Star Wars Battlefront II PC Preview

While improving on certain aspects of its predecessor, Star Wars Battlefront II's beta wasn't without issues of its own.

By Woozie, Posted 09 Oct 2017

The Star Wars Battlefront II Beta concludes today and I’ve spent a handful of hours with its modes to get a glimpse at how the developers have used the feedback they’ve received after the first title. While it sold well, undoubtedly due to it being Star Wars and a revival people had been requesting for a while, the game was a fairly shallow experience with no single player campaign and arcade-style pickups for vehicles and heroes. The removal of the latter is only one of the changes that have happened.

Star Wars Battlefront II, PC, Preview, Beta, Screenshot

While Star Wars Battlefront II still runs on the Frostbite engine, the beta didn’t look as great as the original reboot (even in its beta state). Although the models and locations were well detailed, some form of film grain layered over the image severely impacted its overall quality and resulted in fairly bland colors. The original Battlefront absolutely nailed color contrasts which worked extremely well with the photogrammetry technique it used in creating its terrain. Battlefront II left me as underwhelmed as a Frostbite title can leave one. As for sound, while the voice overs are what you’d expect, gun shots also lacked punch, even when firing giant laser bolts from the MTT. In the previous title, there was a very distinct thump when blaster bolts impacted imperial armor, which provided excellent feedback. While, it’s fairly clear when you start taking fire, the impact sounds aren’t exactly top notch. That being said, overall, the sound design does a good job of relaying the needed information. If there’s a gunfight around the corner, you’ll know whether you’re dealing with a heavy, an assault or an officer, based on a weapon’s sound and fire rate.

The Beta came with three multiplayer modes (Galactic Assault, Strike and Starfighter Assault) and an Arcade mode, which offered two short single player scenarios.  The two scenarios in the Arcade mode had players battling AI controlled clone troopers inside the palace on Theed, either as Darth Maul, a super battle droid or a regular clunker. While there was score to keep track of, and higher difficulty settings, these felt as soulless as the original’s co-op missions being, at best, a tutorial of sorts. Galactic Assault will most likely be the core gameplay mode, replacing Walker Assault. To an extent, it follows a similar design to Walker Assault. You’ve a large map, sectioned in three parts, in the case of Theed, with different objectives to complete. In the first phase, the Confederacy has to escort a huge tank down the streets of Theed, so as to get in range of the palace. Meanwhile, the Clone Army must collect ion disruptors, fire them at the MTT, rendering it vulnerable to damage after which as many people as possible need to focus fire on it in the brief window of opportunity. The second and third phases take place in different areas of the palace, using a capture point dynamic.

Star Wars Battlefront II, PC, Preview, Screenshot

Outside of the palace, the gameplay kept alternating between moments of silence and intense battles. The wide street down which the MTT traverses was a gamble to use, as infantry, in order to cross to the other side, as the MTT can fire in a limited arc. Certain cover points were available, however, there are also enemies to take into account. Then, you’ve side lanes where most of the infantry battles take place as the droids try to contain the Ion Disruptor threat. This area of the map gave way to short, medium and long range engagements. With all classes being viable choices, it makes the most of what it offers. As a Specialist you could find spots to take out enemies going down the stairs of the palace, or droids stumbling out in the open. As an Officer, you could stick with teammates on the side lanes, buffing them when needed. The same can’t be said about the indoor segments. These very quickly devolved into large clusterfucks where you’d either camp a doorway or run through one and hope you don’t fall to a bunch of cluttered, trigger-happy clones. An endless stream of Darth Mauls and Reys was also present, as players did seem to hold onto their battle points for the Hero characters, adding to the confusion. The third phase has droids attempting to conquer a point in a circular room while the clones try to defend it. Instead of tactically covering entry points, it was more a matter of going on the objective and hoping you don’t get blasted apart. This is in no way helped by the squad system, which spawns you in a squad with random people every time. You get extra score for sticking close but there was no way to track your squad or pinpoint avenues of attack.

Strike puts the First Order up to the task of capturing an artifact while the Rebels try to hold them back from doing so. It’s a smaller, more focused, experience than Galactic Assault but it wasn’t without flaws. In all my matches, the First Order seemed to have it worse. If getting into the palace and nabbing the artifact was doable, as was taking it through the jungle, actually getting it to the ship was a pain, for the most part. Most of the matches ended with the artifact dropped precisely next to the ship. Once it’s picked up from the palace, the Rebels’ spawn point moves not far from said ship, which means they have to walk some three paces, wait for white armor to pop up and fire away. Indeed, as the First Order you do have, in theory, different avenues of attack. In practice, things never went so well. As for Starfighter Assault, it was enjoyable, if a bit straightforward. Its arcade-style controls made flying easy enough to grasp and its requirement of focusing on different targets, as the match went on, were enough to keep boredom at bay.

