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Hands-On: Star Wars Battlefront 2 hasn’t Won me Over, but it’s Close

by Kyle Hanson

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Oh Star Wars Battlefront 2, how I hope that you won’t hurt me again. If you’ve followed this site for a while then you know that the first Battlefront (or third if you count properly, EA), was a game that had me very excited. It demoed exceptionally well, with its gorgeous visuals, exceptional audio, and fast paced action. I put more hours into that game before it came out then I have most full releases. Then the game hit and it was clear that it demoed so perfectly because that was about all the game offered.

Star Wars Battlefront had excised a lot of the things that made the original two titles such classics, including space combat and truly large scale combat. There were also a lot of odd decisions, such as making hero spawns appear on the map for anyone to pick up. The backlash was clear and immediate, and EA seems to have listened well so far.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 is right around the corner, promising the improvements that fans requested. I got to go hands on at last week’s EA Play conference outside of E3 2017 proper. You can even check out a full match below, though I was able to get in about 4-5 full rounds of play before having to rush out for another appointment.

Throughout those playthroughs I made a point of looking for changes, and there were plenty. Most have been dissected online already, but just to run them down: Battle Points are earned and used for Hero/vehicle spawns, heroes are not timed spawns, new game modes, new maps, more timelines, more characters, more variety overall.

The first thing is the biggest, shifting the on-map powerups into something that is earned. Players who are helping the team the most, either via kills or objective work will earn more Battle Points which can then be used to spawn as a Hero or other more powerful character. Heroes cost a bunch of BP, which will likely take a couple of lives to save up. Otherwise you can spend them early, spawning as a vehicle or some other character like a Clone Trooper with a jetpack.

This does a number of things to fix what went wrong with Star Wars Battlefront. First, you earn your Hero spawn, making it so that good, smart play will get you the reward. Second, no more camping Hero and vehicle spawns waiting for them to appear. Third, The Heroes feel more important and powerful since with smart tactics you can use them for longer. Finally, it offers players a lot of interesting choices. Do they spend their BP early and get a quick boost, or do they save them to spawn as a Hero.

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The battle was also bigger, featuring a huge map with up to 40 players. The droid army of the Trade Federation was advancing on the palace of Naboo. Our clone troops were tasked with taking out the troop transport using Ion Cannons scattered around the map. We never fully succeeded at this, but I suspect that was because this demo was tailored to get us to the epic finale inside the palace.

Fighting was fast paced and fun, as long as I didn’t spawn far away from others. We formed groups in the spawn screen, and sticking together would produce extra Battle Points. This rarely happened, but it’s a nice way of incentivizing teamwork. Once the battle got inside things got really hectic. Battle formed around choke points as we tried to fight off the advancing droids. This is where I usually switched classes to Heavy and used the shield ability to really cover the area.

When I played on the other side it was clear that this part was a challenge, but by working together, taking out defenders and moving forward quickly, we could make it through. Balance will likely need some tweaking here, but the team has a lot of time to work it out.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet are the vehicles, mostly because they were useless. Flying around outside, you could maybe get a few shots on soldiers down below, but really you just fought other players in flying vehicles. After awhile it was clear that this map and mode simply didn’t necessitate aerial combat. The BP system also makes vehicles better in Star Wars Battlefront 2, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I still prefer the original method of having them physically on the map, allowing for take off and landing at will.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 is full of this sort of stuff. It’s clearly an improvement over its predecessor, but the magic might not be totally carried over from the original classics. EA has listened and made key changes all around the experience, but is it enough? So far I’m not sure, but this was a good enough first impression that I’m gonna try and find out.

This is Star Wars Battlefront 2: Hands On E3 2017 Alpha

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