If there’s one reason that can be said about why EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II isn’t as good as its predecessor, it’s because the game falls victim to its own restrictions and harsh padding. Star Wars Battlefront II is a visually beautiful game but is plagued by some very confusing design choices and gameplay issues that overshadow its gorgeous environments, sound design, and cool fan service. Fighting across the different eras of the Star Wars universe is always fun and exciting, especially when a lot of detail goes into making every aspect of the battles feel as authentic as possible. However, not even the power of The Force can save Battlefront 2 from a terrible progression system and unnecessary constraints that diminish the fun times in a galaxy far, far away.
The biggest addition to EA and DICE’s sequel to Star Wars Battlefront is the single-player campaign, which focuses on Inferno Squad commander Iden Versio, voiced by actress Janina Gavankar. The story takes place during the events immediately following the destruction of the second Death Star during Return of the Jedi, and continues right up to the Battle of Jakku before the events of The Force Awakens. While Janina’s performance as Iden Versio is great, the overall events of the story feel ill-paced and left on a harshly defined cliff-hanger ending.
The campaign will only take players about four hours to complete, a lot is squeezed into the story in an attempt to make players feel connected to a new Star Wars character, while also giving to a few fan-service moments to the Star Wars faithful. Ultimately, while we will have to wait for the inevitable conclusion from some free downloadable content, the single-player campaign will only provide a short distraction from Battlefront 2’s other game modes.
Outside of the single-player story, Battlefront 2 once again allows you to take on A.I enemies in an Arcade mode, similar to the short missions in the previous game. While these can be done either solo or through co-op multiplayer, the arcade missions are short and disappointing with very little rewards for completing all of them. You have a series of Battle Scenarios based on Star Wars historical battles for both the Light and Dark side, with different troopers, heroes, and villains that you can control.
However, these missions end up being short one-off challenges with little to no reward. A frustrating part of this is due to the confusing daily restriction placed on earning credits from any arcade mode after completing a few missions. It’s unneeded and forces players to go into other game modes to earn precious credits.
Multiplayer is the main attraction of Star Wars Battlefront II, and like its predecessor offers the biggest battles and most excitement over all other game modes. You have 20 vs. 20 matches based on iconic Star Wars battles, as well as smaller 8 vs. 8 and 4 vs. 4 matches with Star Wars heroes and villains. But what weighs down the entire experience online is Star Wars Battlefront II’s Star Card progression system, which is both horrible and sometimes outrageous. You gain star cards that improve passive abilities and new skills from opening Crates that are earned or purchased in-game, which you can use to customize all of your units, as well as playable heroes and villains.
Boosting up the level of Star Cards can be tiresome, and an often unfair, process because of the randomness of crates and if you didn’t preorder the Ultimate Edition of Star Wars Battlefront II. This leaves a huge gap in skill and gives an immediate advantage to some players online, leaving everyone else playing the game organically in an unfair compromised position.
All of this is made even worse when you consider the astronomical costs for unlocking anything in Star Wars Battlefront II. Unlocking new heroes and weapon upgrades are locked behind a huge wall of credits needed to earn them. Classic characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader take a whopping 15,000 credits to unlock while completing matches online and offline will only earn you a meager 100- 200 credits per match.
Even more disturbing is being able to play as Iden Versio from the campaign in multiplayer, which also requires spending credits rather than unlocking her by completing the short campaign. While these decisions may have been motivated by having players earn rewards in Star Wars Battlefront II by playing for a long period of time, it instead creates a huge wall that makes unlocking anything a near impossible task. It’s not fun and does more harm than good to the overall experience both online and offline.
Star Wars Battlefront II has a lot more content to offer than its predecessor, but also comes with a cluster of new problems. The Star Card progression system is horrible and needs to be adjusted in future patches, or outright changed at its core. The story mode is a welcome addition that many have wanted since the first game, but its pacing and terrible ending can’t be outdone with its otherwise great visuals and phenomenal sound design. Star Wars fans will still enjoy partaking in many battles online, but the huge advantage given to some players with preorder bonuses and upgrade abilities will cause many to be incredibly frustrated in most matches. Unfortunate as it may be, The Force is not strong with this one.
This review was based on a digital review code for Star Wars Battlefront II for the PlayStation 4, provided by Electronic Arts.