‘Star Wars: Battlefront II’ | She’s got it where it counts

Andy Moser

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Star Wars Battlefront II released on Friday, which means EA is back for our wallets yet again. Or are they?

Unexpectedly, EA has altered the deal. The Battlefront II of a couple weeks ago is quite different from the Battlefront II on release day. After an overload of controversy tied to the game’s loot-box-related microtransaction system, EA has bent to the will of the players.

In the game, players need to obtain loot boxes in order get credits, crafting parts, and star cards—all of which allow the player to progress further in the game. The issue before was that those with more cash than others could buy more of these loot boxes to gain an advantage over other players, thereby creating a pay-to-win system. A small amount of credits can be earned in-game, but they don’t allow the player to progress in any meaningful capacity.

Hmm, a powerful developer using money as a means to bar the less privileged from success? Sounds like some very imperial tactics, EA. Thankfully, the Rebellion would prevail. EA started by removing the better quality star cards from the loot boxes. They then substantially lowered the amount of credits needed to unlock heroes like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. And just hours before release, EA turned off all in-game purchases. Thank the Maker!

It appears, this time, EA messed with the wrong fans. While EA deserves credit for actually listening to the community’s feedback, I give more credit to the players for using their power to force the developer to make a fundamental change for the better. Image result for star wars unlimited power gif

Now that we’ve been spared from a horrendous progression system (hopefully), we can focus on the gameplay.

 

Multiplayer  

The combination of fun, objective-based battles and characteristically stunning visuals make online multiplayer a blast. However, there are still game modes superior to others.

Fight as a ground soldier, or control a famous Star Wars hero/villain. EA Games.

Galactic Assault, a large-scale, multi-tier game mode fully immerses the player in Star Wars’ three glorious eras. A lot of the planets gamers clamored for leading up to the release made it into the game this time around: Kamino, Naboo, and Starkiller Base, among others and the classic original trilogy maps. Class-based infantry provides more of a team atmosphere than the game’s predecessor. Assault classes, heavy troopers, specialists, and officers each have their own unique skills and weapons to contribute to the battle.

Playing the objective and getting kills will earn you “battle points,” which can be used to buy special units (like Wookies or jet troopers) and heroes in the game. 

Heroes vs. Villains also made the cut for Battlefront II, but it’s littered with flaws. If you like waiting in the pregame lobby for a year because EA matchmakers can’t find one. more. player., this is the game mode for you! While this process can get irritating quickly, it allows the tired player a unique opportunity to take a nap between games. Or if you’re not tired, grab a snack, call your grandmother, do your taxes, and hopefully by then, your game will have started.

Image result for star wars battlefront ii gameplay gif

Pick your favorite hero or villain (unless they’re locked behind a credit wall) and listen as a strange computerized voice introduces the match in a melodramatic way, as if Michael Buffer was setting up a boxing match while talking into a fan. If you’re somebody who loves a distracting presence that detracts from the aura of the match, then good news! Robot Michael stays with you the whole game to offer riveting commentary like, “So sad. Rey has met her defeat.” Heartbreaking, indeed.

Some of the other hero dialogue is downright cringeworthy. Ever wanted to hear Kylo Ren say “You will not die well?” Neither did I. 

The battles themselves are hysterical. Heroes and villains clash in a mosh pit of fury and aimlessness as they try to wipe out the targeted character. There’s nothing quite like multiple people simultaneously abusing the attack button in close proximity to replicate the poetic grace of lightsaber combat. Non-force users are best-suited to firing from a distance, hoping not to be noticed by all the cool people. To cap it off, there’s nothing stopping all players on a team from leaving the game they’re losing. The remaining players then have no way of ending the game except quitting.  

The other game modes make up for this one’s lack of structure and strategy, earning multiplayer a high degree of playability.

 

Campaign Mode  

Without spoiling anything, Battlefront’s single player story has a flurry of bright moments, but leaves a lot to be desired. You play as Iden Versio, commander of the Empire’s elite Inferno Squad during the time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Versio, voiced and acted by Janina Gavankar, is nothing short of a grade-A badass. Strong, clever, and deadly, she’s a hell of a character to play as.

Iden Versio, the hero of the campaign. EA Games.

Unfortunately, the thrill of her journey is upended by a slim narrative that feels painfully rushed. The story, which I completed in six or seven hours, desperately needed to be lengthier in order to get more depth and mileage out of its star. This really is a shame since Versio is such a dynamic character with a lot of potential. Perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel comes in the form of a promise by EA to deliver more chapters of her story in the December update.

If you’d like, follow me to the *light spoilers* section. We need to talk about some of these flaws in more detail. If you don’t want to know what happens, feel free to skip ahead to the conclusion.

Oh dear, where do we even begin? Let’s start with the nostalgia factor. The campaign, which is 13 chapters long, has you playing as classic heroes for five of them. Too many of these don’t feel pertinent to Iden’s story. Some of these hero missions stop her character development dead in its tracks. Easily the worst of these is the Han Solo mission on Takodana. You’ll meet an oblivious, way-too-talkative ally and chat up a poorly voiced Maz Kanata about her attraction to Chewbacca. Iden comes in at the end in a forced attempt to tie the mission to her story, but it’s not a good fit. It was a pity to see her development traded in for too much familiarity. Even worse, I spit my drink when I saw the hideous beard EA decided to give Han Solo. This atrocity somehow turns Solo from a witty straight shooter to a soft, sensitive English teacher you want to vent your insecurities to. I guess we found out who’s scruffy looking. 

Maybe he celebrated No Shave November? EA Games.

Also, one of the key reasons I was excited to play as Iden in the campaign was the fact that she was an Imperial, and a high-ranking one at that—one supposedly ingrained with vicious cunning and an unshakeable loyalty to the Empire. This helped make her interesting. To my sad surprise, she flips sides about a third of the way into the story. One conflicting act by the Empire was apparently enough to awaken Versio’s inner angel. She gives herself up to the Rebellion, and is welcomed into their ranks without so much as a slap on the wrist for all the rebel casualties she directly caused. She even soars up the ranks in no time. 

Image result for star wars traitor gif

It took Anakin Skywalker three movies to turn to the dark side, and it took him three more to redeem himself. Versio jumps ship in a matter of missions, which begs the question: how invested in the Empire’s cause was she really? And if she wasn’t, one might think she wouldn’t get to command an elite squadron of trained killers. Her desertion baffled me, and it severely limited the depth of her character. Is she still cool as a rebel? Sure. But I lost a lot of interest in her when I saw that her deepest convictions were so malleable.

The first third of the campaign is actually stellar. It’s a shame it couldn’t stay that way. 

 

Conclusion

Compared to EA’s first try, Battlefront II is an easy improvement. More maps, more heroes, and the addition of a single player campaign makes sure of that. The multiplayer will likely keep players busy for months, along with all the free post-release content EA has promised. The developers said they’ll continue listening to feedback and fine-tuning the game accordingly, which makes it somewhat difficult to review. What’s relevant here may not be relevant in a matter of months, or even weeks.

Despite its array of flaws and inconsistencies, Star Wars Battlefront II is the only videogame that currently immerses fans in their favorite universe with such a high degree of graphical quality. Though disappointing, it’s still a must-play for Star Wars fans. A pay-to-win progression system would change that, however (so don’t get any ideas, EA).

“You needn’t worry about your reward. If money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.”—Princess Leia, A New Hope

Sails: 3/5

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