Another amazing bombshell from the 2017 Star Wars Celebration was the release of the full trailer for the upcoming entry in the Star Wars video game series, Star Wars Battlefront II. Earlier in the week, a teaser trailer was leaked, but we finally got a full trailer and more information on the new game from publisher Electronic Arts. For those unfamiliar with the series, Star Wars Battlefront has a long lineage of games that dates all the way back to an original release in 2005 on the Playstation 2, Xbox, and PC. The series consists of various, large scale fights that take place in various locales across the Star Wars universe. Gameplay is from either a first or third person perspective, allowing players to become their favorite Jedi, Sith Lords, and droids as they put their shooting and tactical skills to the ultimate test. The original series of games were amazing examples of how to take popular film properties and properly adapt them for video games.
In a time where movie tie-in games were typically rushed and underwhelming, aside from the occasional Spider-Man 2 video game, Battlefront stood out because of its fun mechanics and its ability to capture the Star Wars aesthetic and put it in our hands. Fast forward to E3 2013 (a huge annual gaming convention) where EA shows off a teaser trailer for a new Battlefront game that looks stunningly realistic. This vision would go on to release as the rebooted Star Wars Battlefront to lukewarm reviews for its multiplayer only offerings and small amount of content. Now, EA hopes to remedy the missteps of the original with Battlefront II and we have our doubts, but also plenty of reasons to be excited. Gathered below are eight reasons why it will suck, and seven why it’ll be great.
Eight Reasons it will suck:
15. Just Another Reskinned Battlefield
My biggest complaint about the 2015 Battlefront game was that it just didn’t quite feel the same as the ones from the past. Characters felt heavy and clunky, regardless of whether or not they had heavy sets of armor on. This has to do with the fact that the developer, DICE, used one of its own titles, Battlefield, as a building block upon which Battlefront was designed. The influences of the game can be seen from the movement aspects of the characters to the high level of fidelity with the graphics. Sadly, all this polish and charm doesn’t take away from the lack of control. On top of this, there was a notable lack of ground level transportation like Tauntauns. This stems from the fact that Battlefield features more mechanical vehicles and transport. In the Battlefront II trailer, we get a brief glimpse at a character riding a Tauntaun, so hopefully it will control better than some of the tanks in previous Battlefield games.
14. The Bigger They Are…
Battlefront II is a very ambitious game compared to its first entry in the rebooted series. This ambition is fueled by the large level of negativity that the first game received for better or for worse. If we look at it as for worse, there are some definite red flags on the horizon that we need to be thinking about. First of all, the golden rule of a sequel is to be bigger and better than the first. Battlefront II is tackling this head on by expanding the scope of the game from the original, which focused on the original trilogy era of Star Wars. Battlefront II hopes to capture a wider audience by including the prequel era and the new Force Awakens/The Last Jedi era. The inclusion of one of these new eras would have been a substantial undertaking to include, from designing the different elements and locales, but two whole new eras seems extreme. I feel like the team will be spread too thin to give these eras the attention they so desperately need to feel fully fleshed out and will end up with a Battlefront that has more content but lacks just as much character as the original.
As we all have seen and experienced, microtransactions are the bane of any video game’s existence. Microtransactions are low cost add-ons for games that can enhance a gaming experience by doing things like speeding up recovery times and giving players a competitive edge over others. First introduced in the mobile market with games like Candy Crush Saga and more recently in games like Pokémon Go, microtransactions have made their way into the console gaming space. Games like Call of Duty allow players to spend real money on things like COD points which they can use to buy customizable skins for their guns or soldiers. Since Battlefront II doesn’t have a season pass, I fully expect EA to capitalize on the Star Wars universe and hide quality content like characters and other things behind microtransaction paywalls. I don’t know about you, but I sure do miss the days when a game came out and all you had to do was turn the system on and everything in the game was included from the get go.
