We tried the new chapter of the EA house.
Version tested: PC - Origin
It is difficult to separate the game review Star Wars Battlefront II from the controversies that in recent weeks have sparked the debate on the new route, or derives if you prefer, that videogames are taking. On the one hand, in fact, there is an absolutely valid title, which takes up the good path taken with the first chapter by improving the gaming experience in almost all respects, starting with a fun single player campaign that offers unexpected moments. On the other hand, on the other hand, there is the archetype of the games of the future in which pay to win is an omnipresent and decisive element of the entire experience. But is it really so? Does Star Wars Battlefront II really deserve the heavy criticism that has been leveled at it by a part of the specialized press but, above all, by a part of users who have even launched a campaign to steal the Star Wars franchise from EA?
A Star Wars Story?
One of the main flaws of Star Wars Battlefront was certainly the absence of a single player campaign. For a franchise like Star Wars, in fact, doing without a plot that could accompany the player in a game universe as vast as a galaxy (far, far away) had seemed like a heresy. Creating a new history in such a stratified universe, made up of a canonical historiography, that of recognized films, comics and books to which a historiography, so to speak, apocryphal but still fundamental in the general economy of the work, is superimposed on at the same time, it represented a gamble. Precisely for this reason, in the end, this absence was forgiven a little in the first chapter, in the knowledge that the following one would remedy this lack.
So creating a campaign for Star Wars Battlefront II wasn't easy: Criterion and Motive, well aware that at the first misstep legions of fans would have raised the hatchet (after all, wasn't it even so with the prequels edited by Lucas himself?), Therefore opted for a soft side story that, while being enjoyable from start to finish, it does not move anything in the canonical universe of the franchise, but draws in a somewhat casual way from the whole, full-bodied treasure chest of stories that the Star Wars epic has given us in over 30 years. And it's a shame, because the conditions for a memorable story are all there. We have a charming heroine, Iden Versio, captain of an imperial elite corps and daughter of an admiral, who discovers the dark side that has infected the empire and decides to rebel. We have the classic characters from the trilogy original, as well as those of the prequels and new chapters. We have settings as always wonderful and here made even more majestic by the technical mastery of the development team. What is lacking, as we have said, is the courage to dare, to deepen the characters, to analyze their inner conflict (which is the characteristic of all Star Wars after all), to take some license even risking to upset some fan. And so we go from a terrible Iden Versio hunter of rebels to an Iden Versio redeemed and ready to fight the empire without a real solution of continuity. In the midst of this sudden metamorphosis, there are 10 seconds of script, some angry expression of the protagonist and a planet razed to the ground by the empire. Very little is explored and the understanding of some certain events, unless you have read novels and comics, is very complicated.
The campaign, as we said before, while not shining for the script and depth in the characterization of the characters, is however in any case extremely enjoyable for all about 7 hours needed to complete it at the highest difficulty level. It is essentially a series of missions in which we will play the role of the most representative characters of the Star Wars opepa, from Skywalker to Han Solo, passing through Princess Leia or Lando Carlissian, each of them in some way participating in the rebirth of the our heroine Iden and her companion from the Inferno Squad.
Pew pew pew
It is on the gameplay of the game that most of the criticisms have focused, not so much towards the contents, which as promised by DICE are many, but rather on the infamous issue of pay to win, which we will talk about later.
The wide license granted to DICE allowed to introduce the most emblematic characters of the Star Wars universe who in the first chapter were left out: Yoda, Kylo Ren, the hated Darth Maul and Rey join Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, allowing us an identification with the gaming university like never before. Even the maps, made with painstaking care and genuine love for the original saga, faithfully reproduce some of the locations present in the now seven films of the saga. Memorable, in this sense, the royal palace of Naboo, which we will have to defend from the land invasion of the empire in the role of Princess Leia, or the Castle of Maz Kanata on Takodana that we will have the opportunity to explore in the role of Han Solo. Not just a great fan service, but a sincere tribute to Star Wars iconography.
Even the competitive gameplay has taken advantage of the shortcomings of the first chapter and is now much deeper, with the possibility of choosing between 4 different game classes each of them with unique weapons and characteristics: Assault, Officer (doctor) Specialist (sniper) and Heavy.
The main innovations in terms of pure gameplay, however, concern the controllability of vehicles, decidedly simplified compared to the previous chapter and certainly now much more exciting even for those who are dry with this type of games. In particular, the targeting system of the spaceships has been improved with a circular indicator that identifies the point where to direct the fire of the vehicle to be sure of hitting the target. The new maneuverability also favors more daring behaviors such as diving into a star killer and then turning at the last second, and all this exponentially increases the spectacularity of the clashes and the satisfaction obtained in the Starfighter missions On the assault, revised and corrected version of Fighter Squadron.
A decisive step forward was also made in the balance of heroes and vehicles compared to the previous chapter. These are no longer enhanced by the power ups that can be found within the game map, but come on Battle Points which can be obtained by eliminating enemies or completing certain objectives. All this does not alter the Arcade vocation of the game, which is more closely reminiscent of a CoD than an Overwatch, but makes the clashes much more interesting.
