Have you heard that famous Steve Jobs quote where he implies people don’t really know what they want? It’s all we’ve been thinking about playing the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta. The thing is, we complained about the original game: we said it lacked depth, customisation, and replay value. And we weren’t the only ones: DICE clearly took that feedback to heart when it set about making a sequel to its 2015 sci-fi shooter. But the problem is, it’s arguably gone too far the other way.
See, for all the complaints aimed at Star Wars Battlefront’s simplicity, there was a really enjoyable shooter at its core. Where so many other games these days are obfuscated by currencies and complicated loadouts and experience points and all sorts of other nonsense, you could just play EA’s easy-going arcade game. The same doesn’t appear to be true of its successor – and to be honest, we all may be to blame.
It must be so hard for companies to filter through valuable feedback, but Star Wars Battlefront 2 seems to have fallen foul to gamers’ opinions. This is a cumbersome lump of a game that no longer seems sure of what it wants to be. Where the original stood alone with its playful Hollywood firefights, the new title feels more aggressive: weapons are heavy to handle and death comes quickly to anyone who dares stray outside of cover. It’s more Battlefield than it’s ever been.
This is emphasised by the new class and squad system, which all feel like an unnecessary obstacle in our opinion. We suppose there’s decent variety between the classes – you can opt for heavy gunners, for example, or more reserved militants with tactical perks – but it all just feels so unnecessary. Why can’t you just grab a blaster and head out onto the battlefield? We asked for this, of course – but perhaps we should be careful what we wish for next time.
Case in point: Star Cards. DICE has said that it won’t charge for a single map or DLC pack in Star Wars Battlefront 2, which seems like a great step forward from the divided community of its predecessor. But its whole Loot Box solution to post-release support is messy: cards can be applied to characters and classes in order to exchange or improve their abilities – and frankly it feels at this stage like the person willing to cough up for the best Star Cards will have an advantage in battle.
The proof will be in the pudding there, of course, but regardless of whether the game winds up being pay-to-win or not, the whole system seems clumsily implemented – we’re still not sure we fully understand it after several hours play. Factor in rotating daily challenges and standalone progress bars for heroes and vehicles (again, we’re not really sure how any of this functions) and you’re left with a headache-inducing experience.
DICE’s attention to detail is still impressive: Theed feels truly alive in the Galactic Assault game mode, while the attention to detail in the new Starfighter Assault is impressive, too. But the new Counter Strike-esque points system which allows you to “purchase” vehicle or hero spawns still doesn’t feel right. Why can't you just hop into a Tie-Fighter at the start of a round a la Battlefield? It’s an improvement over the previous game’s tickets system – but only just.
Thus we’re left with a game that definitely does move forward – but not always in the right direction. There have been clear attempts to listen to fan feedback here, but we can’t help but want the old Battlefront back. Maybe the full game will come together in a way that makes sense – it’s always difficult to base impressions on a beta. But at this stage, we kinda wish that DICE would have just ignored our feedback in the first place – after all, it’s clear we don’t really know what we want.
What were your thoughts on the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta? Do you agree that the sequel is far too complicated for its own good? X-Wing your way into the comments section below.