By EA’s own admission, 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront was rushed to store shelves in order to launch near the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters. The result was a game that lacked many fan favorite features from previous Battlefront titles, with nearly nonexistent space battles and no single player campaign in sight. Star Wars Battlefront 2 was once presented as being the game 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront should have been, but thanks to a broken progression system and generally lackluster gameplay, it’s a big disappointment.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 offers three main game modes for fans to sink their teeth into, but none of them are all that compelling. Firstly, there’s the single player campaign, which made a return after much fan demand. Players take on the role of Iden Versio, the determined leader of a special Imperial commando unit called the Inferno Squad. Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s story starts right at the end of Return of the Jedi, giving fans a chance to see what happened to the Empire between the events of the 1983 film and 2015’s The Force Awakens through the eyes of Versio.
Iden Versio is an interesting character in the Star Wars canon, as we are rarely afforded the opportunity to see someone from the Empire in the protagonist role. Conflicts in the Star Wars franchise have a clearly defined “good” and “bad” side, but Iden Versio’s story shows that there are people in the Empire that are a little more complicated than that.
Unfortunately, Star Wars Battlefront 2 abandons this interesting premise just a few levels into the campaign, and by the end, players are left with a fairly by-the-numbers Star Wars story. Without venturing into spoiler territory, we will say that certain actions on the part of Iden feel inconsistent with how her character is presented at the start of the campaign. Iden Versio starts Star Wars Battlefront 2 as a unique and memorable character, but she ends up being completely forgettable by the time the credits roll.
That’s not to say the story in Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a complete loss. The cut-scenes are a lot of fun, and any Star Wars fan will enjoy seeing what happened in the immediate aftermath of Return of the Jedi. While Iden Versio is a fairly disappointing character, other members of the cast stand out, particularly Inferno Squad member Del. Besides original characters, players also have the chance to interact with and play as some recognizable faces from the film franchise.
Throughout the course of Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s campaign, players will have the chance to play as heroes like Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, and more. These characters are given special abilities and are presented as especially powerful compared to Iden, so their missions are more a power fantasy than anything else. Some fans may find the lack of challenge boring, but there’s no denying the sheer thrill one can get from slicing through Storm Troopers as Luke Skywalker.
These hero-centric missions are fun, but they are also problematic in some ways. The voice actors for Luke Skywalker and Leia don’t sound anything like Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, which can be distracting. These stages also use a third-person viewpoint just like when heroes are used in multiplayer, which results in some awkward animations. Furthermore, playing as these characters is a lot more fun than playing as Iden Versio, and it makes one wonder why DICE didn’t just build an entire campaign around iconic Star Wars heroes instead.
The campaign also has one big issue that seems to plague all missions: objectives are extremely repetitive, with some obvious padding thrown in to make the campaign seem longer. Many objectives boil down to protecting characters (usually Del) while they do something, moving on to the next object, and then repeating the process. And when players aren’t busy protecting other characters, they will be completing other repetitive tasks that feel like busywork. What’s worse is that even with some obvious padding, which also includes tricks like making players walk slowly through boring talking scenes instead of conveying the same information in a cut-scene, players can realistically beat Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s campaign in less than five hours.
Campaign length wouldn’t necessarily matter if it provided consistently entertaining gameplay or a compelling story, but it doesn’t. Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s campaign isn’t outright bad, though, and does have some genuinely entertaining moments sprinkled throughout. Besides the thrill of playing as fan-favorite characters, the campaign also features some well-designed space missions that will make players hungry for a proper Rogue Squadron sequel. DICE did an excellent job with space battles in Star Wars Battlefront 2, and players will find themselves constantly looking forward to the next dogfight.
The only downside to space battles is that they’re way too easy, thanks to dumb enemy AI that sometimes makes it feel like players are shooting fish in a barrel. Dumb enemy AI is present in other areas of the campaign as well, with Storm Troopers lining up to die one after another. They tend to take cover quite a bit, but predictably peak their heads out at the same spots every time, so many firefights become a simple and dull waiting game.
Since many of the enemies aren’t particularly fun to fight, many players will find little value in the game’s Arcade mode. Arcade mode is also disappointing since EA and DICE have limited the number of credits players earn from it, meaning that it’s less rewarding than playing Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s other game modes. Having said that, Arcade mode’s inclusion of 2-player split-screen should be appreciated by fans and is good for killing time with a friend.
Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s campaign and Arcade modes are mediocre, but if the sales of 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront are any indication, many fans are just looking for a quality multiplayer experience. Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s multiplayer looks and plays great, with players able to partake in exciting firefights, hectic space battles, and even battle exclusively as some of the overpowered heroes from the campaign. Even so, it’s hard to recommend anyone picking up Star Wars Battlefront 2 for its multiplayer offerings at this point in time.
We really have no idea what Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s multiplayer will look like a few months down the road. Right now, the game is surrounded by controversy thanks to its loot box system, which has been criticized as being exploitative and pay-to-win. The controversy picked up steam when it was discovered that players either had to grind for an absurd number of hours to unlock popular heroes like Darth Vader or spend hundreds of dollars in microtransactions.
EA has since rolled things back a bit by making heroes easier to unlock and temporarily removing microtransactions from the game, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty about its loot box system. Governments around the world have started launching investigations into the use of loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2 and other games, which could potentially lead to dramatic changes to how its multiplayer is structured. Due to the uncertainty about its future, it’s hard to recommend Star Wars Battlefront 2 for its multiplayer component alone.
Despite the flaws, Star Wars Battlefront 2 does deserve significant praise in at least one area, and that is its visual presentation. While there are some graphical defects here and there, the game is mostly gorgeous, with highly detailed maps and character models. It’s easily the best-looking Star Wars game to date, and is arguably one of the best-looking video games period.
Of course, great graphics don’t make a great game. Even if we ignore the loot box controversy, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is still just an “OK” shooter that fails to leave a lasting impression. The single player campaign starts out strong, but quickly becomes a more generic Star Wars tale and makes protagonist Iden Versio far less interesting in the process. Arcade mode isn’t all that compelling as it gives out fewer rewards than other modes, and multiplayer, while fun, has an uncertain future. However, Star Wars fans looking to play the best-looking Star Wars game and experience some truly exciting dogfights between TIE fighters and X-Wings may still manage to get their money’s worth.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant reviewed the game on Xbox One.