Reviewed on PS4, copy supplied by publisher.
There’s been an awakening. People aren’t happy with lootboxes, and Star Wars Battlefront II has found itself the womp rat facing down a blaster shot of outrage.
What should have been a superior follow up to the lackluster first entry falls flat in more ways than one. The rebooted franchise may look gorgeous, but it’s been let down by poor decisions that hold it back.
Remedying the lack of singleplayer content in the first game, Star Wars Battlefront II delivers an okay campaign, but leaves the online content to be crushed in a garbage compactor of EA’s own making.
Let’s start off with the campaign before moving on to the awful awful dessert that the multiplayer content is.
It was a bold move for Disney to allow the story Star Wars Battlefront II tells to be folded into official canon. Since the demise of the bloated Extended Universe content, it’s jarring to see new characters weaved into the continuity in strange ways.
Taking control of Iden Versio, a commando for the Empire, the player observes the demise of Palpatine’s naughty government following the battle of Endor. Across beautiful landscapes on key Star Wars planets, you run, gun and pilot spacefighters for your side.
Without going into spoiler territory, the story hits some solid notes that will please Star Wars fans, but weird choices stop it from standing out in the impressive library of Star Wars games and stories.
Bizarre pacing sees the campaign abruptly cut to characters like Luke Skywalker and a now bearded Han Solo. Playing as Luke smacking down waves of giant insects is stupid, even more so considering it’s now canon. The same goes for Han Solo, who for reasons has to escort a wisecracking statistician who you will want to murder the second he opens his mouth. Star Wars has always had annoying pointless characters, but the density of shitty dialogue is way too high in the shortish campaign.
Cutscenes feel like key context is missing, and bounce along so fast you can’t absorb what’s supposed to be happening. Introduced elements – like a robot that dictates Palpatine’s beyond the grave orders – are shown and forgotten about so quickly it’s baffling. The link between the Empire and the First Order is so close to making this game vital Star Wars lore, but the juicy parts of the plot are left in the gaps between time jumps, making it very unsatisfying.
Fortunately the story benefits from stunning graphics and sound effects that create one of the most immersive Star Wars experiences to date, it’s just a shame it ends as it hits its stride. The finale shows us what the game could have been, before reminding us of how weird it all was with an epilogue that raises a tonne of questions before petering out into nothingness.
There’s not much wrong with the mechanics for a Star Wars game, it’s just that they’re underutilised. Stealth segments add a cool edge, but they don’t seem to matter as you always end up blasting your way through to the end of a level anyway.
Now on to the multiplayer mode, which – to put it as politely as possible – is an absolute dumpster fire.
Instead of lacking content like its predecessor, Star Wars Battlefront II hides its content behind lootboxes. Not only is this trashy, it’s also confusing to get your head around due to the nature of Star Cards as a concept. Being able to boost each class ability with a lootbox unlock is inherently a bad idea and leaves every fight feeling unbalanced. You might outskill someone, but still be left dead due to a perk they happened to stumble across.
Each multiplayer mode, whether you’re flying spaceships in orbit or marching through the jungles of Endor, is underpinned by this feeling of unbalance.
To top it all off, the map design of the land based maps is straight up abysmal. The levels may look pretty, but they are by no means functional. Stupid choke points, illogical fields of vision and harsh colour schemes make every conflict a confusing mess. For example, dark maps make the Empire stick out due to the stormtrooper’s bright white armour, whilst the rebels are hardly visible. It’s incredibly tedious to play.
What should have been the highlight of the game is the Strarfighter assault mode. Which has you defending or attacking colossal enemy ships, including moments where you fly inside them to destroy the core. It’s so incredibly Star Wars, and is a thrill to play until you’re taken down by someone with boosted fire speed or special torpedoes that aren’t available to you.
The stupidity of the progression system is highlighted in the heroes mode, where a solid number of the limited characters you can play as on each side are locked because you haven’t bought enough crates or grinded for full-time work hours to earn enough credits to buy them.
It’s all such a shame, as this could have been a truly special game considering how great it looks and feels to play.
One saving grace is the arcade mode, which lets you play as heroes and villains in key battles from the franchise, and where a level of challenge makes it fun to replay the scenarios over and over. But with only eight different battles available for each side, it seems unfinished.
It’s kind of amazing that Star Wars Battlefront II is inferior to the original Battlefront titles that are more than a decade old, but here we are. Hopefully EA and DICE can learn from the backlash this game has received and deliver a better Star Wars product in the future, they’ve shown they have the ability to do so, they’re just held back by decisions that reek of corporate greed.