- Very fun campaign
- Multiplayer still excellent fun
- Looks utterly gorgeous
- Terrible metagame
- Poor progression system
- Poor payouts after matches
- Almost encourages microtransactions
- Review Price: £49.99
- Release Date: November 17
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Genre: FPS
Available on PS4, Xbox One (version tested) and PC
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is the most visually stunning Star Wars game ever. If you’re playing on a high-end PC or Xbox One X in particular, you’re in for a gorgeous treat of nerdy fan-service. DICE has also listened to feedback from its predecessor and thrown in everything but the kitchen sink, with a fun – and rather fleeting – campaign, multiplayer maps spanning the entire movie saga, and an arcade mode for those who love a bit of couch co-op. Add to that the promise of all future DLC being free and we should have the perfect experience in a galaxy far, far away. Should.
Except when everything you love is wrapped in one of the most troublesome metagames I’ve ever experienced, to the point where it feels spiteful at times, all that hard work and enjoyment quickly comes undone.
Let’s start with the good stuff. DICE has taken everything great in Battlefront and pushed it on a bit further. We now have a single-player campaign that, while brief – I finished it in about four or five hours – is immense fun and tells a solid story of Iden Versio’s place within this massive universe.
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Taking place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, it’s a great alternate perspective on what happened in the time between these two movies. It’s hard to discuss the plot without immediately entering spoiler-town, but DICE has done a great job of adding that classic Star Wars style and creating an experience that really shows how evil the Empire can be, especially in the midst of its downfall.
The dialogue is also well acted, although it’s weird seeing iconic heroes like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo without hearing Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford lending their voices. But it isn’t a deal-breaker, and the interactions between Lando Calrissian and Shriv are a highlight of the entire story.
Gameplay-wise, it also offers a different approach to multiplayer, which makes it a refreshing spin on the core mechanics. Being able to sneak your way through decent chunks of missions, and make use of different abilities and weapons which you may not find as useful against human players, means it’s far more enjoyable than I expected. The sheer variety on offer keeps the campaign fun, and there are plenty of winks and nods to the franchise that’ll keep fans happy.
While the campaign may be short, it’s clear that DICE has every intention of releasing single-player DLC in future updates, and that’s great news.
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Once you’re done with that it’s back to multiplayer, and there’s far more content to enjoy right off the bat. We get returning fan favourite maps like Hoth, but now we finally get to enjoy some incredible matchups from the prequel trilogy and also the forthcoming movies, too.
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There are 11 locations in total for ground combat and five for Starfighter matches across six multiplayer modes. The maps are distributed evenly across each of the sagas, and all of them are superb. Everything from level and sound design to visual spectacle is as brilliant as you’d expect from a DICE multiplayer experience. From running around the marketplaces on Tatooine or battling in the cloning facility on Kamino or rushing around in Maz Kanata’s bar on Takodana, the developer has paid painstaking detail to every inch of every world, and each locale shines.
The maps feel alive, too, with animated NPCs and wildlife featuring heavily at the start of battles, and just adding that little bit of authenticity that DICE is so well known for.
Six modes may not sound like a lot, but all the best game types from its predecessor are included, from the large-scale Galactic Assault right down to the TDM-style Blast. It’ll be nice if we see a few more modes in future updates, especially along the lines of the absolute bonkers Heroes vs Villains, and perhaps one that just lets everyone jump into ground vehicles and have at it.
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The character and ship classes feel more balanced (before Star Cards get involved, which we’ll come to in a bit), with each offering a distinct role on the battlefield that places an emphasis on having a varied team. I’ve found myself teetering between Assault, which offers heavy fire from close range as well as lethal grenades, and Officer, whose deployable turret and lethal pistol prove an excellent combination, plus you can rally the troops to increase the health of your squad. However each class has abilities that feel useful in combat. The same is true in Starfighter Assault, where I will frequently swap between Fighter, Bomber and Interceptor depending on the situation.
Speaking of which, Starfighter Assault is the absolute shining star of Battlefront 2. Handled by Criterion, the studio responsible for Burnout, the sheer scale of the action is incredible. The control scheme has been revamped, if it takes a little getting used to. The right stick is used to control pitch and yaw, while the left now controls your roll.