Le game mode, despite the name change, substantially similar to those already seen on Battlefront, with the addition, however, of particular team objectives correctly inserted in the game economy. From time to time, for example, we will be asked to stop the advance of a convoy, to steal a vehicle and so on.
Heroes vs. Villains takes the place of Hero Hunt, essentially presenting us with a map of only heroes armed against each other. The playful offer ends with the classic Team Deathmatch of "Elimination" and "Attack", a reinterpretation of the classic King of the Hill with two teams of 8 players each.
Wuuh aaaaahnr huurh (use a wookie translator for translation)
Useless to turn around, Battlefront II has unfortunately been talked about more for microtransactions than for the game itself. After the first hours of play in public beta, a resistance committee was formed that did everything to boycott the game in a decidedly risky and without logic. The forums were filled with criticism and even before the release of the game Metacritic was inundated with reviews with a "0" rating that heavily ditched the average rating of the title (and this raises another question regarding the reliability of the aggregation of reviews). Everything was caused by a excessive cost in game credits of some characters - actually too high and made with the sole purpose of inducing players to buy credits through microtransactions, rather than earning them by playing - and from loot box system, which some have called "gambling". The loot boxes, in fact, in addition to containing credits and customization elements, contain the "Star Cards", perks capable of significantly enhancing the skills of heroes, units and vehicles. Loot boxes systems are present in many games, such as the famous Overwatch, but the system chosen by EA in the beta phase, based mainly on chance, in addition to the possibility of obtaining not only customization elements and skins, but real upgrades, capable of significantly altering the power of one's unit, appears decidedly despicable, and according to some, in the same way as the infamous slot machines, it would push some players to compulsively buy new boxes and others to passively suffer the greater power of some of these with a wallet more swollen.
Said thus, even the heated protest of a part of the community would be very justified; in reality, perhaps also aware of the protests in progress, the game at the time of the release appeared much more balanced than seen in the Open Beta, and after almost a month (after the sudden block of game microtransactions) things online have definitely improved. First of all, the cost of the heroes has dropped significantly, making the cheats used by some users to earn credits even without playing unnecessary (two springs placed on the analog sticks to make the character move in circles and avoid disconnection due to inactivity), and above all the system of loot has been improved. In the loot equation now the system will take into account the hours spent playing, the player's skill and the rarity of the other cards obtained.
A galaxy (with fov) far far away
From a technical point of view, the work done by Criterion is commendable. The game world is faithful to the cinematic counterpart, as are the character modeling and animations. Particle effects, dynamic lighting and texture quality are also at the highest levels as the franchise deserves and, at the highest level of detail, in some places it is hard to believe that you are in a video game.
However, there is no shortage of some shadows. We tested the game on two different PC configurations, one based on AMD Ryzen 7 1800X @ 4.9 GHz and 16 GB of RAM and the other on Intel 7820X @ 4,8 GHz and 16 GB of RAM at 3200 MHz, with well three graphics cards different, one GTX 1060 3 GB, a GTX 1070 and a 1080 Ti. In all cases, even when setting lower detail levels, we have always encountered random drops in the frame rate, especially in the cutscenes. With the 1060GB 3 we were able to play at a resolution of 2560x1440p with normal / high details, at about 50 fps on average, which increased to 60 fps by lowering some settings in the field of view from 77 to 50. With the 1070, 2K resolution and high / ultra details the frame rate is stable above 60 fps with field of view at 77. With the 1080 Ti, however, we were able to play in 4K and high / ultra details with a frame rate between 50 and 60 fps. In any case, however we have always encountered sudden, as well as random, drops in frame rates for a few seconds. Initially, when the problem occurred, we blamed the limited RAM memory - for 2K resolution - of our Gigabyte GTX 1060 3 GB Windforce OC X2 (it would have been the first time), but then we tried it with a GTX 1070 reference, always in 2K with high and normal details, encountering the exact same problem. Problem that repeated with Intel 7820X and 1080 Ti configuration in 4K resolution. We have therefore concluded for one incorrect game optimization, perhaps forgotten by other reviewers in their articles and which we hope will be resolved soon in the next updates.
It can be decidedly against the microtransaction system in games, after all we are not buying a free or budget game but sold at full price, however, burying a title like Star Wars Battlefront II, despite the corrections made during construction, it appears decidedly unjustified. To date, in fact, in every game played online there are very few cases in which one has the impression of being somehow disadvantaged by not having spent real money. Of course, a system of loot boxes on the model of the one envisaged in Battlefront II is a dangerous precedent to counter, also because we are not sure that in the future other software houses will be as available as EA to remedy their mistakes, however it is undeniable that Star Wars Battlefront II is a very enjoyable title and probably the best video game dedicated to the Star Wars saga. Its sumptuous technical sector only marginally tarnished by some technical problem, the fun and frenetic gameplay but above all full of characters and situations that will delight any enthusiast and a single player plot, all in all, enjoyable make us conclude for the round vote that you find at the bottom, in the hope that, as often happens, we will not be influenced by often sterile and spurious controversies dictated more by antipathy towards a publisher rather than by a real objective evaluation.