I have somehow managed to put in 72 hours of game time into a game that I have been in a love hate relationship with. I was not a massive fan of Battlefront 2 2017 when it first launched (and not even because of the microtransaction problem). My main problems revolved around the lack of balance in the game (a problem that has been worked on quite a bit but can still exist in certain areas). From the weapons, to the star cards, to the heroes and villains, to the starfighters, to the maps, to the game modes-almost every area of the game felt like it had balancing issues. Then you add microtransactions into the mix, and it gets even worse. I spent multiple months away from the game, but I have found myself periodically returning and greatly enjoying Battlefront 2. But, it doesn’t always manage to keep me for long. The main reason being that my interest is renewed primarily when it changes its DNA and sets out to do something extreme.
I tried to think back to my most memorable moments in Battlefront 2 2017. I can usually recall stunning moments that I have experienced with a vast majority of titles that I have played. Mass Effect 2, Knights of the Old Republic, the Uncharted games, and many other single player games stick with me because of certain story beats and gameplay moments. And multiplayer games such as the Battlefield games and Battlefront 2 2005 stick with me as I remember the adrenaline fueled moments of killstreaks, close matches, tight teamwork, or barely surviving an encounter. I even had a lot of great moments in Battlefront 2015-a game that I thoroughly enjoyed even with its issues.
But, with Battlefront 2 2017, I did not have any memorable moments. That is, I could not recollect anything that was positive. There was never really a moment where I could recall a standout experience in the game that was positive for me. Outside of some campaign moments, there was nothing in the multiplayer that stood out for me past the betas. I think this is mainly because Battlefront 2 hasn’t managed to do much that is truly unique. For a shooter that has so much to draw from (whether it be the Star Wars movies, shows, books, comics, or even other games) it manages to feel a little too similar to other shooters but with a battle points system and star cards tacked on. The game felt safe in too many areas as it seemed to be figuring out exactly what it wanted to do. This never allowed it to have that many unique experiences. Rather than building off of Battlefront 2015, it took a risk and reworked a majority of the mechanics. With microtransactions being eliminated for the most part, the game’s future was probably restructured completely as well-holding it back from adding any significantly deep content to the game. And, with what interesting things it did add to the game such as the reworked starfighter controls and heroes, it was held back by overpowered star cards or general imbalance. And, on top of all of this, the majority of game modes were never able to dunk me into a bath of adrenaline and excitement unlike Battlefield’s Conquest mode.
I had given up on the game shortly after release, but I found myself returning with the addition of Ewok Hunt. This mode was unlike any of the other modes in the game and even managed to feel fresh in comparison to other games. Rather than a generic deathmatch style mode or another linear, one-sided gamemode, it played like a horror game in which it managed to turn cute Ewoks into terrifying creatures that preyed on Storm Troopers. Playing it for the first few handful of hours before everyone knew what they were really doing was amazing. I had more fun than I had had in a long time in any multiplayer game. And, what was even better, the star card system was completely eradicated and instead relied on preset loadouts that you either spawned with or found in the map. I was obsessed with the mode for a while and put a lot of time in it before it started to become familiar and stale for me. Some fixes have helped to get rid of exploits, but I do think that gameplay additions and changes would keep people interested in the mode. Things such as randomizing the shuttle location, pickups for the Ewoks to find, or maybe even a crazy modifier which has Vader versus thirty-one Ewoks would help the mode to stay relevant. It is the closest to a Star Wars Battle Royale mode that we have had, so far.
After Ewok Hunt, we haven’t really gotten anything else like it. There have been additions, updates, and changes which have increased the quality of the game, but there hasn’t been any unique Star Wars like modes added to the game. For a multiplayer game set in the Star Wars universe, it doesn’t manage to feel as cool or awesome as it should be. I personally believe that Battlefront 2015 did a much better job with the Death Star and Rogue One DLC packs as these modes and maps felt like you were in the movies themselves. You were able to destroy a Star Destroyer, save R2-D2, and then blow up the Death Star in one match of the Death Star DLC’s mode. When has something as grand as that happened in Battlefront 2? Battlefront 2 2017 has always struggled with feeling like a true Star Wars experience rather than a generic shooter with a Star Wars skin on it. The only other thing that has been truly memorable and interesting has been the recent Heroes Unleashed weekend event.
