Things are looking up for the Battlefront series after a somewhat muffled bang of a start to the new series in 2015 (new = brought back). The last time around the game featured some really spectacular visuals that proudly declared the current generation can really bring a visual prowess not seen outside of the PC world. The game showed it can bring some details and truly put the player in George Lucas’ worlds that most of us are familiar with from the movie series.
In short, it was pretty. Seriously, pretty.
Sadly, with that prettiness it sacrificed exciting gameplay. I’m not entirely sure if the game was rushed to finish in time for the impending Force Awakens release or that simply DICE didn’t know how to ramp it up to Battlefield type excitement, but whatever the case, the game under-delivered in the gameplay department. A lack of campaign didn’t help either, as the game seemed to take a note from the original Titanfall release (stories are everything, folks!!!!). Again, while the game visually was stunning in nearly every way, and you could play the lightsaber wielding Luke Skywalker (or other famous faces) that weren’t too far off from the actors, it just couldn’t bring much beyond that in the gameplay department. That is probably the reason most are skeptical about this soon-to-be released title.
Let me reassure you that things have changed, at least in the MP department.
Star Wars: Battlefront II arrives next month and prior to the release EA and DICE had opened up a week or so beta testing on the MP side. They allowed players who pre-ordered the title to join in the fun early and test out some new modes before the rest of the gamers teetering on the fence on whether to bite or not. That fence has a lot of people on it, but I have a feeling they’re about to fall off the fence onto the pro side of the yard.
Now, as I stated above, MP modes were the focus of this beta. The first mode I jumped into was a giant space battle called Starfighter Assault. Some of you are familiar with this mode of gameplay, as it was featured in the first game, and people loved it. In Battlefront II you placed in the deep reaches of space in a gigantic battle. You play the empire or the rebels and are given a set of tasks to complete in order to defend or destroy your stake in the galaxy. There are dozens of ships flying around the area, all begging for a missile or a maneuver to bring them down. The visuals, as you would expect in the second go around on the current generation consoles (PS4 Pro for me), are the highlight of the show here. The vastness of space, mixed with the detailed empire ships, sounds and surrounding planets with proper lighting, shows you right from the start that nothing visually was sacrificed. In fact, in a way, the visuals were improved a bit. The lighting was the biggest improvement in my opinion, as it was prominent and set perfectly the way lighting would act given sun positioning and ship movement. It was incredibly impressive. Overall, the visuals were outstanding, though I suspect there will be improvements when the game finally launches.
As for the gameplay, the controls were precise and the flying/moving of the ship was far more tighter than the previous game. Targeting, firing, pitching/yawing were spot-on and the game seemed to flow a lot smoother than the last time around. The expansion of the environment also helped to stretch the immersion of the game and put you in the cockpit to help your team out. It was good and it felt fun, something that wasn’t very present in the last game. The lack of boredom was a huge shift. All of this equals out to quite the improvement, as I could see myself playing this game for more than a few weeks. Maybe Battlefield sort of time, depending on updates.
Beyond ships, the game also featured ground attacks between clones and droids in Galactic Assault at the Queen’s palace. You either play the clones, who protect the royal base, or you play as droids, who are bringing a large assault vehicle to take it down. If you’re a fan of the Battlefield series, you’ll get a good dose of tight controls, excellent character variety and solid gameplay. It feels like they took the entire concept of Battlefield and mixed it with the structure of Battlefront that was established last time around (menu choices, personalities, etc.). It feels a lot more purposeful when you’re playing and it’s fair in terms of balance. In short, it feels like it should have felt in 2015.
Whatever complaints gamers might have had last time, they seem to be either resolved or smoothed out, IF the game takes this feel and spreads it around all the MP modes. We’ll have to wait and see when it comes out next month.
The last mode I tried out was the arcade mode. I haven’t read much about this mode, but it felt the most restrictive out of the bunch. I went solo in this mode and played as Darth Maul, ya know, because he is badass. The purpose of the game was to wipe out clone troopers (and spineless captains) in a certain amount of time, while gaining time back by eliminating enemies. For example, if you slice/dice a clone trooper, then you get a certain amount of seconds added back to the timer. The point is to beat X amount of enemies in Y amount of time to achieve Z placement in comparison to other players. Maybe it’s my bitterness at the difficulty of Destiny 2’s Nightfalls lately, which are timed, but this was my least entertaining mode. Maybe the other characters, levels and such will change my opinion, but right now it wasn’t my favorite of the bunch. That could change because I’m sure DICE is holding back its best, but the mode certainly wasn’t that exciting in comparison to the others.
Beyond the above modes, pretty much everything else was locked down. I’m itching to get into the campaign badly, but will be happy to wait for it when the game comes out. I assume it’s going to be amazing, much like Battlefield 1and Titanfall 2’s campaign, until proven otherwise. As it stands, just from the MP beta, there’s a lot more to love than dislike about Star Wars: Battlefront II. You can see in multiple modes how much more thought was put into making the gameplay far better than the first. It’s there and it truly is much better. I honestly am excited about the full version of the game and can’t wait to see what DICE has in store for us.
Until then, may the force be with your patience until November.