|This is a guest review from Brick @ TheChumpcast.com – looking for an entertainment podcast with a bit more ridiculousness than GlitchCast has to offer? Check out The Chumpcast on iTunes, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!|
Before I delve into the review, first, some background: EA does not understand the number one rule of sales, which is to under-promise, and over-deliver. Their big reveal at this years E3 was that they were going to buck the trend of paying additional money for DLC packages, which have historically ruined games and fractured the player base, preventing some people from playing with friends. They attempted to remedy the situation with Battlefield 1 by allowing friends to play on certain weekends if someone in that group had the DLC packages. Ultimately, it crashed servers and made the players who spent extra money on the game feel unappreciated.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was going to fix all of the money-hungry tendencies of Battlefront 1 by giving us DLC for free. Woah, it would appear EA is really turning a corner for the gamer community! NOPE! EA thought they could Jedi Mind trick the population by adding microtransactions with a random loot box pay-to-win upgrade system. After the enormous outrage created by Reddit, the the Belgian government took it upon themselves to straight up call out EA and Disney by claiming their loot box reward system is child gambling and calling for loot boxes to be banned! First they bring us dope waffles, now they are spearheading the operation to take down EA. I’m feeling this Belgium movement!
A Disney executive was questioned about Battlefront 2 loot boxes and the correlation to child gambling, which IMMEDIATELY halted microtransactions. With EA’s previous success with FIFA and Madden’s Loot Box system, EA thought they would have the Star Wars nerd population ready with their wallets open. In reality, the roles were reversed and Star Wars fans hit EA in the only place they understand – their bottom line. WAY TO GO NERDS! Now lets review the actual content of the game.
The first mission introduces a new character to the Star Wars Franchise: Iden Veriso. The campaign is 8 hours long with DLC expected to coincide with the release of the new movie. The graphics are incredible and anyone who loves the Star Wars movies will love following along with this brand new story. I tried to run through this campaign just to unlock the loot crates, but once I played the Mission “Until Ashes” I was hooked, and wanted more of Iden Veriso’s story. It starts out slow, expanding on basic controls, effectively teaching me how to fly and utilize Iden’s massive arsenal. Overall, what was there of the campaign I enjoyed and I am looking forward to the future campaign DLC.
Each map is designed to inspire awe based on the scale and world building alone. Every scenario has you thrust into the final onslaught of a planet fighting to prevent their extinction. You control either an offensive or defensive side in a given match, which is chosen at random. Most maps also have day and night settings, effectively doubling the amount of variety in landscapes.
There are major improvements over the original Star Wars: Battlefront. A few of note:
- Combining Walker Assault and Supremacy allows for keeping the player base whole.
- Changing acquisition of Hero/Vehicles, thereby rewarding players having strong matches rather than randomly spawning coins around the map.
- Up to three heroes can be active for each team at a time depending on the sector and map.
- The different classes all have a unique leveling up system that allows for personalized gameplay.
- Spawning has been upgraded so you start in waves and incentivises players to roll together to boost their battle points, thus granting them a speedier route to the heroes.
I do have a few issues with this game mode:
- They should make the game mode more than 20 versus 20, as often these maps have large open areas where you’d like to see more players in the field.
- Spawn points are way too far away from the action. Every time you spawn you need to begin with a 200 meter sprint. This isn’t the Summer Olympics, EA. Get me into the action!
- The games are simply not long enough to feel like I’ve accomplished anything. They need to expand the offensive lives and delay the capture times for sectors to allow more users to play as the Heroes. As an average player, by the time you get a hero it is often too late and the game will be over.
- There are times when abilities get turned off for the remainder of your life for no real reason that I can discern.
Heroes vs Villains
If you ever wanted to feel the full power of a Jedi Knight then this is the game mode for you.
Each Hero and Villain is extremely well balanced. I have been playing with a group of 6 people, we have all tried each individual character and organically have been drawn to certain characters based on gameplay. Each character has a distance and close range attack which changes how you play.
