Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) was originally released on November 17th, 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It’s the sequel to the initial reboot of the Star Wars Battlefront series from 2015. Developed by DICE and published by EA, Star Wars Battlefront II has had one of the most dynamic and controversial lifetimes in video game history. Battlefront II (2017) took many of the features from Battlefront (2015) and expanded on how much farther the game could go. Deeply criticized for a variety of reasons at its launch, it’s received numerous free updates over the years that have kept many people playing to this day. The game has also just gained a fresh new wave of players since its addition to the lineup of games on EA Play. Regardless of how it was received by consumers at launch, it’s clearly generated a great deal of interest among shooter fans and Star Wars fans alike. So what went right and what went wrong with Star Wars BattleFront II?
13 Years to Build On
To appropriately judge Battlefront II (2017), let’s look at what came before it. The first Star Wars Battlefront game came out in 2004 for PC, PS2, and Xbox. It was developed by Pandemic Studios and published by LucasArts. It’s a Star Wars FPS game where you play as a common soldier in the Star Wars universe thrust into a team-battle. There are multiple classes, factions, and maps to choose from. Star Wars fans will love to play on their favorite planet with their favorite army. Shooter fans will love choosing their favorite play-styles and weapons, then jumping right into non-stop action. But the 2005 version of Battlefront II pushed the game to the next level. One of the reasons for the high level of discontent among fans at the 2017 release may have to do with the high bar set by the original Battlefront II.
An Ever-Expanding Galaxy
Incredibly, even the original Battlefront II still has a player base to this day. How can this be? What made the original Battlefront II shine? It starts with how much content the developers made available to the player. The original Battlefront II added a story mode where you could play as a clone/storm trooper that follows the events of the movies. Starting at the battle of Geonosis, you’ll eventually fight on the Death Star and deeper into the original trilogy. The original sequel also added various other game modes that added endless replayability to the game. The game featured space battles with numerous flyable ships. The game had hunts that pitted aliens versus the traditional armies. It added hero battles where iconic characters joined the fight. It even had a galactic conquest mode where all of the game’s planets were shown on a large map and you had to systematically conquer the galaxy, one battle at a time. The original Battlefront II was loaded with content that showed how much the developers cared about improving the game through its latest release. What about Battlefront II (2017)?
The Dark Side
Let’s start with the problems because that’s how the game’s lifecycle started. Hands down, Battlefront II’s progression system upon release was the most egregious sin committed by EA. This was among the most predatory tactics ever attempted to try to extract additional money from players who already payed full price for a game. Upon release, Battlefront II featured a progression system that required the player to use an in-game currency to unlock characters and purchase loot boxes. Opening the loot boxes had the potential to unlock new abilities for units or new cosmetics. What was so egregious about this? There was the moral argument that several national governments made across the globe, claiming this game was introducing gambling to children. But beyond that, the prices for every loot box and unlock were completely out of this world. To cherry pick, Darth Vader is arguably the flagship character in Star Wars. He’s the villain in the original trilogy who comes back to save the day and he’s the hero-turned-villain in the prequels. It took roughly 40-80 hours of dedicated playtime in multiplayer to unlock him! Or, you know, you could just buy the excruciatingly overpriced in-game currency and skip that. This presents the true tragedy of Battlefront II’s release. The game intentionally locked off so much of its content in the hopes that certain players would spend high amounts of money to buy them. Meanwhile, normal players would have to grind for countless hours to unlock anything. It wasn’t just the progression system that disappointed players about the game either. Battlefront II generated plenty of excitement because it would feature a story mode that was almost always marketed as an opportunity to play as a mysterious and elite storm trooper unit clad in black. However, it’s only about three or four missions in that you change sides and end up as rebel with your mask off for the rest of the story. Much like the multiplayer’s progression system, the singleplayer story mode wasn’t accurately portrayed before launch.
The Light Side
So what did EA do right? At the very least, they saw that consumers were extremely displeased with the state of the game at launch. Battlefront II has had numerous sizable updates, which have seriously changed the way that the game is played. Loot boxes were fixed and the cost to unlock certain characters has been decreased by as much as 75%. As the Star Wars universe has expanded and evolved over the years, the game has added several new characters, weapons, and cosmetics. No one ever complains about free content updates. It’s undeniable that the game is better today than it was at release. While it mostly received reviews around 6/10 by most games journalists, it now receives very positive reviews from recent players. Beyond all the changes that have been made to the game over the years, it wasn’t all bad at launch either. The graphics are fantastic and if you’ve ever wanted to play a Star Wars shooter that looks great, you can’t find a game better than this. Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) stands along Fallen Order as one of the most visually appealing Star Wars games. Gunplay is smooth and there are plenty of vehicles, weapons, maps, and characters for you to enjoy.
While EA definitely didn’t hit the nail on the head with Battlefront II, they did produce a game that can stand out on its own. There’s a good reason that so many people are still playing. It’s very fun to play with your friends and engross yourself in the world of Star Wars. It’s still worth playing. Combat is well-done and there are many different ways to have fun. But despite the fact that loot boxes have been fixed, the progression system will never truly be fixed for me. I would have much preferred a leveling system that would award you with specific unlockable content based on time played or successful gameplay. Even with all the flair of EA’s remake, I still prefer the original Battlefront II from 2005. For me, the memorable story, the superior space battles, and the unique galactic conquest mode keep the original Battllefront II at the top spot of the Battlefront series. The internet also has plenty of mods that you can use to add to the classic experience. Should a Battlefront III ever be released, I sincerely hope that they blend some of the great qualities from the original games into the next game in the series. Each game is available on various marketplaces and I encourage you to give them a try if you’re a fan of Star Wars and shooters.
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