Star Wars Battlefront II: reviews, new features and release
It may be ‘bigger and better’ than its predecessor, but there are some caveats
When Star Wars Battlefront II officially launches today, fans will be expecting new planets and old, much-loved heroes from all three eras of the sci-fi franchise.
Dice studio's 2015 reboot of the franchise, which is owned by EA, won praise for its authentic recreation of the Star Wars universe and its thorough multiplayer experience.
But it was also criticised for lacking the depth and substance of a standalone game.
So does the new game improve on its predecessor?
What the critics think
Reviews for Star Wars Battlefront’s anticipated sequel are coming in thick and fast, and initial impressions appear to be mixed.
IGN welcomes the addition of a single-player campaign, which was absent from the 2015 reboot of the Battlefront series, but says the story moves forward in a “fairly unimaginative fashion” and is “only about four hours long”.
While the sound effects and voice acting add a layer of immersion to the plot, the site adds, the gameplay itself is “about as difficult as dodging a shot from a Stormtrooper”.
GameSpot agrees. It says the plot presents some missions with familiar faces from the Star Wars universe, but many of these veer into “pure fan-service territory” and do little to propel the story.
The ending is also “abrupt” and “teases future updates to the campaign instead of delivering a strong conclusion”.
Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph says Battlefront 2’s multiplayer mode is an example of “bigger and better”. The paper adds: “There are more maps to play on and more varied objectives within them, even though they essentially boil down to attack and defence.”
Along with added content, Battlefront II’s developer Dice has worked on some of the top-level aspects of the game to make it “smarter and more strategic”, says Digital Trends.
“Players pick classes that not only reflect their play style,” it adds, “but complement their teammates, making working together more important than ever.”
Before its release, reviewers criticised the game’s reliance on micro-transactions, a system that allows gamers to pay real-world money to gain an advantage in multiplayer.
But the game’s publisher EA has since announced that it has shut down the system that allows players to spend their own money. The company says it will spend time “listening” to fan feedback and “adjusting” the in-game economy, although micro-transactions will become available “at a later date.”
Even without micro-transactions, though, The Sixth Axis players will need to invest hours of gameplay time to level up and unlock new items.
We could see many critics update their verdicts over the coming days as the game’s focus on micro-transactions has substantially affected reviewers’ opinions.
When is the game coming out?
Star Wars Battlefront II releases on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on 17 November - just under a month before the launch of the latest movie in the series, The Last Jedi.
Above the standard version is the Elite Trooper Deluxe Edition, which allows players to access the game three days early and to unlock several in-game ability upgrades. It's available on PS4 and Xbox One and costs £69.99.
You can play the demo now
Those unsure about whether to invest it the Battlefront sequel can trial it for free, but you need to be a member of the EA Access subscription service.
The service allows users to get up to 10% off new game releases and trial titles before they release. Subscribers can also play a host of older games, such as the Mass Effect trilogy and Mirror’s Edge, through the publisher’s Vault library.
Battlefront fans who subscribe to the service can trial the game for ten hours prior to its release. Prices starts at £3.99 for a one-month subscription.
It will span "all eras"
Dice decided to base its first attempt at a Battlefront game around the original trilogy of the Star Wars universe, using a host of assets from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
In the announcement trailer for the company's second instalment in the series, it was revealed that the upcoming sci-fi shooter will feature playable plants and characters from "all eras" of the movie franchise.
Characters including Kylo Ren, Rey and Darth Maul all feature in the trailer, suggesting the sequel will be substantially bigger than the current shooter. There are also battle ships from Revenge of the Sith visible at the end of the trailer, so expect space combat from the prequel trilogy to appear in Battlefront 2.
Unlocking heroes may take a while
Although EA plans to update Battlefront II through free content packs, fans on Reddit have complained that certain in-game features are only available by paying real-world money or by playing for excessive periods of time.
According to players, unlocking certain characters, such as Darth Vader, can take up to 40 hours of gameplay if they don’t use their own real-world cash.
EA has responded to the criticisms on Reddit, saying: “The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.”
The publisher adds: “We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets.”
It concludes by saying that it will “continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can”.
There are cross-era modes
EA's demonstration featured a battle between the separatist droid army and a horde of clone troopers, during which a fight broke out between a hero and villain from completely separate films of the franchise, meaning there will be game modes that cross eras.
According to DigitalTrends, players will no longer need to pick up tokens to play as one of Star Wars's many heroes. Instead, these characters will become available when battles move "into the second stage".
