I clocked a lot of hours in both Star Wars Battlefront I and II, before finally taking a break when I swapped consoles. But when the Black Friday sales popped up, and with the ‘Clone Wars Season’ imminent, I’ve jumped back on to the Battlefront.
RELEASED: November 17th 2017
DEVELOPED BY: EA DICE
PUBLISHED BY: Electronic Arts
It’s been a year since Star Wars Battlefront II came out, and since then I’ve put a silly amount of hours into playing this game. I remember, back when the game was announced, how excited both I and the community as a whole were for the game. The first Battlefront of the modern era, while fun, was very much lacking when the base game was announced. By the time the four DLCs had been released, the game had been sufficiently bulked up, but it was a bit ridiculous that you had to essentially pay £90 or so for what should have been offered at the original price.
The sequel promised to do away with all of that. It would feature a ton of content from the beginning, and then be treated as a ‘live-service’ game, wherein you would continue to get updates at no extra cost.
And then the title was released, and it was marred with controversy surrounding the ‘Play to Win’ aspects of the game, wherein players could use real money to upgrade their heroes, vehicles and abilities in a randomised system, that some countries have described as gambling. Personally, I got by just fine playing the game without spending any money, but from what I recall it could be annoying saving up your in-game points just to be given an ability you already owned, thus rendering all progress inert.
However, that controversy aside (DICE would spend time revamping the progression system to make it less gambling friendly), what was in the game was a breath of fresh air. The graphics, for one, looked outstanding. Entering a match of Galactic Assault was like stepping into the Star Wars universe, as the sights and sounds around you made it an intense and exciting game-play experience that felt truly immersive. Until Kylo Ren runs by at the Battle of Naboo, some thirty years before his birth, and takes you right out of it. That may just be an issue I have, but seeing as DICE stressed they wanted to remain true to the canon of Star Wars, having cross-era heroes available in the main game modes as well as ‘Heroes vs. Villains’ took the magic out of things. But there are only so many heroes available per era in this game, so I understand somewhat (although that in itself is a problem we’ll come back to when talking about the oncoming ‘seasons’).
Another big selling point for this game was of course the campaign, something conspicuously absent from the first game. As John Boyega says in the video further up, the campaign follows Imperial Special Forces Commander Iden Versio, and was set to bridge the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Which it does. Kind of.
The campaign is an enjoyable experience. You get to shoot rebels, there’s high stakes, and the story delves into the mindset of an Imperial in the final days of the Empire. For three missions. Then, after a level where you play as Luke Skywalker, you quickly find yourself switching sides, and joining the Rebellion / Republic / Resistance. Furthermore, the following levels are interspersed with missions where you play as characters other than Iden Versio – Leia Organa, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian all get their time in the spotlight. And while it’s fun, and all the portrayals feel true to character, it seems to be missing the point of why people were so excited in the first place. Especially since the missions based around other characters generally tend to be set up for their own stories in the various novels Disney has put out since buying Lucasfilm. And thanks to those novels and the new extended canon, I know that the final mission where you play as Iden (the Battle of Jakku) only takes place five years after Return of the Jedi. Then the game just skips ahead twenty-five years and suddenly you’re playing as Kylo Ren, the First Order readily established and hunting for the map to Skywalker.
So let’s just recap all that quickly, shall we?
The Campaign promised to put you in the shoes of an Imperial agent. But you spend more time playing as a Rebel than you do fighting for the Empire. It promises to show you the Rise of the First Order. But then covers no new ground, and skips everything past the fall of the Empire. It introduces brand new, exciting characters to follow. Then you spend half the game playing as other characters you already know all about.
In short, the story is unoriginal, quite bland and terribly cliché. It doesn’t really deliver on any of it’s promises, and hence, falls short of being a quality experience. The same could be said for the game as a whole. While it is beautiful and has stunning music, the monumental fuck up that was its launch meant that they had to spend all their time restoring the game to how it should have been, removing all traces of gambling and foul play, and thus couldn’t deliver on their Live-Service promise. There has been a fair bit of new content in the past year, but it has been minimal compared to what was advertised, and if it weren’t for the currently ‘Clone Wars Season’ keeping hope alive, then the game would have gotten stagnant long ago.
I play this game a lot, it’s perfect entertainment for when you want something interactive but want to switch off your brain, but it makes a lot of promises that it can’t keep, and for that, I give the base game: