Star Wars Battlefront II Beta Impressions

Posted October 6, 2017 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Developers: Motive Studios, EA Dice, Criterion Software

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Release date: November 17, 2017

Open beta: October 6-9, 2017 (early access for those who preordered began on October 4)

In 2015, EA resurrected the Star Wars Battlefront franchise, which met with some commercial success despite some gripes about the lack of launch content, no single player campaign, and an overpriced season pass. Most notably absent at launch was space combat, and while the game provided a genuinely fun and at times thrilling Star Wars experience, it’s lack of modes was disconcerting. since then, DLC (both paid and free) filled out the game nicely, even adding a Death Star level with space combat between X-Wing fighters and TIE fighters. The game was beautiful to look at, and had responsive controls, and for a multiplayer shooter proved to be a friendly environment for casual players and shooter veterans alike. Now, in 2017, Star Wars Battlefront II seeks to correct the wrongs of its predecessor. The sequel is launching with more content than the original game, including a Starfighter Assault mode and a story driven solo campaign in where players take on the character of Commander Iden Versio. The campaign takes place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and you play from the perspective of the Empire in the wake of Palpatine’s death. While the game doesn’t fully launch until November 17, players can dive into the open beta beginning on Friday, October 6, and continuing until Monday, October 9 (those who preordered the game got early access on Wednesday, October 4).

The beta gives a fairly nice taste of the whole game, though we only get a video of the single player campaign and no level to play. Solo players can dive into the Arcade mode, and take on a couple of Battle Scenarios either solo or co-op. For those wanting to dive into the multiplayer, the beta offers three modes- Galactic Assault, which takes place in the city of Theed on Naboo, Starfighter Assault, featuring a battle above the planet of Fondor, and Strike, an objective based mode where one team must retrieve/defend a package at Maz’s castle on the planet Takodana. Each mode is fun to play, though some may not be as happy with some changes. As with the previous game, it looks beautiful, with plenty of nice touches to add to the atmosphere. Birds take flight as you race through the streets of Theed, clouds of insects buzz about as you move through the forest on Takodana, and interior marble floors gleam as opposing forces do battle. There are plenty of details to take notice of in the environments. Of course, you do so at your own peril. But there is plenty of prettiness to distract you. Sound design is just as stellar, bringing all the sounds of the movie franchise to life, making you feel a part of the proceedings. The music and voice acting are also nicely done, and the controls feel responsive.

The Arcade mode can be played solo or with local co-op. You’re thrown into two Battle Scenarios, one entitled “Wipe Them Out” and the other titled “Roger, Roger”. Both take place in the city of Theed. “Wipe Them Out” allows you to play as Darth Maul. Playing as Maul is a joy, as he leaps and spins, using his dual bladed lightsaber to slash through clone troopers. You get a couple of Force powers to play with, including lifting foes into the air and sending them flying. In “Roger, Roger”, you can choose from four classes of battle droids- Assault, Heavy, Officer, and Specialist. Assault are your standard troopers. Heavy troopers carry rapid fire weapons and have a bit more armor, plus can use a shield. Officers can direct troops and use a blaster, while the Specialists use weapons like sniper rifles and set traps. All are fun to explore, though you’ll probably stick to whatever suits you play style best. To address this, the game does offer challenges to be met to gain rewards, and to take full advantage of everything, you’ll need to diversify yourself. The Scenarios are timed affairs, with kills adding seconds onto the clock. Playing Solo is a bit more challenging than playing co-op, but both are fun to dive into.

Galactic Assault has you storming through the streets of Theed on Naboo, playing either as Separatist droids or clone troopers defending the throne. The mode unfolds across multiple stages, and should you acquire enough battle points, you can make use of a hero/villain (the four present in the beta are Han Solo, Darth Maul, Bobba Fett, and Rey) or a vehicle, like an AT-RT or a Vulture Droid. While playing as a character like Maul can be fun, he is very overpowered if you’re on the opposite side. You can choose prior to the match if you wish to play in first or third person. You won’t find any icons spinning on the battlefield to race for. Instead, Battle Points need to be spent to get you a vehicle or a hero. Cards can be equipped for perks, and can be acquired through loot boxes, which can be purchased with in game currency. Some people may not be as happy with this change, but for myself it didn’t impact my enjoyment any, though I did miss being able to dive into a vehicle once I found an icon. But even though I missed that aspect, it didn’t lessen my experience that much.

Starfighter Assault takes place above the planet Fondor, and has you attacking the Imperial ships or defending them. The flight controls feel like they’ve been tweaked from the first game, and for novice pilots expect a few crashes until you get the hang of things. Your left stick controls your speed, the right stick your direction. Shoulder buttons trigger your specials, like homing missiles or a repair droid. The left trigger will allow you to zoom in on a target, and the right is your standard firing control. You can’t just keep your finger on the button, as your guns will overheat and enter a cooldown phase. Combat can be a dizzying affair, as you loop around battle cruisers or fly through the stations. For the rebels, you have your choice of your Assault craft (the T-65B X-Wing), an Interceptor (the RZ-1 A-Wing), and a bomber (the BTL-A4 Y-Wing), and if you have the battle points, you can fly the hero ships the Millenium Falcon or Poe Dameron’s black T-70 X-Wing. On the Imperial side, you get your standard TIE fighter, the TIE Interceptor, and the TIE bomber, with the hero ships being Boba Fett’s Slave I and Darth Maul’s Scimitar.

Strike has you vying for control of a package in Maz’s castle on Takodana. Imperial troops attempt to steal said package and get it to a waiting shuttle. Rebel soldiers need to defend the package, and try to keep it or at least return it to the castle. The gameplay offers plenty of variety, taking you from indoors where close quarters fighting is more prevalent out into the surrounding forest and supply depot. As with Galactic Assault, you could find a hero on your side, like Han Solo or Boba Fett. This mode made for a lot of back and forth, as the package would change hands multiple times. It’s a fun and at times intense mode to play, and both sides felt more balanced here than in Galactic Assault.

In all, playing the beta has given me a good idea as to what to expect from Star Wars Battlefront II, and I’m happy to say it’s proving to be a lot of fun to play. I’m admittedly not the best at multiplayer shooters (I’m the guy who dies often), but at least the game feels welcoming to me and others of my skill level, as well as being fun for those who are better at the genre. As with the first game, the multiplayer environment seems to get players to work together as opposed to other shooter games where some get more concerned about personal stats than team play. It’s an even better Star Wars experience than the first game, and for fans they’re going to want to add this to their personal libraries. The beta has proven to be a fun time, and I can’t wait to dive into the campaign and other maps and modes come November 17.

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus