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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
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Game Profile
Xbox One
Electronic Arts
GENRE: Shooter
November 17, 2017
Star Wars Kinect

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

More in this Series
 Written by Stephen Varner  on November 19, 2017

Reviews: A disturbance in the force is felt where you experience some great Stars Wars moments but progressing is ultimately an unwanted chore.


It's been 2 years since EA's first Star Wars Battlefront and in that time they've promised across the board improvements to the criticisms to that title. More content, space battles and a single player campaign top out that list. I think it's fair to say that DICE has delivered on giving players more of everything they asked for in this regard but it comes with a number of critical caveats that beg the question of whether "more" actually means "better."

Perhaps the most glaring omission to the original Battlefront was that of any substantial single player content. DICE has sought to rectify this with a full five or six hour campaign that tells an original story set in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Endor. The set up is one that ought to feel fresh indeed. You take the role of Iden Versio, who is an elite commander of Imperial Special forces dubbed Inferno Squad. Tasked with striking back after the destruction of the second Death Star. In the end however it's a story that doesn't quite live up to it's billing of new ideas and fresh perspectives as it quickly falls into a rhythm of safe familiarity that feels like it's trying to callback as many things as possible from the Star Wars you already know. That's not to say it's entirely bad but it was disappointing to see that Motive and Dice weren't willing to take a little more risk with the narrative and instead it feels like they opted to cram as much nostalgia as possible into the mission designs and fit the pieces of what could be a great story in around them. I like the characters of Inferno and I wish they had a little more chance to develop as characters because there's a number of moments over the course of the story that would have carried a bit more weight if they had been given time to develop organically. Instead they feel shoe horned around a series of spectacle pieces in order to fill an imaginary checkbox of all the things you should expect to see in Star Wars. There is fun to be had however as the aforementioned spectacle can be a pleasure to behold. At one point or another in the campaign you will see and do almost all the things you could want to from a Star Wars game. Many of these moments of vehicle combat and more are fairly bite size and flow pretty quickly into something new and so the question of "what will I get to do next" is ever present and pushed me through to see the credits in no time. What the campaign lacks in narrative coherence it mostly makes up for in sheer spectacle and pacing. There's not a ton of reason to replay it once you're done as the collectibles and difficulty challenges don't offer much difference in the experience.


Now, the meat and potatoes of a Star Wars Battlefront game is and has always been it's multiplayer. There are more maps and hero characters to play this time out and you can fight in battles and locales from all three eras of the films. Space battles are in at launch and blasters feel like they have more punch when shooting at other players. There's actually fewer modes at launch this time out but if anything this feels like an improvement seeing as it's cut the fat from modes that simply weren't all that much fun in the last game. You've still got the standard deathmatch called Blast, Starfighter Assault, the 40 player showpiece mode called Galactic Assault, a reworked Heroes vs. Villains mode and an 8 on 8 objective based mode called Strike. Blast is simple and self explanatory. 10 v 10 and it's good guys versus bad. Here's your blaster trooper, go kill the other guy. The other modes have seen a bit more of a shift from the previous game or are wholly different from what previously inspired them. Starfighter Assault for example once again pits you exclusively against other fighters in ship to ship combat but most of these maps now take place in space. The biggest difference then is in the actual fighters and capital ships you'll be either be trying to destroy or defend. You'll take on things like a First Order Star Destroyer or a Droid Control ship and given a set of objectives to attack or defend that change over the course of the battle. Thanks to the rolling objectives the battles feel much more dynamic than the same mode from the first game. It feels less like you're following other pilots in circles until you're told to shoot down a shuttle every few minutes and more like an epic space battle from the movies with a specific target in sight. Heroes vs. Villains has seen perhaps the biggest change as it's now a 4v4 match where players will control only heroes. No more being helpless canon (or lightsaber) fodder if you were one of the unlucky people to not get to play as one of the hero characters.

