Star Wars Battlefront 2: Update
Having completed my ten-hour Play First Trial of Star Wars Battlefront 2, I wanted to elaborate further upon my initial thoughts of the game. It should be noted that the demo that EA offers via Origin Access, comes with several caveats. Only the first three missions of the campaign are available, although these are sufficient to give to the you a good handle on the game’s various combat mechanics. You play as Imperial Special Forces Agent Iden Versio, the leader of Inferno Squad. The story starts during the Battle of Endor and addresses the fate of the Empire, after the Emperor’s demise. Unlike many games from this genre, the single player campaign is well written and engaging. When this part of the demo ended I found myself wanting to play more and see where the narrative went. Out of the ten hours given for the demo, I spent about three on the campaign. The rest of the time I spent in multiplayer, which is the game’s raison d'être.
I’m not a huge fan of the ground based multiplayer modes. I find that my reactions are too slow for me to make any meaningful progress. However, Galactic Assault features large team orientated, objective based maps and due to the volume of players is more forgiving to the less skilled. I only spent an hour or so with type of combat before moving on to Starfighter Assault mode. Here two teams of up to 24 players, with an additional 40 AI fighters, compete in multi-stage battles between swift starfighters and powerful hero ships. There are also huge capital ships to be dealt with as well as environmental objectives. Space combat, which was conspicuously absent in the last instalment of the game, is the jewel in the crown of Star Wars Battlefront 2. The combat is fast, fluid and immense fun. The ships handle well and each class has its virtues. I was expecting to have to use my Xbox Controller for this stage of the game but I found that a keyboard and mouse works quite well.
I spent six hours playing Starfighter Assault and learning curve wasn’t too hard. As ever situational awareness is the key to success, as well as firing in controlled and measured bursts. Timing is everything. It also pays to stay with your wingmen and provide cover for each other. Out of all the ships, I found the TIE fighter most to my liking. It is a simple and efficient vessel. As for the hero ships, which become available to fly when you’ve amassed sufficient points in combat, I soon learned to avoid them. Although they do provide increased firepower, they’re also prime targets and other players flock to take them down. Again, for those who are not so confident with one on one combat, there are capital ships to destroy. Because progress is based on points and not just kills, even the novice player can make progress. For me the space combat is the selling point of this game. It is enthralling and entertaining.
Sadly, I must now return to the subject of the loot crates and star cards. Although skill, experience and reactions determine a player’s performance, equipping a star card with a suitable modifier makes a significant difference. While initially playing Starfighter Assault, it became apparent that other players had quicker weapons cooldowns, increased armour or it took less time for their missiles to lock on. I found this out because whenever you’re defeated, your foes details display on screen listing their username, ship class and all the modifiers they have equipped. It’s far from a subtle advertisement for loot crates. Furthermore, I when I experimented with modifiers myself, after buying some loot crates with earned currency, I soon got lucky and obtained some beneficial star cards myself. These did improve my performance by enhancing my ships durability. Thus, those players who do not wish to grind for upgrades can simply throw their wallets at the problem. Theoretically, a new player could have a significantly improved starfighter just after a few hours, if they’re prepared to pay.
I’m wont badger readers any further about the iniquities of microtransactions in triple A titles. I will simply say I think it’s bad for gaming in the long term. However, I suspect that EA have taken a calculated gamble on using this franchise as a guinea pig for this form of monetisation. Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a solid and immensely enjoyable game and I’m certain many players are going to put aside their moral objections and buy this title because, hey, it’s Star Wars. I myself was not going to buy the game after the trial on principle but have now been informed that it has already been purchased as a gift for my upcoming birthday. I will however not pay for any loot crates with real money and will simply rely upon grinding. I shall also be keeping my eyes open for news regarding sales of Star Wars Battlefront 2 when it launches officially on 16th November. Then we will find how much of a stumbling block microtransactions are and whether gamers worry about cognitive dissonance.