This weekend the beta for Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was open for all, and I finally got a chance to play it.
Although I did pick up 2015 reboot of the series by EA, and being a colossal geek and Star Wars fan, my attention to this game was not very long. A few of my other usual gaming friends picked it up as well, so I did have a couple of people to play along side (as with all of these competitive multiplayer games, I always enjoy them with small groups of friends). The first game was solid, at least on paper. It was EA’s Battlefield repainted with a Star Wars theme; large open war on Hoth, as Snow-Speeders flew overhead, meanwhile Darth Vader himself is battling it out against a squad of Rebel scum as an AT-AT comes crashing down nearby, all does look and play as amazing as it sounds, and this sort of Rogue One-esc fan splashing happens many times during the game. It was just that Star Wars Battlefront was not as brilliant as it could have been.
Fans of the series were left with the taste of the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 in their mouths, and that was truly the kind of Battlefront game that they wanted. They didn’t want (at least I didn’t) character and vehicle pick ups, no classes, limited weapon customisations, no space battles (at least not until one of the last DLCs (which I never played), only 1 era of Star Wars films; the originals with that one Jakku level (set during the original era though), and NO single player story mode (they had little tutorial missions that gave us a taste of what could have been, but it left me more disappointed for there being no single player). It was fun whilst I was playing it, but there was always something better for me to jump back onto, or something that was calling me to come and play like the twins in the Shinning.
Thankfully it seems that that EA listened to a lot fans when it came to the sequel, and the beta is a great way to show players (who might have been put off because of their thoughts on the original… the rebooted one) that they have made some drastic changes to the formula.
I, for one, was one of these fans who were not planning on getting this game until far later in the future, maybe even borrowing it off of someone JUST to play the single player story mode, but having now played the Beta for most of the weekend, my mind is starting to change. If it was not for the fact that they have decided to release it around the exact same time as CoD: WW2 (the Call of Duty fans have been telling Activision to make for about six years now), then SW:BF2 would be the multiplayer game that everyone would be on.
So the beta had a selection of Star Cards (unlockable upgrades gained through classic Battlefield style loot crates), Heroes/Villains, weapons, game modes, and levels, with more featured in the full game on released. Finn himself (John Boyega) told us himself in a little preview videos before hand of all the stuff that awaits us when the game is released in November.
But we are not here to talk about what ISN’T in the game, let’s talk about what is! There are 3 multiplayer modes available and a solo or coop arcade mode. Now the Arcade mode I played for a little tiny bit. There were two available to choose from. One you played as a Clone Trooper and the other you played as Darth Maul… so naturally I am going to choose the Darth Maul one title; Wipe Them Out. Both were set in the palace on Naboo during the Prequel Era. In the Darth Maul one (and I am assuming the others are similar), you must hunt down and kill various types of Clone Troopers in a time limit, gaining additional time for each kill. It was alright, but nothing we have not seen before. Maul’s moves themselves were tasty, but the mode was not anything more than an afterthought. There is an option for co-op… but this turned out to be splitscreen only… for some fucking reason, in 2017! There was no option for online co-op, which was a bit annoying when myself and my fellow Bearded Robot were online together.
But again… we are not here to talk about the Arcade mode! The story mode was locked so we do not know what that holds for us (hopefully it isn’t just random battle missions that are played against Bots from maps of the multiplayer, and it is a PROPER single player story), so let’s get onto the main focus of this, the three multiplayer modes.
I had managed to sink my teeth into enough of them to see what they were like. The first one is reminiscent of the Walker Assault, and it was called Galactic Assault. We only got to see one level for this. What I did like was that each of the three game modes were set during a different Star Wars era, so we got a little taste of everything that this game has to offer (bar the single player of course).
The two normal running, gunning and fighting game modes feature 4 classes you can choose from, each with their own weapons, abilities and play styles. You level each of these up separately just by playing them, as well as yourself, so you can unlock more for a specific class than you can do for others, often leaving you to just decide to stick to one class, as it has the better equipment, rather than swapping.
The classes are Assault; your standard trooper,, quick and easy to use, Heavy; large machine gunner, tank and bomber, Officer; support class that boosts health and plants a turret, and Specialist; who is your sniper who uses a radar type of class.
All of these come with unique abilities set to the left and right bumbers (three in total) that can be swapped out with unlocked Star Cards.
When playing all three game modes, you gain points for kills, objectives, assists, and various other things, and you uses these points to purchase special characters or vehicles. The normal fighting games offered you a damage dealing class, and a jetpack class (who were always my favourite). These were just reskinned depending on what era you are playing in (a Storm Trooper with a jetpack, or a clone trooper with a jetpack, or a Super Battle Droid with a jetpack).
One downside to this is that if there are too many of these specials in play, it will not allow you to spawn as them, so you will have to wait until the next time you die and respawn.
So, Galactic Assault was your large 20 verses 20 a side game mode, featuring battles in the sky and on the ground. This was played on Naboo once again and saw the Droid Federation taking on the Clone Troopers. The Droids needed allow a large vehicle to get into position, at which point the defenders would be pushed back into the palace, and the Droids had to assault the palace and finish them off, while the Clones were just trying to blow this vehicle up and try and stop the robotic menace from breaching their lines.
