Star Wars Battlefront II Changes – If it’s Broke, Fix It
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 03:40pm 06/10/17 | Comments
With the Open Beta now Live, we go through the many improvements found in Star Wars Battlefront II...
When EA, as politically neutral as it could, took the stage at E3 earlier this year to note that Star Wars Battlefront II was being developed with a clear understanding of player criticisms of the first game – people took note. Star Wars Battlefront from EA and DICE was a technical marvel, providing the best visual and audio representation of the iconic saga ever seen in a videogame. But the whole Star Wars meets Battlefront thing never lived up to its potential. Simplified to the point where it hampered depth, and no single-player campaign felt like a missed opportunity.
Add in last year’s excellent Battlefield 1 from developer DICE, and there’s good reason to get excited for this second outing. An outing which, based on playing a bunch of the early access multiplayer beta, is already more inviting and polished than the original. Turns out that EA were serious when they said they were looking to improve on what has come before and take all our collective constructive criticism on board. Plus, add some things that we didn’t even know it needed.
Here’s a list of the Improvements and Notable Changes.
The Dark Side of the Menu
Okay, so starting off commenting on the new menu and UX design may not sound like there’s a lot of ground to cover – there is - but if you’ve played your fair share of the original Star Wars Battlefront then you’ll recall that its menus were presented in the brightest white that ever whited. So white that even white supremacists probably took note. Also getting into a game, before an update made things a lot simpler, was a matter of picking one of a dozen modes. It was confusing, whilst both a strain on retinas the world over. Star Wars Battlefront II swaps the white out for black, and is cleaner in both design and splitting up all the modes and features and minimising the fluff. The presentation also takes on that fuzzy Star Wars holovid approach which is a nice touch.
Vehicles and Heroes
In the original Battlefront, heroes and vehicles were scattered throughout the map as glowing pick-ups that were obtained on a first-come first-serve basis. That meant getting to play as Han Solo was kind of random, as was getting lucky enough to be put in control of an AT-ST. Battlefront II changes that by introducing a points system that in-between wipes can be traded for a vehicle or hero. It’s a system that not only rewards skill, but also for more than just killing players on the opposing team. Before each spawn you’re given a choice of class to play, no points needed, plus a choice of any number of vehicles and heroes currently available. Because… there can’t be two Han Solos at the same time. This isn’t Timecop.
The best part about this change is that vehicles and heroes become strategic in their use, increasing the late-game tension and ensuring that battles get more involved as time progresses.
Squads and Teamwork
Speaking of teamwork, even if you’re not in a party you’ll be grouped with other players to form a squad that all spawn at around the same time. Very cool. It’s a great move that ensures that Battlefront II matches feel more like the team effort found in Battlefield 1, as opposed to the free-for-all nature of the original. This means sticking together feels natural even if you have no idea who the other player is. Squads were high on the list of things missing from the first time around so it’s great to see them not only implemented in Battlefront II, but in a way that’s a lot better and more intuitive than we would have guessed.
Hells yeah, classes are finally here. Assualt, Heavy, Specialist, and Officer. Each with their own unique loadout that can be customised via the new Star Card system. It’s an immediate improvement and one that works incredibly well. The default loadout of the Heavy class comes equipped with a shield that once activated shifts the perspective to third-person for some high-powered tanking. Awesome. And when you factor in the new squad mechanic the classes begin to make a lot more sense, and really kind of makes you wonder how the game would work otherwise. Oh, that’s right – not that well. This is an essential edition that transforms the Battlefront experience for the better.
The Loot Side of the Force
Linking Star Cards to Loot Boxes might seem like the most 2017 thing that Star Wars Battlefront II could do. And in a bold all-in move DICE has seemed fit to include Star Card rarity, meaning that if you get lucky your Tie Fighter in the new Starfighter Assualt mode could feature a lot more armour than someone else’s thanks to a super rare Star Card. How this will affect balancing moving forward is anyone’s guess. In their current state Star Cards do feel like an integral part of the game, as they can augment and modify just about any class, weapon, vehicle, and yes, hero. The customisation options they present add a lot of depth to just about every aspect too which is nice.
Starfighter Assault is The Real Deal
AKA The Reason Star War Battlefront II Should Be A Day One Purchase For Everyone. Seriously, it’s damn good. Developed separately to the core shooter experience by veteran studio Criterion, Starfighter Assault adds objective based gameplay to space dogfighting in classic Star Wars ships like X-Wings, Tie Fighters, and the slow-as-hell Y-Wings. The like-for-like mode from the original was threadbare but still a lot of fun thanks to its solid controls. This is even better, noticeably too. With controls so smooth that you’ll be flying in and out of large starship underbellies like they were nothing. Also, targeting is made easier thanks to a separate reticule to note where an enemy ship’s nose is.
There’s a reason why this mode sits right next to Galactic Assault in the multiplayer menu, it’s a showcase of what can be achieved by taking a glorified tech-demo (the original starfighter mode found in the first game) and building a rich and rewarding multiplayer experience.
Naboo Galactic Assault
Called Walker Assault in the original, it was the mode that justified your money spent. Imperials versus Rebels on Hoth? Awesome. On Endor? Somehow even better. With Star Wars Battlefront II bringing those classic maps back, the beta showcases what this mode would look like if it took place on the home world of Queen Amidala and Jar Jar Binks - Naboo. And before you scoff at the idea of anything related to the Prequel Trilogy, hearing Trade Federation Battle Droids yell “Roger Roger” as they head into the fray is a lot of fun. In fact, this is the best use of the planet we’ve seen so far. And that includes the film.
So, what’s changed? Well, in place of a large AT-AT you get Clone Troopers defending the advance of a large Trade Federation carrier. Those land Tanks from Episode I that were full of Battle Droids. And instead of capturing points, defenders need to take control of large Ion Blasters to wear down the large vehicle’s armour. And if it makes its way to the end, a close quarters and intense firefight breaks out in one of those fancy Naboo buildings as a grand finale. Very cool.
In terms of offline or online co-operative modes, Star Wars Battlefront featured a horde mode that felt like it was put together in an afternoon or so. Fun for a few hours, but not something that had any sort of lasting appeal. And so, Star Wars Battlefront II mixes things up with the introduction of the Arcade, which provides single or split-screen co-op challenges across several Light Side and Dark Side themed stages. Right off the bat this is much better than the same horde mode repeated across a handful of maps. Even though it follows a similar star-based scoring and difficulty system, the difference come with the challenges themselves. The playable Arcade Level in the beta pits one or two players as Darth Maul and a Super Battle Droid who are then tasked with taking out x number of Clone Troopers before time runs out. Simple, yes. But also, fun. Now, here’s hoping that the final release allows for Arcade mode to also be played co-operatively online.
Okay, so there isn’t a playable section of the single-player campaign featured in the Star Wars Battlefront II beta, but when selected you are presented with the following cinematic sequence.
Which means this is already a huge improvement over the original.
Star Wars Battlefront II is out November 17 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.