Note: As of this writing, being able to buy loot-boxes is still disabled.
EA and DICE had possibly the easiest job in the world: Build upon the first Battlefront game they released a few years ago. Now, they did exactly that and this should have been every Star Wars fan's dream. The game visually looks stunning and everything from the locations to the characters, music, and sound effects has been pulled right from the films and makes you feel like you are part of said films. A boring, cliche campaign, a multiplayer mode completely destroyed by ridiculous pay-to-win mechanics, and a pitiful progression system completely suck almost all of the fun out of this game.
Let's start with the campaign. First the good. Visually this game is amazing and there was a serious attention to detail when it came to locations from the films. The music, sound effects—it all works, and the cutscenes are done in a way that makes you feel like you are watching a Star Wars movie. The campaign was something that was missing from the first Battlefront and it's been a while since we have gotten a single-player campaign story in a Star Wars video game. Even better is the fact that this story bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
Meet Iden Versio, Commander of Inferno Squad, who worships the Empire and serves to fight for them while they pick up the pieces after the Emperor's death. So the story mode is off to a solid start and it's nice to be able to play the story from the Empire's side of things instead of another Rebel story.... Back to that in a bit. Anyways, the beginning of the story mode is solid and establishes Iden as a great character that is completely loyal to the Empire and fits in perfectly with the Star Wars universe.
But that quickly all goes out the window.
Remember how we were told this would be a story about the Empire? About how we would get to see the story from their perspective? Nope, we were bait and switched. After the Empire decides they want to destroy a planet that is loyal to the Empire, which makes no sense at all, Iden immediately flips to the other side. Now, granted this was Iden's home world, so I can understand why she would have some reservations about it being destroyed. But this 180 flip from bad to good is absolutely horrible and had no build whatsoever. We never see Iden question the Empire or what they stand for. We never see her hesitate when executing or murdering Rebels. This all happens in an instant. What is even more laughable is that when she is on the planet she says, "But these are our troops," not wanting them to be hurt after the planet is destroyed, but then has no problem murdering hundreds of them after she turns. Then of course another member of Inferno Squad, Gideon Hask, tries to kill Iden for treason and then gets a major promotion from the Empire. Hask then turns into the most cliche, twirly mustache villain I have ever seen.
Oh, and for anyone who thinks these are spoilers, they really aren't because this all happens within the first hour of the campaign. This is why I hated this so much. There was no character development, no slow burn to her turning on the Empire. Just like Anakin just decides to be a bad guy in Revenge of the Sith, Iden just decides to be a good guy. To make things worse, she then turns herself into the Rebels, and the Rebels immediately are like, "Cool, welcome aboard." Are you kidding me? We just murdered hundreds of Rebels playing as Iden, sabotaged the Rebel's plans, and then probably murdered thousands more by destroying their ships. This is a major problem when it comes to video game story telling these days because this is just like the Tomb Raider reboot all over again. Lara Croft kills one man, and then goes through the whole song and dance of, "Oh God, I took a life, I actually killed someone," but then she immediately becomes Rambo and kills indiscriminately for the rest of the game like nothing ever happened. The same thing happens here in Battlefront 2. Are the Rebels really going to ignore how many people Iden murdered while serving the Empire? This is absolutely ridiculous and it's like our actions during the gameplay parts of the campaign never happened and the only thing that matters is what happens in the cutscenes. To add insult to injury, Iden fights for the Villains side in Heroes vs. Villains matches.
But it doesn't stop there, oh no. What follows for the rest of the game is typical, cliche Rebel story that we have seen many times before, to the point where Iden essentially becomes a background character, all so we can get non-stop fan service by making us play as characters like Luke, Han Solo, Leia, and Lando. Seriously, there is actually a mission that has us standing there for a good 10 minutes just fighting off wave after wave after wave of bugs as Luke Skywalker. This is not fun and the whole story feels completely disjointed once you get to the second act because it feels like they are trying to tell three different stories at once. The pacing is horrible as well as the game never really finds its footing.
Then there's the multiplayer.
