Almost since the beginning, Star Wars has been a story of redemption from darkness. So, in an ironic sort of way, Battlefront 2 is a better Star Wars game because of its initial fall to the dark side and subsequent journey back to the light. After over two years of updates and changes, EA and DICE have redeemed this gorgeous shooter and turned it into one of the best multiplayer adaptations of the Star Wars universe to date.
Taking in all Battlefront 2 now has to offer at once is honestly a bit overwhelming. Setting aside the overly safe, short, and disappointing single-player story, there’s a wealth of wave-based co-operative maps and a litany of online competitive multiplayer modes. Most of them play wonderfully and they all ooze that classic Star Wars look and feel on an unrivaled scale. Whether you’re fighting on the ground with a blaster in your hands, cutting down troops with a lightsaber, or dogfighting in space, Battlefront 2 is an immensely entertaining ride through a galaxy far, far away.
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Crucially, DICE absolutely nailed the basics. Take the mechanics of firing a blaster: It feels just a bit chunky, as it should, with that signature sound bursting with each shot. And even though every weapon shoots similar-looking bolts, they all feel extremely distinct out of the box and can be customized further.
[poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=Crucially%2C%20DICE%20absolutely%20nailed%20the%20basics.”]For ground troops, the four main classes are Assault, Heavy, Officer, and Specialist. They feel about as distinct as any other classes in a multiplayer shooter, although none of them have a dedicated secondary gun to swap too. Since there are no ammo counts, just cool downs, it changes the dynamic a bit and definitely feels unique.
I gravitated towards the Heavy troopers because of their powerful LMG-style weapon, mobile shield, grenade, and a special that let me shoot continuously like a minigun without overheating. It’s excellent for suppressing fire, especially if you’re on the defending end of the final phase in Capital Supremacy and need to keep the enemy back at all costs. In between the main classes and the big hero units are specialty units like Arc Troopers that get electric mines and dual pistols, or rolling Droidekas with heavy armor and deployable shield domes. Coordinating attacks between the practicality of the standard troops and flashiness of heroes is a lot fun and makes Battlefront 2 feel special.
What’s great about Battlefront 2 is that it lets you play with all of its toys, no questions asked. Every character class and playable hero is available from the start, and the tedious unlocking grind from launch has been completely removed. Luke, Vader, Boba Fett, Rey – you name them, they’re all here.
As you level up you unlock new ability cards with passive upgrades such as increased health regeneration speed or a bigger grenade blast radius. They’re designed as ways to refine your playstyle, rather than make you dramatically stronger, and it’s a fulfilling system that rewards sticking with a class without forcing you to.
You’ll spend most of your time as Battlefront’s basic soldier classes, but as you play you earn in-match points that you can eventually spend to spawn as a hero. That can seriously turn the tide. These iconic characters are absolute killing machines, and when you clash with another hero it’s extremely memorable. The list has been growing since launch and now includes everybody from Obi-Wan and his Force push to lesser favorites like General Grievous, including his ridiculous saber windmill attack. Pitting original trilogy Darth Vader against the prequel trilogy Anakin Skywalker hero is far more entertaining than it should be.
[poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=These%20fights%20can%20be%20truly%20the%20stuff%20of%20Star%20Wars%20%E2%80%9CWhat%20If%3F%E2%80%9D%20fan-fiction%2C%20brought%20to%20life%20on%20screen.”]These fights can be truly the stuff of Star Wars “What If?” fan-fiction, brought to life on screen. During a Heroes v Villains match – a team deathmatch mode where everybody plays as a hero the entire time – I was playing as Boba Fett on the rainy planet Kamino and ran into an enemy player controlling Obi-Wan. It quickly felt like a reenactment of the Jedi Knight’s fight against Jango Fett in Episode II. In this version, Obi-Wan leapt through the air while I shot at him with my blasters, then he Force-pushed me and knocked me down before charging in for the kill with his lightsaber. Then, in a dramatic twist, none other than Darth Vader himself jumped in at the last second and Force-choked him before he could strike. My teammate then lifted Obi-Wan into the air for me to finish him off. It was a fantastic and memorable moment.
It doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to say that, in terms of scope and breadth, EA and DICE have released just as much new, free content for the multiplayer side of Battlefront 2 as it already had at launch. They’ve dished out new maps like Felucia and Geonosis, exciting new game modes, a litany of heroes and villains, new ships for aerial combat, and dozens of cosmetic skins.
