Posted October 9, 2017 by Joseph Rositano in Feature

Star Wars Battlefront II Beta Impressions

EA’s take on Star Wars Battlefront received mixed reception when it was released in 2015. The game didn’t quite capture the same feeling of Pandemic’s originals, and comparisons were made to EA’s Battlefield franchise. Of particular note, the game had a lack of depth, no single-player campaign, and generally felt geared towards the casual market. EA and developer DICE have been persistent however, and with 2017’s Star Wars Battlefront II the companies are aiming to rectify much of the criticisms of the 2015 release.

I’ll be honest and say I haven’t been paying too much attention to Star Wars Battlefront II. I loved the original games by Pandemic, but I am one of the fans that just didn’t quite like EA’s first take on the franchise. The announcement trailers at E3 2017 didn’t excite me, I had been ignoring pre-release marketing, and just in general I have had a lack of enthusiasm. But that changed after I got my hands on the beta this weekend.

One of the biggest grabs for me is that the game now spans across all three film trilogies. Players can now take to the battlefield as a battle droid, or join the Rebel Alliance as they fight the First Order. The mechanics between each faction are largely the same, but the different aesthetics keeps things feeling more varied. The battle droids have their trademark “stupidity” banter between each other, and the battlefields now include locations such as Naboo and Maz’s Castle on Takodana.

Perhaps the biggest change comes in the form of new unit classes, which coincidentally is more inline with how the original Battlefront titles played. Players can now select one of four unit classes. Assault trooper is a more generic class, offering a balanced unit that is suitable for different scenarios. Heavy troopers have more health than any other class and also more fire power, but are generally slower. Specialist troopers are a sniper class, and last but not least, Officer troopers are a support class than can heal allies and place automatic machine guns on the map. Each class has its unique strengths and abilities that suit different play styles, so this opens up strategies for team-based multiplayer and makes things more in-depth.

During battle you will gain Battle Points for every action you make including killing opponents, completing mission objectives and supporting allies. The points can be saved up over time, and will allow you to respawn as special units. This includes taking to the skies or ground in a vehicle, and spawning as unique unit types such as wookies, super battle droid, jetpack-enabled troopers and the heavily advertised Heroes. In particular, the beta featured the Rey, Darth Maul, Han Solo and Boba Fett Hero units, though many more are expected in the final build. The points required to unleash the special units on the battlefield depends on how strong they are. This means that only the more active (and skilled?) players will be able to unleash Hero units, and also makes you strategise if you want to save points for the end game or spend them right away to give your team a slight advantage early on. There’s definitely a bit of strategy at play here. And fear not – the game has limits of how many of each unit type can be deployed at once, ensuring balance is maintained between teams.

Vehicle combat has also been refined. As mentioned, you can take to the skies mid-battle to offer ground support and take on opponents in the air. Seeing ground troops from the air can be tricky, particularly when you need to avoid colliding with buildings, so once again there’s balance here. Also, vehicles no longer have auto lock-on for primary weapons. You can fire freely but now you must manually aim, with the exception of missile weaponry which can only be fired after a certain period of time. Like troopers, there are special starfighter classes including Bombers for mission objectives, fighters which are aimed more towards dog fights, and interceptors that are in between both. Player Points can also be used to pilot iconic craft, including the Millennium Falcon and Slave 1.

The card-based unlock system does return for Star Wars Battlefront 2, but has been more streamlined. The system is now tied to loot crates which are awarded for completing side tasks such as leveling up a unit class or defeating a certain number of opponents. They can also be bought using in-game credits that are earned for completing matches. The cards unlock a variety of content including unique character taunts, special weapons for character classes, and unlocking perks such as enhancing a character’s defense or healing you slightly when you defeat an opponent using a melee attack.

The Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta featured four different game modes. Galactic Assault is a 40-player online multiplayer mode similar to Battlefront 2015’s Walker Assault. Here, the Separatists escorted an MTT through the streets of Theed on Naboo, and the Republic defended the city by shooting Ion Disruptors at the vehicle. Once the vehicle reached Theed’s palace (or it was destroyed beforehand), a second phase begins where the Separatists storm the area to overthrow the Queen. Depending how well the Separatists escorted their vehicle, they will get more player stock to complete the attack.

Starfighter Assault is a 24-player vehicle-based mode where players have to complete an objective. In the beta, the Rebel Alliance were attempting to destroy a Star Destroyer which was refuelling at a depot. The mode saw the Rebels attacking and destroying various points of interest while the Empire defended them.

Strike is a 16-player infantry-only combat mode where teams compete over objectives. The beta showcased the Rebel Alliance against the First Order at Maz’s Castle on Takodana. The First Order were attempting to secure and transport a Jedi artefact off the planet while the Rebels thwarted their attempts.

And finally, Arcade mode can be played both solo and cooperatively with a second player. Here, you were tasked with defeating a certain amount of enemies in Naboo’s palace within a timeframe using a limited selection of characters. The final game is set to include even more modes at launch, including a story campaign that follows the events immediately after Return of the Jedi and a Heroes Vs. Villains mode where the Hero class units duke it out between each other.

During my time with the beta I did have some difficulty getting into matches in the Strike mode, though it’s worth noting this was before the public release when only media and those who had pre-ordered Star Wars Battlefront II could play. Hopefully this isn’t a sign that the game’s player-base will dwindle a few months after launch like its predecessor. On the positive side, for the most part matches were smooth and there was no lag to speak of.

If the beta is an indication of things to come, then Star Wars Battlefront II looks like it’s improving on its predecessor in just about every way possible. The game has more depth, there’s a huge amount of content on offer, and there’s a lot of strategic elements at play to make every battle unique. This is one to watch out for when it releases on 14 November this year on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Joseph Rositano

While Joseph's main hobby has always centered around video games, he's also taken an interest in movies, musicals and traveling around the world. No one quite knows what Joseph's true motivations are, but rest assured he is always planning his next grand adventure!