Over the past two days, I have had the pleasure of spending time at EA’s Redwood Shores Campus in Redwood City, California to get some hands-on experience with Star Wars Battlefront II’s multiplayer experience. Within this article, we are going to break down the experiences, what you can expect out of the multiplayer mode come release day, and my first impressions of the game.
Star Wars Battlefront II is pitched as the ultimate Star Wars fantasy. Through the various game types, you are able to get boots on the ground (or in the cockpit) with both Light Side and Dark Side forces, taking on the roles of heroes and villains spanning the Star Wars universe. It’s a pretty simple sounding concept, but it gets a bit deeper.
As you prepare for battle, you choose a Trooper from a pool of four roles: Officer, Specialist, Assault, and Heavy. Each serves a unique function, ultimately helping your team achieve game type- and map-dictated objectives. Each Trooper also has customizable weapons load outs and enhancements available via the Star Card system. Star Cards provide character-specific perks to the player that are either earned through gameplay or purchased via loot crates. We will talk more about that in our full review of Star Wars Battlefront II.
Multiplayer consists of five categories of gameplay: Blast, Strike, Heroes vs. Villians, Starfighter Assault, and Galactic Assault. Each gameplay category offers something different for the player to choose from, following a similar pattern of character load outs per faction and map.
If you are looking for a straight-up death match or elimination mode, Blast is where it’s at. There is no plan other than to defeat your enemies. The match is 10 versus 10, crowning the first team to kill 100 of their opponents as the victor. During this mode, only Troopers and Special Units are available. (Yes, I let the Wookie win.)
Strikes are objective-based missions where both teams seek to control points of interest. These points of interest have a connecting point to the map that they are a part of. For example, one such strike had a team of Republic Commandos defending their transports while the opposing team of Battle Droids were attempting to plant and detonate charges on the ships. There are multiple objective points in play per match consisting of 8 players per team with the best of 3 rounds taking the win. With Strikes, your teams have limited units. This an important distinction as most other maps have a limited pool of troops.
Heroes vs. Villains:
Heroes vs Villains is exactly what it sounds like: two teams of four players square off as the franchise’s most iconic characters from all three cinematic eras in a “what-if” style brawl. This game type has in interesting offense and defense mechanic where the aim is to take down a target “marked for death” while defending your own. The first team to collect ten marks wins the match.
Starfighter Assaults put you into the cockpit of some of Star Wars’ iconic armada in a 12 versus 12 space battle. As the name of the game type suggestions, this game is starfighters only. Rather than the choosing one of the four roles, you choose a type of starfighter. Fighters are the jack-of-all-trades. Bombers have a more explosive damage output and higher durability, but sacrifice mobility. Interceptors are highly maneuverable in dogfights, but glassy.
In Starfighter Assault, you participate in a verity of attack and defend scenarios spread across five different maps and spanning the three movie eras.
Have you ever walked into an ice cream parlor and put every topping on your sundae? That’s the best way I can describe Galactic Assaults! They are a 20 versus 20 epic scale battle that are self described as DICE’s “Star Wars Sandbox.” Galactic Assaults give you access to a very full range of play. From troopers to tanks, fighters to Imperial Walkers, bounty hunters to scoundrels – it’s all in there.
First Impressions: It would be dishonest of me to not begin my impressions of Star Wars Battlefront II without disclosing that it has been over a decade since I have stepped foot into a Battlefront game… I am also aggressively mediocre at competitive shooters. Because of this, I did find some things that concern me for the player-base of Star Wars Battlefront II.
Star Wars Battlefront II does have a wide range of multiplayer options for the seasoned soldier, the new recruit, and everyone in between, but the game system does seem to favor players who excel at the game’s systems. As someone who didn’t know going into the experience what type of Trooper I liked, I tried a little bit of everything – which is great for variety’s sake, but it did narrow the margins between fun for everyone and more fun for some. What do I mean by all of this?
Let’s talk first about load outs. Again, remember, we are not going to get into loot crates and the Star Card system right now… that is a conversation for another time.
As you play an individual Trooper type, you gain experience levels through gameplay. You are rewarded for your exploits with that Trooper. At levels 5 and 10, you unlock a new Star Card slot for that Trooper. This might sound inconsequential until you consider that an extra slot could mean high damage output, lower cooldowns, more resilience, or a high rate of collecting Battle Points for you or your opponent. If you are not playing the system, it is likely for you to fall behind the pack.
This can impacts your access to Heroes and special units as they are locked behind the Battle Points system. You earn Battle Points by succeeding within the game by playing the objectives, avenging deaths, and the like. If you are an average or less than average player (like myself), the likelihood of controlling Jedi, Sith, Bounty Hunter, or Scoundrel is not highly likely. And ever if you get enough points to access a hero or villain, there is only the availability for one to be in play at a time. It does make sense – you wouldn’t have two Yoda’s running around. However, if you do find yourself in this position with enough points, you are likely to be out of luck to play that hero. There has to be a solution beyond “Get good.” There is a cost-tiering system with Battle Point that does offer a mid-ranged option, like Wookies and Death Troopers when heroes are either unavailable or inaccessible.
I found out that I’m not so bad at Starfighter Assaults and made some fond of screaming through debris fields in a TIE Fighter, picking off Rebels, dodging missiles, and taking down a blockade runner. I actually made MVP in one of those matches – much to my disbelief!
So, when it came to Galactic Assault, I thought: “Great! I can be a contributing member of my team!” Well, remember when I said Galactic Assault was like putting every ice cream topping on a sundae? Yeah, I tried that once as a seven year-old kid and ended up barfing in a Bonanza bathroom. It was just way too much stuff and the combinations felt odd. Kind of like peanut butter and maraschino cherries.
Don’t get me wrong: the scale is amazing! And there are some maps that the formula works exceptionally well on. The options are great, but I found myself at points in a little bit of choice paralysis – fearing that the wrong choice would drastically hurt my team. I could fly a ship, which I loved and was decent at, but would it actually help? There were moments when flying that there was nothing that I could do other than occasionally dogfight the other person that followed my logic. The ships flew way too fast to assault ground units and when there were no enemy fighters in the air, there were no objectives for me to be working toward to assist my teammates in a productive manor.
All of that being said, I did have an enjoyable experience with the Star Wars Battlefront II multiplayer experience. It did help that I was sitting in a room with the people who were killing me willy-nilly, but, hey – I’m a good sport when playing with friends – even if I just met them! I’m not such a good sport with faceless players.
Overall, Star Wars Battlefront II’s multiplayer experience does what it sets out to do: provide a platform for Star Wars fans to live out their fantasy of being on the battlefront in a galaxy far, far away. My hope is that the team will be diligent in making sure that the experience is accessible to players of all types and skill levels to enjoy this.
(We will be covering the full scope of game mechanics and a full review soon, so stick around!)
All travel, housing, and per diem for this press event were provided by Electronic Arts.