Two steps forward, three steps back.
If there’s a very important factor that Star Wars Battlefront II accomplishes well, it is the feeling to be in the universe of the legendary film series. Serving up the best hits of most things Star Wars, the follow-up to DICE’s 2015 multiplayer-focused game presents a package that has a larger breadth of content, including an admirable single-player campaign. However the game overall is weighed down by an overbearing and convoluted progression system it doesn’t value the common player’s time, obscuring an otherwise solid Star Wars experience.

Set over the backdrop of the complete Star Wars saga–encompassing the prequels, the initial three films, and the brand new trilogy–Battlefront II’s online modes and single-player offerings expand the scope of its galactic battles to feature more variety in its locations. From getting involved in aerial dogfights above Kamino to raiding the Death Star II and escaping before its destruction, the sequel puts its campaign and 14 multiplayer maps set over the 40-year history of the series to good use, showing a clear difference in aesthetics and tone in one time-period to another.

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Unlike the first Battlefront, the sequel contains a narrative-driven single-player campaign. Set through the twilight of the Galactic Empire after Return of the Jedi, the story sows the seeds for the First Order in The Force Awakens. You undertake the role of Iden Versio, commander of Imperial special-forces outfit Inferno Squad. She normally works to undermine Rebel forces with wet-work missions and other kinds of espionage. But following the destruction of the next Death Star, her loyalty to the Empire is put to the test when an extremely desperate Imperial army takes drastic actions to make sure its future.

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As the brisk 4-5 hour campaign features some strong writing and performances from its cast–with some standout levels that showcase the visual luster and diversity of spots within the universe–the potential of its Imperial point-of-view soon becomes lost. Falling into some rather predictable twists, the story eventually becomes a familiar by-the-numbers Star Wars adventure, where in fact the good guys and criminals are evidently defined, and with a lead up to the ultimate act’s confrontation that’s signposted from a mile away.

Sometimes, the campaign will switch things up with levels that feature familiar faces in totally different scenarios, adding some occasions of levity to the story. The downside of the missions is that they often times veer into pure fan-service territory, leaving Iden Versio–who proves to be a fascinating character with her unique take on the galactic struggle–standing in the shadow of more-established characters. That is compounded by an abrupt ending that teases future updates to the campaign, rather than delivering a solid conclusion because of its hero’s journey. The campaign does a decent job of showing the inner strife within the Empire’s ranks, even letting you explore an eerily sterile and oppressive Imperial civilization on Iden’s homeworld of Vardos. Nonetheless it falls somewhat short of so that it is a amazing journey because of its characters.

Beyond the campaign and massive multiplayer battles, there are side-modes offering some interesting diversions. The Arcade mode makes a return, featuring themed levels where you battle AI bots as classic Light and Dark side characters. Although it is not a particularly deep mode to dive into, with each mission offering increasing tiers of difficulty for better rewards, it might be fun to test different heroes against more and more enemies. Moreover, the fan-favorite Heroes vs Villains mode makes a return. Eliminating unnecessary filler, players can choose their unlocked characters–such as the rocket wielding Boba Fett, to the unstable Kylo Ren–and compete in 4v4 battles in over-the-top and ridiculous fashion. Heroes vs Villains is definitely the mode to unwind and cut loose with, from the chaos of the epic conflicts.

Battlefront II’s main attraction is its expansive multiplayer content. From the 40-player conquest battles in Galactic Assault to small, infantry-focused skirmishes in Blitz and Strike, there’s a larger selection of multiplayer modes than before. Selecting from several infantry classes and hero characters–including Luke Skywalker, Rey, Han Solo, and the story campaign’s Iden Versio–Multiplayer battles usually are strong affairs, especially at the entire capacity of 40 players. Along with some stellar visual and sound-design, the large-scale battles have the same exciting flow as Star Wars’ most iconic fights, where one heroic action can change the tide of a conflict.

During the period of each match, you’ll acquire Battle Points, that you can cash-in for mid-battle rewards–such as piloting special starfighters or taking control of select hero characters to hand out punishment. While Galactic Assault is going to be the most used mode for fans to see a lot of the game’s systems doing his thing, the upgraded Starfighter Assault deserves recognition. Now with an increase of responsive and tighter controls for maneuvering your vessels, the aerial- and space-focused mode features Battlefront II’s most strong missions. There is nothing more exciting than piloting an A-Wing interceptor through a good space and pulling off a killer shot in the nick of time.