12. An Empty Multiplayer Space
Nowadays, the servers for Star Wars Battlefront are pretty small and separated. Now, a big reason behind this is that the game split its player base with the introduction of each new map pack or piece of downloadable content. For players that didn’t have access to the season pass, each new map pack meant they had an even smaller group of players to play with from each subsequent release. Battlefront II will live or die based on its player base, which is always a tricky line to walk. For games like For Honor, a large influx of players at launch allowed for a diverse community to build that eventually settled down for the hardcore fans to thrive. An interesting reversal of this case is Rainbow Six: Siege that did not find its true player base until about a year after launch, where it is now wildly popular. Battlefront needs to figure out how it can maintain a healthy multiplayer base, otherwise it will fall apart at the seams.
Electronic Arts is one of the most vilified publishers in the video game industry and has received the award of “worst company in America” for two consecutive years. This criticism is not unwarranted however, as EA has a reputation for pushing developers too hard and insisting that games come out on time, regardless of the finished state of said games. This has resulted in buggy launches of new titles and games that don’t live up to their full potential. It isn’t all EA’s fault though. They’re a huge publishing company and have to meet their own deadlines and schedules in order to meet their financial goals and appease their investors. Sadly, they haven’t quite found a good balance between satisfying both ends of the developer and publisher spectrum. Developers have described their difficulty when working with EA and hopefully this relationship won’t negatively impact Battlefront II, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
10. Balancing Acts
Multiplayer games featuring a large arsenal of weaponry often require the developer to tweak individual aspects of weapons so that one gun doesn’t overpower every other pistol in the game. When this does happen, players can exploit to win games or gain XP. The inclusion of multiple eras means larger weapon variety and therefore more opportunities for unbalanced gameplay. On top of this, one of Battlefront’s key features is its heroes. During battles, players can assume the role of some of the key players in the Star Wars universe, from Luke Skywalker to Darth Vader. In the first game, the balance between heroes and regular players was sometimes unfair, especially when outnumbered. If Battlefront II is unable to come out of the gates swinging and firing on all cylinders with balanced and entertaining gameplay, then it will be pushed to the side for whatever the next big game release is.
9. Ship Controls
An abysmal part of the original Battlefront from 2015 was the way the game handled its ships. Oh man was it bad. There were no hangars or landing pads in the multiplayer maps themselves, so in order for a player to gain access to a tie fighter or X-Wing they had to pick up a floating token in-game. This was such a jarring visual image because of the fact that the game prided itself on its graphical fidelity only to have an incredibly cartoony coin floating in mid air. The problems didn’t end there however. Ships were controlled on a flat axis and did not allow for dual stick control which is a must in games that feature aerial combat. This was surprising considering how Battlefield games typically nail dogfights. If this element of gameplay isn’t changed for Battlefront II, I guarantee I will try to avoid ships like the plague.
8. Post Launch Support
Harkening back to the splitting of the multiplayer base, Battlefront II not having a season pass is both a blessing and a curse. Without the additional money EA makes from a season pass, which is essentially like selling an entire extra copy of the game, there may not be an incentive to iterate on the game. There is no requirement on EA’s behalf to provide a continuous stream of content and there is no guarantee as to the quality of said content. Of course, EA is looking to appease its customers by providing extensive content to fans, but they are already putting exclusive content behind more expensive versions of the game. Now this isn’t a new practice; games release now in standard, deluxe, and gold/extreme editions that include various downloadable content, but EA knows this is a cash grab and the Star Wars fans are starting to catch on as well. Just make the content accessible to everyone!
7. Single Player
The biggest complaint about the original Battlefront was its barebones offerings of only four maps and no dedicated single player mode. I mean come on, there wasn’t even galactic conquest! Battlefront II has yet to confirm that mode as well so only time will tell but for now, a single player campaign is a warm welcome to the new entry in the series. The trailer features a special forces squadron providing support on what looks to be the battle of Endor during Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. We know this because the trailer shows the explosion of the second Death Star and the subsequent fallout. It seems that we will be following the story of this Stormtrooper and her journey post fall of the Empire. Interestingly, the trailer talks about how they can avenge the Empire, so we just might see some cameos of fan favorite characters.
