Star Wars Battlefront II’s multiplayer went into a semi-open beta today for players who pre-ordered. I’ve spent most of the day blasting away. A few small changes from the previous game makes it much more focused and exciting to play.
2015’s Star Wars Battlefront felt fragmented at launch, thin on content and lacking the grand scope found in 2005’s Battlefront II. The 2005 game had numerous classes to pick, a ton of vehicles, and great maps to play on. Battlefront II (not to be confused with Battlefront II) brings back classes and revamps how bonuses work. These changes aren’t revolutionary, but they make the multiplayer a ton of fun. Whether you’re defending a space tank in the objective heavy, ground battles of Galactic Assault mode or blowing up ships in Starfighter Assault, everything feels a lot more streamlined.
Returning to classes helps everyone find a role on the battlefield. Players can choose from four classes: assault, heavy, officer, and specialist. Assault and heavy classes are standard infantry units that can swarm objectives with heavy firepower. The officer buffs nearby allies to give them more health and boost their damage. Meanwhile, specialists can mark enemies with thermal binoculars and use sniper rifles. The classes create a team dynamic that 2015’s Battlefront was sorely lacking.
It’s also much easier to access special classes, hero characters, and vehicles in Battlefront II than it was in the previous game. Playing well earns battle points; get enough battles points and you can spawn into the map as a special unit. This might mean spending a few points to control the skies as a starfighter or saving up a ton until you’re able to rush around as Darth Maul. It’s a rewarding system that incentivises superior performance and adds variety to the map. Gone are the days of random pickups; if you know what you want to play as and have the points, there’s nothing standing in your way. As a result, game-play feels more focused. Choosing when to spend points is a decision that matters.
The production quality is superb. I’d estimate that Battlefront II costs one trillion dollars to make and most of that was dropped on the visuals. Marble floors gleam with polish, lightsabers clash with gorgeous particle effects, and blasters roar. The look combines well with Battlefront II’s slightly faster game-play. Starfighters turn with more precision, and it’s easy to sprint around the battlefield to perform exciting flanking manoeuvres.
If there’s one downside, it is the return of star cards. Players can equip up to three cards on their character that grant passive bonuses or change abilities. One card might cool your fighter’s engine a bit faster, while another will change your minigun into a heavy blaster for damaging vehicles. In theory, this gives players the chance to customise their character’s role further, but it feels like one system too many on top of selecting a class. It doesn’t help that new star cards can be gained from loot crates purchased with in-game currency. The spectre of microtransactions hovers over Battlefront II. If players are able to buy credits and open tons of crates to get the best star cards, that would be a real shame.
Battlefront II’s multiplayer is a lot of fun. Starfighter combat is packed with dogfights while ground combat feels chaotic and exciting. The question is whether or not the game will deliver the kind of coherent experience 2015’s Battlefront did not. For now, everything seems to be in order. Players can check for themselves when the beta opens up to everyone on Friday.