This game mode is only 4v4 so so there is a big emphasis on team play. 1 player is selected at random to be the designated target for each team. Each team starts with 10 targets per round. Stay alive longer than the opposing team’s target and you keep your point. The first team to lose all 10 targets loses the match.
It’s a fast paced game mode that benefits greatly with teamwork and communication. There are times when you get deep in a team fight and suddenly you’re the only one remaining surrounded by Vader, Maul, and Boba Fett. Time to run Luke! Being elusive and dodging the enemy is half the fun, while staying alive and frustrating your opponent is just as fun as slaying them.
The maps are small enough to always be in the action but big enough to find yourself caught up in a 1v4 battle with your teammates across the map sprinting to save you. It’s an interesting take on a classic arena VIP mode.
The downside to this game mode falls on the 4v4 structure. If a player on either team quits, they do not have a replacement system so games can get out of hand when that happens. You also cannot have more than 4 players in your party, so you can never team up with 4 of your friends, and fight another 4 of your friends. Heroes vs Villains is the only mode where you are guaranteed to play as a special character which can lead to exclusion of friends wanting to play in the same game. I’d love to see EA add custom games or let groups of 8 play HvsV matches.
Both game modes are infantry only; no Heroes or Villains. Standard Team Deathmatch for Blast and objective modes for Strike. If you are getting this game for these game modes you are doing it for the wrong reasons. There are better shooters out there for this type of mode, but I am happy they have given us the option.
The controls for flying these starfighters are not like anything I have ever played. They have a steep learning curve, but once you master the controls flying can be utilized to your advantage in a big way. If you want to learn to fly, beat the campaign. The final flying mission will force you to have a handle on the controls. Each map is beautiful and has a unique objective that will keep players engaged no matter where you are on the map. They captured the essence of starship dogfighting from the movie and makes you feel like you truly are a pilot of a starship. The first few times I was playing I actually had motion sickness.
The challenges of the battle scenarios give you great practice with all of the heroes, villains, and elite classes. The third tier of each of these battle scenarios feels reminiscent of the challenges in the excellent late N64 game, Perfect Dark. The final tier provides a challenge where you need to be a real Jedi in order to complete, and at minimum it should take you a few tries on the later challenges. Each level has varying difficulty, player/AI health, ability regeneration rates, and heroes available. Once I completed the arcade modes, I felt an enormous jump in my skills, especially when I earned a hero on Galactic Assault and started seeing more slaying opportunities.
My major issue with the arcade mode is the difficulty for the first two stars. It is so easy you can walk through most challenges without any issues. You make 100 credits a game in arcade mode. After you play about 15 matches in arcade you need to wait 8 hours before you can gain credits again. This is after they tripled the amount you can earn per day which still isn’t even enough to unlock the cheapest loot box. Once you complete all three tiered challenges you receive a Han solo skin, but grinding through 48 challenges without gaining credits on more than half of it doesn’t make it worth pursuing. This all goes back to how poor they made this loot crate system.
This is the worst rewards system I have ever dealt with in a video game. I do not have a problem with Heroes locked when you start the game; Super Smash Bros has the same concept. I don’t mind needing to unlock upgrades, skins, or star cards for each player either. My biggest problem with this game is it is not skill based; it’s time based. I could have 40 kills and another guy could have 2 kills – I’m going to get 200 credits and he is going to get 195. Players are starting to realize this flaw in the system and exploiting the hell out of it. In bigger game modes you will be guaranteed to have at least one player spinning around at the spawn. They do this so the servers don’t kick them and then still receive a majority of the credits. It gets especially annoying when these credit goobers join a smaller game mode like Heroes vs Villains where it is 4v4 and one player is in the corner doing their best impression of a freakin’ helicopter; not to mention they are the target 1/4th of the time.
Once you finally receive enough money for a loot box you have no control over the player you develop. If I have a great run as Boba Fett and I finally get enough in game currency to buy a box, it is most likely I’m going to get a duplicate or another card which won’t level up my Boba Fett and then I’m stuck with super high level Leia (who I have not unlocked, nor is my current goal to unlock) so I am stuck grinding another hour or two with a low level Boba Fett for another “opportunity” to upgrade the hero I want.
