What happens when one combines a first-person shooter, third-person shooter, and “Star Wars?” Gamers get “Star Wars: Battlefront,” a series where one can participate in first-person as a stormtrooper or rebellion grunt, or also in third-person as a prominent character such as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo. The newest addition to this series, “Star Wars: Battlefront II,” released worldwide on Nov. 17.
“Star Wars: Battlefront” is a nostalgic series for many older gamers. Two earlier games in the series, also named “Star Wars: Battlefront” and “Star Wars: Battlefront II” released in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Those games were massively well received, as players were able to play as Jedi, participate in space battles, and go from world to world in large story campaigns. “Star Wars: Battlefront II” in the original series was long awaited to be released, but unfortunately never released.
In 2016, EA DICE announced that they were developing “Star Wars: Battlefront II” with assistance from Criterion Games and Motive Studios. The game was announced to have a single-player campaign, much like the “Star Wars: Battlefront” that many players remembered.
The story revolves around an Imperial Special Forces group, in the thirty years between the destruction of the second Death Star at the end of “Return of the Jedi” and the beginning of the new trilogy. The played protagonist is Iden Versio, the leader of this group, and a new character in the “Star Wars” franchise. There are also segments in the game where gamers play as heroes, such as Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren.
While “Battlefront II” does have a story mode, the bulk of the play time will come from multiplayer. “Battlefront II” has five multiplayer modes that host up to forty players at one time. The most notable game mode is Heroes vs. Villains, where players can compete in a team deathmatch playing as the hero characters. This game mode was a fan favorite back in 2005 with the original “Star Wars: Battlefront II.”
The game had a pre-release beta, where players and game journalists could play the game ahead of the Nov. 17 release date. That beta brought on the game’s largest controversy ever, revolving around loot boxes, microtransactions, and “pay-to-win”.
On Nov.13, four days ahead of the launch, a Reddit user by the name of MBMMaverick posted that despite having paid $80 on the deluxe edition of the game, characters, heroes, and content were still locked behind paywalls and “grinds”. It would take forty hours of gameplay to unlock Darth Vader as a hero, or a player could purchase the character for real money. This brought the discussion of “pay-to-win” and monetization to the forefront. Players who simply bought the game would be at a distinct disadvantage to players who bought all of the characters for real currency.
The Reddit thread quickly rose to the top of the front page, and eventually gathered a response from the EA Community Team. The team released a statement saying “The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes”. This Reddit comment was quickly downvoted, eventually becoming the most downvoted in Reddit’s history. At the time of writing, the comment had been downvoted 462,000 times.
The controversy revolving around monetization is quite unfortunate, as if the game did not have these issues, it would be a very large improvement from 2015’s “Battlefront.” There is much more content, the content provided is more fun, and the game all around is worth more. While “Battlefront” was engaging, it was not worth the $60 price tag. “Battlefront II” is worthier of that cost, but unfortunately, that full price has gone up with all of the microtransactions within the game.
“Battlefront II” is a great game hidden behind an unapproachable wall of controversies and microtransactions. One can only hope that ahead of the launch, with the game’s negative reception, EA DICE as the publishers can make some drastic and necessary changes.