Star Wars Battlefront 2 multiplayer has some great changes that could make it better than the first
Breathe it in, nerfherders
I bloody love Star Wars, have done ever since I was a kid and when DICE announced they were relaunching the Star Wars Battlefront games I did a little happy dance. I adored the Pandemic Studios Battlefront games on my PlayStation 2 where my husband and I would spend many an evening playing together, and I have since spent an obscene amount of time on DICE’s 2015 entry into the series.
I’ve been fairly vocal of my love of Star Wars Battlefront; where most felt that it was a fairly empty game with a glorious Star Wars skin I enjoyed the more accessible approach that DICE took with a streamlined system of power-ups littered around the field for anyone to pick up, a limited roster of weaponry and a single character build to learn and master. Playing Walker Assault on Hoth has to rank up there as one of the most amazing feelings I have had in a video game for a long time; piloting the A-Wing right at the end to try and bring the AT-AT Walker to its knees is utter magic, and so when DICE announced Star Wars Battlefront II I did another happy dance.
Recently, I had the opportunity to go to DICE’s Headquarters in the beautiful city of Stockholm to take a look at a preview build of the multiplayer BETA that will be available to play soon. It was a busy morning with a briefing from Craig McLeod, the Multiplayer Producer who talked us through what we would be able to play on during the couple of hours we were being granted with the game. He talked about the modes we would have access to: Galactic Assault, Strike, Starfighter Assault and the single player / local co-operative mode Arcade. He talked about how the team had really built upon what they achieved in the first game and were moving towards a more in depth and tactical multiplayer, one with a greater emphasis on teamwork and one where all actions on the battlefield would be rewarded so that every player got the chance to try out some of the more powerful characters and vehicles. After his brief talk we were all ushered into two rooms with a bank of PlayStation 4 Pros were set up and set to playing the various modes.
What we were shown was pretty limited, with only one map on display – Naboo, and in the case of Arcade only a couple of modes available to play.
First up was Arcade mode. This is the single player and local co-operative PvE mode and we were only shown two options on the Dark Side: Wipe Them Out, and Roger Roger. In Wipe Them Out your task is to kill a certain amount of enemies within a time limit. Each kill adds a small amount of time back to the timer so the key is to string kills quickly together. We had two choices of character, either Darth Maul or a Battle Droid.
In Roger Roger you play as a Separatist Droid and can choose between the four new classes that feature across the multiplayer: Officer;, Heavy, Specialist, and Assault. Your task here is to wipe out the Clone Troopers before they wipe you out. You have a number of tickets that will allow you to respawn, but if they deplete you lose the match.
Arcade didn’t blow me away to be perfectly honest, it felt more like an extended tutorial, however, I can see that this mode could be a useful training ground for the multiplayer proper. I played around quite a bit with the classes and also switching between first person (which is the default) and third person (which I prefer). But I was much happier when we moved onto the multiplayer proper.
Next up was Starfighter Assault, a 12 v 12 space battle. After playing a few matches it was immediately clear that a lot of work has gone into this mode to increase the complexity of it. In the previous game, Fighter Squadron, the craft were fairly easy to control with simplistic controls, not so much now with a more nuanced control system as well as class based craft that have a variety of powers and utilities.
Starfighter Assault has taken inspiration from the storied battles that were introduced in the Death Star DLC with a multi-staged battle, but waged entirely in space. Games are a simple case of attack and defend with your team needing to attack a target whilst simultaneously defending one as well. It makes for frantic battles trying to gauge where best to deploy your resources.
We only had time for a couple of matches of Starfighter Assault, so not really long enough to get a full grasp of everything that was going on. Much of my time was spent crashing into objects to be perfectly honest as the controls are quite a bit different from the previous game, but I liked what I saw. There are three broad classes of ships to choose from ranging from quick and nimble X-Wings to Bombers that are slower and easier to control. Each ship also has it’s own set of skills that can be utilised after a short cool down.
Now is probably a good time to talk about the addition of loot crates that make an appearance in Star Wars Battlefront II. It seems no game can escape these now, and the items you receive in these loot crates range from new hero costumes to modifications to the star card abilities each class has. For example, you can find star cards that will reduce your cooldown on a particular power, or a card that can replace entirely a specific class power – for example I unlocked one which allowed me to change the heavy skill where you equip a shield onto your weapon which provides you with some protection from enemy shots into a barrage type skill from the first game. If you find duplicates in your loot crate these can be broken down for parts that once you have collected enough can be used to craft star cards that you want for a specific class or whatever. I didn’t have chance to fully examine this area of the game in much detail other than this brief overview here, but it appears that the star cards will allow for a certain amount of customisation for each class, so that you can have multiple set-ups for each broad class that can be switched in and out as you see fit while playing.
After Starfighter Assault, we moved onto Strike which is an eight versus eight sabotage/steal mode. The map we played on was beautiful with some gorgeous detailing in the forest. Strike feels very much like the smaller modes from the first game with a frantic game of capture and defend. The addition of classes makes you feel more like a useful member of a bigger team with the ability to switch out classes upon death. I stuck mainly with the heavy class again as I took on the role of covering fire while team mates pushed for objectives. Whereas in the first game powerups could be located and captured on the battlefield, now there is a battle point system where everything you do will increase your battle rating. Getting a kill will give you points, but so will assisting in that kills or defending a point. If you accrue enough points through your actions you can spend them in the respawn menu on more powerful characters such as a wookie, or perhaps one of the heroes. By providing each player with the opportunity to utilise these powerups based on their performance it feels a much more equitable way of ensuring that everyone has a chance to play as Skywalker, or command an AT-ST.
The final mode we played was Galactic Assault which is a take on the former Walker Assault. This is the blue ribbon mode for Star Wars Battlefront II and features a multi-staged game mode with different objectives throughout. Galactic Assault supports forty versus forty and like with Strike you play as one of the four classes. Battle points are earned as you play and depending on how you play and you can then utilise those points on a variety of vehicles, heroes and more powerful characters.
I really liked what I saw in the preview event, the new classes will, I hope, create a more team-based approach to playing, particularly as your squad seems to have increased from just one other player to another three, and the battle points system feels a fairer way to allow players the opportunity to play with the more powerful stuff. Furthermore, the addition of the unlockable star cards creates a further element of depth that was perhaps missing from the first game, but it remains to be seen how these will work once the game actually goes live. Personally, Strike and Galactic Assault are likely to be the modes where I spend most of my time with an occasional dip into Starfighter Assault when the whim takes me, however I suspect that with the increase in controls complexity the learning curve may be too steep for me to glean much enjoyment from it longer term. As with the first game, DICE has really delivered in terms of the audio and visual design with stunningly detailed maps and from what I saw Battlefront II really does feel authentically Star Wars in every single way.