Star Wars Battlefront 2 review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: EA
Developer: DICE
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

Editor’s note; EA has suspended the purchase of in-game currency using real cash as of publication of this review.

2018 has been kind of a year of Star Wars controversy. First the Han Solo movie gets a major overhaul while it?s in the process of shooting, which included the firing of its directors, and now we have the release of Battlefront 2. If you live under a rock I?m sure you?re thinking what could be so controversial about a Star Wars video game? Did they really mess with the story? If only it was that easy. Let?s start with 2015?s Battlefront, which I enjoyed and played many great multiplayer match-ups with friends. The vast majority of consumers were unhappy with the limitation of original trilogy characters and maps, while older previous generation versions of the Battlefront franchise had expanded to all of the Star Wars movies and had many more options as far as characters and maps. It also didn?t help that EA put out a Season Pass that included new maps and characters, which many felt should have been included in the original game. Fast forward two years and while most of those complains are rectified, they come with caveats.

EA made sure to put out plenty of charts showing how much more was going to be included in Battlefront 2. More maps, more heroes and villains, more movies featured, more Jar Jar (well that isn?t true, yet) and the hype Starspeeder started going. I for one was optimistic, I enjoyed the first Battlefront, so I wasn?t too concerned that they could mess the second one up; if what they promised up front is even mostly right, then that?s a win in my book. Long story short, I guess I?m in the minority, but I do think Battlefront 2 is a win? in many ways, but far from perfect.

Let?s get some of the major complaints (thus far) out of the way first, because if these annoy you then maybe you should steer clear of this release for the moment. So the new big thing in multiplayer and free to play games in the past year and a half or so is Lootboxes. This has been the publisher?s way to make money post release, without charging for a season pass. Now, how publishers utilize these boxes can vary greatly. Free to play titles, I can give a pass on this method to making money, they?re providing a game that is free up front and if you?d like particular experiences that might not be for everyone or require a lot of work, you can pay upfront. The problem lies with games that are already full priced releases and are hiding progression and unlocks behind a paywall. Some titles use these lootboxes for items that are purely cosmetic, which I think is probably the best use case for them since they don?t affect gameplay at all.

Battlefront 2?s controversy started with the beta a few months back. The lootboxes were revealed to the public and it quickly became apparent that the more you pay in real cash, the faster you can progress your characters attributes and abilities. So even if I bought the game at the exact same time as someone else and started playing prior to them, they could potentially pay cash and have a character that is light-years better than mine and the natural progression I?ve done. So this was the first hurdle EA had to conquer, to which they changed exactly which power ups could be purchased with real cash and what had to be unlocked through play time and actual progression. Not perfect but a decent solution.

Their next issue was just prior to launch and that was the cost of unlocking heroes and villains. You see, the previous Battlefront games never had any characters locked and this took people by surprise, but the outroar really got load when people saw how much of the in game currency it cost for these characters. Previously free heroes and villains from 2015?s Battlefront, now had to be unlocked with absurd amounts of in game currency. So, yet again, EA came out to fix the issue and change the prices of these characters by cutting 75% of the prices. I?m not going to go into much more detail with this because this review has turned into a controversy article, but needless to say this is troubling. While EA did make changes based on consumer reactions, why did they think it was ok in the first place, and if they were going to fold so quickly, why even set the prices that high if they didn?t really care about the numbers? This has me concerned over the DLC, as EA also said there would not be a season pass but all content would be free. The term ?free? is subjective in this day and age, hopefully EA learns from this rocky launch and does right with people who paid full price for their game. Having future heroes and villains cost ridiculous amounts of in game currency is something I can foresee, but at that point they should have just released an optional season pass.

Now let?s get into the actual game after that long winded reaction to the state of gaming. A key mode missing in 2015?s Battlefront was a single player mode, which EA quickly said would be included in Battlefront 2. In this campaign you play as Iden Versio, who is a new character to the Star Wars universe; she?s a member of the Empire?s Inferno Squad which you?re led to believe is some elite squad of the best of the best. The campaign picks up during Return of the Jedi and runs all the way to The Force Awakens (continuing to The Last Jedi later with free DLC). Throughout the campaign you will play as Iden, Tie Fighters, X-Wings and a few classic characters (no spoilers). I have to say, I enjoyed the campaign, a lot of the happenings are very convenient and fanboy-ish but I still had a good deal of fun with it. Considering the last game had none at all and it looks like EA is moving away from single player experiences (RIP Visceral), I?m glad we got a new side story set in the Star Wars universe.

Backtracking just a tiny bit, similar to 2015?s Battlefront, you have cards that give your characters abilities and upgrades and like that game you use in game currency to buy those cards, but now each class of character (which is new to franchise) has a progression system also. This gets kind of muddy as you have card levels, your overall level, class levels and multiple forms of currency to buy things. It?s all well and good once you get the hang of it, but I just feel like there has to be a better way. Your card progression level is measured by how many cards you have and that also stems back to the lootbox system, since that?s one way you can get cards fast. The other side of the coin is that the different classes and character types are refreshing and adds some more strategy to the gameplay.

The maps and playable characters are a huge step in the right direction. Having played a decent amount of multiplayer (from the time that EA provided me with this review code) I don?t think I?ve seen every map and I think they?re better equipped for the modes they?re used in. You?re also not stuck with just the rebels and stormtroopers of the original trilogy; now you can play as battle droids (Roger Roger), clone troops, and first order troops (sorry no gungans). Each type of trooper also has special characters associated with them that you can use once you earn enough points in that particular battle. It is interesting though, that you cannot pick before hand which troops you want to face of against each other. So first order troops won?t be facing off against battle droids, but I assume this is an issue on Disney?s end where they allowed a certain amount of mixing within the universe but that they stood firm on.

The modes for multiplayer are trimmed down some from 2015, but I look at it like they trimmed the fat and kept the best modes from that game. Why have users scattered across nearly a dozen play types when you could have the best five modes and have everyone jumping between them. I especially like the changes made to the Heroes and Villains mode, previously you were on a team mixed with heroes and rebels or villains and stormtroopers. Now it?s four on four and everyone gets to be a hero or villain. Score is tallied by taking out a character on the other team that is classified as the target. It?s chaotic and really gives a feeling of power (as long as you?re not saddled with Han Solo who still has the ability to run fast). What can be a bit limiting about the mode though is the amount of heroes or villains you have to choose from, without those dastardly unlocks you start with just four characters for each side, so someone will get stuck with Han Solo. Even with all the characters unlocked you?re still missing characters from the previous game. It really irks me when developers don?t carry over content from the previous title, especially when the game is pitched as being bigger and better than the last one.

This may seem like a lot of criticism but it?s all out of love, like my WWE 2K18 review. I am passionate about the Star Wars product and want it to be a great experience top to bottom, so don?t get the wrong idea with my criticisms. I very much like Battlefront 2, it improves on everything from 2015?s game, but it still definitely needs work. Over time this could become the definitive Star Wars multiplayer experience but it?s not there yet; content over the next six to twelve months will be key and how EA treats consumers will also be important on the success of this game. The bigger question I have is; will all these problems at launch doom the title before it really gets going. As DLC was released for 2015?s Battlefront, I saw less and less people playing and had a much harder time getting into match ups. Hopefully that isn?t the case here and we can see this community thrive off what is really a great game that just stumbled out of hyperspace.

Grade: B-