The only quick review I can give Battlefront 2 is that it is close, but not quite close enough to what players have been asking for from DICE/EA’s reboot of the franchise. There aren’t many games that have had the amount of controversy Battlefront 2 has garnered all the way up until launch; and for the most part those controversies are sound. However, it’s the job of the reviewer/critic to look at what the game offers directly to the customer, and not the drama that exists outside of the product. So this review will only be looking at the game as a whole, and not everything going on within the community.
What I find to be the most disturbing, however, is how short this review will be. For all of the content EA advertised throughout the marketing campaign for the game, the entire experience still feels very shallow and feels like it’s lacking content. But without further ado, let’s just jump right into it.
Probably my most anticipated addition to Battlefront 2 was it’s campaign. Set between the 30 years after Return of the Jedi and before The Force Awakens, players take on the role of Iden Versio (and some other very special cameos) as she carries out Operation: Cinder during the fall of the Empire. Unfortunately, the story of Iden Versio is a predictable and boring slog. While the characters throughout Battlefront 2’s campaign remain intriguing throughout, the story never really feels like it has enough time to dive into each of the characters and their motivations. Too often does it dive into the stereotypical, “they’re bad because they’re bad” trope in the worst Star Wars stories. There are of course some great standouts; Janina Gavankar as Iden is a wonderful performance, as is Dan Donohue as Shriv. But even while these characters have wonderful performances, the story that surrounds them is so forgettable and boring that it never really amounts to much.
At the end of the story, I was left saying to myself, “well…this just seems like everything we already knew, and doesn’t really provide anything new to the canon that is meaningful,” which may or may not be fair. While we were all hoping for a story that gave a ton of insight into what happened in the 30 years between episodes 6 and 7, it’s almost to be expected that Disney would have a tight grip on what the storytellers could and could not reveal.
It’s also quite unfortunate that we are not getting the real “ending” to the game until the day The Last Jedi releases, which hopefully provides more info and a concrete ending. Other than that, the story does take players to some pretty great locales and has a lot of spectacle you would expect from a modern FPS. So while it’s great the campaign was included this time around with Battlefront 2, it’s nothing that takes the franchise to new heights.
Ah yes, Battlefront 2’s multiplayer. The most controversial and altered aspect to the game before the game even released, and the biggest reason for the delay in this review. Let’s just get it out of the way to begin with: the progression system in Battlefront 2 is atrocious. Quite honestly, it’s probably one of the worst progression systems I’ve ever encountered in a modern day FPS. Not only is the Star Card system confusing and clunky, but how you go about unlocking new Star Cards and weapons/gear is so tediously aggravating, I’d be surprised anyone would want to put serious hours into unlocking anything.
See, Star Cards are mostly unlocked using Crafting Parts. Crafting Parts can only be acquired via the game’s loot crates, which require credits you earn while playing the game. Each Star Card has up to 4 upgrade options, so you spend more Crafting Parts to upgrade each card. So why is this so tediously aggravating? Well, since the only way to get crafting parts is by 1) completing challenges or 2) opening loot boxes, you have to play hundreds of games to even have enough crafting parts to equip new Star Cards. On top of all that, when you finally do unlock new Star Cards, the amount of advantage you have over old Star Cards is negligible (at least from what I gathered in my 20-25 hour play time). Of course, that’s the most controversial part of the game. But as stated before, the loot crate controversy has no effect on this particular review. Because even without the ability to buy loot crates, the progression system feels unrewarding and frustrating.
Now, the actual gameplay of Battlefront 2’s multiplayer is something to write home about. Yes, there are a few technical hiccups now and again (I have gotten stuck multiple times in the map), and the game takes forever to load into a new multiplayer match. But the game is luckily fun to play, especially in it’s two premiere modes Galactic Assault and Starfighter Assault. Galactic Assault is essentially the equivalent to Battlefield 1’s Operations mode where players slowly advance throughout the map as they complete different objectives. Straighter Assault is my personal favorite (and quite honestly it could be it’s own separate game), and involves the space battles people were clamoring for in the first Battlefront. Both offer very very compelling maps throughout all of the generations of Star Wars, and have nice subtle nods such as Ewoks or battles waging in the distance to make the entire experience feel large and epic.
My only gripe for each of the modes is how hugely unbalanced it is depending on what map and what team you are playing on. For example, it’s almost a given that if you are on the Separatist attacking team on Kashyyyk you will win the game. I played dozens of times on this particular map, and never once were the Clone defenders able to fend off the attackers.
Of course, there’s the elements of heroes in Battlefront 2. Lots of controversy surrounded the credit cost to unlock each hero, but at the time of this review EA had already dropped the price of each hero by 75%. I was able to unlock all the available heroes within a few days of casual playing, but still found it kind of frustrating that I was required to spend my credits to unlock these heroes/villains. Especially when their abilities are on par with the heroes you get for free from the start. I also found that some of the heroes (this does not apply to the villains) were completely underpowered against their foes. Han Solo, Leia and even Yoda all seemed like easy defeats when compared to the overpowered villains like Kylo Ren, Darth Maul and Vader.
But I just want to take a moment and highlight Starfighter Assault. Like I said before, I totally believe this could be it’s own separate game were it fleshed out a little more and had a campaign of it’s own. Not only is the flying of each ship very manageable (something the first Battlefront did not have), but it’s entirely too fun. EA/DICE took the time to add in plenty of AI ships into battles so that each game feels as epic and grandiose as they are in the movies. Never did I feel like I was overpowered or being outmaneuvered by other ships or players, and constantly felt like I had a shot at making a real impact on the game. Again though, like Galactic Assault, some of the maps do feel like specific teams have heavy-handed advantages over the other. However the mode itself is so fun, it’s hard not to just take a breathe and jump back into the fray again.
But even though the multiplayer gameplay itself is fun, the progression system and how you unlock new weapons/Star Cards is so frustrating I found it very hard to continue. Were more time and thought put into how players progress through the game and unlock upgrades/weapons, I feel Battlefront 2 may have just been the step forward many were expecting from this entry. Instead, the game just doesn’t feel done and feels very underdeveloped; especially for a Star Wars game.