By Donovan Floyd
As an extreme Star Wars fan, it doesn’t take much at all for me to get excited for another addition to the universe. However, after the disaster that is EA’s Star Wars Battlefront, I couldn’t let myself have an extreme fanboy attack over the second edition to EA’s latest franchise, familiarly named Star Wars Battlefront II. In fact, my first impression when seeing the reveal trailer for the game was, “Eh, I’m probably not gonna get it,” even though it was said that they had fixed everything wrong with the first game. I just could not trust it on its own. Now that the week-long beta has come and gone, I have to say, I’m a hopeful. What changed my mind? Well, they just about fixed everything that was wrong with the first game. It was true.
EA is off to a great start by answering the original’s biggest problem: lack of content. Battlefront II starts by adding in an original campaign. We follow Imperial Elite Trooper Iden in her quest to avenge the destruction of the Death Star II and the deaths of the Emperor and Darth Vader. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a glimpse of the story during the beta, but this has the potential to be a very compelling narrative. I’m interested in whether the story of Iden ends with her defecting, or starting the First Order. It’s also nice to know about the new canon version of what happened after Return of the Jedi.
My favorite thing that they’ve done with the game is that they’ve opened up the multiplayer to all three eras. I’ll be the first to admit that, while I like the Original Trilogy better, I still do like the prequels, too (GASP, I know). What can I say, they’re the films I grew up with. The best part about the prequels, however, is that they give us so many really cool hero possibilities to play in Battlefront. EA completely dropped the ball on their overpriced BF2 alpha (the original game, if you didn’t catch it). But it was great to finally see Darth Maul wreak havoc on the battlefield of Naboo, and I can’t wait to see Yoda do the same.
There are so many different maps I want to see, like Kamino, the Jedi Temple, the battle over Coruscant, and much more from the Clone Wars Trilogy. We might not get all of that at launch, but there’s plenty of opportunity with the DLC. Speaking of DLC, it’s free. EA threw out the season pass and made it available to everyone, a big step in the right direction. It makes perfect sense and enables players to enjoy the full game together.
What else is good? Well, the visuals and sounds are just as phenomenal as the first. I’m totally immersed in the battlefield in every game and it makes me realize that even with lasers, war is still pretty freakin’ scary. The attention to detail is amazing. My favorite part? Being in the beginning of the Battle of Theed where hundreds of civilians scramble out of the way – throughout the battle.
In Battlefront, the only way you could get a hero was by picking up a token on the battlefield. This time, you’ll get to spawn as a hero based on skill with the new battle points system. Get enough points and you can spawn a tank, special elite classes, or even air support as well. There was also one mode in this game that I didn’t see in the last: Arcade Mode. This mode gives you new single-player or co-op modes that you can tweak and customize to your liking. That just sounds like a recipe for hours of fun.
New and interesting campaign? Check. Expanded the universe beyond the oh-so-beloved original trilogy? Check. Complete destruction of the severely infuriating season pass format? Super check.
With all the good that EA’s done with the game, there is one part that’s causing a lot of controversy: loot boxes. Loot boxes are generally OK in two instances: with free-to-play games or if the contents are purely cosmetic, as with Overwatch. The problem with the loot boxes in BF2 is that they are the only way players progress. Upgrades and Star Cards can only be acquired through the loot boxes, and while they can be earned rather easily (at least, it was easy in the beta), why do that when you can pay for X amount of loot boxes in real money? This makes Battlefront 2 curiously seem like it’s following a pay-to-win format, a huge problem for a game that most people are already paying $80 for. (EA has since responded to concerns, but not very convincingly. See here.)
Also, I felt that the hit boxes were a little bit off at times. I would take several midrange shots that would hit the avatar but would show no hit markers. Just thought it was worth mentioning and I hope these are fixed when the game hits stands.
After all this, I’ve actually become excited for the game. One thing I’d love to see from them is an absolutely huge roster of heroes. Don’t hold back, let us play as Jar Jar even. (Just kidding, I won’t go that far.) But I do want to see a bunch of heroes from the Clone Wars Series, like Ahsoka or Ventress. It looks as though EA is trying to reconcile and earn the trust of Star Wars fans again. But the loot box issue does seem pretty significant, so my recommendation is not to pre-order. Wait until the game comes out to see how EA really responds to players’ feelings and suggestions. Then, pick it up if you want to.
May the Force be with you all!