That’s not to say that the 2015 reboot didn’t do a lot right, as it really managed to capture the Star Wars universe with fantastic presentation, both visually and aurally. It was a masterpiece, in that regard. However, a few things felt like they were missing, and even post-release support and DLC couldn’t plug the hole of an absent single-player campaign.
In comes Star Wars Battlefront II to save the day! And save the day it does! At least, that’s my overall impression after playing through the single-player prologue, and the first two chapters.
What follows is an account of what I got my hands on and my thoughts on everything that I played.
Prologue – The Cleaner
The Rebel Alliance had captured an Imperial pilot. Interrogations begin aboard the MC80 capital ship Invisible Faith.
I’ll be honest, things started off a little shaky. You see, you don’t immediately play as main character Imperial Commander Iden Versio. Instead, you take control of her droid, which is tasked with rescuing its captured master. It controls well enough, but the initial vehicle section combined with the stealth elements made for a slow start.
Thankfully, you soon fill the shoes of Iden and the action quickly ramps up. While sneaking and taking enemies down one by one is an option, I opted to reenact Darth Vader’s New Hope entrance and murdered Rebels swiftly and mercilessly.
One standout moment that I must mention, is how you can close doors by shooting the control panel. Don’t fancy fighting Rebel reinforcements? Shoot the door to cut off their path. Easy, and very Star Wars-esque!
This is all tutorialized and you’re made to learn the ropes quickly. Gameplay feels smooth just like the original, and players will find both first and third-person views are supported, as well as an FOV slider.
Without delving too deep into story specifics, let’s just say that Iden makes quick work of the Rebels, using her Droid to shock and distract enemies, while more conventional blaster fire finishes them off. The Scanner ability helps to tag enemies in an area, which keeps Iden from getting flanked and outmanoeuvred.
Ultimately, Iden leaves the ship on which she was held captive.
Chapter I – The Battle of Endor
Inferno Squad arrives on Endor to investigate and, if possible, restore the deactivated Death Star shield generator.
After meeting up with her squad, Iden heads to Endor with the objective of restoring the Death Star’s shield generator. As film fans will know, the shield generator can’t be saved, and suddenly the Empire has lost its control. With Rebel reinforcements attempting to take back Endor, Iden must fight to survive.
I died a lot in this chapter. I blame my tendency to rush into situations and rapidly become overwhelmed. The Prologue made me feel like a badass, while this Endor mission forced me to take a step back and consider my options. This struggle worked well with the chapter’s theme of desperation.
Iden’s loadout can be managed in a similar fashion to multiplayer characters, with weapons and abilities becoming unlocked and swapped in and out. This customization allows for more variety and more options, which is great to see in the campaign.
The Rebel enemies proved formidable, but their AI was a little wonky at times. The biggest criticism I have is that they seemed half-deaf to explosions and gunfire. Despite this, the enemy waves came thick and fast, providing a significant challenge. After taking down a hijacked AT-ST, Iden and her squad managed to secure transport and leave the lost planet.
However, they weren’t safe yet, and so started the first space battle section. This is where the already exceptional visuals (playing on PS4 Pro) and audio truly stood out. The gameplay is stellar, too! Weaving in and out of debris, attempting to get a shot on the the Rebel ambushers– It all worked so well, and will have any Star Wars enthusiast grinning from ear to ear.
Chapter II – The Dauntless
Iden works security aboard the Star Destroyer Dauntless, which is securing critical technology for Operation: Cinder.
After some heavy story twists and turns, which I shan’t be going into, Iden was given a new mission. To complete the objective, more shooting and space battling had to be done, and I was only too happy to oblige.
Having now gotten used to Iden’s abilities and knowing that precision headshots quickly cool down her special, the Rebel forces proved less troublesome than they had been on Endor. It felt like I was playing multiplayer with a Hero pickup, as an unstoppable, deliberately overpowered force!
With battles becoming a little easier, I took the time to really inspect the world. As Star Wars Battlefront II fills in the blanks between films, the developers have found some subtle ways to reference events in past movies, as well as offering additional information about what’s currently taking place outside of Iden’s narrative. So, in between the barrages of gunfire and grenade explosions, do keep an ear open for dialogue between NPCs, and Easter eggs tucked away for fans to discover. There are also more traditional collectibles to be found.
Story tensions are interwoven with the objectives, and the narrative was always on my mind. Battlefront II has a lot of pressure on its shoulders to deliver a story that works and fits the movie canon. That is what Star Wars fans will be scrutinizing most, I feel, and many will be playing this game purely for the must-know plot. Happily, it’s looking fantastic thus far, and I’m eager to continue the story on November 17!
Disclosure – Travel to and from the Star Wars Battlefront II preview event was paid for by EA.