Story by Mark Beresford
After many of us sunk countless hours into 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront, the prospect of Star Wars Battlefront II open beta was a tantalising one.
Straight away, the visual and audio improvements are striking, seemingly pulling from the action sequence style of Battlefield 1.
Everywhere you turn there’s crumbling structure, fire whipping, leaves blowing across courtyards, dust particles falling and you hear the intense combat all around as well as faintly in the distance to give you a full descent into battle chaos. It pulls the game together and feels much livelier than what it used to.
Again, using the proven Battlefield feedback, characters in game are now shifted from largely just models with slightly differing guns to actual class characters. Feel like performing shock and awe? Heavy class it. More into distance shots and combat tricks? Specialist is for you. The classes bring a much clearer balance to teams and squads, you can pick up the slack where needed or make a judgement call on what can get you over the line.
The combat systems feel incredibly polished now, the awkward lag or crippling model frame breaks at this stage don’t appear to be hitting these maps and it gives a confidence in the character you’re using. Though we didn’t get a great deal of variety in the maps on offer, the larger of the two being a sixty-player map gave a much grander scale gaming experience than anything in the first title.
The game’s universe has been expanded in general with reportedly more planets, more characters from the games cannon and films, many more vehicles and correcting the notable omission of the first game by including a proper single player campaign.
For this beta at least, it’s hard to look past the space battles of Battlefront II however as they are, to put it simply, awesome. Handing the control of this element from Dice to Criterion to develop was a solid gold move as everything about it has improved. Sharp responsiveness to movement, more logical fighting physics and generally richer playing field, this was the breakout hit of the game and there’s every chance it’s where most servers will end up pointed when the game does drop.
It may not be completely rosy for the latest Star Wars game, though, as there’s already been an outcry of fans over its glaring ‘pay 2 win’ oversight in the character levelling and ability cards. Logic would dictate that this will be at least modified before release or patched very quickly, but given we purchased half of the original only to need a season pass to truly complete the game, only time will tell.
Star Wars Battlefront II is released November 17.
Pic via EA