In the last couple of months there’s been a lot of activity on the Star Wars video game front, with trailers for the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront II appearing on the internet, and last week EA showed off the game at E3 with a new trailer and some gameplay footage.
Star Wars has always been a huge part of my life, ever since my dad took me to see the re-release of the first film back in the 90s, I remember being too scared of Darth Vader to actually sit through the entire film! From there I played several games (the barely playable pixellated mess that was Rebel Assault being the main one!) and I became a Star Wars fan for life.
Despite this, I’ve not been eagerly awaiting news of, or actively searching for information regarding the new Battlefront II, until I saw the most recent trailer.
The original Battlefront series, like many other gamers of my generation, are some of my favourite PlayStation 2 games; although I’ll admit it took me a while to warm to the first game, due to its short campaign length and lack of space battles, it soon grew on me with its addictive shooting, replayable Galactic Conquest mode and authentic Star Wars presentation. Once the second one arrived, it took a spot as one of my favourite games of all time, it was everything I wanted from the first game and then some; space battles, playable heroes, a more in-depth storyline and an improved Galactic Conquest mode.
Then ten years with only a couple of PSP games (which I never played) before a new game was released, the less said about that one the better.
Going by the trailer and the recent press coverage, this new Battlefront II appears to have learned from the mistakes EA and DICE made on their 2015 offering: The first big reintroduction is a campaign mode: centring on an Imperial division in the time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, although the first two games had campaign modes, it was mostly restricted to some in-game cinematics and voiceover before more objective based gameplay, but with the confirmation that this story will be in canon with the rest of the Star Wars universe, it looks to be the most in-depth and fleshed out story of the Battlefront series so far.
Also back are the highly requested space battles that were absent in Battlefront 2015, a class system similar to the older games looks to be returning, as so is content from the prequel era, as displayed in gorgeous looking gameplay footage of Clone Troopers and Battle Droids scrapping in the Naboo city of Theed. Some fans may groan about this inclusion, but while I have my gripes with the prequels (who doesn’t?) there was some good in them and they shouldn’t be completely discarded from the universe just because we now have the sequel trilogy. Speaking of, there’s some footage of Rey lightsaber dueling with Kylo Ren, footage of First Order Stormtroopers and TIE Fighters, and when you include the promise that The Last Jedi content is to be included in the game, it truly looks like a game that will appeal to all Star Wars fans, and it’s actually got me excited for when the full game is released!
Personally, I would like to see Galactic Conquest mode come back, as that’s what I spent most of my time playing in the original Battlefront games, managing troop classes and bonuses, whilst tactically deploying my fleets across the galaxy. I’m happy that EA has confirmed there will be the option of playing offline against A.I bots, rather than forcing those of us without an ultra-fast internet connection, into an always online mode to play with foul-mouthed, inept fourteen-year-olds.
One element of Battlefront 2015 DICE appear to have kept intact is the jaw-dropping presentation: The graphics look beautiful, almost photorealistic in their presentation, as good as if not even better than some of the CGI in the prequels.
EA looks to have learned their lesson from the 2015 release; the much abhorred season pass is gone, meaning the player community won’t be as fragmented online, and those of us wanting to stay offline don’t feel like we’re missing out, and the cherry on this cake: the downloadable content will be released for FREE in the form of game updates, although microtransactions will be in the game, it doesn’t sound like it will be a pay to win model that has plagued a lot of online shooters; in an interesting system, players will be able to unlock all content just by playing the game, but can pay extra to get it quicker if they wish to.
I’m a little apprehensive about this; there hasn’t been any indication of how much playing you’ll need to do to unlock the content behind the paywall; how much playing can be skipped with these microtransactions? Is it a couple of hours or a couple of weeks? Until we get confirmation of these features, my money is staying in my wallet and won’t be going on a pre-order, I'm still sore after being burned too often on pre-ordering games that were disappointing, or realising you could just wait a few months for the pre-order bonus to be released to the public or in a free update *cough* Halo.
The unpredictability of how EA will handle the game is also stopping me from getting all giddy over it, with that said, if the game hits shelves and is considered an improvement over the last one I will be in line to buy it, developers and publishers need to see that effort is rewarded it we want this type of dedication to continue to be put into our games, unless we want the same games recycled year on year *cough* Call of Duty *cough* Assassins Creed.
Overall, I like the direction the newest Battlefront game appears to be taking, not just returning a lot of the features the previous game left out, but also improving those features and trying to cater to Star Wars fans rather than just the casual shooter audience, but the business side of its publisher is my only true reservation about it. Still, however EA handle it, it still looks like it has all the makings of a good, potentially great Star Wars game, which is something I can never turn my nose up at.
Good luck Battlefront II, may the force be with you.