DICE tripped when reinventing the video game wheel with 'Battlefront II'
The upcoming "Star Wars Battlefront II" might not be the best way to return to a galaxy far, far away.
The sequel to DICE's 2015 reboot of "Star Wars Battlefront" should have been a slam dunk a massive expansion of the content and fun mechanics of the original with an added single-player campaign. The original lacked content understandably so, considering DICE was pushing to release the game ahead of what would essentially be the re-launch of the franchise's cinematic presence. You know about the dangers of trying to reinvent the wheel. DICE apparently didn't get that memo.
After playing an EA Access trial, which offered the entire multiplayer suite and a portion of the campaign, I can say "Star Wars Battlefront II" is a case of the developer clearly overthinking its design philosophy. The first "Battlefront" was a fun arcade-style shooter that was shallow on mechanics, but offered a lot of fun opportunities for players to dive into the "Star Wars" universe and just feel like they were part of the action in battles on Endor, Hoth and Jakku. It didn't need to have deep mechanics because it was clearly meant to be a pick-up-and-play title that would be accessible to "Star Wars" fans who were casual gamers, as well as more dedicated players. It struck a nice balance between the two and was seemingly a success, despite lacking in a wide selection of gameplay offerings or maps.
The sequel, however, throws that arcade base out the door, in favor of some amalgamation of the original predecessor's more casual gameplay and the deeper, albeit less-welcoming "Battlefield" gameplay for which DICE is known. The result is a game defined by its clunkiness and a general lack of any sort of agency. Even in the largest gametypes, which support 40 players, the player will spend more time running to an objective from a spawn point than actually fighting. The frustration is only amplified by the game's lack of notification when you're getting shot, making it difficult to know where you're being attacked from and where to find a place to hide and recover.
The game only really picks up when you accrue enough points to purchase vehicles or heroes to spice up the gameplay. Instead of letting players camp at the back of spawn areas for vehicle and hero pickups to appear, players can now purchase them through points that are given during combat. You'll get points for everything from hitting an enemy to completing an objective or assisting in said completion, and even dying. You get "sacrifice" points for dying in combat. At least they'll help you acquire the powerups, which offer little to no tutorial. It takes a while to get used to running across the battlefield as the reincarnated Darth Maul or flying an A-Wing. But these are still the highlights of each battle.
The multiplayer is almost certain to be mired by the introduction of loot crates, which will be available at the game's launch. In-game premium currency is called Crystals and can be purchased in packs ranging in cost from $5 to $100. You'll still earn in-game credits to open those loot boxes, but you're going to spend as many as 17 games to earn enough to open the highest-level loot box. In other words, the game is already designed to start pilfering money from your bank account if you want to get ahead in the game. Sadly, even purchasing a crate with real money doesn't guarantee any sort of reward because of the random number generation system used to decide what items you'll receive.