Star Wars Battlefront 2 Review (2019): Casual Comforts
The prequel trilogy are responsible for my love of the Star Wars universe. Without them I would never have played some of my favourite games growing up, games such as Jedi Academy, Knights of the Old Republic and the classic Star Wars Battlefront 2. I played Battlefront for a long time, always on local co-op, always with my friends and always offline (our internet was far too slow to even warrant an attempt to connect to the mysterious phenomenon of 2005’s worldwide web). It was an amazing time for Star Wars games and an atrocious one for the films. But without laughing at Anakin describing how he hates sand or falling asleep during Trade Federation talks filled with enough jargon to make you think you were at a recent round of Brexit negotiations, I would not be writing this review of DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 in 2019.
During this year’s International Star Wars Day, I picked up Star Wars Battlefront 2 for a bargain £6. And after the whopping 55gb file has downloaded I am immediately blown away by the sense of scale, but more importantly how each of my favourite Star Wars locations are perfectly realised by DICE. For a game that had a disastrous launch, I was having a lot of fun.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 Review
The scale and realism are ultimately Star Wars Battlefront 2’s greatest strengths. As soon as you start a round of the twenty versus twenty mode; Galactic Assault, you are bombarded by spectacle. Surrounded by your team mates you are placed in a photo-realistic Star Wars location as you hear your commander shouting the mission objective over comms. Some maps have a calm before the storm feel, with tension building as you quietly move up the map, whereas on others you are dropped into the thick of it and everybody charges into battle against a flurry of incoming lasers and booming explosions like you’re going over the trenches at the Somme. It is sensory overload at its finest.
Since Battlefront 2’s original release in November 2017 there have been a slew of free updates including a campaign expansion, new heroes, villains and maps. Currently there are 11 maps in total from all three film eras (Kashyyyk, Endor, Jakku, Hoth, Crait, Geonosis and others) which have varied objectives making every match feel fresh. On Kashyyyk you must take down two huge advancing Multi Troop Transports using ground or air combat which sees skirmishes on the surface and dogfights above. And on Endor you must steal an AT-AT and guide it through the forest towards an Empire base for a creation versus creator inspired attack. Because there is context to each objective and a mass of players fighting beside you, the stakes feel high as if the light or dark side are on the cusp of galactic victory.
This feeling reaches boiling point within the final phase of every match. Here, the defending team are pinned back, forced into a last stand and the attacking team have one more opportunity to throw everything they have at you. Cue 40 players battling inside a tiny space, such as the Royal Chamber on Naboo or the engine room on the Deathstar II. As you can imagine things get pretty chaotic as all units including heroes and villains, such as Yoda, Darth Vader and General Grievous, face off against each other.
The heroes have the ability to one shot weaker units which can unfortunately cause a lot of grief (perhaps they should call him General Griefous). On top of this playing at level one puts you at a significant disadvantage because the remnants of the old Star Card system are still present. Previously, loot boxes could be purchased to unlock these cards which when upgraded significantly buff each unit. Now however, Star Cards are upgraded through experience with players who invest more time having higher levelled cards. As a result you will more often than not get trounced by a maxed out high level player. In a competitive setting this is extremely frustrating, but in a casual game like Battlefront 2 it’s not a big deal. Here, it’s more about taking part than winning, with a lot of joy coming from just being present within each match and taking in the spectacle.
But if getting slaughtered by a friendly faced hero or an intimidating villain gets tiresome, you can take a metaphysical breather in campaign, arcade or other online game modes. For example I love the twelve versus twelve space battle mode; Starfighter Assault or the forty player (plus bots) Capital Supremacy. In Starfighter Assault it can take a while to get to grips with the controls, but in no time you will be barrel rolling and performing evasive manoeuvres with ease. I will always remember the first time I entered an asteroid field trying to lose an attacker. It was a thrilling, glorious moment when I heard them crash straight into solid rock behind me whilst I emerged victorious on the other side.
The new addition of Capital Supremacy from March this year sees a return of the classic Battlefront game mode, with a twist. Command posts are captured during the ground phase like before, but now this leads to an attack and defend style mode in the final invasion phase. As invading players can be pushed back, certain matches can turn into a tug of war lasting up to an hour. Within the moments a last minute defeat feels even more soul crushing, but a drawn out victory feels significantly well earned. I played a recent game that went on for around forty-five minutes in which I got 111 kills playing as Obi-Wan. It was a great match topped off nicely by Obi-Wan and Anakin having banter at each command post.
It was perfectly nostalgic and reminded me of the original Battlefront 2. But more importantly it reminded me of happy memories during my childhood and of the joy that can be found within video games, still to this day.
And with that let’s address the elephant in the room. This game is not as good as the classic Battlefront 2. In the latter we were given greater freedom because we could enter and exit vehicles as we pleased. For example in the classic space battles we could land our Starfighters inside an enemy hanger and continue the fight on foot. Now in 2019 we are locked in space. I realise DICE didn’t want to have vehicles on the map in case people congregated at vehicle spawns, but other multiplayer games which use vehicles such as Halo, generally don’t have this issue.
There’s also the absence of Galactic Conquest, a previous fan favourite. This would have been incredible in 2019. There could have been weekly or monthly conquests where each player fought for their chosen faction (similar to Faction Wars in For Honour) or an offline mode that added additional strategic elements on top of the original. I admit this is armchair development, but there is a missed opportunity here.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 Review – Final Thoughts
Although I still prefer the original Battlefront 2 (perhaps through rose tinted spectacles) it is hard to deny that in 2019 DICE’s latest entry is in an amazing place with no pay-to-win systems in sight. Loot boxes still exist but for cosmetic items only, Star Cards are levelled up as you play and all of the heroes and villains are available from the outset. And even though a competitive itch remains unscratched, the casual comforts on offer here are arguably enough for any Star Wars fan. For me, the recent Star Wars day was not only a celebration of this incredible franchise, but a celebration of this now incredible game. Thank you DICE for sticking with it.
Related Post: Star Wars Battlefront 2 was number 8 on my top games I played in 2019 list!