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Star Wars Battlefront 2 Review – A disturbance in the force

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Unless you’ve been living in a galaxy far, far away this month, you would know about the massive controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront 2’s loot boxes and screams of pay-to-win, gambling and more by gamers across the globe.

In an unheard-of turn of events, the issue was pushed so far that EA DICE removed microtransactions from the game, temporarily of course. I received my review copy of the game after the fact and since then, I’ve been playing Star Wars Battlefront 2 every chance I get. Today, I am ready to share my verdict with all our readers, both for Single Player and Multiplayer portions of the game as the experience is right now.

Note: If you only care about the multiplayer portion and the progression system, check out the multiplayer section below and if you don’t want to read, there is a full video for you to watch where I discuss the progression system, loot boxes and more.

Single Player – A story worth telling

Star Wars Battlefront 2’s campaign is entitled “The Untold Star Wars Story” and it forms part of the Star Wars canon. That is why I think it is such a tragedy that some hardcore Star Wars fans might not get to experience it, because of all the controversy and terrible reception the game has received. There are some revelations and if you pay close attention, there is so much lore going on in the background that would make any Star Wars fan drool more than Jabba the Hutt.

Warning: Early to mid-campaign spoilers lay ahead.

My initial impression of the campaign was great and it is definitely a story worth experiencing. Although the campaign is quite short, I enjoyed every moment of the game’s star-studded line-up, including some extremely memorable moments as Luke Skywalker himself on the planet Pillio and with Han Solo as he shoulder-charges some droids, or while battling alongside the likes of Leia Organa and many others.

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The main protagonist, however, is someone completely new and from the Empire’s side of things. Her name is Iden Versio and she is an incredible addition to the roster of memorable characters and the story plays off just after the destruction of the Deathstar, which is an iconic moment in the Star Wars universe. Everything about Versio is, at first, somewhat of an enigma. She is a commander of the Empire’s special forces unit, called the Inferno Squad and has a team of strong characters to back her up. It all revolves around something called “Operation Cinder” which is initiated after the Emperor’s death, but going further into that topic would be considered major spoilers.

Versio has a droid with her that comes in very handy during the campaign. The drone has some useful features, such as opening doors for you, scanning the environment to see where all the Rebel scum are and shocking enemies on a cooldown. However, things like having to wait for laser grids in pipes, felt unnecessary and boring, like an added-on mechanic.

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The game opens up a bit in later missions, as you can choose how you want to approach things, for example taking the stealthy approach on Endor taking out as many enemies and you can before you get spotted with your team. Alternatively, you can go in blasters first and choose which direction you want to move in, with your team following your lead. This type of player choice is, however, very limited and only occurs a few times during the campaign.  

The single player does sometimes focus on stealth and these mechanics are pretty well laid out. Stealth isn’t really present in the same way during multiplayer and that helps to set the campaign and the multiplayer apart. As the story unfolds, it was difficult not to realise just how linear the campaign is and there is no player choice involved. You just shoot or sneak past things until the very end of the 6-7-hour campaign, depending on player skill and if you attempt to gather a few collectables along the way.

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Don’t expect a real, behind the scenes look from the Empire’s side of things either. Although you play as an Empire commander, Versio soon (2 hours in) realizes the empire’s flaws and some members of her team regret what they had to do in service of the Empire. What transpires throughout the rest of the campaign feels a bit predictable, with your standard betrayals that you can see coming from a lightyear away. In the end, the single player had just as many awesome moments as it had bad ones. However, throughout the campaign, the dialogue and graphics remained of the utmost quality, and so did the musical score. It was like playing through a Star Wars film and story-wise, it is delivered quite well.

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Unfortunately, much of the gameplay during the campaign feels like you are getting eased into the multiplayer mechanics, from opening loot boxes to increase Versio’s abilities, to even playing on maps that I soon realised was, for the most part, also in the multiplayer portion. That’s really a shame because the single player is certainly a light in the darkness for Star Wars Battlefront 2.

Multiplayer – Luke, I am 15000 credits

As mentioned at the start of the review, EA DICE temporarily removed microtransactions from the game and they also decreased the time required to unlock heroes by upping the rate at which you gain credits. Since I only received my review copy this Monday, I (un)fortunately didn’t get the chance to experience the old rates in action.  After completing the 6-hour single player campaign and receiving roughly 5000 credits I jumped into the Arcade mode and then into the multiplayer action.

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With arcade mode, you can earn a measly amount of credits, as some of the activities only give you 70 credits, which isn’t much at all. Arcade is an offline mode but still allowed me to earn some credits to unlock things with. It is understandable that such a mode would have a credit limit so people can’t just farm it the whole time, as arcade was much easier for me than playing against actual players. My one gripe is that you still have to be online to earn credits for this “offline” mode.

Now onto multiplayer and first thing’s first. Our readers probably want to know how the experience is for South Africans. Well, it is actually quite good as the game does have local servers and during local matches, I felt absolutely no delay, had no spikes or saw any rubber-banding. It felt so smooth that what I am about to tell you next makes me a little depressed.