6. Canon Story
In addition to an exciting single player campaign, it is also an interesting piece of news that the game will be a canon addition into the Star Wars saga. For the uninitiated, a canon story is something that fits into the official lore of a film, show, or game. This means that the events of Star Wars Battlefront II can be tied to the events of the films, providing fans and players with a larger context of events in the timeline of the series. In addition to this, the game is being written by former IGN employee Mitch Dyer and the writer of one of the most critically acclaimed shooters of the last generation, Spec Ops: The Line, Walt Williams. Spec Ops: The Line was a military shooter that took an incredible narrative turn that surprised and astounded players. With this sort of pedigree under its belt, I have high expectations for the caliber of story Battlefront II will give us
5. All Eras
Although it can also be considered a negative, the inclusion of all the Star Wars eras in Battlefront II has me cautiously optimistic for the game. I sort of missed the mechanical droids occupying the battlefield and the rolling sound of droidekas barreling towards me as I had to gain a tactical advantage and take them out before they were able to deploy their shields. In addition to foot soldiers, the colorful cast of characters from the prequel era are sure to shine in Battlefront’s glossy presentation. I’m most excited to see how they handle General Grievous and his movements. The trailer gave us a sneak peek at a cinematic battle between Darth Maul and Yoda, which I would pay an insane amount of money to see a full battle from. I’m interested to see how they handle characters crossing between eras, who knows, we might get to see Darth Maul fight Vader on the Death Star.
4. No Season Pass
Ring the bells everyone! The season pass is dead! Long live the game! Jokes and references aside, the removal of the season pass from Battlefront II is a blessing for players and their wallets. The original Battlefront sported a $50 season pass and would usually add a new map and two new playable heroes. The offerings felt slim and it was strange to see characters like Chewbacca added to the game when he should have been there from the very beginning. Hopefully EA and DICE understand the demand that fans have for more and more Star Wars content so that the base game comes full of things to do and give us a taste for things to come. Players should expect EA to be transparent about what will be free for users and what will be available as a microtransaction. If they are able to do so, EA might be able to bring itself back and gain respect back from its customers.
3. Space Battles and Criterion’s Involvement
One of the coolest things about the older Battlefront games was the way they handled space battles. I spent so much of my childhood running around the Death Star with my best friend and one of us hopping into a tie fighter to hold back a rebel assault while the other provided support on foot inside the Death Star. With that being said, I was let down by how underwhelming flying felt in the new Battlefront games. Luckily, news came out that Criterion, the company most well known for the game series Burnout, will be assisting with space battles in Battlefront II. Now if there is one guarantee in this world, it is that Criterion understands how vehicles work in video games, so expect some high octane dog fights in the near future. I would love to see vehicle specific stats and different levels of handling between ships to give each one its own individual feel.
2. More In-Depth Customization
Another thing lacking from the 2015 Battlefront was character customization that has become a standard for games since the late 2000’s. Gamers enjoy being able to give their players a personality and look that reflects themselves or the badass gear that they have earned from hours upon hours of playing. In the original Battlefront, the deepest customization options we got were the heads that players could choose for their characters. Not only were a majority of the heads boring and uninteresting, most of them were incredibly hard to unlock and required a large time commitment for little payoff. Battles felt sterile with every character looking the exact same regardless of level or skill. With that said, I don’t think we need to see extreme color pallet swaps or skins that ruin the immersion of the game, but more unlocks and customization options will be a warm welcome to the sequel
1. Learning from the Past
If there is anything that can be learned from this article and Star Wars Battlefront II as a whole is that the Dice and EA are trying their best to make up for the shortcomings of the original. They know where they messed up and don’t want to repeat those same mistakes. We’re in an interesting time as Star Wars fans, especially since Disney has acquired the IP. As fans, it’s our job to remain skeptical of the new content coming our way so that it isn’t just shovelware intended to make a quick buck. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I am cautiously optimistic about this game, and you should be too. I was hurt before with the original Battlefront, but it seems like an effort is really being made to give us a well-rounded game that delivers the best Star Wars experience as we wait for The Last Jedi.