Battlefront 2 is looking pretty good, you guys.
“With this sequel, DICE finally appears to be comfortable in stating absolutely what its Battlefront is.”
The primary message EA seemed keen to deliver around Star Wars Battlefront 2 is simple: EA is listening. Feedback has been taken seriously.
Thanks to that, Star Wars Battlefront 2 (out November for PC, PS4 and Xbox) seems well poised to fix all of the major problems of its predecessor. After an all too brief chance to see the game on the ground at the EA Play event before E3 kicks off, it’s difficult to find much to complain about. DICE seems to have finally found its Star Wars sea legs.
The massive Battlefront 2 blow-out from EA over the last few months might give you the impression that its more robust single-player offering is the heart of the game. I’m absolutely pumped for this mode and for many it’s likely to be what sells them Battlefront 2, but it’s still arguably not the game’s lifeblood. Today has shown me there’s something far more exciting going on with Battlefront 2: increased gameplay variety across the board.
So yes, there’s a solid single-player mode, but perhaps more interesting is how with this sequel, DICE finally appears to be comfortable in stating absolutely what its Battlefront is and how it differs from the classic games it shares its name with. This confidence mainly shows itself in a shift in places towards systems that feels more reminiscent of Battlefield. Battlefront 2 is at last that combination of what DICE is best known for and, well, Star Wars.
This mainly manifests itself in the form of a proper, traditional class system in the multiplayer. This might sound like a small and obvious addition on paper, but the impact can’t be understated. The whole ebb and flow of Battlefront changes, and while it still has the frantic, non-stop feel of Star Wars combat, there’s also something that feels closer to the excellent balance of Battlefield 1, with teamwork encouraged and rewarded. That’s no bad thing.
Most of Battlefront 2’s classes fit into the archetypes you’d expect with a Star Wars twist. The Assault is your pretty standard soldier trooper, for instance, while the classic Star Wars Officer class functions more or less like an engineer. The heavy walks softly (and slowly) but carries a big, big gun, and the specialist snipes.
After just a few minutes with the game the significant difference between each of the classes quickly becomes apparent. This is before further customization of load outs is applied, too – there’s even more depth hiding away that this brief show demo didn’t give time to test.
A typical rock-paper-scissors metagame is at work here too – so slow-moving heavy soldiers will be picked off with ease by sniping specialists, but other classes can more easily sneak up on waiting snipers if they’re not careful – that sort of thing. You might find yourself adjusting team make-up based on what you’re facing. It all feels a little more Battlefield without losing the Star Wars flair, and I’m properly into that.
Class abilities make a serious difference, and just being a Stormtrooper can now sometimes have some of the flair around it that previously felt reserved for hero classes, while how vehicles and heroes are deployed has also been tweaked for better balance.
“I know it seems like adding classes is an obvious change, but I was honestly surprised by how much of a difference it makes.”
The main change to how this all works is in the addition of Battle Points. There’s no more dumb random pick-ups – instead, playing earns you Battle Points as a match progresses. When you die you’ll have the chance to spend them, which actually makes death a little useful on occasion. You can then buy vehicles or special characters like heroes.
A hero or a heavy tank might cost more than a walker, too, so you have choice about how you spend your hard-earned credit before a match ends. You might spend as you go, or save points towards one big hail mary purchase towards the end of the game, for instance. This system is one that really needs to be tested in a wide variety of matches to see how it holds up, but in this match and on paper it works just fine.
I decided to be a reactive player, switching class a couple of times as the match progressed in order to respond to what I was facing. I found the specialist the least effective, but it’s also worth noting that I had a teammate who was absolutely annihilating foes with that same class. I spent a bunch of Battle Points on a walker and had fun stomping it around before getting unceremoniously blasted off it. Doh. Those prequel-era walkers are pretty cool, though.
The map on show at E3 is Theed, a location set on the prequel trilogy’s Naboo. This has strengths and weaknesses: Battledroids look rubbish and always have, but Naboo is also home to the Naboo Starfighter, one of Star Wars’ most gorgeous looking ships.
Generally the addition of the prequel era and the expansion to cover all eras of Star Wars with Battlefront is a welcome one – though I do think somehow the droids often looked a little too human and not robotic enough. Perhaps they’re using the same animation setup as regular soldiers. I have to admit that the clean, colorful prequel settings interest me less, though Naboo also seems practically born to be built in Frostbite – it looks gorgeous.
E3 2017 @ VG247
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I know it seems like adding classes is an obvious change, but I was honestly surprised by how much of a difference it makes. It even makes hero characters a little less of an insurmountable, unstoppable force – it seems that a well-coordinated team could work together to take a hero down.
Oh, and, all the Star Wars Battlefront 2 DLC is going to be free. That’s a big deal. Not much to say about that here, but no doubt: it’s a good thing.
All of this seems to be working towards Battlefront 2 offering a lot more choice. Toss in skills and other character customization and I’m excited to see what sort of ideas I’ll be coming up with when I’ve more than 20 minutes with the game. If the single-player delivers, Battlefront 2 could be on track to enter the pantheon of truly great Star Wars games alongside Jedi Knight 2, KOTOR and X-Wing. Fingers crossed.