One of Star Wars' most famous video game franchises is about to expand yet again.
After the mixed reception of Star Wars Battlefront in 2015, Electronic Arts is back with a new, highly anticipated sequel: Star Wars Battlefront II. The game, which was announced in March 2017, is meant to keep the visually stunning graphics of its predecessor while fixing some of its biggest problems, such as lagging loading screens, uninspired multiplayer and costly downloadable content, which is game content that can be purchased separately from the original game (DLC).
Battlefront is, indeed, a beautiful game. However, graphics were never EA's problem. Battlefront was gorgeous, yes, but its limited locations and characters soon made battles tedious and boring after a few weeks of gameplay. Unlocking alien skins took more time than a lot of gamers were willing to invest into the game, which also lacked a cohesive single-player campaign mode and was only set in original trilogy locations.
Battlefront II ran a multiplayer beta in October and an early access starting November 8. The game expands Battlefront's universe to include locations from all Star Wars films and a host of new heroes and villains to play as.
We played the beta and early access to see how the new campaign and multiplayer modes look. Here are Vox's first impressions of the game, and three ways for EA to make Battlefront II worthy of the universe it is set in.
Think like BioWare
BioWare created a book about writing multidimensional video game characters that make campaigns easy to emotionally invest in. The Mass Effect and Dragon Age series are both full of heroes and villains who are so in-depth and well-written that gameplay feels like an experience, not just a game.
Campaigns are only as strong as a players investment. The characters and storyline go a long way to ensure gamers keep playing the game and funding the franchise.
With the introduction of a single-player campaign mode, Battlefront II has the chance to do what Star Wars does best: introduce amazing characters into its vast universe. From the early access gameplay and after reading the game's excellent prequel novel, Iden Versio and her Inferno Squad are all very interesting, complex characters. Versio is an Imperial ice queen whose steely demeanor and fun fighting style make her memorable and engaging.
All that remains for EA is to ensure that the campaign's story is worthy of its protagonists. So far, the early chapters of the single-player campaign look promising. The missions flow well and involves a good mix of stealth and combat. If the rest of the game is as well paced and well written, then EA will have a hit in its hands.
Broke gamers everywhere lament having to buy items such as loot crates within a game in order to advance in the story. EA did away with its costly DLC system in favor of introducing loot crates and battle points into Battlefront II.
In order to level-up and become more powerful in the game, you will need to purchase loot crates, which give you random power-ups and weapon items. This is dangerously close to a pay-to-win model which is already running rampant in mobile games.
It's possible to have a working loot crate system. Just look at games such as Overwatch, which award loot crates fairly often for leveling up. Unlockable items include new skins and emotes, so game progression is not impeded by not being able to afford buying extra loot crates.
Focus on gameplay experience
Nothing is more annoying than sitting in front of your computer or television screen, controller in hand, and staring at the same screen for ten endless minutes. Battlefront's loading screens seemed eternal at times. Battlefront II must allow players to spend more time playing than waiting.
Battlefront II comes with less multiplayer modes than its predecessor. Thank goodness, too, because most of the modes in the original were messy at best and downright boring at worst. Multiplayer gaming, when done right, can be a fun test of quick thinking and strategy. When done badly, however, it is chaotic and confusing. Luckily EA realized this and kept its best modes for Battlefront II, while removing the ones that were essentially clutter.
As important as it is to make the galaxy look good, EA cannot neglect the mechanics of its game modes and battles. Fighting is the core of the game, so it should also be one of the strongest aspects of it. So far, the ground combat and space battles are massive steps forward from the first game. Space battles in particular are a lot of fun, once the mechanics of flight are mastered.
Star Wars Battlefront II is available for pre-order on X-Box One and PS4. The full game will be released Nov. 17.