Star Wars: Battlefront II Review

Richard Walker

DICE's first crack at resurrecting Star Wars Battlefront saw the Battlefield developer delivering a Star Wars fantasy that proved utterly authentic, despite dispensing with a lot of what made Pandemic's original games so special. You couldn't play in Star Wars eras beyond the original trilogy. You couldn't just jump into a vehicle on the map. You couldn't fly into enemy bases and sabotage them. Initially, there were no battles in space. No space battles! In a STAR WARS game. And, of course, there was no real single-player campaign to speak of.

Star Wars Battlefront II is an attempt to rectify most – if not all – of these shortcomings, and for the most part, DICE (alongside Criterion and EA Motive) has successfully crammed in a surfeit of content, filling the gaps where the first game had notable deficiencies. So now there's a single-player campaign, and although some have encountered a litany of bugs (we had one solitary glitch easily remedied by reloading a checkpoint), the story proves engaging and interesting throughout. Granted, there is a jarring tonal shift during the narrative that seems to turn on a dime, but overall, the campaign is enjoyable.


Meet Iden Versio, the most badass Imperial Commander in the galaxy.

One minute you'll be battling the Rebellion on Endor, before blasting off in a TIE fighter to protect a Star Destroyer armada from attack. While clocking in at only around 4-5 hours, the campaign proves a neat diversion that also acts as a good primer for multiplayer, with various objectives and tasks to complete. Playing as an Imperial commander is also a neat twist that offers a divergent perspective on events following the conclusion of Return of the Jedi, and the narrative also neatly dovetails into The Force Awakens territory too.

Naturally, it's multiplayer that remains the crux of Battlefront II, and where the previous entry failed to bring much to the table as far as maps, modes and characters were concerned, the sequel goes above and beyond, with a range of faces from across every Star Wars era (right up to The Last Jedi) and an array of locations, modes and more. By and large, the fundamentals of multiplayer are dead-on too, the nuts and bolts of the thing managing to be consistently good fun in whichever mode you choose to dabble in.

But then there's the thorny issue of the game's Star Cards. In the last Battlefront, Star Cards dictated your class's loadout, but in Battlefront II, they're ability boosting perks that come in loot crates available to purchase with in-game credits you've earned or with actual cash. There's a reason there's been such a public outcry over these, as they do alter the balance of the game. Often you'll come unstuck against another player who has either invested the time or the money into creating a formidable loadout of Star Cards, rather than besting you with superior skill or proficiency. This is a real problem.

The progression system is unfortunately an issue that mires the rest of what DICE has achieved in over-complicated currencies (crystals, credits, salvage parts), pay-to-win Star Cards and additional content that takes far too long to unlock. Even with the adjustments the developer has made prior to the game's full launch, there's still a lack of balance, which for a game that involves the Force, is a cardinal sin. Everyone knows that there needs to be balance in the galaxy, right? Yet beneath all of the cards, locked-off characters and weapons, and other extraneous guff that gets in the way, there's a truly great multiplayer offering here, and at time of writing, EA and DICE have turned off all of the microtransactions in the game, amid a massive fan backlash.

Yet, from the delights of the 40-player Galactic Assault to Starfighter Assault fleshing out the Fighter Squadron mode from the first game with actual space-based dogfighting, the entire multiplayer experience is straight-up, 100% authentically Star Wars. It's stunning, the objective-driven action proving endlessly compulsive and the changes made to how you now earn the ability to play as heroes and pilot vehicles are certainly welcome. Instead of a race to grab a token secreted somewhere on the battlefield, you earn battle points that can then be used to play as more advanced units, vehicles or heroes. It's a far better approach.


Want seat-of-the-pants dogfighting in an X-wing? You've got it!

There's a great deal of fun to be had with Star Wars Battlefront II, whether it's in the campaign, the Arcade mode with customisable matches, split-screen co-op and versus modes, or battle scenarios in which you fight waves of enemies against the clock as various characters, or the staple multiplayer offering. Clearly, a lot of the progression layered on top of all of this has been badly misjudged, so having the microtransactions switched off while DICE strives to put things right – especially amid very public and vocal outrage - seemed kind of inevitable. But the landscape of multiplayer has already been adversely affected by the Star Cards and such, perhaps irreparably so.

It seems a terrible shame to hold all of this against such an entertaining and accomplished shooter, that while not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, is still very transparently a real labour of love for all involved. As a Star Wars fan, there's so much to love about Star Wars Battlefront II, even if as a consumer, it's hard not to overlook how bungled the delivery of the game has been to date. As it stands, the game's progression is an arduous slog and even with the adjustments that have been made in the run up to launch, the time required to unlock a new blaster or a hero is just too much.

Dig deep beneath the microtransaction sludge, though, and you'll find Star Wars Battlefront II to be a pleasurable and exciting Star Wars game that's lovely to look at, enjoyable to play (most of the time) and bulging with content. It's just too bad that much of that content is locked away, demanding that you either craft it, buy it or put in the hours to unlock it. A Star Wars game in which you have to earn the ability to play as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader just seems wrong. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of things that Star Wars Battlefront II also gets right.

Star Wars: Battlefront II

A sequel that delivers a glut of content, but locks too much of it away, Star Wars Battlefront II is nonetheless a clear labour of love and a robust multiplayer shooter, sadly buried in an over-complicated progression system. To try or to try not, then? If you're prepared to put in the time and effort, then Star Wars Battlefront II can be enormously fun and rewarding, even if it might not necessarily be the game you were looking for.

Form widget
70%
Audio
95%

John Williams' iconic score, authentic effects, the 'vum vum' of lightsabers, the unmistakeable sound of a blaster... Star Wars Battlefront II nails it all.

Visuals
85%

We encountered one or two minor bugs in the campaign, but overall, Battlefront II looks stunning. It's about as close as you can get to playing the movies. Kind of.

Playability
80%

The fundamentals – the meat and drink – of Battlefront II's gameplay experience is pretty much on the money. It's the stuff that surrounds it that's been poorly implemented.

Delivery
60%

While for now it's all been switched off, the microtransactions are an issue, meaning that whoever has the time or money to accrue a deck of sweet Star Cards has a significant edge. It throws the whole level playing field off-kilter and mars an otherwise enjoyable shooter.

Achievements
70%

A solid enough achievement list that balances just the right amount of grinding with some fun objectives. There's a lot devoted to the campaign, but there's also an ample number of milestones to attain in multiplayer too.

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