Battlefront 2’s maps now feel like a Greatest Hits selection of the entire Star Wars galaxy, pulling from all three movie trilogies plus one-offs and the cartoons. The dense greenery of Felucia is a great contrast to the brown wastelands of Geonosis, and fighting across the Cloud City in Bespin is a blast. Naboo’s capital city, Theed, is one of my favorites, since it’s an outdoor urban setting, unlike most of the other battles, and is full of buildings that make it a great stage in the larger 40-player game modes. Every mode has an extreme level of map variety, and that makes it easy to fall into that “just one more game” mentality because you’ll see something new every time for a long while.
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The catch is that finding a match is hit or miss depending on the game mode and time of day. It’s not very difficult to queue up for the main modes like Capital Supremacy and Galactic Assault, especially on PS4. But smaller modes, like Hero Showdown and Hero Starfighters, can take a few minutes of waiting before you can enjoy them, which is a shame. They’re not the main attraction by any means but I’ve had some good fun with them.
In Hero Showdown, two teams of two heroes each face off without respawns for multiple rounds. It’s a bit like Gun Fight in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but instead of guns and knives it’s blasters and lightsabers. Similarly, Hero Starfighters pits two teams of four hero ships against each other, but this time dying brings you back as a standard starfighter until one team has lost all their hero ships. Letting you immediately take control of these recognizable characters is awesome, putting a fun spin on the standard modes, but they don’t seem to command the same amount of popularity. Having so many different modes to choose from seems to have split the player base thinly across the best ones.
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The least popular modes, like the capture-based Jetpack Cargo or Blast (which is just team deathmatch), are often complete dead zones with no players at all – they were never as thrilling as the larger-scale battles, but I don’t always want to spend 30-40 minutes in a single match, so having something quicker and faster-paced available would have been nice. I was never left unable to play, though, because the Quick Play option is a reliable fallback that will always drop you into what’s hot if you aren’t picky. That said, the limited choice queues cause can occasionally be disappointing all the same. It’s also a bummer when the only active mode is something you don’t want to play at all, like Ewok Hunt or one of the Starfighter battles for the third time in a row.
[poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=Capital%20Supremacy%20mode%20is%20both%20one%20of%20the%20busiest%20and%20one%20of%20the%20best.”]Thankfully, the recently added Capital Supremacy mode is both one of the busiest and one of the best. It’s similar to the traditional Galactic Assault mode, in that they’re both large-scale battles with 40 players fighting over control points, but there are some big differences. Here, holding control points in the first phase earns you AI reinforcements, and then the winning team boards transport shuttles to try to take over the other team’s capital ship. If they fail, the first phase starts over. It creates an epic tug-of-war, pushing and pulling across space and the planet’s surface and can easily take upwards of 30 minutes to finish a single match. The settings and power dynamic are all extremely reminiscent of both the Clone Wars and the massive battles in DICE’s Battlefield series.
Galactic Assault evokes a similarly grandiose feeling, but instead of changing maps partway through depending on progress, the levels are more multifaceted from the beginning. In Galactic Assault, all three types of warfare are happening at the same time: aerial fighters, ground vehicles, and foot soldiers. The objectives vary depending on the map, but usually involve capturing points, escorting large ground units like walkers, overriding systems, or planting bombs.
[poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=Galactic%20Assault%20can%20take%20a%20while%2C%20but%20it%E2%80%99s%20the%20only%20game%20mode%20that%20spans%20all%20three%20eras.”]Matches of Galactic Assault can take a while, but it’s the only game mode that spans all three eras across over a dozen different maps, so I really felt like I was reenacting actual movie moments. For example, trying to take out a TIE Fighter with a rocket launcher or strafing across a planet’s surface in an X-Wing while blowing up Storm Troopers is enormous fun.
Note that while Capital Supremacy currently only covers Clone Wars locations, it’s getting updated in early 2020 to include sequel trilogy content in addition to other Rise of Skywalker-related updates coming to Battlefront 2. The fact that EA continues to push out updates for a game that’s over two years old, especially after such a rocky launch, is extremely commendable. We haven’t seen that new content yet, but if it’s of similar caliber to past updates then it will only serve to make Battlefront 2 even better.
This article was originally published by IGN.COM