Ever since Disney took over the Star Wars license gamers have been itching for a proper, full-featured video game. Star Wars Battlefront from two years ago scratched that itch a little bit, but the lack of a true single-player mode and a shallow multiplayer experience kept it from being great. This year Star Wars Battlefront II set out to fix those mistakes and makes a whole host of new ones in the process. The improvements the developers at DICE have made have been completely overshadowed by poor decisions made by the front office that has cast a shadow over everything the developers tried to accomplish. Even without the lingering issues introduced in the game’s multiplayer progression system, Star Wars Battlefront II falls just short of the mark it aimed for. It does come much closer than its predecessor and would be worth a recommendation if not for the new issues.
The single-player component to Star Wars Battlefront II is a welcome addition to the title for gamers like me who prefer to go it solo. The campaign is sadly on the short end of the spectrum with only about four to six hours to offer for a single playthrough. In addition to that, the game misses many, many opportunities to add emotional resonance to the journey of Iden Versio and the members of Inferno Squad.
Jumping into online multiplayer is about as chaotic and hectic as Star Wars Battlefront was. There are several maps to play on, though most of them feel fairly claustrophobic unless you’re playing Galactic Assault. The addition of classes is welcomed and allows gamers to do things other than just shoot at each other, which is nice for gamers like me who do better in support roles. On top of that, they have overhauled the system to make it easier to become hero characters when they are available. You still have to earn it through helping on the battlefield, but the chance that you will get to play as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader has increased tremendously. The Starfighter Assault mode has also been greatly expanded, and there is much more to do then in the first game. The updated starfighter system is so good, in fact, that I really hope they spin it off into its own game at some point. Overall, the multiplayer is a vast improvement over Star Wars Battlefront. If it weren’t for the star cards and loot boxes I would give this game a hearty recommendation based on the strength of the multiplayer gameplay.
That brings us to single aspect that brings this whole game crashing down – loot crates and star cards. You’ve probably heard of this controversy by now, so I’ll keep it relatively brief. In multiplayer, you progress and gain power through the use of star cards, which are rewards from randomized loot crates. The fact that your cards are random means that it is virtually impossible to specialize in any specific class or hero, and instead have to rely on luck to get what you need. There is a crafting system in place, but actually earning crafting material is so painstakingly slow that it may as well not exist at all. Tying progression to a randomized system would almost be acceptable if the loot crates flowed freely and often, but they don’t. You’ll get plenty in the early game due to bonuses from challenges, but once those dry up it will take between five and ten multiplayer games to earn enough credits to get a single loot crate from the lowest tier. There was the option to pay real money for these crates, and there will be again once the fuss has died down, but even then your returns are random and minimal. EA may have backed down on the microtransactions for the moment, but the flaws built into the system (on purpose, mind you) have killed the multiplayer dead in its tracks. Progression should never be tied to a randomized lottery. Ever.
Star Wars Battlefront II Review Final Thoughts:
Star Wars Battlefront II is a game that made several great steps forward, and then took a left turn and jumped right off a cliff. The single player campaign is a fun experience which I recommend for the set pieces and graphical showcase, despite lacking any depth. There is an offline arcade mode that can be enjoyed by one or two gamers in local co-op, although since it only allows you to play deathmatch or a modified version of deathmatch it won’t keep you busy for long. The lack of a starfighter assault mode in the offline arcade is practically criminal. The multiplayer had the potential to be one of the best of this holiday season, but it likely won’t get the chance to shine thanks to the loot crates. If they had gone for cosmetic options in the crates like in Overwatch then the game would probably have been praised for its incentives to continue playing, but instead, they tied the crates to progression. The multiplayer will live on since this is Star Wars, and people will play it just for the branding, but it will never reach the peaks it could have. Rent this game or wait for a sale to enjoy the single player, but unless you are a die-hard Star Wars fan or don’t care if you’re playing at a huge disadvantage to gamers with more cash and time than you, you should avoid this game’s multiplayer.
Star Wars Battlefront II on PS4
- Graphical showcase.
- Campaign is fun, if shallow.
- Multiplayer can be fun with friends.
- Tying progression to random chance kills multiplayer.
- Story lacks any emotional punch.
- Aggressive monitization scheme that would make mobile games blush.
- Arcade mode needs more options.