Hands-on With Star Wars Battlefront 2’s Multiplayer
I had some time this week to sit down with Star Wars Battlefront 2, taking two days to dive right into the many Multiplayer modes that will be available when the game launches in a little over a week. As we previously reported, this newest installment is following the ‘less is more’ philosophy of design. From what I can see, this decision is serving them well.
Rather than load the game up with a dozen different play modes, Battlefront 2 only features a handful of ways to play online. However, each of these modes is fully fleshed out, offering a more complete experience with a storied feel that fits nicely into the larger Star Wars narrative. What you get isn’t always brand new, but so far it’s almost always better.
To elaborate, the trade-off appears to be fewer game modes for a much crazier scope. Galactic Assault is a game mode that takes the massive battles from Hoth and lays that winning formula over a whole host of scenarios from all seven films. The sense of scale isn’t just about the amount of participants (although this really helps), it’s also about the little touches. The way the music swells up when one team is about to win. The way the screen fills with laser fire, acrid smoke and screaming alarms. Also, you take down massive battle stations, ships and walkers. Maybe it’s a little on the nose, but throwing down David/Goliath-style against overwhelming odds is a great way to capture that elusive sense of scale.
“There’s a strong emphasis on teamwork, which I felt most keenly when I was separated from the rest of my team.”
On the other hand, the game does a good job breaking these impossible tasks down into more manageable chunks. Crushing something so gargantuan as a star destroyer, even with a full roster of teammates at your side, is no easy task. Knocking out individual components is a different matter. While this particular element isn’t exactly new to Battlefront 2, it still works well as a contrast to the newly-expanded scale.
There’s a strong emphasis on teamwork, which I felt most keenly when I was separated from the rest of my team. This is especially true when you’re playing the heroes vs villains mode. Alone, you’re a tempting target. When you form up with the rest of your squad, you’re absolutely lethal. This rings true for every multiplayer mode. No individual unit can take more than a few well-placed shots before being taken down. You need the squad at your back to really shine.
Galactic Assault feels like the mode that every other mode leads up to. You can practice with all the character classes and heroes in Arcade Mode, you can execute small-scale operations in Strike Mode, you can get good at killing people in Blast and you learn what all the vehicles are best at in Starfighter Assault. Those lessons aren’t fully transferable of course, but they still apply to the grand battle that is GA. Heroes vs Villains is more or less its own thing. You learn a lot about kicking major ass in that mode, but they aren’t the kind of skills that are as useful in other modes. Galactic Assault is where all your abilities are tested, most importantly your ability to work as a unit with your fellow fighters. Lone wolves can still claim glory, but overall success is most often achieved when everyone has the same goal in sight.
The dreaded microtransactions have had their fangs removed, which is nice. There’s still a wide-reaching loot system that has roots burrowed in every game mode, but you can only really explore its depths with extended play, not with your wallet. I didn’t get time to dig into this system, but it looks like the star cards you hoard will have a measurable effect on every character you play, not just the heroes and villains. You can beef up existing abilities or load up new ones, unlock cosmetic nonsense and even do some crafting.
So far, it looks like EA has been paying close attention to player feedback. At least for those two days at their headquarters, Battlefront 2 felt like the game that fans were hoping for with the last Battlefront title that came out two years ago. We’ll have more to say once the full review drops, but it seems like things are looking good.