The game has 6 modes to play, but I could almost only find matches for Galactic Assault, the 40-player conquest type game mode. I searched for hours on end for a match for any other game modes for several days and until I finally found one Heroes versus Villains local match on my PS4. Coupled with the game’s long loading times, the only way to really get a lot of gameplay time in at the moment and get those credits quickly is through Galactic Assault on South African servers.

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That’s when I was forced onto international servers to play games of Starfighter Assault, where I could fly around in various awesome Star Wars spaceships and blast down enemies, fight as iconic characters in Heroes versus Villains, or just let go in Blast. The Blast mode is, well, an absolute blast to play, with 20 players just fighting each other without any objectives in the mix. I loved playing this game mode especially when I first started, as it can quickly improve your aim and help you learn the abilities of each of the four classes, as well as some bonus classes like the Rocket Jumper or Wookie Warrior that you can unlock with Battle Points during a match.

The multiplayer does have everyone you would expect, from grand battles across various locations in the Star Wars universe to great gunplay, awesome graphics and fantastic sound. Not once did my gameplay get hindered by lag and everything ran smoothly on local servers, while on International had some issues with lag and rubber-banding of enemies and allies alike. Even so, across over 30 hours of play, most of the minute-to-minute gameplay felt incredible.

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My favourite mechanic in the game and it's multiplayer has to be the sound when a blaster reloads just in time. Why “in time” you might ask? Because if you time you reload (or cooldown) well, you get this satisfying sound. Time it incorrectly, however, and your blaster takes much longer to reload. This, as well as shooting enemies in the face or taking down a hero as a regular soldier feels great and that those where definitely my fondest memories of Star Wars Battlefront 2’s multiplayer.

But what about the progression system you may ask? Well, I've got you covered on that one with my hand's on experience, which you can view in the video below or read about in the next section.

From playing my first 40 minutes, I already received over 2000 credits in game and another 2000 from milestone rewards. Since a hero like Darth Vader costs 15,000 credits, it definitely doesn’t take too long to start unlocking things. I unlocked the father and son duo, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, before anything else, only spending my credits on those two characters. It took me roughly 8 hours of multiplayer to do so. Unfortunately, the grind only really starts when you’ve unlocked some heroes.

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You see, there is this thing called Loot Boxes and Star Cards contained within. I was able to get enough credits for one of the higher value loot boxes in about 2 hours of play, which rewarded me two random cards. These cards increase a tonne of things, from giving you access to new class abilities of your regular trooper to passive buffs like earning more Battle Points. The same goes for heroes, as everything you play with has Star Cards you can equip to increase its power. Unfortunately, it comes down to luck at this point, as you can get Star Cards for classes you don’t play or heroes you haven’t yet unlocked.

So, you have luck-based rewards after grinding for them and then, there is also another roadblock. To unlock new weapons for your preferred class, you need to get a certain number of kills with that class. The first weapon to unlock isn’t that bad, as you only need 50 kills, but things get a little bit crazy when you need 500 kills to unlock later weapons. Then, you also need to unlock accessories for your weapon. Playing as the Assault Trooper, my second weapon took about 4 hours to fully unlock with all its accessories, which make a huge difference in gameplay.

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Lastly from a progressing system standpoint, you can also craft Star Cards with crafting parts. That’s a way to not rely on the luck of Loot Boxes, but the rate at which you earn crafting parts is abysmal. I could, after 10 hours, only craft five cards, and that was because I reached certain, once off milestones which awarded me with some crafting parts. That wasn’t nearly enough to even get close to maxing out one class, as these Star Cards also come in five different rarities, with the high end of the spectrum increasing ability and passive skills in a big way. In multiplayer, these Star Cards can make all the difference in a combat situation and that simply isn’t fair. It all just feels like one big grind after another.

The Verdict

Star Wars Battlefront 2 has some great moments and throughout the campaign as well as the multiplayer, there were times that I was left in awe of the satisfying combat, massive battles and visiting stunning locations or playing (or even getting killed by) iconic characters. Even so, neither the single player or multiplayer portions are close to perfect, but it should deliver a satisfying experience for Star Wars fans.

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In the end, the multiplayer is great to play on a match-to-match basis, but I couldn’t help but feel as if something is wrong. It almost feels as if the game’s microtransaction system was designed first and then the multiplayer experience and progression system around that. We know that microtransactions will return at some point, but we simply don’t know when or in what form they will return. This makes me a little bit worried about the game’s future and even with the microtransactions currently disabled, I find Star Wars Battlefront 2 difficult to recommend based on its multiplayer experience as a whole, especially for South African players.

Even so, the story is worth experiencing for Star Wars fans, but keep in mind that it is only 6 hours long and does have some low points as well.

Available On: PS4, Xbox One and PC | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 17 November 2017 | RRP: R999

This review is based off a review copy provided to us by Prima Interactive

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"gameplay during the campaign feels like you are getting eased into the multiplayer mechanics"

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