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Star Wars Battlefront II

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Criterion (EU), Motive Studios (US)
Release Date: Nov. 17, 2017


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Star Wars Battlefront II'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 13, 2017 @ 7:00 a.m. PDT

Live the untold Star Wars story of Iden, an elite Stormtrooper, in an original single-player story. Battle on land and in space in an expanded multiplayer experience with iconic heroes and villains, thrilling space battles, and a deep progression and customization system.

Pre-order Star Wars: Battlefront II

Star Wars hype is the biggest it's been in decades. We're getting new films, including the first successful spin-off film — sorry, "The Christmas Special," but you don't count. A new generation is getting to experience Star Wars in theaters for the first time, and longtime fans are finally seeing the further adventures of the heroes they grew up with. Star Wars: Battlefront was painfully close to being the perfect Star Wars game, with a near-perfect mix of visuals and sound design. Only some nagging design flaws really held it back. It's why Battlefront II is such an exciting concept. All it takes is a little bit of fixing, and you could have a Star Wars game to eclipse all Star Wars games. We had the chance to play it at EA Play during E3, and Battlefront II has a lot of potential.

Our demo involved the Battle of Threed on Naboo, set during the Clone Wars. The two forces were the Droids versus the Clones, a pretty significant change from the simple Empire vs Rebellion setup of the original game. This includes a ton of prequel-era weapons, vehicles and other widgets that are sure to please fans of the Clone War era. The Hero characters who appeared included those from the past (an intact Darth Maul) and the future (Rey from "The Force Awakens"). The final version of the game will feature content that spans the entire Star Wars universe.

You can spawn as four different units, which roughly amount to all-around, offense, defense and support, and each unit has customizable strengths and weaknesses. I favored the Droid Officer, a support unit that isn't heavily armed but has defensive support abilities. They can give fellow units a temporary increase to max HP, increase the rate they recover from damage, and drop turrets to help with defense. By simply existing, I was able to turn the tide of battle. Working together massively amplified our abilities. Having a shield-wielding droid up front soaking damage while we shot from behind made it difficult for the Clone Troopers to keep up.

The mission structure should feel familiar to longtime Battlefront players. The Droids had to protect a heavily armored attack transport as it approached the Naboo castle, and the Clones had to protect ion cannons that wanted to take it down. The game forced adherence to the defense pretty strictly. Moving too far away from your defense target causes the game to warn you to return, seemingly a move to limit people who go off on their own instead of working with the team. Once the tank reached its target, it blew a hole into the throne room, and the final step of the match involved on-foot indoor battles as both sides tried to hold a control point. Once the throne room fell, the attackers were victorious.

A major fun factor in Battlefront II is how it handles special units. As you play, you accumulate points, which can be spent to respawn as a special unit, including flying units, special combat units, and hero units. While there's a hard limit on the number of units that can be on the map at a given time — you can't have multiple Mauls, for instance — this system is a solid mix of risk and reward. A flying Vulture Droid is only 500 points but allows you to provide air cover for your ground units. A Super Battle Droid is much more expensive, but it's a dependable power booster. A hero unit like Darth Maul or Boba Fett can be 10 times as expensive as a Vulture Droid but can single-handedly win battles.

In our demo, victory came to those who were smart about spending their points. The opposing side kept rushing Rey and bringing her into battle. She was powerful, but without support and help, it was pretty easy to cut her down. In comparison, I frequently went Vulture Droid and spent my time supporting units from above. I died, but since the cost was cheap, I was able to keep spawning as a Vulture Droid and continue my rampage compared to the one-and-done that comes from spending it all on a hero unit.

The pacing of the match felt quite good. The combat was nearly constant, and the mechanics were more "arcade-y" than in Battlefield 1. This generally meant a faster pacing and the ability to instantly jump into action. They were pretty harsh about forcing you to stay near the combat zone, but in the demo, that felt like a good thing. For better or worse, you need to be with your team and work together. Of the matches we played, the Droids won every one, but that may be due to the fact that the players never swapped sides.

All in all, the demo of Battlefront II offered a lot of hope and potential. It seemed like it captured the fun bits of the original Battlefront while smoothing out some of the rough edges. It'll be tough to say if that carries over to the full version, but by and large, the critical thing about Battlefront II is that it's fun. At the end of our demo, I was eager for more. With a single-player story mode already in the works, there's a lot to get excited about with Battlefront II. Ultimately, is there anything as satisfying as earning the chance to take down an entire squad of battle droids as a Jedi?

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