Your group of troopers, starfighters, and hero characters could be boosted with Star Cards. They are able to amplify stats, add bonus attributes, and even give characters alternate loadouts–such as replacing much trooper’s energy shield for a grenade launcher. As you acquire more Star Cards and increase their ranks for a specific class or hero, the entire level for that character increases. The quantity of methods for you to modify your characters is impressive, and the overall game gives you options to change things up nevertheless, you see fit. After every battle, you’ll accumulate experience for your current multiplayer rank and credits to acquire loot crates in the in-game store. Unfortunately, the give attention to chasing Star Cards–and the prominence of loot crates–reveals bigger issues linked to the progression.

“The largest problem with this technique is that it is never evidently explained.”

Not merely is this entire system confusing, it is also problematic that almost all of your unlocks and earnings result from opening loot crates. By counting on randomly yielded weapons, resources, cosmetic items, and Star Cards of varying grades, Battlefront II ties its progression to dice rolls. You can acquire and upgrade Star Cards by yourself by using crafting pieces (also within loot crates), but this also leads into the condition of gating. To upgrade a card, you need to make certain that your class level and overall multiplayer ranking meet certain standards–which subsequently means needing to rank up several levels in-game, and spending important resources on loot crates for more resources and cards. Simply concentrating on the characters and classes you want to play isn’t enough.

As a result of randomness, and the inherent reliance on the loot crates, progression can often be dictated with what these email address details are. This may steer you from classes you’d prefer to use, and more annoying results in acquiring cards for hero characters you have yet to unlock. With how progression is structured, simply hanging out with the Heavy or Assault classes will not guarantee more loot for them, as advancing them is all linked with the luck of the draw. That is especially frustrating when you invest so enough time in the game–coming across others online who’ve had better luck or purchased pre-orders copies to obtain epic cards for his or her characters–only to see your selected classes fall by the wayside because of the overall systems working against your favor.

While the game offers you options to acquire premium currency in the sort of crystals–which you can purchase in bundles costing up to $100–these can only just be used to get more loot crates. That is all compounded by the cumbersome menu system, which prompts you to exit out of multiplayer games to accumulate your paltry rewards from milestones and challenges while also obscuring essential information such as for example player rank and class data.

The largest problem with this technique is that it is never plainly explained. While you’ll eventually come to comprehend how credits, crystals, and crafting elements are used, you’ll still need to reconcile the actual fact that enough time you invest in the overall game won’t continually be rewarded with progress, or at least in the manner you want.

In this manner, Battlefront II plants itself in the same territory as free-to-play games, with a lot of its content and characters saved behind progression walls and randomized loot crates. That is a particularly disappointing reality for a full-priced release. Most importantly, it ends up performing a disservice to the core gameplay, that may still provide solid occasions of enjoyment regardless of the looming occurrence of its progression systems. A number of these issues linked to the meta-game fall by the wayside if you are in the thick of battle, as you’re getting involved in the massive struggle through the entire many locales in the Star Wars universe.

While its main narrative feels unresolved, and the overall loop of the multiplayer posesses number of issues, Battlefront II still manages to evoke that same sense of joy and excitement within the core of what the series is centered on. But since it stands, the largest hurdle that Battlefront II should overcome–for its simultaneous attempts to balance progression with genuine feeling of accomplishments–is choosing which kind of game it really wants to be.

Editor’s note: (November 20, 2017 — 6:54 PM PST): EA has applied several revisions and tweaks to Star Wars Battlefront II, and we at GameSpot did our best to match the changes that contain been made to the overall game around its release. Recently, EA removed all microtransactions from the overall game, and while that appears like a change that might be for the better, lots of the rewards and systems set up have not been altered to create up for having less paid options. It has not only led to fewer options for folks, but has made the entire grind in Battlefront II a required chore. EA has promised to keep monitoring the overall game and adjusting the progression system predicated on player feedback, however when those changes will occur and what they’ll be remains to be observed. Regardless of the removal of the microtransactions, player progression continues to be largely linked with the randomized loot boxes–mitigating player agency and choice in multiplayer. We are continue with this final score given that we’ve had time to thoroughly test the stability of Battlefront II’s servers, but will wthhold the original review-in-progress text for future reference.