Review: Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Strikes Back

Screenshot: Star Wars Battlefront 2  

Without question, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 had a rough launch back in 2017. The highly anticipated title as it was at release, when we first reviewed it, was not being received well. It had a convoluted progression system, loot crates which you could buy with real money, which could include items that were direct upgrades of your class’ basic abilities, and heroes, like Darth Vader, which required tens of hours of grinding just to unlock, as well as a single player campaign that was just kind of disappointing. Many games don’t bounce back from a launch like this, but I’m glad to count Star Wars: Battlefront 2 next to games like Final Fantasy XIV who have failed, learned, and come back better than ever.

Screenshot: Star Wars: Battlefront 2 What I believe really saved Star Wars Battlefront 2 from falling and never getting back up is that from the beginning, DICE nailed the sound, atmosphere, and look of Star Wars. Seeing and hearing the bolt from your blaster fly across the sandy dunes of Geonosis; the hum and whine as you ignite your lightsaber as Anakin, and the crackle as you cross blades with Darth Vader; the explosion of a thermal detonator echoing through the halls of a Republic flag ship; the shout of a clone trooper calling out "Watch those wrist rockets!". If you're a huge Star Wars fan, you're probably already imaging everything I've just described, and Battlefront 2 sets the scene exceptionally well. Star Wars Battlefront 2 gives you four basic classes to choose from, each with their assortment of weapons and a selection of abilities: Assault, with a focus on close combat, speed, and constant aggression; Heavy, specializing in suppressing fire, explosives, and survivability; Specialist, who can either take the enemy out with longblasters from long range or flank the enemy with a powerful SMG; or the Officer, who helps the team with squad shields, auto-turrets, and an area-of-effect ability that increases the health of surrounding teammates. As a lover of tankier charaters, the Heavy speaks to me on a spiritual level, with their heavy blasters keeping the enemy in check from nearly any range. The best part is that you can customize the abilities of all four classes through the use of Star Cards, which let you either upgrade your existing abilities or replace them with new ones. For example, the heavy starts out with an impact grenade, a combat shield which protects your character from the front while still letting your fire your weapon, and Sentry, which has pulling you out a huge rotary blaster while also giving your surrounding teammates increased resistance to explosives. However, you can opt to replace your combat shield with Barrage, which allows you to launch three timed grenades, or replace your Sentry with the Supercharged Sentry that fires exploding bolts, but doesn't last as long. This means that even within classes, you are given a lot of room to tailor your loadout to your particular play style. My only issue is that over the past two years, the basic classes haven't gotten any new weapons, and while the ones available are still fun, I'd like some new toys. Screenshot: Star Wars Battlefront 2 Originally, Battlefront 2's progression system made it incredibly hard to unlock new Star Cards. In addition, loot boxes - crates purchasable with either in game currency or actual money - could contain Star Cards, meaning that by spending more money, you could give yourself an advantage. This drew a lot of backlash, and DICE quickly removed the ability to buy loot boxes, having now implemented a far better progression system, where you can level up classes in order to unlock skill points that are used to upgrade your character. Loot boxes are now only given out for special events, and even then they only contain cosmetic items like emotes, victory poses, or new skins for your characters. As you defeat enemies, capture objectives, and assist your team mates, you gain Battle Points. You can then spend these to spawn as a variety of other units. These include vehicles like speeders, tanks, and on the more open maps, starfighters, and my favorites, Reinforcements and Heroes. Reinforcements are a middle ground between regular troopers and Heroes, and are grouped into collections of characters that have similar roles. You have Enforcers, front line damage-dealing tanks like the Clone Commando or Super Battle Droid or the nimble, jetpack-equipped Aerial. Additionally, DICE has added in a new class, the Infiltrator, with characters like the speedy Commando Droid and the ultra-aggressive Sith Trooper. Heroes, as previously mentioned, are iconic characters from the Star Wars universe, and are the most powerful and expensive units you can spawn as. These include Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett, among others. It seems a lot of care was taken to make all of these characters feel unique, meaning that even among all the lightsaber wielding heroes, they all feel and handle differently. Heroes can turn the tide of battle, and are a force to be reckoned with, but that doesn't mean they're invincible. Even when you're playing as a basic trooper and come face to face with a Jedi like Anakin Skywalker, you aren't instantly dead meat. Taking advantage of heroes' weaknesses and coordinating with your team can make a huge difference, and if the enemy hero doesn't turn and realize that quickly enough, it might be game over for them.   Screenshot: Star Wars Battlefront 2 Possibly more impressive than all DICE has done to polish the game is the amount of additional content they've added to multiplayer. New maps, like sandy Geonosis, and Felucia with its trippy alien flora, are great additions to the Clone Wars Era, and Crait, with its grey dust and striking red soil, rounds out the sequel era. In addition, we've gotten new modes as well, with the biggest being Capital Supremacy. Currently only available for prequel trilogy maps, this mode has  teams fight for control of five command posts. Owning a majority of the command posts earns your teams points, and once you get to 100, you can invade the enemy's capital ship. The map then transitions, with one side making their way through the enemy ship, with the final objective being to destroy the reactor cores. If you succeed, you win the match, but failing to do so will transition the match back to the ground map, with the team who successfully defended their ship being granted ownership of a majority of the control points. It is also coming to Sequel-era maps in early 2020, if DICE's roadmap for the game is to be believed. Sadly, there isn't really a way to update a single-player campaign, and so Battlefront 2's still has a fractured story, is still short, and is still kind of boring. There are some interesting points to it, and Iden Versio, the main character, is well done for the most part,  but the way the story drastically jumps around makes her character arc seem confusing. There was a point where I tried to understand how Iden, a former member of an Imperial special forces unit, had changed so drastically, until a character offhandedly mentioned that a year had passed. This is never made clear to the player, and it hurts the story. A set of levels, titled Resurrection, was released for free for all players in the days before The Last Jedi was released back in 2017, and while it doesn't suffer from the jarring time skips, it's still rather tedious. So is Star Wars Battlefront 2 a better game, and is it worth buying it over two years after launch? I'd say yes, absolutely. At only $25 it's a steal for the amount of multiplayer content you're getting, and and finding a full match in modes like Galactic Assault, Capital Supremacy, and Hero Showdown is no problem. More niche modes like Starfighter Assault, Ewok Hunt, and Cargo will be harder to find a match for, unfortunately, but that isn't a problem unique to Battlefront 2. If that isn't good enough, DICE seems dead set on continuing support for this game, and the fact that they're releasing two new heroes this month, nearly two and a half years after launch, makes me optimistic about the future of this game. Yeah, the single-player campaign is a bit meh, but that isn't the focus of Battlefront 2. It's about making you feel like you're smack dab in the middle of a massive Star Wars battle, blaster bolts flying inches over your head, as you watch General Grievous cut Obi-Wan Kenobi into ribbons with a flurry of light saber strikes. It's playable Star Wars fan fiction at its finest, and if any of the previous moments I've described sound fun to you, I'd highly suggest you check out Star Wars Battlefront 2.       If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. 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James Brod

James Brod recently graduated from Dominican University, with a degree in political science. Ironically, he had previously considered majoring in journalism, but didn’t want to write for a living. Funny how things turn out, isn’t it? You can find him wandering the northwest suburbs, or on Twitter at @JamesBrod12.