Battlefront 2 Review (9.5/10 Fantastic)
There has been a lot of buzz about Star Wars Battlefront 2, EA’s sequel to Battlefront, a re-imaging/updated version of the original Battlefront games. Unfortunately, the buzz is almost entirely negative and (in my opinion) highly misleading. While some of the concerns raised about EA’s micro-transaction system are valid, the truth is that Battlefront 2 is an otherwise amazing game, worthy of a near perfect score. I want to go into detail my experience with the game, what my thoughts are, and then we will close with a detailed overview of the controversial micro-transaction system.
Battlefront 2 is very similar to the first Battlefront 2 game in that it adds an enormous amount of content and turns Battlefront 2 into the game Battlefront 1 should have been. They have introduced prequel era content, as well as content from the new movies produced by Disney.
From a multiplayer stand-point the game does everything better than the first game. Heroes are earned with in-game battle-points during a match, rather than having to find power-ups on the battlefield which could be sniped by other players and squandered by lesser skilled players. A class system was introduced while still staying true to the Star Wars universe. Squads are encouraged by automatically spawning players in groups, and the general controls and mechanics are snappy.
The engine is absolutely beautiful, it makes Battlefront look outdated, and the maps are very well designed and enjoyable, providing combinations of cover, close combat, open outdoor maps, and more.
EA also has gone out of their way to reward lesser skilled players with bonuses even if they can’t get kills, focusing more on eliminations (which includes assists) and participation (deaths can earn sacrifice points and survival increases your point multiplier) Overall, the multiplayer combat experience feels rewarding, balanced, and just all around fun no matter who you are. You will be rewarded if you are a skilled player, but you will also not feel useless if you are a lesser skilled player.
Space battles are incredible, perhaps the single most epic-feeling space battle simulator I have played, and despite the fact you need nothing more than a keyboard and mouse, I found myself enjoying the battles even more than Elite Dangerous, which is a dedicated space flight sim.
The single player campaign also did not disappoint. The campaign is (and I mean this seriously) my favorite single player Star Wars experience, with the exception of Star Wars The Knights of The Old Republic. It is one of the most cinematically best produced games, and from a gameplay perspective, it is one of the better engaging experiences I have had in gaming in a very long time. The story and dialog are well thought through and executed, and while the writers may not be George RR Martin, the characters have complex relatable backgrounds, and I found myself caring (at least to some degree) what would happen to them in the story.
The campaign weaves a number of short stories into a large narrative, some focus on the main cast from the Star Wars universe, some on side characters, but most of the stories surround the protagonist Iden Versio. The story also reveals a number of surprising insights which help tie the original trilogy to The Force Awakens, and it provides answers to confusing plot-hole questions that The Force Awakens did not address. Some of these hints could have huge implications in the new Star Wars trilogy, and if they turn out to be what they seem, it might be the first time that a video game has answered such deep questions for a major cinema IP.
Overall I felt like I was playing a Star Wars movie when I played Battlefront 2, with gameplay and cinematics mixing seamlessly; I don’t mean to indicate that this is a “click for cinematic” adventure. I mean to say that the graphics, the atmosphere, the incredible animation and dialog all tie together to make you feel like you are there.
For all of these reasons, I would honestly rate this game an easy 9.5/10 and it would take my #7 on my top 10 best games of all time, dethroning Firewatch to #8 and Half-Life to #9. This is the kind of Star Wars game I could have only dreamed to play as a kid decades ago. My only complaint about the game would be that the campaign was short, but I would rather much have a short and dense campaign vs a drawn-out 30 hour-long experience.
So, you might wonder, how did Battlefront get a 67/100 critic score and a 0.8/10 user score? The answer is the pay-model they decided to go with. For those unaware, micro-transactions are small in-game purchases that entice players to spend money on the game, and they typically help pay for the game and/or running costs. While this pay model is not new, at least years old at this point, they are typically found more in the mobile, card game, and free-app market.
