tutorial to how the system works.
The controls of the characters is something that seemed a little off to me this time around. In the first Battlefront I felt connected as I was running my character about the various terrains and firing at the enemy, however in Battlefront II it all seems a little disjointed. I’m not sure if it is a little bit of lag between what you do and what the character does but even when shooting your weapon it seemed to be delayed and really cumbersome.
Once the main campaign is over, the free DLC containing “Operation Resurrection” can be played to briefly continue the story for an hour and recently released but not reviewed is “The Last Jedi” DLC.
Arcade mode is Battlefront II’s casual place whereby you, and a split screen friend, can play through a selection of battles, versus mode and a customisable battle mode where you choose the number of enemy and time duration, etc. It is a great way of learning what all of the characters can do and experience the special powers that they wield. In the battle mode you start at a difficulty of Tier 1 and you have to wipe out 50 enemy within a certain time limit. Complete it and you are awarded a star, do better and you have the chance to obtain the maximum of 3 stars. Once a tier has been completed you can unlock the next tier. The higher the tier, the more enemy you need to clear and the harder the AI becomes. Rewards come as in-game currency that allows you to invest in crates for more Star Cards.
If you have played Battlefront then you know the score here as it is fairly similar however to the newbies below are the game modes that you can find when taking on the world!
Galactic Assault – This is the largest of the online games that sees a total of 42 players taking on the role of either attackers or defenders. A series of objectives are set for both teams with the attacking side winning if they complete all of their assaults and the defending side winning if they manage to deplete all of the attacking sides respawn count. One match took a good half hour to complete!
Starfighter Assault – As it sounds, this time you are flying about in space ships, with an 11 a side skirmish involving an objective such as attacking a single or group of ships while the defenders have to enforce that this does not happen.
Strike – Similar to capture the flag, this game made involves 8 a side with one side attempting to capture and retrieve an item while the other side has to retrieve the item once it has gone on the run.
Heroes Vs. Villains – Last team standing 4 a side mayhem where you get to play and take on the most powerful characters in the Star Wars galaxy.
Blast – 10 a side team death match involving smaller maps and close quarter combat fighting. Bugger off snipers hahaha.
Sadly there isn’t a split screen mode when playing online which is a shame, although to be honest I do enjoy having a large screen just for me when playing against these game modes as I don’t want the excuse of not noticing an enemy wandering nearby due to me watching the other player!
You have heard me bleeting on about Star Cards so I had better briefly mention about them as they are a large part of Battlefront II. Star Cards come in the form of common, uncommon, rare and epic and can be found in random loot crates that are awarded for daily logins, achieving game objectives or via crafting parts. From the Star Cards, as well as abilities, guns and heroes can be unlocked along with victory poses and the ever irritating emotes.
Once your game mode is selected it is upto you to choose your class of character. This is a choice between Assault, Heavy, Officer, Specialist and Special Units (enforcers and aerial).
Here is where your Star Cards come into action. Each class has 3 slots that enable you to enhance your character during the match. The hand you play can give you certain advantages while also disadvantaging you in another therefore what you choose is important to the way you play. These can be changed about each time you die, and you will die a lot as the action is quick!
During gameplay, Battle Points are accrued for playing the objective and amount of damage dealt. Once you have around 2000-3000 points you can choose to play a special unit from your Star Card pack. This could be a wookie or a flame trooper for example, something to gain the advantage slightly. If you are struggling to infiltrate a certain area for an objective then a hero unit such as Luke Skywalker or Darth Maul needs to be brought into play and once more this will require a certain amount of Battle Points.
Maps are beautifully detailed, spacious and varied taking place across Kamino, Theed, Endor, Mos Eisley, Hoth, Starkiller Base and Death Star II just to name a few. I didn’t get bored lets just say that!
The multiplayer online aspect of Battlefront II is ok, I pretty much got annihilated as compared to the AI of the single player campaign, the play is on steroids. Like most games if it isn’t an eagle eyed sniper taking you out mid-dart between buildings then it is a run-in with a hero.
