|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: EA DICE, Criterion Games, EA Motive|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: November 17, 2017|
|Players: 1-40 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence|
Meanwhile, character progression and equipment is much more complicated. This works for and against Star Wars: Battlefront II. Instead of having one character you customize the look of and build over time, you can swap freely between a set of classes and outfit each one with a weapon, emote, and set of “Star Cards.” What really sells this new structure is Battle Points. As you contribute to the battle by getting kills, chasing objectives, and the like, you earn points. These points can be cashed in when you respawn for even more class options. This is also where the vehicles and hero characters come in. No longer are the goofy pick-ups part of the loop. Now, earn enough points and you can cash in and play as Kylo Ren, Yoda, or one of the many other characters or special vehicles. It’s so much better and encourages you to be the best player you can be, instead of scrambling for power-ups like you’re playing Unreal Tournament.
But back to Star Cards. Yeah, this is where the loot crate drama kicks in and ruins everything. Each character has three Star Card slots, and you get Star Cards from meeting various milestones (the best ones) or buying crates (all the lesser ones you need to get going). These cards offer new tools and abilities, as well as passive bonuses. The cards also vary in power and are upgradable when enough resources (like, a ton) are earned. If you like to play a certain, specific class and want to master that class, you’re going to be grinding random drops for a long, long time. Or you could drop some real cash for a chance at a slightly shorter long, long time. Meanwhile, people who already have a full set of upgraded cards can and will wipe the floor with you. It totally mucks up the balance and makes the learning curve more of a jagged line that has murderous sentience and wants to strangle you to death.
In-between the two marquee offerings in Star Wars: Battlefront II is Arcade Mode, a more expanded version of the cute, little single-player or two-player splitscreen mode in the last game. It’s you and a friend against bots in a small handful of modes. It’s a lot of fun! Obviously, it isn’t as expansive as playing a Timesplitters back in the day, but it’s a good way to unwind and enjoy the awesome gameplay without the frustrations of getting owned online and grinding crates. Unfortunately, there’s actually a limit on how many credits you can earn playing this mode, so this vicious microtransaction economy even finds a way to make you feel bad in what would otherwise be a nice, temporary sanctuary.
Star Wars: Battlefront II feels like a big step forward, but instead of following that with a number of steps back, it’s actually a trip-up leading to a sprained ankle. This is a beautiful, fun game with huge ambitions for being an important part of the Star Wars universe as it is today. It introduces a fascinating new character and injects her right into the main storyline. But it does so in such a disappointingly banal way, it’s hard to care after the story is over. Meanwhile, the fun continues for a bit in the multiplayer until you’re crushed under the boots of either “enormous grind” or “emptying wallet.” It’s frustrating; I’m sure I’ll find myself coming back for more, especially after more content drops. But I’ll always be proceeding with caution, lest I open myself up for further disappointment.