The mode demonstrated at E3 pitted the likes of The Phantom Menace's Darth Maul against The Force Awakens's heroine Rey. However, it is not yet known whether there are modes for cross-era starship or soldier battles.
It's also expected that most of the multiplayer modes will more accurately reflect the battles from the film, which means heroes can only fight villains from their timeline.
It will be three-times bigger than the original
As Battlefront 2 will have assets from all three eras, it appears the shooter will be a significantly larger product than the original's base-game.
Battlefront's 2015 reboot launched with a selection of 13 maps that could be played with the soldiers and heroes from the original Star Wars trilogy. This later grew after a pair of free updates and four paid expansions.
However, the title was criticised for lacking core gameplay features and modes, with TechRadar arguing there was "nothing at the heart of it".
It also warned fans of shooter games they would lose interest due to the Battlefront's bare-bones weapons and ability selection.
However, EA chief executive Andrew Wilson told investors that the next installment "will have more than three times the content of the previous game at launch".
He also said that more content will be implemented into the game through a "live service plan", which could be a mix of free updates and paid downloadable expansions.
It will see the return of class-based gameplay
In the original Battlefront games from the early-to-mid 2000s, players could choose a specific character class, such as a solider or scout, to take into battle.
This changed when Dice gained the Battlefront license in 2015, as the company decided to scrap the class system and instead opt for an avatar that could be customised to the player's liking.
However, in an interview with Eurogamer, Dice's Matt Webster says: "There's four Trooper classes and they are ones that are easy to understand from a play point of view and they form relatively conventional setups, you know, range or firepower".
He adds: "Having Troopers being able to play together, they can match a hero and so it just begins to have that sort of rock paper scissors setup to allow us to have these awesome battle moments."
There will be a single-player campaign
One of the more controversial omissions from the 2015 reboot of the franchise was a substantial single-player campaign mode, says The Verge.
While Dice included single-player training missions and a downloadable "Skirmish" mode that pitted gamers against computer-controlled enemies, calls for a story-driven campaign on social media was headed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor John Boyega.
However, a full single-player campaign mode has been confined in the latest trailer for the next Battlefront game. Dice says players will follow the story of Iden Versio, the commander of an Imperial forces unit, which takes place shortly after the destruction of the second Death Star.
You're part of a squad
As part of Star Wars Battlefront 2's greater emphasis on storytelling, players will be in command of an Imperial special forces team called Inferno Squad during the dedicated single-player campaign.
According to Dice, the squad, which is headed by the game's protagonist Iden Versio, is "deeply committed to the rule of law" and acts as the "Imperial shield against the chaotic threat represented by the Rebel Alliance".
Douglas Reilly, senior director at Lucasfilm, told Digital Trends the story positions Iden as "a hero" and doesn't "describe the Empire as bad guys". Instead, it is portrayed as "the other side of the conflict."
Both Versio and Inferno Squad "watch the second Death Star explode from the forest moon of Endor", says Digital Trends, which inspires them to "seek revenge on the Rebels."
Little else is known about their backgrounds or stories, although the website says not all missions centre around the special forces team. Instead, a couple of quests will require gamers to play as Luke Skywalker or Kylo Ren, while other playable heroes are expected to appear in the campaign as well.
More space battles
Dice's 2015 reboot of the Battlefront series allowed gamers to battle in Star Wars' X-Wing and Tie Fighters over locations from the franchise, but the only maps set in space came months after the game released in the Death Star and Rogue One expansion packs.
This is all set to change in the sequel - vast space battles with giant capital ships feature prominently in Battlefront 2's launch trailer.
Rebel and Imperial fighters battle around gigantic Star Destroyers, which appear to disintegrate when blown up. There's also a shot where X-Wings fly over the shield gate from last year's Rogue One spin-off, as well as a new ship that may belong to the protagonist from the single-player campaign.
Hero vessels, such as Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, will "have unlockable abilities and mods", says Polygon.
Dice has also teamed up with Criterion, the group behind the virtual reality X-Wing mission for PS VR, in a bid to "create ships and vehicles that control well in combat".
Star Wars Battlefront II: EA faces gambling probe in Belgium
Star Wars Battlefront II is under investigation by the Belgian gaming regulatory body over whether the loot boxes in the game are a form of gambling, Gamespot reports.
The EA-published title features a loot box system that allow players to spend real-world money in order to unlock random items in the game and qualify for upgrades, the website says.
But the Belgian Gaming Commission’s chief, Peter Naessens, says games with elements of gambling require a permit to go on sale, reports the video game news website PC Games N.