Star Wars Battlefront II, PC, Beta, Preview, Screenshot

There have been changes regarding the gunplay and Star Cards as well. There seems to be a lengthier amount of firing you can do before the gun overheats. You can manually trigger a cooling process before the bar fills up, at the cost of not being able to quick-cool it (the Gears of War style mechanic does kick in when the overheating bar is completely filled). Furthermore, if the bar is only partly filled, it will cool down on its own, provided you don’t fire the weapon for a while. This can also be modified by using weapon attachments to start cooling down once you’ve let go of the trigger. The weapons feel different from each other, at least in firing rate, with anything that’s not a sniper rifle being ineffective over long distances. Melee attacks lock you into the animation for an extra second, making you think well before deciding to close distance and melee a foe.  The weapon models look excellent, but sound-wise, as I’ve mentioned before, they sounded somewhat neutered in comparison to the first title.

The random pickups from the first Battlefront are gone. Star Cards act as improvements or alterations to the playable characters. One row of cards provided upgrades like better health regeneration, lower ability cooldown times or higher weapon damage, while the lower row actively modified abilities. As an example, the Officer’s AoE ability removed overheating for a while instead of giving nearby players extra HP, provided I was using the proper card. The Specialist could replace the binoculars with a trip mine. The Heavy could turn his minigun ability into a heavy cannon with explosive rounds, at the cost of being unable to move. The cards can also be upgraded for better variants. However, not everything’s fine and dandy here, either. In order to upgrade cards and craft weapons or weapon attachments, you need crafting resources. In the beta, these were rewarded at a very slow pace in loot boxes. Now, I’m not entirely sure how many people requested these, but they’ve made it in the game. Crafting credits, alongside new weapons and cards, plus some cosmetic stances and victory poses can be found in them. Now, as this was a beta, there’s a chance of things being balanced differently in the full game. However, there is also the possibility that getting the proper amount of credits to upgrade everything you want can end up tied too much to these loot boxes (if not the shortcut purchasable items that have appeared in past DICE titles). If this is to happen, not only will it build on the precedent we’re now seeing with Shadow of War, but it may also step on the good news the free approach to DLC was (the previous game had a season pass).

Star Wars Battlefront II, PC, Beta, Preview, Screenshot

Star Wars Battlefront II will also benefit from a class system. Officers have a role leaning towards support, buffing up teammates and placing down turrets, while Heavies are able to lay down a good amount of suppressive fire. Specialists thrive at long range, having an ability to spot foes using binoculars and a short-timed SMG stance. The Assault was, quite possibly my favorite due to their scan darts and shotguns. The beta came with two weapons per class (in the case of standard infantry) and, of course, abilities can be modified using Star Cards. Thus, we are, potentially, looking at a good degree of customization and, even, synergy. Heroes also benefit from the Star Card system. This is, undoubtedly, an improvement over the “pick your weapon and shoot” approach of the previous title.

The Battle Points system replaces the random drop tokens of the previous Battlefront. Simply put, the score gained from killing foes and playing the objective acts as both leaderboard score and Battle Points. Get enough of these and you can summon in Rocket Troopers, Super Battle Droids, starfighters or Heroes. I got the chance of trying out everything I wanted to at a reasonable pace. While I remain notoriously bad at piloting ships in areas with buildings, the possibility of raining hell from above is definitely there. The system seemed fair, with limits being in place so that you don’t see seven Darth Mauls trying to make sure seven Han Solos don’t skip on their shave. That being said, I saw considerably fewer Super Battle Droids, Rocket Troopers or vehicles in Galactic Conquest, as most people were holding their Battle Points for a chance to play the Heroes. This, in turn, made getting to play as the Heroes, in the latter parts of the match, difficult, unless you decided to leave your team handle themselves while you waited at the spawn screen for the person currently playing as the hero to die. Be that as it may, these unlocks did add some variety to the playing field. Furthermore, when playing Heroes, you can no longer charge into a room full of soldiers and brush off all their attacks at the cost of some 30 to 40 health. Force users or iconic characters are considerably more vulnerable, often requiring the aid of their team to truly wreak havoc. To compensate, they can regenerate health after a few moments of getting away from combat. The same goes for stuff like Wookie Warriors or Rocket Troopers, although, they’re not as resistant as the more expensive heroes. They’re much more effective when working in a team, as going up against two or three foes can easily turn into a waste of Battle Points.

Star Wars Battlefront II, PC, Preview, Beta, Screenshot

While the Battlefront II Beta didn’t blow my mind, I’m genuinely curious to see how the full version turns out. It’s improved certain aspects where its predecessor lacked, while having trouble of its own, and not just in the visual/sound department. The presence of loot boxes that tie directly into the Star Cards and crafting systems has me worried. There’s enough proof that we don’t really need loot boxes to have a good progression system. And, as it does unlock game-altering Star Cards and crafting parts (which are used in upgrading Star Cards of crafting new weapons), we could be looking at a very restrictive, RNG littered, take on progression. It remains to be seen how that’ll be tuned, as it, alongside the resource drop rates can make or break the game. Regardless, considering the 11 promised maps for Galactic Conquest and free DLC, I remain cautiously optimistic about the full game. Here’s hoping the promise of free post-launch DLC won’t come at the cost of a free-to-play style progression.

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): EA Dice, Criterion Software, Motive Studios
Genres: Action Adventure, Action Shooter, Sci-Fi
Themes: First-Person Shooter, Third-Person Shooter
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