Star Wars: Battlefront 2 review (PC).
How do I start a review of Star Wars: Battlefront 2 without discussing the microtransaction saga and pay-to-win debacle that's been raging for a good few months now, I guess I simply have to face that ugly monster in the face and get it out of the way. Because even with EA's last minute changes and apologises, Battlefront 2 still features a progression system that feels broken even with the removal of the games paid for currency and adjustments to hero unlock requirements. It's a system that's simply no fun to deal with especially when those unlocks can have such a game changing impact in-game.
But there's an even bigger problem here, even without the dodgy progression system and pay-to-win mentality that EA didn't even try to hide, Battlefront 2 is just a very average game. Whilst developers DICE have done an amazing job of capturing the looks, sounds and atmosphere of the Star Wars films, the actual gameplay feels hindered by DICE's need to separate Battlefront 2 from its close relative Battlefield. Whereas the likes of Battlefield thrive on the thrills and chaos of battle, Battlefront 2 feels like you're constantly being held back like a kid fitted with one of those toddler safety reins by a parent. Maps are filled with laser fire, explosions and spaceships but the trouble is they're all part of the background and it never feels like players have enough impact on the battle. Resulting in an experience that feels like a poor man's Battlefield.
That's not to say Battlefront 2 doesn't have its moments, as mentioned previously DICE have done a splendid job of capturing Star Wars yet again, from the most iconic of visuals to the littlest of details, credit where credit is due. Any fan of Star Wars will appreciate how well the game captures these moments with such rich detail, from flying the X-Wing in space battles against agile TIE fighters to battling in the streets of Naboo, this is simply one stunning looking game. One that highlights the strengths of the Frostbite engine. But all the lightsaber sounds and laser displays in the galaxy can't hide Battlefront 2's averageness as a whole.
When the original Battlefront was released back in 2015 the biggest complaint was content, or lack thereof. Thankfully DICE have (for the most part) fixed these issues with a greater variety of content for both multiplayer and singleplayer modes. While multiplayer is a similar affair with a few key changes, Battlefront 2 is the first in DICE's series to feature a story rich campaign set in the Star Wars universe. Playing as Iden Versio, leader of Inferno Squad operating as part of the Galactic Empire, it's your typically short campaign that takes you to a variety of classic Star Wars locations and at least attempts to split up the intense spells of battle with the chance to play as some of Star War's most iconic heroes.
If anything it's a welcomed introduction to how Battlefront 2 plays for when you eventually jump into multiplayer. It's a shame however that a story with such potential and promise falls for such straightforward and predictable cliches. While those not expecting a great deal from Iden Versio's story might be pleasantly surprised by her tale, those looking for something deeper will be left disappointed. It's not helped by the fact that some of the levels featuring iconic characters are some of the most forgettable in the campaign, with a few of the heroes not feeling particularly great to play as. I can't help but feel like this was one opportunity that DICE let slip.
When the time comes to jump online you'll find a very familiar experience to 2015's Battlefront with a few changes made to how you gain access to heroes and special units. Whereas the original Battlefront featured pickups scattered throughout the map, which resulted in players rushing to specific spots to try and become Darth Vader or get a chance to fly the TIE-fighter, this time round you unlock such units using battle points earned in each match. It's a change that for the most part works as intended, rewarding those who perform well whilst still giving a chance for less skillful players the ability to play as their favourite characters. There's a greater variety of maps available to covering all three eras of Star Wars and the fact that some heroes can appear in different eras is a welcomed touch of freedom we don't often see in Star Wars games.
With that said however, the multiplayer still feels lacking in comparison to other mass-populated shooters out today. While the chance to experience these iconic Star Wars battles is a big selling point, the fact is there doesn't seem enough depth to them. Space battles for example are a blast, but could I see myself sticking with them on a long term basis, probably not. Having played a good deal of Battlefield 1, a game I continually feel I can improve and learn from, Battlefront 2 feels like it lacks that deeper depth to gameplay and doesn't quite have the lasting power to keep my attention. It's certainly not helped by the messy progression or card system which as a direct impact on gameplay, but even those aside Battlefront 2 simply is average at best. It's a Star Wars theme park ride, a visually stunning one at that, but the sort of ride you quickly realise doesn't have much going for it aside from blinking lights, epic explosions and lightsaber sounds.
3 STARS OUT OF 5.