“If there is a game of chance, it is not possible without a permit from the Gaming Commission”, he said.
If the gaming commission finds the loot box system in Battlefront II is a form of gambling, PC Games N says the publisher could face fines of “up to hundreds of thousands of euros, or see the game removed from shelves.”
This would be a significant blow for the Star Wars shooter, which has recently come under fire from fans and critics over its loot box system.
According to The Sixth Axis, players need to invest hours of gameplay time into Battlefront II to unlock heroes such as Darth Vader or Chewbacca. These heroes, however, can be easily unlocked by players willing to spend their own money.
But a group of developers at EA told fans on the chat forum Reddit that the company was planning to “make changes” and “continue adjusting values to make sure that players are able to progress towards their goals without it feeling like a grind.”
Battlefront II hits shop shelves tomorrow for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
Star Wars Battlefront 2: Video leak shows mysterious Sentinel
Information leaks are coming in thick and fast for Dice's upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2 game. New footage posted on YouTube appears to show Emperor Palpatine, who was killed at the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
The footage, uploaded by YouTuber Unreal SjS, shows a figure in a red suit who has Palpatine's face.
But the face appears to be projected onto the visor of the figure's helmet, suggesting it could be some form of robot.
According to GameRant, the figure in red is a Sentinel, which it says is "a modified robot that carries prerecorded messages from those who have died to the living".
It wouldn't be the first time a Sentinel robot has appeared in the Star Wars universe. GamesRadar says the droids made their debut in the Shattered Empire comic and are therefore canon to the franchise.
Fans also get a glimpse of the abilities deployed by Iden Versio, the game's lead character, and her robot companion.
Versio's personal droid will be able to hack door mechanisms and stun enemies, the website says, while players can upgrade the robot to improve its combat abilities.
PlayStation Universe suggests the footage could be part of the trailer Dice will reveal at the E3 games show in just over two weeks' time.
The sequel to 2015's Star Wars Battlefront reboot will feature playable characters and spaceships from every era of the franchise. It's expected to have a greater emphasis on single-player gameplay.
More details will be announced at E3, which runs from 16 to 18 June.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 story details emerge in new trailer
Gamers on Star Wars Battlefront 2's single-player campaign will "meet the people inside of the Empire", a new teaser trailer revealed.
Game director Mark Thompson says they "wanted to tell a soldier's story" from the perspective of Iden Versio, an elite Imperial Tie fighter pilot.
Versio is the daughter of an admiral within the Imperial army, which Thompson says makes her "the perfect candidate to believe in the good of the Empire".
He adds that players will get to see more personalities, rather than just a horde of "faceless Stormtroopers", and also "understand Iden and why she makes the decisions that she does".
This would be a departure from conventional Star Wars games, which mostly "feature heroes of the Rebellion or Galactic Republic", says Digital Spy.
One of the few exceptions is BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic, adds the website, which allows players to join forces with the game's antagonists - the Sith Empire.
Gamers can also explore the game's backstory through the Battlefront: Inferno Squad novel, says The Verge. The book is set shortly after the events of the film Star Wars: Rogue One and details the origins of Iden Versio's squad of troopers.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 will launch on 17 November for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 leaked trailer reveals gameplay 'across all eras'
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 features characters and locations from "across all eras", according to a teaser trailer leaked ahead of the franchise's Celebration event this weekend.
Familiar faces and places from all of the Star Wars films feature in the new game, allowing players to battle on Star Killer Base from The Force Awakens or become Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace.
Only the original trilogy's features were available in 2015's reboot to the Battlefront series
Battlefront 2 also has an emphasis on space battles, says ArsTechnica, adding that they look similar in design to the vehicle-based Star Wars: Rogue Squadron games from the early 2000s. The trailer reveals Imperial TIE fighters flying through war-torn structures in space and a battle from the prequel trilogy at the very end.
It also hints at the all-new single-player campaign, reports Alphr, with the new footage focusing "around life on a post-Endor Empire" from the "perspective of an Imperial officer".
However, adds the site, while characters from The Force Awakens appear in the teaser, the likes of Kylo Ren and Rey could be reserved for multiplayer events only.
According to The Verge, the trailer was intended to "be shown for the first time at this weekend's Star Wars Celebration", but the teaser "jumped out of hyperspace a little earlier than expected".
There's no mention of a release date, but Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is expected to launch in time for the release of Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi at the end of the year – and players who pre-order will be granted access to heroes from the film.