Battlefront II, as mentioned earlier has caused a lot of controversy from it’s initial launch and something that would be wrong not to mention. The anger towards lucrative in-game transactions using “crystals” for loot boxes that gave you stronger weapons and better abilities to wipe out other players that were trying to level up, albeit very very slowly by actually playing the game, cast a “pay to win” cloud across the game. Now I am not one to usually purchase loot crates so for me I was on the receiving end of this while playing multiplayer and it really took the fun out of the game. It was as if the long grind to unlock characters was on purpose to make you grow impatient and encourage you to purchase in-game credits. EA quickly responded to the outcry and lowered the cost of purchasing a hero by 75% however they then also lowered the amount of credits that you could earn from the single player campaign, therefore still making it a grind to achieve. Eventually after further online backlash EA disabled the entire microtransaction section. For many the damage was already done. In my personal opinion I feel that EA got to greedy, knowing that Star Wars is a great franchise with a large worldwide audience they saw money to be made and dangled the carrot, I am just happy that the online gaming community made so much of a commotion that they forced EA to do something about it. I dislike loot crates at the best of times however on this occasion the enhancement was far more than just cosmetic.
I played Battlefront II on my Playstation Pro coupled to a 4K tv and the graphics looked great during the actual gameplay however the cut scenes looked terrible. For me, the story interludes were a little jerky and suffered from “blooming” around the moving images. For example when there was a space scene behind a character, you could see a blocky distortion of slightly different black shades that was really noticeable. I would not of expected graphics like these here. When looking online it turns out that this is a common issue found when playing the game on a Playstation Pro, but no remedy or patch as yet.
On occasion characters and objects glitched on the screen causing them to move about for example an AT-ST got stuck while walking beside a gangway and glitched on top of it right before my eyes. The map in the corner of the screen can be a little tricky to see when the background is of a light shade due to the terrain you have encountered. It all made for a bit of pain in the butt at times.
The music and sound effects sounded grand when played nice and loud through the surround sound! Hearing the roar of spaceships speeding past you along with the infamous noise of the laser canons was pretty awesome. The voice acting was clear during the cutscenes however I did get a little irate during the campaign gameplay when at certain points within missions a conversation would take place between characters while walking to an objective. My issue was that your character seemed to walk faster than the other speaking character therefore the speech would naturally get quieter and quieter as you walked away from them before completely dropping out. Yeah I know, walk slower, its not like you can do anything else during these moments as all other controls are suspended however the speed that you are walking makes you feel that you are hardly making much progress as it is!
The campaign is 6-7 hours long, and is good fun, especially if you love hunting for trophies which will mean returning back to certain missions to perform certain actions to uncover them. If you have a friend over (remember it is only splitscreen for one additional player so only invite one friend to avoid disappointment!) then you can claim some personal bests while playing the arcade mode. Multiplayer is the main aspect of the game and here you can spend pretty much as long as you want trying to grind through awarded loot boxes to gain those all elusive Star Cards to complete your collection. There are a good amount of maps to play across and with the different gaming modes comes plenty of ways to play on them. The infamous season pass is for once not present as all future DLC is free. Microtransactions are still suspended so you are really playing to progress now, which I am all for. Seriously where is the fun in unlocking everything by buying it? Yes you may have an advantage for a bit of time but ultimately the challenge and sense of achievement is all but gone.
In conclusion I do feel that the game is not technically polished, It was one of those releases that I was really getting excited for, I had played the beta and saw a few issues but thought to myself “it’s just a beta”, however they are still here in the final version. If you are a die hard Star Wars fan then yes go right ahead, you know you want to. The campaign is good, yes the story has a few plot holes that people have picked up on but it is playable. If you enjoy multiplayer death matches but are not massive into Star Wars I would probably swerve this unless you have the spare cash and possibly get the new Call of Duty WW2 instead. Something I thought I would never be saying. As a result of my experiences with Starwars Battlefront II I am awarding it a Thumb Culture silver award. Disappointing EA, disappointing.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.