Arts & Life

“Star Wars: Battlefront II” is a step toward something great

Star Wars: Battlefront II” is a frustrating game because with every step it took forward, it took two steps back. It confronted all the issues of its predecessor with an array of new blasters, a wide cast of iconic and new characters and gorgeous locations. With these upgrades came the introduction of a highly anticipated but terrible multiplayer progression system.

One of the best things about the game is that it really nails capturing the feeling of the “Star Wars” universe. With each map filled with breathtaking environments, from the lush forests and beaches on Kashyyyk to the sprawling streets of Mos Eisley on Tatooine, players get a sense of immersion going through each battle.

A much needed component missing from AAA studio Electronic Arts DICE’s 2015 multiplayer shooter was a single-player mode. “Battlefront II” features a new campaign picking up around the time of “Return of the Jedi” and introduces a new story and cast of characters.

The story gives a nice perspective shift to the Empire, revolving around the battles of Iden Versio, commander of the Imperial Special Forces’ elite Inferno Squadron.

It’s an entertaining story that lets players see what their favorite characters were up to in between films, but at times it can feel like being guided on a rail system through memory lane. It puts players in the shoes of iconic heroes and villains, but at times it would have been more enjoyable to focus on Versio and her squad.

The campaign takes roughly five hours to complete, resulting in the story feeling rushed and incomplete. Thankfully, it’s not complete and will be receiving future story expansions in the form of free updates, which is good because Versio’s character is interesting and deserves to be explored more.

The multiplayer is where the heart of the game lies and unfortunately is where the game has most of its issues. Facing severe backlash from fans, EA temporarily removed microtransactions, which allowed players to use real money to buy in-game upgrades,  from gameplay the day before release. Although this system was removed, it still has its hold on the game as the entire progression system was based around this formula.

While players can still level up with experience, it doesn’t do much more than raise their arbitrary level number. The main progression, upgrades and character customization lies in the use of “star cards.” These cards grant players attribute upgrades, different gadgets and abilities and are obtained by purchasing loot crates with in-game currency.

Though the option of using real money to purchase these crates has been removed, the system still revolves around the microtransaction model and the assumption that players want to grind for these loot crates. With the absence of microtransactions, players have to spend a fair amount of time in real life to afford these loot crates and it quickly begins to feel like a chore.

That being said, the multiplayer is still a huge improvement over the last game and captures the feel of the original “Battlefront” series. With a wide time period and location variety, different character classes and more vehicles, the multiplayer really tackles the issue of lacking content.

Improved controls and increased speed make for more fast-paced gameplay, but the game is still inviting enough for newcomers. Different game modes allow players to get a feel for what gameplay style they enjoy. The galactic assault mode allows for two teams of 20 players to compete across large maps, working to capture different objectives while the blast mode offers small teams and close quarters combat.

Possibly the most improved upon aspect is the aerial combat, which was unbalanced and clunky in the first game. Each ship handles differently and comes with a different array of abilities. A new starfighter assault mode made significant changes to space battles with more objective-based gameplay such as eliminating a capital ship or navigating an asteroid field.

Underneath all the harsh criticism the game has received, “Battlefront II” is a huge step in the right direction for the series. This is as close to a real “Star Wars” experience as you can get with this installation breathing new life into the franchise.

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