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The closed beta for Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is live, giving fans of all the words involved in that title a chance to see if EA Dice has improved upon their last outing. The Star Wars: Battlefront reboot in 2015 had the production quality down, but it was a release that lacked variety and longevity. It also felt closer to Dice's Battlefield titles than the large-scale conflicts that made up the original Star Wars: Battlefront games.
So the studio is back and it's taking another shot. The beta offers a slice of the full game's content, with three multiplayer modes spread across three maps. Galactic Assault (20v20) is the mode I previously played at E3 2017. The sole map available for the beta is Naboo, the same map from E3, with one side as the Trade Federation and the other as the Republic Army. The Trade Federation is marching s Multi-Troop Transport towards the Naboo throne room, while the Republic Army needs to stop them.
Starfighter Assault (10v10) is new for this beta, playing like Galactic Assault in space. This was all-new for me, with the Rebel Alliance attempting to destroy an Imperial Star Destroyer being built over the planet Fondor. With full freedom to fly in any direction, Starfighter Assault is actually the most fun I've had during the beta so far. Flight controls were a little unwieldy early on, but once I got it down, I was flying into shield reactors after Rebels and weaving my way through the outcroppings of large ships to avoid missile locks.
The last of the full multiplayer modes is Strike (8v8). On the planet Tadokana from The Force Awakens, a team of First Order Stormtroopers have to recover an item from Maz's castle. The Resistance has to prevent the First Order squad from moving the object from the starting point to their personal transport. Pretty simple and straightforward, but I wasn't feeling the smaller team size.
Every multiplayer mode in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is anchored in the Battle Point system. Killing opponents, completing objectives, and certain other actions all give you battle points. When you spawn into combat in Galactic Assault or Strikes, you can choose between a number of base classes: Assault, Heavy, Officer, and Specialist. Starfighter Assault only offers three types: faster interceptors, stronger fighters, and slower bombers. Every class has a niche, from the Heavy's powerful machine blasters, to the Specialist's long-range sniper rifles.
When you die, the Battle Points made during your run accrue in a pool. Once you have enough Battle Points, you can choose to spend them to spawn as a special unit. Take to the skies in Galactic Assault as a Vulture Droid (600 Battle Points) or punish Republic soldiers up close as a B2-RP Rocket Droid (2,000 Battle Points), for example. If you're having a great run and save up all your Battle Points, you can also spawn as one of Battlefront 2's Heroes, like Darth Maul or Rey. Heroes are extra powerful and can turn the tide of battle all on their own.
You're probably wondering where the "loot boxes" in the headline comes into play. There's further customization available for any of the classes of Heroes in Battlefront 2. This comes in the form of Star Cards. Each class has related Star Cards: Boost Cards straight up improve certain stats inherent to the class, while Ability Replacement Cards replace one of your three class abilities with a few new options. Unlike Battlefront, they can be hot-swapped from the spawn menu in the middle of a match, offering a decent amount of flexibility, even within a specific class.
Most Star Cards comes in four different rarity levels: Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Epic. As you move up in rarity, the effect of the card is stronger. For example, the Heavy has a Star Card called Barrage, which replaces the Combat Shield ability with a Grenade Launcher. At the Common level, Barrage's recharge time is 40 seconds, but if you happen to draw an Epic version, the recharge time is 32 seconds. The cards aren't consumable, so you don't have to worry about losing them upon use. You're collecting a deck of options.
Where do you get the cards? Crates, of course. These loot boxes are awarded through gameplay, or you can buy them via in-game credits. You get one Daily Crate for logging in each day and class-specific crates seem to unlock in the beta. Daily Crates have a random smattering of Star Cards, while class-specific cards only drop stuff for the related class. In addition to cards, Crates can include character skins, winning poses, and crafting parts, which can be used to forge more cards.
It's the same loot box system that's becoming a part of a number of AAA titles these days. Overwatch was the biggest game to kick off the phenomenon, but loot boxes have since been found in Quake Champions, Lawbreakers, Forza Motorsport 7, and the upcoming Shadow of War. Since they're non-consumable here, unlike Forza Motorsport 7's Mod Cards, I have less of an issue with them. That said, some folks are simply tired of supporting loot boxes in full $60 games, likening them to gambling and cutthroat money gouging.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 looks like it'll cover all the major complaints of the first game. There's more characters, more classes, more modes, the battles are larger, and there's a single-player campaign coming along for the ride. It's just a matter of if you're sick and tired of loot boxes, or you just miss that old school Battlefront 2 feeling of moving from ground to vehicle combat seamlessly. If the latter is the case, you can just play the original game, which is live on GOG.com again. Either way, there's a bit of Star Wars for everyone.