This game mode suffered from the classic Battlefield issue that I have, in that 9 times out of 10, you spawn nowhere near the battle and have to spend ages running to get into the fight, only to die instantly when you do.
The map itself was large and offered a lot of good long range shots for snipers, as well as tight alleyways to try and flank your enemy.
While this mode was not my favourite out of the three, playing a Battle Droid was something special! Spending points on this one allowed you to spawn in as either one of the above mentioned standard purchases (damage dealer or jetpacker) or as a vehicle, so you can take to the skies above Naboo. I found that not that many people chose to fight in the sky, either due to not being able to because there are only a limited number of slots for players or because it was pretty dull up there, so normally the battles took place on the ground. Personally I found it dog hard to fly a Naboo Starfighter and be able to actually hit anyone on the ground in amongst the city. The only target is the large Droid MTT vehicle that is heading towards the palace.
One thing I didn’t like about this, and maybe this is me being a bit nit picky with the Star Wars lore, but you can spawn as Boba Fett, Rey and Han Solo here. Now the developers have gone through the hassle of reskinning the armies to fit the era that they are in (Droids Vs Clones, Empire Vs Rebels, and First Order Vs the Resistance), so why did they not do that with the heroes?
Seeing Rey fighting alongside Clone Troopers on Naboo broke a bit of immersion for me. You could have easily replaced her with Obi-Won, or even if you couldn’t get the rights, then someone like Kit-Fisto. Han Solo could be replaced by someone like Commander Cody, but with all the same abilities, and then Boba Fett can EASILY be replaced by Jango Fett. It just seems a bit silly to me. There should be heroes set to specific eras (unless a game mode states otherwise) and just have the same abilities as others from the other eras. Surely it is easy to do if you have gone through the hassle of creating 6 different armies and specific vehicles for those armies.
Anyway, the second mode is set during the Original Trilogy era and is set above the planet Fondor (never heard of it). This is the Starfighter Assault and is the Star Wars space battle mode that players wanted in the original. While me personally, I am not a massive fan of it purely because I am sure shit at it, I can see players getting a kick out of it. Here the Rebels are trying to destroy an Imperial Star Destroyer, and the Empire must stop them. There are three stages to this, each one bringing the destruction of the Destroyer closer.
The ships handle well and they too have their own abilities depending on the class. The classes are Assault (X-Wings, Tie Fighter), Interceptor (Tie Interceptors and A-Wings), and Bombers (Y-Wing and Tie-Bomber). If you spend the points you have earned during the battle, then you can unlock the Millennium Falcon (not sure if flown by Han, Chewie, Rey, Lando, or anyone else), and you can unlock Poe’s Black One X-Wing (though again… not sure why it couldn’t just be locked for a New Trilogy era setting and just replace him with Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing).
The third game mode was the best one in my opinion. It was set during the New Trilogy era and thankfully didn’t feature any heroes to annoy me, and no vehicles. It took place on Takodana (that jungle planet in The Force Awakens where Rey and the others meet up with Maz at the rip off scene of the Cantina), and is played with a smaller force than Galactic Assault.
The map is reasonably small and is either the small section inside Maz Kanata’s castle, out the front of the castle (which is where most of the action takes place), or in the dense hilly jungle. The variety of map means that you have to literally adapt to your surroundings and you are not in constant fear of snipers (unless someone gets on top of the castle, which I didn’t even know you could do!).
The game mode itself has the First Order trying to capture an objective and bring it to their extraction point, where as the Resistance has to stop them. Whoever is carrying the objective becomes a target for everyone and if they die, they drop the objective there. The First Order have to pick it up and carry on, meanwhile the Resistance just have to defend it for a certain amount of time before it resets to its original starting point.
This became a very tactical game where I would often just be offering cover support and suppressing fire. I am more of a team player, rather than the one to steal all the glory, but in one game I did manage to grab the objective and get it right outside the extraction point doors before dying and dropping it, allowing someone else from my team to grab it and win.
In another game I managed to get a 12 kill streak, ending the game with 24 kills, which I thought was rather impressive, even if I was not overly rewarded for doing so. Yes… I am a hero to the First Order, but I mean in kill streak rewards of anything of the sort.
That brings me to my last point; the game rewards you not just for killing, but for doing a variety of things to earn points to spend on the special troops and heroes. These include supporting your allies, staying close to your small Battlefield-esc squads, kills, kill assists (more points depending on how much damage you actually did), as well as capturing the objective, or simply killing those who are currently holding the objective.
In a game where I managed to get 22 kills, I had reasonably the same amount of points as my friend who had 8. It was quite nice to see that even the support classes are not left unrewarded, which might in turn cause other people to play more tactically, rather than gung-ho.
Overall I really enjoyed the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 open beta. Like all multiplayers focused games, I always feel it needs friends to play with to truly enjoy it, otherwise you feel like some lone wolf / Snake Pliskin kind of guy, and that can only be fun for so long.
While I won’t be picking this up at lunch because of a few other titles, it is definitely on my radar and I will be checking this game out as soon as I can. Maybe I will even ask for it for Christmas, just after watching The Last Jedi, so I should be really in the mood to get onto the battlefield for others to witness the return of the Jedi that is Punisherhughes!
… that is my Gamertag btw.