Posted June 11, 2017 by Adam Ghiggino in Feature

E3 2017 Hands-On: Star Wars Battlefront II

There were plenty of titles to come out of today’s EA Play event, from big names like Need for Speed Payback to surprises like A Way Out. One look at the FanFest floor at the Hollywood Palladium would be enough to tell you what everyone was most excited for – Star Wars Battlefront II. During the midday show, a newly contrite EA expressed its desire to take on board fan feedback – which in the case of the original Battlefront could be loudly heard as ‘needs more content’. Battlefront II promises three times the content, with all three eras of Star Wars represented. A new single-player campaign also bridges the gap between the Original Trilogy and the current Sequel Trilogy, but today I was able to go hands-on with Battlefront II‘s multiplayer, the single biggest contributor to its longevity.

The map attendees were given to play was the very one shown during the EA Play show, ‘Assault on Theed’, based on the romantic stone city from everyone’s favourite movie, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The map itself was segmented into three phases, each pitting the Republic’s Clone Troopers against the Separatist Droid Army. In the first and second phases, the Troopers have to scramble to pick up special ion cannons around the map and take out the Droids’ slowly advancing tank. Eventually, if the Droids advance far enough, they’ll take out the entrance to Theed Palace, forcing the Troopers to fall back inside and protect the Throne Room at all costs.

I was assigned to the Clone Trooper team, and immediately there are clear differences to Battlefront II from the original. For starters, a new class system requires you to pick from traditional and familiar roles like Assault (basic grunt), Heavy, Officer and Specialist. The same screen where you select your class before spawning also gives you your first view on the new Battle Points system. This system rewards efforts in combat (like racking up kills, assisting or defending) in the form of points that can buy you some neat upgrades from the spawn-in menu. Lower-tier rewards that cost only 500 points includes access to spaceships like Naboo Starfighters, while the big-ticket items at 5,000 points were, of course, access to hero/champion units such as Darth Maul and Rey.

EA definitely picked the right map to show off both new systems, as Assault on Theed gave each role plenty to do – whether Heavies were required to dig in and unleash torrential machine-laser fire over a narrow doorway, or Specialists to set traps that Assault players could lead enemies into. I generally spent my Battle Points on getting back into a Starfighter over and over again and trying to survive a bit longer without crashing each time – it’s tricky to do, especially when you’re trying to do bombing runs on unsuspecting Droids as you pass through the narrow streets of Theed.

However, as a team the Clone Troopers were pushed back further and further by the Droids, as we failed to destroy their tank, which made short work of the defences to Theed Palace. Once the action had shifted to tighter quarters, the role of champions became even more vital than before. In closed environments, Darth Maul is deadly as a melee fighter, able to pull off his best Sheev Spin attack to mow through players and send them flying. However, thanks to the concerted effort of a few Heavies, as well as our own champion unit with Rey, the Clone Troopers scraped by with a narrow win.

It’s tough to tell too much from just one round of Battlefront II, but the gameplay changes definitely address a lot of fan concerns from the first game, and accessing heroes, for instance, now feels a lot fairer. Of course, the visuals remain stunning, especially given the attention to detail to the smallest things, like the shallow pools of water along Theed’s streets that make it clear it’s just been raining. It’s also still hugely entertaining to see characters like Darth Maul enter the fray and kick ass. We’ll know more about just how much content Star Wars Battlefront II has been able to pack in this November 17th, when the game is released.

Adam Ghiggino

Owner, Executive Editor of Rocket Chainsaw. I also edit TV, films and make average pancakes.


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