Star Wars Battlefront II

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Criterion (EU), Motive Studios (US)
Release Date: Nov. 17, 2017


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PS4/XOne/PC Multiplayer Preview - 'Star Wars Battlefront II'

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 6, 2017 @ 12:02 a.m. PDT

Live the untold Star Wars story of Iden, an elite Stormtrooper, in an original single-player story. Battle on land and in space in an expanded multiplayer experience with iconic heroes and villains, thrilling space battles, and a deep progression and customization system.

Pre-order Star Wars Battlefront II

The version of Star Wars Battlefront that EA released two years ago proved that it understood what made the original Pandemic games so memorable and loved. While the combat was good, the other things — e.g., the small map collection pre-DLC and lack of character depth — showed there was still some work to be done. EA's Star Wars Battlefront 2 is still a month away from release, but those who pre-ordered the title were able to access the recent multiplayer beta. Based on this slice of the game, it seems that DICE is on the right track.

SWB2 aims to be a comprehensive take on the Star Wars universe thus far. The three levels included in the demo emphasize that as they highlight the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and first two films of the newest trilogy. The characters you fight with or against are also period-specific, so you'll fight as the Separatists in Naboo and switch over to the First Order when fighting in Maz Kanata's castle. The only time they break with this tradition is when you're choosing to fight as hero characters. Darth Maul might fit fine in Naboo, but seeing both Han Solo and Rey in the same era is cool, even if it completely breaks canon.

The game looks absolutely pretty. The foliage surrounding Maz Kanata's castle is stunning to look at, with lots of tiny details like the gusts of wind blowing more a few leaves in your face. The city of Theed in Naboo sports a similar level of detail, while the interior of the palace shines with the expected luster to serve as a contrast to the destruction around you. The frame rate could still use some work, as there are parts where the game hitches, but for the most part, it runs at a smooth 60fps.

Of the four modes included in the beta, the highlight is Galactic Assault, which features large-scale battles. You play a 20-vs.-20 game where the Separatists are trying to take over the palace in Theed while the royal guard is working to destroy the large transport that's slowly inching into the capital. Your choices are limited to infantry, but you can now select character classes. For example, you can go for a standard Assault class, which is a good all-around choice, or go as a Specialist, who has the ability to snipe and mark targets. The Heavy comes with the expected heavy firepower, while the Officer can give buffs to nearby allies while also laying down turrets for cover fire. As in the first game, you can customize your character's weapons through gun mods or Star Cards, the latter of which can be obtained via loot crates. As a result, randomization is a big factor in the quality of your gear. Overall, the addition of classes makes the game feel deeper and more in line with the diversity that players expect from the studio.

One of the bigger changes made to the game pertains to getting vehicles and heroes. While the prior title had you getting their respective icons at the right time, you have to earn your way to play as those special units. Performance on the field, either through killing enemies or working toward the objective, gives you points, and those points are then used to play as those units. The system works out much better, since you need to put in some effort to play as something other than the four basic classes. While this means that skilled players will have a better shot at being Boba Fett, the decent prices and the fact that you still get points for getting one hit on an enemy mean that you'll easily get a chance to fly a ship.

Strike mode is more traditional, since vehicles are stripped out of the mode entirely. In an 8-vs.-8 fight on Maz Kanata's castle, you're restricted to the four main classes with no heroes in sight as you either have to retrieve an artifact from the castle or prevent the First Order from doing so. Compared to the bigger and more chaotic battles of Galactic Assault, this is a nice reprieve since skirmishes are more intimate and there's less ground to cover.

Starfighter Assault is a 16-vs.-16 mode that takes place in the original trilogy era between the Rebels and the Empire. As the name suggests, you're flying ships, so your normal classes are replaced by Tie Fighters, Tie Interceptors and X-Wings. You get the chance to fly in hero vehicles, so craft like the Millennium Falcon and Poe's X-Wing are within reach. Having the chance to participate in space dogfights is great, but the controls take some getting used to compared to standard first-person combat. You can easily disorient yourself due to the game camera and orientation of the craft, so while it looks like the films, that doesn't necessarily translate into craft that's intuitive to fly.

The final mode is Arcade, and it serves as the beta's lone solo mode. It plays much like a horde mode, where you have to dispatch of wave after wave of enemies under a time limit, with each subsequent kill adding a few precious seconds to the clock. It works fine as a distraction from the other modes, and while it could be a ton of fun in the full game, its longetivy pales in comparison to the beta's other modes.

The beta for Star Wars Battlefront 2 runs until Oct. 9, and from what we've seen so far, it will correct some of the issues from the first game. Fans will certainly be pleased with the experience.

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