Once again the iconic good guys and bad guys will duke it out in combinations that will make a story canon purists' head explode but it seems designed to revel in the ridiculous chaos. Rey and Yoda can team up against Darth Vader and Bossk for reasons unknown and the variety of powers available to the 14 characters available at launch takes any thought of balance and tosses it out an airlock. That's not to say it's without merit however. It's the one mode you're guaranteed to play as a hero and there's still an element of teamwork involved with the hunt and defend objective they give you. 1 of the 4 people on each team will be marked and it's the other team’s job to hunt that person down and kill them in order to earn a point. There will be one person marked on each team at any given time so you'll have to attack and defend the high value targets accordingly. Galactic Assault is the 40 player set piece that pulls everything together into one giant battle. The game is attack and defend for a series of objectives that ends with either the destruction or capture of said objectives by the attacker or with depleted reinforcement giving the defending team victory. This is by far my favorite mode as the opportunities to see or do something particularly cool are at their highest. The scope is somewhat different than the original Walker Assault mode from the first game to include the other timeline eras and appropriate vehicles. This contextualized the battles a little better and makes them feel a bit more varied. You're not limited on which hero characters you can use though as you can pick anybody from your Dark side or Light side pool. It seems like an odd thing to single out as not being era specific but I surmise it's tied to the progression systems involved with upgrading individual heroes.

This brings me to Battlefront 2's biggest problem. The system of progression in the multiplayer portion of this game is so erratic and frustrating that at the time of this writing it's actually difficult to say where it will end up. EA has already changed how some of the economy works multiple times before and after full release and has most recently pulled all real world money transactions from the game entirely. For how long is still unclear. Simply put, progression across all trooper classes, starfighters and heroes is tied to star cards. Star cards will impact everything from the cooldown timers on your abilities to actual movement speeds in things like starfighters. You don't have to go too far down the list to find cases where a legitimate advantage is given to players with the right star cards. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the earning of said star cards is almost entirely random. You'll get them from crates that you can buy with in game credits and are separated into 3 categories. Trooper, hero and starfighter crates will each give you 1 or 2 cards for it's respective category and the other cards are random and might give you a chance at credits, crafting materials or cosmetics. Perhaps the biggest frustration here is that you're every bit as likely to get cards for classes or things you don't like playing as you are for your preferred way of playing. Without a clear progression ramp any of the fun that's involved with chasing specific milestones or class unlocks is sucked out by the grind of simply earning enough for the next loot crate that will just as likely disappoint you yet again. You can unlock specific things with crafting parts but without the ability to break down cards you don't want you're left earning them exclusively by buying the crates. The return on these feels so paltry that it almost seems pointless. The results are a system that is overwhelmingly not fun and leaves the potential to be unbalanced in a way that is frustrating. Removing real world transactions is a good move but it doesn't actually fix the problem of making progression fun. Right now it isn't, and short of giving the star card system a complete overhaul it's likely to remain that way.


My biggest conflict with the game is how Battlefront 2's myriad of problems contrast with how fun it all is to actually play. This is Star Wars wish fulfillment that stands with some of the best in terms of the variety of things you can see and do. I played on the Xbox One X and a 4K screen with HDR and simply put it's one of the absolute prettiest games I've ever seen. With the exception of a couple classic character likenesses and voices it's hard to nitpick at a game that so resolutely nails it's source material and delivers such a high bar of visual fidelity and sound design. If you want to feel like you're in the Star Wars universe then Battlefront 2 puts you there in a way that is yet unmatched in the video game space. It not only looks great but it feels awesome to play too. The game targets 60 frames and pretty consistently hits it. Blasters have a little more weight to them this time around and pulling off headshots on bucket heads or rebel scum feels good. Heroes feel a bit more grounded and even though they still feel a tad clunky you'll be so busy cutting through your opponents like nerf butter to care too much. Vehicles have also seen a slight upgrade but the controls are still a little weird and you may need to tweak them to find a setting that works for you.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 has a campaign that doesn't quite live up to it's potential and squanders key moments by not giving them a chance to be earned in the narrative. Multiplayer progression stinks like something you'd find rotting in Jabba's rancor pit and fittingly it gets worse the longer you have to deal with it. Despite these things there's a level of polish and Star Wars wish fulfillment that warrants giving it a look and given how much the last Battlefront expanded over the course of it's life I'd say there's still hope that Battlefront 2 could get better over time. There's lots of fun to be had in both the campaign and in multiplayer if approached casually but a closer look reveals problems that make it difficult to get more deeply invested.

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