Several years ago, my siblings and I spent hours on our PlayStation 2 playing a game called Star Wars: Battlefront II. The game was a perfect culmination of two things we loved: Star Wars and video games. It was easily one of our favorite games based on a popular franchise. About ten years later, EA announced that they were rebooting the Battlefront games in a style that was more akin to modern shooter games. The result was gorgeous, but very bland. After receiving much criticism, EA took a second shot at Battlefront that featured significantly more content. While the results aren’t perfect, the final product represents a fun time and a massive improvement over its predecessor.
The new Star Wars: Battlefront II’s upgrades are immediately clear. Instead of featuring four to five worlds based on the Original Trilogy, the game features sixteen worlds based on all three Star Wars eras. This instantly gives Battlefront II an artistic advantage. Not only is there more variety, but the worlds look much more like something out of the movies than the original. The 2015 game used the Original Trilogy’s limited special effects as an excuse to make empty worlds based on generic themes (such as a desert or a forest). This is thankfully not the case with this one. Not only are there more creative worlds from the Prequel and Sequel Trilogies, but the same worlds from the first game have much more Star Wars-specific features. For example, Tatooine actually takes place in the bustling city of Mos Eisley instead of just an empty desert.
But the game does not only improve on the level design. Because it takes elements from all the Star Wars movies, there are significantly more characters as well. Finally, we can play as characters such as Yoda and Darth Maul in glorious HD graphics! After all the updates, pretty much all of the most important characters from the Star Wars universe are now playable, including Obi-Wan Kenobi (my favorite character since I was a kid). You are also able to play as troopers from all the eras. First Order troopers, clone troopers, Resistance soldiers, and droids join the roster, making the battles more interesting. Unlike the Heroes, though, the standard troopers are playable only on planets from their respective eras. For example, clone troopers cannot be played as on Jakku and Stormtroopers cannot be played as on Kamino.
Battlefront II also adds a number of new offline modes that makes the game feel more complete. One of the most common criticisms of the last games was a lack of a campaign mode. This time, however, there is a full canonical story dedicated to the time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. The plot follows Iden Versio, the leader of the Inferno Squad, an Imperial Special Forces unit. After seeing the second Death Star blow up above the atmosphere of Endor, she now has to find out how to deal with the war afterwards. While telling the story from the perspective of an Imperial is interesting, the story itself is rather boring. It’s not only a bit short; it just doesn’t contribute anything special to the saga. I’d still say it’s better than nothing, though. Being able to play the game against CPUs with straightforward objectives is still something that has benefit, even if the context isn’t that great.
A couple of other offline modes include Battle Scenarios and Custom Arcade. Battle Scenarios are fun because they present challenges with specific rules. Sometimes they require you to play as a certain character. Other times, they will limit what kinds of weapons you can use. Each Battle Scenario has three difficulties and is separated by Light Side and Dark Side. Custom Arcade, on the other hand, is a good way to set up your own rules. You can pick any world, what kinds of characters are available (heroes, troopers, or both), how many enemies there are, and how difficult they are. Both Battle Scenarios and Custom arcade support two-player local multiplayer, which is nice for those of us who grew up on local play.
Of course, all of these offline modes are practically extras compared to the online modes. Battlefront II, like its 2015 predecessor, is a game that emphasizes online multiplayer. There are over ten online modes. Most are trooper based, but there are some modes for heroes and some modes for spaceships. The modes present a good amount of variety. I personally enjoy playing Heroes vs. Villains, a 4 vs. 4 multiplayer match where everyone plays as a main character from the saga.
Perhaps the most interesting, though, is the recently added Capital Supremacy. This mode features Command Posts like the original Battlefront II. This time, however, the fight is a bit more complicated. By capturing Command Posts, the teams gain points and fill a meter. Once their meter is full, the team flies up to the opposing team’s battleship and tries to destroy it. If the team trying to destroy the ship fails, both teams go back to the battleground and try again. There are a lot of layers to this mode, which makes it feel like a full-scale, realistic war.
Playing online can prove to be both fun and challenging. Though it’s difficult to get into the action amongst players who have been at this a while, the game makes it easy to level up your characters. You can earn experience points for killing enemies, hitting enemies, “playing the objective,” and even dying (which the game refers to as “sacrifice”). While dying might seem like a cheap way to gain experience, it helps level the playing field for new players. Leveling up characters allows you to purchase Star Cards, which unlocks special abilities. You can also upgrade your Star Cards so that their effects are more potent.
Playing online or offline will earn you credits, which can be spent to unlock costumes, emotes, and victory poses. Credits are more difficult to earn quickly offline, though there are still certain challenges that can earn credits faster. This brings me to discuss the infamous loot box controversy. Before the game was released, EA had announced that they were going to have loot boxes that would provide players competitive advantages. This caused an outcry, with several people claiming that this made the game into a “pay to win” kind of game. EA thankfully removed this before the game was released, but the damage was already done. Though you can spend real-world money to get things in the game, the only things you can get are purely cosmetic. I for one have only spent about $45 on the game: $25 on the disc (the game is even cheaper now than when I bought it) and $20 for two months of PlayStation Plus so I can play online. Truthfully, this is the only thing that bothers me regarding money. I think it is unfortunate that, aside from PC users, players are required to pay for an online service so that they can experience the majority of features. Still, given how cheap the game is by itself, paying for online isn’t as bad as it could have been.
While I don’t find the financial aspect of the game to be that problematic, there are a few other notable problems. First, I felt that the physics took some getting used to. After playing several hours of Destiny 2, which has pretty realistic physics, I was surprised at how much floatier this game felt. I eventually got used to it, but it still doesn’t have the same gravity that the Destiny games have. Another issue I had was that this game is a major data hog. As of right now, it requires about 100 GB of data to play online. I have a larger storage capacity, so it worked out fine. But without one, it would eat up about one-fifth of my PlayStation 4’s data. For those of you who have a PlayStation 4 Pro (or an Xbox One X), this shouldn’t be an issue. But for the rest of us who bought the original systems, the amount of data this game takes is annoying at best. Finally, Battlefront II requires a solid internet connection to be fully enjoyed. Though some modes like Blast or Heroes vs. Villains can perform fine under most circumstances, larger modes that have forty players need really good internet. Sometimes it worked for me; other times it didn’t. I believe this is because multiple people were connected to the same router, but sometimes it seemed like it struggled when I was the only one using it.
There are a few moral concerns for the game, though none of them branch beyond what is common for Star Wars. Characters yell in agony as they get shot and killed by lasers. Jedi and Sith can slice people with their lightsabers (which, like most Star Wars games, function more like baseball bats). None of the violence is graphic, though. As with anything involving Star Wars, the Force is present. It should be noted, though, that the Force is only a gameplay element and is not an important part of the story. Some parents might be concerned about how the game emphasizes killing other players instead of just CPUs. There’s nothing sexual in this game, and I don’t recall any sort of language (though some people’s usernames can be inappropriate). Even though loot boxes are no longer able to give you a competitive advantage, they can still pose a risk to younger players. Kids should be monitored on what real-world money they spend on this game. I don’t believe this will be an issue for adults, but it still is worth noting.
The new Star Wars: Battlefront II may not be as fun or as content-filled as the original Battlefront II, but it still is an enjoyable game that is significantly better than the Battlefront that came before it. The game is so cheap now, I would recommend it to almost any Star Wars fan. The graphics, characters, worlds, and multiplayer modes make this game one of the better Star Wars games to have come out in a long time. Unfortunately, there are still the drawbacks from the data requirements and the mandatory online service fee. Even still, Battlefront II is a solid title that serves as a great celebration of the franchise.