Star Wars Battlefront 2 Review – May the Cards-er-Force be with You
I’ve loved the Star Wars franchise for a long time. From the big screen, to the small and extended universe novels in between, I’ve followed the adventures from a galaxy far far away throughout my life. With the recent release of Dice and EA’s Battlefront 2, there is clear love for the source material, but new gameplay elements introduced, leave the game feeling hollow due to a lack of the sense of progress.
Battlefront 2 offers three main modes: Story, Online Multiplayer, and Arcade. Arcade is an offline mode that has players either play through scenarios involving the various characters of the Star Wars franchise or creating a custom game alone or with a local friend. Arcade offers quick challenges for players, allowing them to practice using the various heroes and villains they can encounter in multiplayer.
Multiplayer offers a variety of modes. Galactic Assault is go to mode, pitting teams of sixteen against one another as they work to complete a series of objectives, ranging from defending bases to hacking. Each player chooses from one of four classes (Assault, Heavy, Officer, and Specialist), each offering a different weapon and abilities. Then, players are put in squads of four and spawned in. If they stay in the squad, they will gain extra battle points (points used to transform into heroes during a match). Starfighter Assault allows players to engage in dogfights using their favorite ships from the films. Vehicle handling is responsive, and the cockpit view is a nice addition. Vehicles also come in classes, ranging from assault class X-Wings to Bombers and other vehicles. Battle points can also be earned in this mode, allowing players to become ships like Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter and Bobba Fett’s Slave One.
Blast is the game’s team deathmatch mode taking place on smaller maps. Matches are fast paced and frantic. Strike pits two teams of eight in capture the flag style gameplay, and Heroes and Villains has players exclusively using hero characters against one another in assassination style gameplay, with one player on both teams being labeled the target, and being hunted. If they are killed, the team loses a stock, last team standing wins.
Battlefront 2 also comes with a story mode that helps bridge the gap between the events of Return of the Jedi, and Force Awakens. It follows Iden Versio and her journey throughout her time with The Empire after the destruction of the second Death Star and the death of Vader and Palpatine (spoilers). The story mode was better than expected, with fun set piece moments, good cinematics, and decent characters.
As previously mentioned, gameplay is a class based system, with each class having one main weapon and three abilities (both weapons and abilities are different among classes). Weapons run on energy instead of ammunition, so your main focus during firefights is making sure your weapon doesn’t overheat, rather than run out of ammo. This is a nice touch of detail that makes you feel more in a Star Wars battle, then a Call of Duty DLC pack, or Battlefield Skin. Class abilities are, as the name implies, abilities specific to each class and hero. These abilities range from different kinds of grenades, to the ability to increase mobility through jetpacks, to using a shotgun for a limited amount of time. Learning when and how to effectively use these abilities is key to winning matches. Abilities can also be changed or upgraded through the Star Card system.
The Star Card system allows you to replace or upgrade a class’ abilities and attributes. This is one of the biggest and weakest aspects of Battlefront 2. On one hand, it allows for gameplay customization which prevents matches and classes from becoming stale, yet on the other it makes the game more difficult and tedious. Acquiring Star Cards is done through crafting and earning them through lootboxes. Lootboxes are earned via daily logins and through purchases (at the time of this writing, the only purchase method was through in-game credits and the microtransaction aspect was removed entirely). While you can specify which aspect you want loot for (either heroes, normal classes, or starfighters) the loot gained is still random (though duplicate items are replaced with crafting materials). This means that while you can spend X amount of credits chasing the star cards, you could still receive things like emotes or materials you didn’t want. Thankfully, you can also upgrade Star Cards and craft them from scratch, provided you have the materials necessary (crafting components and credits). Cards have multiple rarities, and upgrading them will increase their power. Each class has three total Star Card slots, but they are locked behind Star Card ranks (rank earned by getting different star cards) and certain cards can only be acquired at certain overall player levels.
And that’s where I feel Battlefront 2’s progression system feels lacking. Time played and level doesn’t necessarily matter: Star Cards do. While weapons are tied to progression of a class (and certain Star Cards) the majority are earned via random lootboxes and crafting, which is based on credits not levels. This can also cause an imbalance during gameplay, as you find yourself going up against those with rare or epic gear, and you’re at one common card equipped.
Overall, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a beautiful house on a weak foundation. While core gameplay is fun and environments are breathtaking, the Star Card system is what drags the game down. A poorly implemented lootbox system and a lack of the sense of progression keep the game from appealing to anyone outside of the Star Wars franchise.