This event pushed Galactic Assault to its limit and allowed almost half of the players on the map to play as heroes or villains at any given time. The cost for heroes was reduced and the limit was increased to 8 heroes per side. I thought that this would only result in madness with heroes murdering everyone in sight, but I found, as a hero, I was often engaged with other heroes. In the standard game mode with limited heroes, there can be a plethora of times where you play an unbalanced game where there are two enemy heroes eliminating everyone without an opposing hero to stop them. Since almost anyone could play as a hero in this weekend event, the battles were always intense and fast paced as heroes led the charge into battle. For one of the first times, Star Wars Battlefront 2 2017 actually felt like a Star Wars game with Jedi and Sith leading their troops into battle. It was a ton of fun, but it only lasted a couple days. Thankfully this mode returned for a second weekend, and I hope to see it return yet again.
I think that Battlefront 2 needs to embrace it’s crazy side more. It needs to not be afraid to try new things, break the rules, or even potentially break the game in some positive ways. It seems like a game that tried too hard to be different in some areas but also similar in others, but it never really succeeded at either. The multitude of options for star cards, heroes, and other upgrades could be very intimidating for the softcore arcade shooter fans, but the large amount of of cheesy moments and abilities are a deterrent to the more hardcore shooter fans. It never really found the healthy balance that it needed. Even now I find the star cards and plethora of classes daunting, and I would consider myself closer to the hardcore spectrum. And there are also still those moments where I roll my eyes and groan as I get killed in some stupid way. The balance still needs to be made.
For me, Battlefront 2 has the opportunity to be a fun, exhilarating, and even crazy experience but also manage to not be unfair or gimmicky. Ewok Hunt seemed to do a great job at this. Maybe more Hunt modes can be added in the future, or maybe another gamemode or a modifier to the existing modes can help the game to be more inviting. More events are popping up in the game, but these only last for a few days at a time. A new mode should be here next year, but this seems as if it will be another generic mode. This is definitely welcome as it will not be another one-sided game mode; however, I am worried that it will try too hard to play out like a Battlefield game. I miss the original Heroes vs Villains mode from Battlefront 2015 which didn’t end in one squad of friends murdering the opposing team like in Battlefront 2 2017. That mode felt unique and was something that could only be played in a Star Wars game. And I also miss those faster and more chaotic moments from Battlefront 2015 as it embraced the energy that the movies were able to give off.
When Battlefront does allow the game to get crazy, it only lasts for a short amount of time or is only talked about for a few weeks. Ewok Hunt is available as a permanent mode, but it is hardly mentioned anymore. And, it is now challenging to join a match. Imagine if further updates were made to that mode which helped it to stay fresh with new balances and changes. That would add countless hours of entertaining gameplay just by doing things such as randomizing the shuttle’s pickup location. I think that Battlefront doesn’t need to be ashamed of being a goofy game or an over the top game, and it instead needs to embrace that charm. Star Wars got its success by being this fantastical world unlike many others. I think that the games should also embrace this rather than retreading paths laid out by competing games. I am sure there are plenty of others out there who just want to have a fun time playing out Star Wars fantasies of “What if Captain Phasma fought Yoda” or “What would an 8 vs 8 battle between the stars of Star Wars look like?”. These moments can occur, but seem to happen less often as the majority of the standard games play out a little too straight. I want Star Wars Battlefront 2 to start falling into insanity. Healthy insanity, that is.
So, how can this work? I don’t have an exact answer, of course, but I do think that additions such as updates to Ewok Hunt and experimenting with game mode modifiers is a good start. The new weekend events are definitely a step in the right direction, and the new game mode sounds promising. We may never see Battlefront 2 reach its full potential since it is most likely not being funded or backed as much as it needs to be in order to offer the same standard and frequency of updates such as Fortnite or Rainbow Six Siege. But, for what it is currently offering, I think that Battlefront 2 is heading in the right direction. I just need the developers to shake up the snow globe that is Battlefront 2 a little harder here and there if they expect me to stick around for long.