Leading up to the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II, the most exciting bit of news for me was that the game was going to have an actual single player campaign – something I missed dearly the first time around. This week, I finally got to play it, and I did so on PC through the Origin platform. This review, therefore, focuses on the single player aspects of Battlefront II.
Perhaps my focus on the single player portion of Battlefront II was a smart one, also because the game has been receiving a lot of criticism for its multiplayer portion and the role that its loot system plays within it. I’m sure I’ll play it at some point, as I picked up the first game eventually as well, despite a total lack of single player content. Battlefront II single player content is gorgeous and a must-play for every Star Wars fan, even though it’s woefully short even by Call of Duty/Battlefield standards.
I’m sure many multiplayer fans will be playing the campaign as well, since it does a good job at setting up the game’s mechanics and game world. In this case, the story unfolds between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, tying in to the movie lore perfectly. At some points, it does so even too well – as the story tends to lean towards characters and scenes that we’re already familiar with rather than sticking with the perspective of Iden Versio, a new character. Iden Versio is a commander for the Empire, and we quickly see a very human side of him – a bit like the conflicting emotions that Finn initially struggles with in The Force Awakens. It’s an intriguing setup to a premise that never quite reaches its full potential, but I’m hoping that future DLC might expand on this a bit more. Post-launch DLC was confirmed as being free, but no word on how that’ll affect single player content.
The acquisition of Lucasarts by Disney left a giant Star Wars 1313-sized hole in my gaming watchlist, as that game was going to finally be another single player action adventure in the Star Wars universe. Battlefront II does the best job so far at recapturing some of the excitement that the trailers for 1313 generated for me, and I’d even go so far as to say that audiovisually it blows 1313 out of the water. The action, lighting, attention to detail and atmosphere are all top notch, causing one onlooker to say that the game almost looks like a Star Wars movie trailer.
In many ways, the game captures that feel very well, even in gameplay. The core Battlefront gameplay translates well to single player, and the story-driven approach allows for way more stuff to be going on around you during a mission as well – at least in a cinematic sense. For me it was the kind of edge of the seat experience that multiplayer Battlefront never generated for me, and the only letdowns for me were the fact that the campaign still feels like prelude to the real meat of the package, and that the writing isn’t consistently strong. The original premise the surrounds Iden Versio is intriguing, but it only makes up part of the already short campaign. The rest is great in the sense of being able to step into the shoes of familiar characters, but don’t add much in the sense of enriching the Star Wars lore.
If you have no (or limited) interest in multiplayer Battlefront then Battlefront II’s single player campaign comes with a steep price tag for its short duration, but it’s a Star Wars experience that’s not to be missed. How well the multiplayer portion will endure is up for a lot of debate right now, but I certainly found the delivery of the single player adventure memorable – I just wish it was meatier so it’d leave a longer lasting impression.