Most people are concerned that the game uses functional micro-transactions, micro-transactions that buy in-game equipment/buffs that make players more powerful in the game, technically a model of P2W (pay-to-win). From the consensus I have seen, stylistic micro-transactions like outfits with no bearing on the game would be far more respected by the community and less negatively received.
There are some popular games which could technically be called “Pay-To-Win,” Hearthstone comes to mind, as base decks are certainly not likely to win you a lot of matches, but it seems the main reason people aren’t complaining nearly as much about those games (just look at Hearthstone’s Metacritic score in comparison) is because those games typically have a 0 dollar entry cost. In other words, you can simply download the game for free and try to spend countless hours unlocking the game content, rather than paying a single penny for it upfront. Battlefront, on the other hand, has a minimum of a $60 full-price entry cost for the game to get started playing.
So is the outrage justified? From my perspective I can see why people are upset at the idea of pay to win, but the reality is that I understand the model. I agree that costumes/stylistic transactions would have been much better; however, EA is a company trying to turn a profit, and Battlefront 2 is a highly ambitious game, with future free-content promised, all based around a cutting edge engine, tons of content, and a major IP.
It is important to remember that while micro-transactions can be evil, they technically do buy the consumer bug fixes, updates, and future content for games. It is in EA’s interest to continue to provide content and keep you hooked, otherwise they will lose your future purchases and have to create an entirely new game, which is far more expensive to do. Most importantly, it is in their best interest to provide everyone the future updates for free and only lock side-elements to keep players hooked and playing with their friends. Without micro-transactions and pay-walls as found in Battlefront, all you get is the base game and nothing else, which in my opinion is depressing, it is like playing a dying game which you are slowly lowering into its grave.
After playing the game for 30 hours now, I can very much say that the outrage about Battlefront 2 being pay to win is heavily exaggerated. Permanent bonuses without conditionals like +% to health or primary damage are limited to around 10%. In other words you might be able to have a character that is 10% faster, 10% higher health, and 10% increased damage, but that is about the maximum you could possibly “buy” in this game. Yes it might take hundreds of hours or thousands of dollars to get these epic cards for every class, but it should be noted that getting the equivalent 5% cards is very easy and within 12–15 hours of gameplay you should be able to unlock 3 card slots for your favorite class and slot three base cards. So in reality, a player who plays for a short time will only be at a 5% disadvantage (and only in certain areas) to a player who spent thousands of dollars in the game.
Additionally, many elements are locked through progression. All of the primary weapons in the game are unlocked through progression, and only certain abilities like side weapons are locked with cards. Certain cards can only be crafted and crafting requires levels which can only be earned through in-game progression. 6/14 Heroes are locked and you have to unlock them through in-game play, perhaps taking 40-50 hours to unlock all of the heroes. So in reality there is not a whole lot locked in this game, and 90% of what is can be earned in a month or two of casual gameplay.
I think you might understand why I always shrug when I see these heated comments online treating the game like it is the spawn of Satan by people I am pretty sure haven’t played the game at all. Think about how misleading it is to say you need to play 100s of hours to unlock Darth Vader, when in reality it is based on bad calculations and the assumption you need to earn every one of the highest level cards for Vader, despite the fact that the cards do not make much of a difference, and you can only slot three cards anyway (not the dozens that can be unlocked for him). You can certainly play Vader without any cards, and he will not be that bad!
Battlefront 2 is a fantastic game, amazingly well done, undoubtedly expensive to produce and the “pay to win” elements are very minor. If these pay to win elements help EA pay for the game and provide free future content rather than setting up pay walls, I am in support of it. I would suggest that if you are one of those people who rated the game a 0/10, actually watch game play of it online, try it out if you can, or play a friends copy. The game really isn’t bad, and even if you don’t like the transaction system you shouldn’t give it a 0/10. This isn’t ET on the NES.