Title: Star Wars Battlefront II
Format: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Developer: DICE, Motive Studios, Criterion
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: November 17
The Grade: B+
Battlefront II Haiku Review
Yeah! Single player!
Season pass out, crates are in
Rrrrr-ghhh (Chewie growl)
What is it? The newest title in the “Star Wars Battlefront” franchise. EA has clearly listened to fans, providing a more complete experience in “Battlefront II.” This game includes more iconic “Star Wars” locales, a deeper multiplayer offering, and a long awaited single player campaign.
Highs: The most notable addition to “Battlefront II” is its single player story. Gamers will primarily play as Iden Versio, the commander of an elite unit of Imperial soldiers called the Inferno Squad. Players will hop around to different planets such as Endor and Takodana but also visit new locations such as Vardos and Pilio. While I found the enemy AI to be a bit lacking (enemies love shooting without cover), the campaign was unique and full of epic moments. The plot of the single player story takes place after events from “Return of the Jedi” but from a different perspective. It’s action packed and loaded with familiar faces.
The multiplayer options in “Battlefront” have seen significant improvements. There aren’t more modes, instead what’s offered is more well rounded. Galactic Assault hosts up to 40 players and is where most people will spend their time. This mode features large team-oriented objectives. The constant rotation of objectives keeps Galactica Assault from feeling repetitive. I particularly liked the Heroes vs Villains mode, the updated version of Hero Hunt. Here each player gets to be a major “Star Wars” hero or villain in four-on-four battles. It’s thrilling to jump in and be Han Solo or Kylo Ren instead of waiting to earn enough Battle Points to unlock them in other modes.
Strike (8vs8), Starfighter Assault (an updated take on Fighter Squadron) and Blast (which was in the original game) are all enjoyable but the most fun I had in multiplayer was with Arcade. This mode can be played solo or in split-screen couch co-op and offers a more customizable and casual experience. Players can create their own challenges in Arcade, or work through pre-set battle scenarios alone or with a friend. I had a blast with this mode.
There’s been some controversy about “Battlefront II’s” use of crates. Despite having Epic Star Cards removed from crates, some still believe that you can pay your way to an advantage in the game. While you can gain a small edge, your character’s level cap prevents you from easily upgrading and maxing out. Want to boost Yoda’s agility? You can, to a degree, but his three other agility boosts aren’t available until you’ve gotten him to a much higher rank. Boost cards also don’t transfer from one person or ship to another.
If you want to give yourself an edge, its doable, but the cards are an exploit that’s time consuming and incredibly expensive if you want to buy extra crates instead of earning them. It’s still early and the full impact of crates in “Battlefront II” isn’t yet clear, but I’d be surprised if they end up being significantly detrimental. Crates aren’t ideal, but I never felt the need to buy one, at least not yet. I did feel the need to buy the first “Battlefront’s” season pass, which was $50. New maps and characters for “Battlefront II,” which will start on December 5 and are inspired by “The Last Jedi,” will be free so from my perspective, crates aren’t a major issue.
Lows: More distressing than crates is that a number of heroes are locked at the start. Darth Vader, Palpatine, Leia, Luke, Chewbacca, Iden Versio, and even the Rey and Chewbacca piloted Millennium Falcon (the one piloted by Han and Chewy is available) are locked in multiplayer. To unlock them, you have to spend credits accumulated through online play. There’s no buying crates to get around this, not that you’d want to. In a recent Galactic Assault game I earned 335 credits. That’s not bad, but at that rate it’ll take me quite awhile to unlock Chewbacca (40,000 credits) and even longer for Luke Skywalker (60,000). Forcing gamers to grind to unlock heroes doesn’t make much sense. This issue will annoy some more than others. I found it bothersome, but it didn’t have much impact on my enjoyment of the game. However, I hope EA rectifies this situation quickly as it seems punitive.
Update: I completed my review this morning and this afternoon EA sent out a release notifying the press that the cost to unlock heroes has been reduced by 75%. That means my examples above have changed. Chewbacca would now be 10,000 credits and Luke 15,000. These changes have already been made with an update. I went in and checked for myself and I already earned enough credits to unlock Luke after playing the game this weekend. While some gamers may make the case that all heroes should be available at the start, I have to give EA credit for listening to fans and getting closer to what their goal with having some heroes locked in the first place - to provide gamers with a chance to feel rewarded for playing.
The Grade: Several times while playing “Battlefront II,” no matter what mode I was playing in, I’d just stop and stare at my surroundings. The audio and visual presentation in this title are first class and make for an incredibly engrossing experience. Loaded with action and with plenty of things to do, “Star Wars Battlefront II” is a must own for “Star Wars” fans.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, GamesBeat, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.