In the beginning you’ll be crashing into things a lot, particularly because there’s now far more to crash into, with asteroid fields, and debris around particular maps like Death Star II, making combat that much more exciting. Once it clicks, however, it makes this section of the game so much better. There are also settings which ease you in, like auto-adjusting the ship to the horizon and auto-rolls, but you can also turn these off once you become a bit more accustomed to it.
So far, so good, right? Well, unfortunately, all of this excellence counts for nothing when you get into the meat of the game – or, more specifically, its shoddy progression system and metagame.
This is going to be a long and complicated explanation, but stick with it. In Battlefront 2 there isn’t a traditional progression system; instead each character and class is tied into Star Cards. Star Cards are boosters for every character and vehicle, such as granting additional health or different weapons and faster ability cooldowns. These can be unlocked via Loot Crates, which can be purchased using Credits, earned by playing the game, or with Crystals, Battlefront 2’s currency which can be bought with real-world money. Star Cards can also be crafted using Craft Parts, the third in-game currency, again unlocked via loot crates.
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There are three types of crates, one primarily for Trooper cards (most expensive at 4000 Credits), one for Starfighter cards and finally one for Hero cards (cheapest).
Each Star Card has four levels of rarity: common, uncommon, rare and epic. The fourth tier isn’t available in loot crates, and can only be crafted using Craft Parts. You also can’t craft higher level cards until you reach a certain Card and Player Level.
Card level is determined by how many cards you have in your inventory for a class. The higher your level, the more cards you can equip, up to three. Player level is earned through XP. You may need to be card level 10 and player level 15 to craft the Rare form of a given card, but you could also get it in a loot crate and equip it before you reach the sufficient rank. But because payouts are so low, you’re likely going to find yourself reaching for your real-world credit card.
Battlefront 2 is incredibly stingy when it comes to rewarding players. Arcade mode is the perfect example. Arcade mode features 16 Battle Scenarios (split evenly between Light and Dark Side missions), each can be played at three difficulty settings, playing at harder difficulties earning another ‘star’. For completing any one mission you only receive 100 Credits, regardless of difficulty.
You can only earn 500 Credits per day before the game locks Arcade Mode rewards for 24 hours. This is supposedly a way of stopping people using Arcade Mode to quickly earn Credits to buy Crates, but let’s not forget you’d have to play 40, yes FORTY, rounds to afford a Trooper box.
Then come the rewards for actually taking part in multiplayer matches, which are equally tight. The most I’ve earned in any one match is 380 Credits. Unlike other games where your individual efforts at least feel somewhat rewarded, in Battlefront 2 it feels like you’re simply earning a wage for time served rather than anything you actually do.
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There are also achievements which reward additional Credits (get 500 kills, earn 500 Credits etc), but once these are unlocked, payouts slow down even more. It all feels like a very sleazy way to entice players to spend real money to get more Crates.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 – Verdict
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a great game spoiled by a terrible business model. DICE and EA are going to be under a huge amount of pressure not just to tweak, but completely overhaul the metagame or face an even bigger fan backlash than they have already.
Underneath the terrible progression system, cheap payouts and more-than-gentle hand in the back towards paying for loot crates is the same excellent core, now across so much more content with the promise of more free maps and heroes to come.
I’ll update this review if and when EA addresses the metagame, but until then, Battlefront 2 is hard to recommend. As fun as it is at its heart, a lot needs to change.
*Editor’s Note* – Originally the review discussed the costs of unlocking Heroes in the game. In response to fan and critic feedback, EA has reduced the cost of all unlockable Heroes in Star Wars Battlefront 2 by 75%. We have moved the part of the review which addressed this and placed below in order to reflect this change.
At launch there are 14 Heroes and Villains (Finn and Phasma will be arriving in the first ‘season’ soon). Six of these are locked, and you have to pay an extortionate amount to get them.
The cheapest is Iden Versio at 20,000 Credits – why you don’t unlock her after completing the campaign, I have no idea – going all the way up to Darth Vader at a laughable 60,000 Credits. A recent Reddit user worked out that Vader would take 40 hours of game time to unlock. Now, granted you cannot buy Heroes with real cash, but it still feels poorly implemented and, frankly, more like a free-to-play mobile game than a big-budget AAA title.