Hands On with Battlefront II’s Campaign Mode
All the way back in May of this year, I was one of the hopeful skeptics for the future of Star Wars Battlefront. I even went so far as to write an article about what we, the gaming community, expected out of the sequel, a list of what the fans wanted and felt we deserved. Since the initial announcement, EA and DICE would slowly pepper our news feeds with trickling information on what’s to come. I was recently invited to check out EA’s Motive Studios, the minds behind Battlefront II’s upcoming Single Player Campaign, and while I was limited to only seeing what Motive had created, my concerns for the future of Battlefront have easily been calmed. Controller in hand, I explored the first three missions of the campaign as the newcomer to the series, Iden Versio. Let’s delve right into Star Wars Battlefront II’s campaign, and why the single-player mode alone should be enough to rein in the skeptics.
*** At this point we advise you that there will be slightly spoilery content to follow, so if you want the campaign to be fresh, stop reading now and just take my word that the game looks awesome early in. ***
First and foremost – Battlefront 2 looks gorgeous. Having returned home from my trip to Motive Studios, I promptly picked up the first game, remembering just how brilliant it was in the tiniest of details. If you were blown away by Battlefront 1, then the sequel is going to floor you. I was told during my demo that the graphics were an unfinished build, still needing some final work before it was deemed ready. The fact what I played somehow WASN’T the final product simply couldn’t compute in my feeble human brain. How could something this phenomenally not even be the finished product?
“Iden is competent, capable, and an all around bad ass.”
Graphics aside, (I already knew from the trailers and gameplay footage that it would look fantastic) it was time to find out more about Inferno Squad and just who this Iden Versio is. While I covered what you should know about her in another article, I saved the gameplay details for my recap of the campaign experience. Iden sits in a neat little niche of the game, somewhere between being a normal trooper and a hero. The controls are all very familiar if you have played Battlefront before, but she simply FEELS more powerful. Inferno Squad is a Spec-Ops team and as such Iden is particularly skilled above and beyond the capabilities of lesser Stormtroopers.
In my introduction to Iden, she had been captured by the rebels and held prisoner in exchange for access codes. Little did they know the plan was for her to get captured all along. As any good protagonist in Star Wars, Iden has a droid companion, although Motive Studio’s wisely devised the kind of droid that would suit her needs. Remember the Imperial Probe Droid in Episode Five? Now imagine a compact version of that, which attaches to her back. Not only did I get to play as the droid and stealth around a nostalgia-inducing rebel ship, when Droid and Iden were finally reunited it added an entirely new element to her gameplay. Iden is not a Jedi, she does not have the ability to tap into the force, and instead she’s able to utilize her skills and the abilities of her Droid, allowing her to scan the area for enemies as well as send her Droid to use an electricity burst to disable enemies.
When the Rebel scum finally realized I was set free, I was reminded of the opening mission of The Force Unleashed, playing as Darth Vader and taking my time to wreak havoc on my enemies. Iden is competent, capable, and an all-around bad ass. Her mission complete on the Rebel ship, her extraction was intense, heart pounding, and gives you an understanding of just how effective Inferno Squad really is.
“I felt like I was part of a very real and efficient squad. At no point did I question the abilities of my AI counterparts.”
The game really picked up when I landed on Endor, just a little too late to stop the Rebels from destroying the Death Star’s shield generator. With a full loadout at my command, Iden went from being an effective agent to being a deadly black ops soldier. The range on her grenade toss was impeccable, it actually felt useful, and the cooldown was fair but noticeably faster. Probably the stand out feature in combat for me – and something I hope is carried over into other aspects of the game – is her ability to swap between two blasters. Starting with a standard E-11, Iden was able to use a Photon Cannon as a secondary weapon which did NOT run on a cooldown, it fired like any other blaster and could be swapped on the fly.
I also noticed the topography of the map. Most of the ground combat in the first game was – for all intents and purposes – flat. There were some hills, minor caves, paths, stairs etc. This was different. This was strategic vantage points, multiple paths to travel, etc. Tactics suddenly became apparent as there was more than one way to approach the situation at hand. Listening to Iden talk to her team – barking commands, having that typical military bravado – I felt like I was part of a very real and efficient squad. At no point did I question the abilities of my AI counterparts, and Iden’s personality pours out in her dialogue and actions in a natural and complimentary way.
Of course, that brings me to the final mission I covered; space combat. The default controls are the same as that from ship combat in the first game, but there are also a number of options to switch between to find what fits your style. Iden and her team had to navigate through the debris of the recently destroyed Death Star and – being imperial loyalists – they fly with a sense of dread and loss. It wasn’t a momentous occasion, it was a tragedy. Combat in space feels so unbelievably good, and fans who were begging for the sorely missed mode are going to be impressed.
Motive Studios put their heart and soul into creating a campaign mode worthy of the Star Wars Universe, and while I was only able to glimpse a brief portion of what that entails, I feel confident that they will deliver a memorable experience. The campaign feels real, it feels organic, like it is a rightful chapter of the saga. If it’s any indication of the game to come, Star Wars fans are going to be blown away and begging for another adventure with Iden Versio.