Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta is far from what you'd expect from a game bearing the Star Wars moniker. Developed by Dice and published by EA - the duo behind 2015’s the superlative Battlefield 1 - you’d think the game would be similar in standard, if not an improvement. You'd be wrong.
The headline feature of the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta is Galactic Assault. This allows you to take on opponents in a sprawling map with multiple objectives. Though choosing Naboo of all locations for this felt like a wasted opportunity. Compared to the grand battles on the ice planet Hoth, Naboo’s civilian environs felt claustrophobic in comparison. It never quite managed to capture the scale or the scope of 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront’s multiplayer nor does it feel as immersive as Dice’s past attempts at grand warfare with Battlefield 1.
Much like Star Wars Battlefront, each weapon is a variant on a laser blaster. This means no bullets or cartridges to replenish. Instead they overheat, forcing you to wait a few seconds or quickly tap a button to fire again. This also results in a game where weapons don’t have any variations in handling, range, and recoil. The only area where they differ is the rate of fire which is specific to the character class you choose.
Unlike the last game, you can choose between different classes in multiplayer. Four are available in addition to the standard assault class. The officer has abilities such as being able to heal squadmates, the specialist can become invisible and reveal enemies in your area, while the heavy has high health and its own shield to draw fire away from your foes. They’re welcome additions to Star Wars Battlefront 2 but they feel oversimplified when compared to games with character classes like Quake Champions, Overwatch, or even EA’s own Battlefield 1.
Rather they seem to exist to simply allow you more ways to contribute to battle by activating a special power such as the aforementioned specialist’s reveal of the opposition. There are subtle, perceptible variations in how each class traverses across a level such as the heavy being on the slower side but nothing that impacts gameplay to a large degree.
Another area of concern is Space Combat. In Star Wars Battlefront 2 this mode has you piloting famous spacecrafts from the series. A nice addition in theory, but the results appear less flattering. Controlling an X-Wing felt sluggish and unresponsive as did the Y-Wing and even Imperial units like the TIE fighter. This made high-octane affairs like pulling off a bombing run on a star cruiser a chore more than anything else. Considering that Space Combat itself is a separate mode this time around, you’d think there would be better handling. Though this is far from the case.
The biggest area of commonality between Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Battlefield 1 is in the production values. Be it highly detailed storm troopers, heavily polished city streets or even the likes of Darth Maul and Rey gracing the battlefield with lightsabers in tow, the game's nothing short of a visual spectacle. Complemented with sound design that would be a dead ringer for a Star Wars movie from beeps and boops of robots to the “pew-pew” of lasers and even sweeping orchestral scores, the visual and aural spectacle of Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a sight to behold.
But is it worth buying? It depends if EA manages to fix some of its pressing issues prior to release and if the single-player campaign ends up being as good as advertised. What’s also unknown is how micro-transactions could impact game balance, which could ruin the experience for you if you don’t spend over and above buying a copy of the game. If our time with the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta is any indication, you have nothing to lose by waiting it out.
We discuss Star Wars Battlefront 2's beta and micro-transactions on Transition - Gadgets 360's gaming and pop culture podcast. You can subscribe to Transition via Apple Podcasts or RSS or just listen to this episode by hitting the play button below.