Duplicates are the ultimate middle finger in these loot boxes. You get 4 or 5 random star cards for 2400 in game currency (on average you receive 200 per game, based on how long the game lasted; not by how well you played). A week into the game I am already getting at least 2 duplicates in a pack which only gives you 200 credits back each. So I wasted my in game currency on 2 duplicate hero star cards, 5 crafting parts, credits, and a starship card. I understand the need to add duplicates because there are only so many star cards you can earn, but don’t give me a bullshit car dealership return policy like I bought a car off the lot and tried to sell it back to the dealership for 80% off. EA is planning on releasing several free packs of DLC, so I would imagine players won’t be running out of things to unlock anytime soon.
The estimated hours it would take to unlock the entire game (not including DLC) would take over 4000 hours. Even the deepest World of Warcraft players would flinch at that number. 400 hours wouldn’t even be reasonable; 4000 hours to unlock everything is just another reason why the gaming community feels like EA is forcing their “pay to win” concept down our throats. EA wants players to continue playing this game throughout the year, which is why they want a never ending stream of challenges and unlockables, but their system is so broken that people are not even bothering to try the game, even before launch.
Simple solution: Make leveling up the heroes and villains take more credits to unlock, but make the way you upgrade each hero based on your skill and points earned while you’re playing with them. Make in game challenges and achievements unlock skins, emotes, and victory poses. Make duplicates give you crafting parts rather than 1/10th of your investment you just made.
- Each hero and villain has their own style of play and within their own original skill set there are star cards that can specialize even deeper how you use each character.
- Learning to dodge and be elusive has its own reward – it’s not just a hack and slash style of game play.
- You need to be strategic with your abilities and stamina in order to gain an advantage in combat.
- Star Wars has iconic music and it is used perfectly throughout the game.
- In game, you will hear unique character chatter (especially entertaining are the cheesy first order drones).
- Every world is more immersive than the next. Once you think you’ve seen it all you find some signature gems. Every level has their own unique vegetation, life forms, weather, and vehicles.
- Campaign cutscenes are beautiful and realistic.
- I play with a real Star Wars junkie and every map we played for the first time I would hear him rave at the incredible detail and authenticity of each Star Wars world.
- The gameplay is extremely addicting.
- Kill streaks and team play are a big emphasis which translates very well with their in-game upgrade system.
- Spawning in waves keeps people grouped together nicely, and when you get spawned in with a friend it give an extra incentive to stick together.
- Heroes vs Villains is a big upgrade with their new fast paced “VIP” style focused on teamwork.
- There is always something to look forward to in the next round because you alternate between heroes and villains each map.
- Starships and vehicles control smoothly once you get your bearings.
- WOW, the loot crates are a full on nightmare, THIS KILLS THE FUN OF THE GAME.
- Where is Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Count Dooku, Mace Windu? I have not heard anything regarding the addition to any of these Heroes/Villains.
- Flying starships has a very difficult learning curve.
- When players quit during a Heroes vs Villains match, they do not have a system to replace the missing players so matches can turn lopsided quickly at times.
- There is no custom game lobby. If you have more than 4 players in your party you are stuck playing in the bigger game modes. I do not want to deter friends from playing in the same group based on game modes available.
- Spawning in galactic assault feels like you are spending half of your time running to the objective.
- Not enough lives in Galactic Assault, I often find myself in games where I will be a top player and right on the cusp of getting a hero to SUPER PWN, only to have the game end too quickly. (They added offensive lives for Battlefield 1 Operations and it made the game 100 times better.)
Overall Rating: B
If you’re a Star Wars fan, buy this game. The campaign will give you a glimpse of what it is like to be a special forces Stormtrooper. With their latest update released 12/4/17 they fixed a lot of server issues and made it easier to earn credits. All the DLC is FREE. Get a group of friends and take down the dark side as Yoda and Rey, or eradicate the Rebels with Kylo and Vader. Regardless of your allegiance, The Galaxy is your playground and your lightsaber is a knife that will give you endless fun to run with.