Impressions: Battlefront II Beta was an absolute blast
Ever since the metaphorical floodgates were opened for the beta for one of this year’s most anticipated games, Star Wars: Battlefront II, I have been absolutely hooked. It is in parts due to its presentation and atmosphere but a huge part due to how simple it is to get into the game, and its excellent Starfighter Assault mode in which Criterion has done a fantastic job which I will talk more about later. Although there aren’t many game modes available in this release, but whatever is present is both interesting and surprisingly polished for a beta.
The first mode that I liked is the Galactic Assault where one team (the clones) must prevent the others (The Separatists) from entering a palace by stopping a MTT, a huge war machine that can deliver a payload large enough to breach the site. Since this is an objective based mode, the more objectives you help towards, the more skill points you will acquire, and compared to the previous game, players can now use their skill points on airborne and ground vehicles in order to help their side win rather than being limited to heroes or on ground troops. It is a hectic game mode where objective based play is rewarded and encouraged.
However, what truly caught my eye during this mode was how good the game looked, as the map was absolutely littered with realistically floating leaves, birds, and abandoned silverware which made everything stand out. I understand that this isn’t something to write home about since effects like these are used in other games, but not as impressively in my opinion, as the way frostbite engine seems to render particle effect is much different 3D wise and denser than most other games giving them a realistic weight and shading.
Gameplay wise I am glad that they haven’t changed how easy the game is to get into so far. Most other MP games have various stats and weapon modes where if you crouch, prone or similar the game will give buff to your damage or the like. However what I enjoyed both in the original and this is that the game is mainly point and shoot. You pick the weapon you want, read the basic stats and go into battle using simple abilities cards when needed. For a person such as myself who is horrible at multiplayer games, this is an added relief since I do not have to clutter my mind thinking about too many things and can just have fun without feeling underwhelming.
Arcade modes have made their return as well, which can be played split-screen on consoles allowing players to complete challenges and play scenarios as iconic heroes and villains. Even though heroes like Solo, Chewie and Rey are available in the assault matches, the only substantial arcade mode stars Darth Maul, who as it turns out is a really powerful character in the game.
Still, what I have without a doubt spent most of my time in the beta with is the game’s Starfighter Assault mode where you either play as the Empire or the Rebellion choosing from either a Fighter, Interceptor or Bomber class. The Empire’s main goal is to protect their ships whilst the Rebellion has to destroy them in order to win. This mode is incredibly fun mainly due to how easy it is to control the ships. Your main movement is controlled by your mouse/ Right thumbsticks to direct your camera and the movement keys/left analogue stick, to speed up and slow down or tilt your spacecraft. Of course lastly you use your right trigger/mouse button to fire. Each craft does have different abilities dependent on what you play as but even they are simple to use. Criterion as you may or may not have heard has helped craft the handling, outdoing themselves in the process due to providing an experience that is not only smooth but feels well balanced.
The only main issue I have with this mode which I am sure they will fix anyways, is that it seems off-balanced for the rebellion during the last phase of the battle where you have to destroy couplings in order to bring down the reactor shield. It feels a bit unfair since the reactor only shows up for seconds before the couplings clamp back and you have to repeat the cycle all over again until the core is destroyed.
Since all the Empire mainly has to do is destroy the Rebellion ships until their respawn tickets have run out, this particular section of the game due to its grinding, buys them a lot of time to deplete the tickets. Of course of the teams I was playing the players could have chosen bombers more as they are more resistant to damage and have more missile and projectile options to quickly destroy the enemy reactors but even then it feels a bit unfair. Hopefully DICE will balance out the ticket rates by launch.
Of course one last thing that I have to talk about is the music. The music takes cues and motifs from John William’s score yet again and plays around with them in order to set an epic and authentic atmosphere. Because of this, it truly feels like you are in the Star Wars universe and part of the action. It was great to hear the star wars fanfare as soon as the game loaded up, welcoming you back to the star wars universe. The sound effects are also very responsive and well mixed with this being a DICE game, immersing you even more. What was particularly nice to hear were the Tie fighters and X-wings whiz around firing their weapons, with sounds reminiscent of the movies.
All in all if this is indicative of the final experience with the same feel and modes, I am definitely onboard now and absolutely cannot wait for the final game to ship and jump back in, as I have a feeling it will definitely be out of this world. Besides, I still want to get my hands on the game’s cool looking singleplayer.