There are five separate classes to choose from including Assault, Heavy, Officer, and Specialist. Each class has their own set of weapons and gadgets they can bring into battle, the Officer being my favorite as they have an ability where they can rally the team and boost their health for a limited time. This is critical when making pushes towards objectives. Each class has their own weapons, but the only way you can use new ones is by leveling up said class. Multiplayer is comprised of five separate game modes. Galactic Assault, Starfighter Assaults, Heroes vs. Villains, Strike, and Blast. Blast is a simple 10 vs. 10 team deathmatch where each team starts with 100 tickets and each kill reduces one ticket from the enemy team. Strike features objective-based game modes. These usually have you trying to sabotage certain objectives on the map or where you have to retrieve an item from the enemy base and then return it to your own. Galactic Assault is the big 20 vs. 20 game mode that DICE games are known for, which features multiple objectives on large scale maps. In most matches there are also a number of heroes or villains you can use, provided you are performing well. You earn points during battle which can be cashed in the play as characters like Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, or Luke Skywalker. Starfighter Assault is probably my favorite as these are objective-based battles which take place in the skies. Flying around and shooting at enemies in an X-Wing never gets old. However, there strongly needs to be a team deathmatch variant of Starfighter as it's much more fun to just shoot the crap out of each other in the air rather than have to worry about objectives. Finally there is Heroes vs. Villains which is a 4 vs. 4 match featuring well-known characters from all eras of Star Wars, including Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Rey, Kylo Ren, and more. In this mode, one person is marked as the target and teams need to work together to eliminate the enemy target. The first team to eliminate 10 targets wins. All of these match types are fun (to an extent) and Galactic Assault missions look, feel, and sound like you are you are actually in a Star Wars movie with the Rebels and the Empire battling back and forth. But after your first couple of matches, something evil comes along and completely ruins the entire multiplayer mode.
Completing matches earns you a pitifully small number of credits (around 300 or so, based on your performance), and these credits can be spent to buy loot boxes. Loot boxes earn you random rewards such as emotes, crafting parts, or Star Cards. The Star Cards system is where this whole game completely falls apart, because it's pay to win. These Star Cards have four different rarity tiers and up to three Star Cards can be put on each of the classes in the game. These cards have all sorts of great buffs like additional health, increased damage, increased auto aim, or the ability to swap out on of your weapons for a more powerful one. This means that newer players will be getting constantly slaughtered by players with all the best gear, and the game taunts you by showing the gear of the player that killed you. Get wiped out immediately? Oh, he has all purple, ultra, super, rare cards. That makes sense. This system is completely broken and ensures that only players and teams with all of the best gear will be the ones ending up on top.
Now, there is another way to get rare Star Cards and that's by crafting them. This is where your crafting parts currency comes into play. You can spend those on upgrading cards you have to a higher tier. This, however, requires that you are a high enough level to do so. So, we have yet another wall blocking our progression in the game. What's worse is that your credit gains are so pitiful that you are going to need to grind for hours on end to buy enough loot boxes to get all of the best gear. There is also the fact that a number of heroes and villains are locked and need to be unlocked with credits. Want to play as Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker? That's be 15,000 credits. Now, there are a number of challenges in the game that will earn you credits for completing, but the point is that so much of the game is restricted through horrific progression gains and downright scary loot box practices that you would see from free mobile games.
Last, but certainly not least on the list of things that EA ruined, is the arcade mode. The arcade mode lets you choose either the Light or Dark side and then select from a list of challenges. These challenges consist of things like playing as Darth Maul and killing so many enemies in a certain time, or playing a smaller game of team death match against the CPU. Now, these challenges are fun and there are plenty of them to complete. You can play them again on higher difficulty settings after you complete them for the first time and you can play them in co-op as well. Finally there is the ability to create your own arcade challenges. The mode is fun to screw around in but the problem comes once again from EA's ability to ruin everything they touched with this game. You can earn credits in this game mode; 100 of them, to be exact, when you complete a challenge. However, after finishing a few challenges, you are greeted with the message, "Earn more credits in 12 hours." It was at this point that I just shut the game off completely because I was astounded by the amount of nonsense I encountered that completely ruined any fun I was trying to have. This type is nonsense is stuff you see in crappy free-to-play mobile games. Not $60 games from AAA publishers.
I honestly cannot believe what they have done to this game. EA and DICE had the easiest job in the world: Build upon the great foundation they laid down in the first Battlefront. To be fair, they did exactly that by adding new maps, game modes, heroes, and such. But the progression system, confusing currency, and the loot boxes completely ruin all of this. It's not fun to play the game when you are constantly being trounced by players who are more powerful than you are because they either bought the loot crates when they were available, or they were simply playing longer than you were so they had time to upgrade all their cards. I cannot even imagine what this game is going to be like for people who come into it late. You might as well not even bother, because by that point, everyone is going to be in an elite tier of their own with their high-powered cards, and you will be stuck with nothing. This is the most disappointed I have been with a game in a long time. EA and DICE are going to need to seriously put some work into this game or else the player base is going to drop like flies.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively. It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 29 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. And for the record... I enjoyed the Mass Effect 3 ending... sue me