Most of the Star Wars Battlefront II talk has been focused on the single player campaign and the story of Imperial Commander Iden Versio. One of the most significant complaints with EA and DICE’s first Battlefront in 2015 was shallow gameplay, lack of content, and no story. Even the multiplayer battles lost their charm and began to feel dry after a few rotations. From what has been shown so far, the sequel is making improvements in every aspect.
The motto of the 2015 Battlefront was “live out your battle fantasies”, which actually applies to the sequel in a more fitting way. DICE chose a prequel setting, the planet of Naboo, to debut its multiplayer content which is a bold choice considering the strong division among fans regarding those films. They should be successful in alleviating skepticism from prequel-haters because the Assault on Theed map isn’t taken beat-for-beat from The Phantom Menace, but is rather unique to Battlefront II.
My hands-on time with the Assault on Theed multiplayer map at E3 2017 put me in control of a Battle Droid in an attempt to infiltrate Theed palace and break through the Clone army. My job as a flimsy metal soldier was to keep the streets of Theed clear and guide the Multi-Troop Transport (MTT) to the palace. This mode is very similar to Walker Assault from the 2015 game, though it feels more personal. The game encourages you to stay with your squad of four droids and awards you bonus points for fighting in close proximity of one another.
If you didn’t care for the token system in 2015’s Battlefront, you’ll be happy to know that obtaining a ship or playing as a hero is based on skill rather than randomization. Gone are the days of spotting a token on the planet Hoth and racing against numerous other players in an attempt to pilot a Snowspeeder. In Battlefront II, players are awarded battle points based on number of kills and teamwork, which can then be spent to obtain upgrades. These are set at different tiers, with Super Battle Droids being fairly easy to take control of. I found myself taking on that role consistently throughout the match, dominating the palace doors with my wrist rocket and rapid fire laser cannon.
Clone Troopers have the option of operating the two-legged AT-RT walker, giving them a bit more mobility and firepower. For a few extra battle tokens, players can pilot a Vulture Droid and Naboo Starfighter which of course allows aerial combat. This new currency mechanics encourages players to learn the best way to play and make the effort to improve their skills. The previous token system in 2015’s Battlefront demonstrated a more casual mentality, allowing lucky players to obtain the best upgrades regardless of skill.
Heroes and villains like Darth Maul, Rey, Boba Fett, and Han Solo require the most points to use, meaning you might only have the opportunity once or twice per match. With these four heroes all fighting on Naboo together, it’s clear that DICE is at ease with taking some liberties to the Star Wars canon in order to create a fun multiplayer experience. While many heroes are returning from the first game, they are fleshed out with all new abilities that have been balanced for multiplayer matches. It’s a little jarring to see Han Solo firing his blaster at Darth Maul, while Rey swings her lightsaber at Battle Droids, but it’s all in good fun. For those who dreamed of seeing Darth Vader fight Maul in Star Wars Rebels, this may be the game you’re looking for.
Battling on the streets of Theed felt chaotic, but I had a clear understanding that I needed to keep pushing forward in order to take the palace. The battle took place in three segments: pushing through the streets with the MTT, getting through the palace doors, and finally taking control of the throne room. Pushing forward with the MTT through the streets required strength in numbers, considering that the town square was fairly sprawling and open. To me, this felt almost like a WWII battle in the streets of Germany, requiring soldiers to take cover and be strategically forcing their way onward.
Once I got to the palace steps, the plan changed and I did my best to snipe from a distance and pick off anyone near the palace doors. This was my favorite part of the match because it required the Clone Troopers to guard the door at all costs while the Battle Droids did everything in their power to break their defense. It was an all-out battle focused on a single area of interest, which forced everybody to work together and display all of their brute force at once. After breaking through the doors and into the throne room, utter madness ensued. Darth Maul and Rey dominated this area with their close range melee combat while a legion of Super Battle Droids continuously fired missiles into the open room.
Having multiple sequences within a stage encourages players to switch up their strategies as the match continues, allowing for more diversity and mastery of different aspects of the game. Players will find that it helps to switch classes depending on the situation. There are four classes for each side, which can be changed after every player death. Assault is a fairly standard soldier equipped with grenades and an automatic rifle. The Heavy class holds a heavy machine gun and also has the ability to raise a shield, making it a viable tank. Officers are a support class, with deployable turrets and area shields. Lastly, the specialist is essentially a sniper class complete with trip mines. There are a lot of different strategies that players can work together to devise. When fighting through the streets, it’s best to have the heavy troopers up front with shields protecting the assault troopers and officers while specialists survey and pick off any enemies who slip through the cracks.
Overall, a significant amount of improvements have been made to Star Wars Battlefront II considering the first game was seen as a disappointment by many. In my short time with the multiplayer, I felt that the battles were much more action-packed, with dull moments being few and far between. Battlefront II is everything that the first game should have been and more. The game looks and sounds fantastic, and I wouldn’t expect any less considering how great these aspects were back in 2015. Throughout my time in Battlefront II’s multiplayer, I was on the edge of my seat, doing my best as a soldier trying to push towards the front lines. The stakes have been raised high, making each battle feel personal and important.
Star Wars Battlefront II launches November 17th on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC.