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Star Wars: Republic Commando- A Review and Reflection

“All right squad. Let’s get in there and start breaking things.” –Boss

Delta Squad is deployed to Geonosis to carry out a special assignment: assassinate Geonosian leader Sun Fac. Unlike standard clones, Delta Squad was created to be superior and undertake the toughest of missions. After taking out Sun Fac, Delta Squad sabotages a droid factory, destroys an anti-air weapon system and boards a Trade Federation Core Ship to steal launch codes. A year into the Clone Wars, Delta Squad is deployed to investigate the abandoned Prosecutor, a Acclamator-class Republic assault carrier. They find Trandoshan mercenaries on board and learn that the Trandoshans intend to sell the ship. Fighting their way through mercenaries and droids alike, Delta Squad manages to reach the gunnery deck and bring the Prosecutor’s turbo-lasers online, just in time to destroy a Trade Federation vessel. Towards the end of the Clone Wars, Delta is sent to Kashyyyk, where they rescue the Wookie commander, Tarfful, from Trandoshan slavers. When intelligence suggests that General Grievous himself is on Kashyyyk, Delta Force is tasked with capturing him. While successfully rescuing Tarfful, Grievous escapes. As they continue to fight through Kashyyyk, securing strategic points and destroying Separatist assets, Delta is sent to activate anti-air weapons to destroy a Separatist vessel overhead. Delta Squad loses one of their number, but the remaining three evacuate and prepare to embark on their next mission. Released in 2005 for PC and Xbox, Star Wars: Republic Commando is a first-person shooter that explores a side of the Clone Wars with a group of Commando clones that would, in time, become renowned for their combat prowess and distinct personalities in the Star Wars universe. In reality, the serious storyline and focus on soldiers, rather than Jedi, made Republic Commando a unique entry amongst Star Wars video games: from a story perspective, Republic Commando‘s focus on an elite squad of clone soldiers really gave a sense of scale regarding how large the Clone Wars had been, and during missions, conversations breathe further insight into each of Scorch, Fixer and Sev’s personalities, as well as the nature of the war they’re fighting.

While Republic Commando‘s campaign is counted as being short, the gameplay itself is mechanically solid. Numerous features and design choices made Republic Commando particularly stand-out: the game limits players to the DC-15s blaster pistol and DC-17m Interchangeable Weapons System (ICWS) that could be reconfigured on the fly to suit whatever the combat situation demanded, along with one additional weapon. The DC-17m, in particular, is an excellent weapon. In its blaster configuration, the weapon acts as a standard assault rifle, with a high rate of fire that made it effective in close to medium range combat. After players acquire the sniper attachment, the DC-17m could be reconfigured to engage distant targets with high accuracy. The anti-armour attachment provided a commando with anti-vehicular grenades that, while capable of damaging armour, also dealt explosive damage that made it useful for neutralising crowds. Altogether, the DC-17m ensured that clone commandos were ready for everything thrown at them, and in practise, having a pair of reliable weapons around meant that players were always assured of being able to deal with whatever threats awaited them on a mission: ammunition for the DC-17m’s blaster is common, and in the event of an emergency, the DC-15s and its self-recharging battery ensured one was never caught unarmed. Together with the tactical commands, which allow players to send Delta Squad’s members to carry out certain functions, one can create more favourable situations. One can send a squad mate to arm and detonate explosives in the middle of a fire fight while I focus on the enemies, or send them to provide covering fire from a sniper’s perch. Squad mates can also revive one another, as well as the player: this has proven to be an immensely valuable function, allowing me to walk off a bad fire fight. The sense of camaraderie and teamwork amongst Delta Squad is apparent, and this translates elegantly into the gameplay.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Right out of the gates, Republic Commando impresses with its soundtrack: Vode An is an original piece sung entirely in Mandalorian, a grim-sounding piece that sets the tone for the entire game. The first mission is set on Geonosis, the starting point for the Clone Wars. This creates a sense of familiarity, as players get to experience the Battle of Geonosis here for themselves. Early on, Delta Squad fights Separatist B-1 Battle Droids, and while they’re a ways more durable than seen in Star Wars, where a single blaster bolt could neutralise one, they’re still weak enemies that can be picked apart by the DC-17m.

  • Visually, Republic Commando is dated, but it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see oneself as blasting one’s way through armies of Separatist droids. Here on my HUD, my squadmates have joined the party. Besides being able to offer assistance in particularly difficult segments of the game (especially reviving the player), listening to their dialogue is hilarious: Delta Squad might be special forces, but the clones are still individuals with their own personalities.

  • With its dynamic recharging battery, the DC-15s pistol is a sidearm that players always have access to. Capable of firing seven shots before its power depletes, the DC-15s’ greatest ability is that the battery recharges over time, and one effectively has infinite ammunition for the pistol. While each shot is individually weak, the weapon still provides some ranged firepower for situations where one runs out of ammunition for the DC-17m’s blaster attachment. Delta Squad also has access to a wrist-mounted blade for melee attacks.

  • Altogether, Republic Commando‘s gunplay is solid, and the mechanics are involved enough to demand some skill from players. One of the things I had to be mindful of was the health of each member in Delta Squad: each squad member have access to a recharging energy shield, and beneath this is a layer of health which can only be replenished at Bacta stations. It takes some time for every one to top off, and players must manually instruct the squad to heal up.

  • Making bad decisions with respect to healing can prove disastrous in Republic Commando‘s trickier sections, as all of one’s squad mates are downed by heavy enemy fire, so I quickly developed a habit of ensuring everyone healed before moving onto the next area. With this being said, Delta Squad is tough, and having them around livened up missions considerably, with their amusing banter to keep things fresh in between firefights.

  • There are a few instances where Delta Squad will encounter particularly tough enemies: here, I deplete my anti-armour grenades on a spider droid and would switch over to the sniper rifle in an attempt to hit the droid’s weak-spot. One feature in Republic Commando that proved particularly helpful was the ability to order squad-mates to focus fire on a target. For the Super Battle Droids, Droidekas and mini-bosses, focused fire would

  • Here, I’ve equipped the sniper rifle attachment with the aim of sniping the spider droid’s weak spot. The ammunition for each of the DC-17m’s modes are not universal, so one can only pick up blaster ammunition for the blaster attachment, sniper ammunition for the sniper attachment and grenades for the anti-armour attachment. In general, the blaster attachment will get one through most situations, and throughout Republic Commando, there are a variety of grenades that can also be used. Unsurprisingly, the best choice is EMP grenades, which swiftly disable even the toughest droids.

  • The final segment of the Geonosis mission has Delta Squad boarding a Trade Federation core ship to access the bridge and obtain launch codes. One of the joys of Republic Commando, then, was being able to visit locations that the movies would never bring viewers to: George Lucas’ visions of Star Wars entail vast constructs, and it simply wouldn’t be possible to visit all of these areas during the course of a movie. Books like Incredible Cross Sections offered some insight into the cavernous interiors of the capital ships in Star Wars, but this is most apparent as players walk through the halls and hangars themselves in games like Republic Commando.

  • Owing to the rendering techniques and hardware capabilities of the time, the interiors of buildings of games from this period all have a “Bond Villain” feel to it, characterised by smooth, concrete-looking floors and repeating elements in the architecture. In retrospect, 007 games were an excellent choice for hardware of the early 2000s: featuring fanciful lairs and the like, the limitations of older hardware left some elements to the imagination, and this really allowed James Bond games to create exciting stories. Games like Agent Under FireNightfireEverything or Nothing and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent all had exotic locations in their setting.

  • As hardware improved, James Bond games became less inspired. Activision eventually took on Bond games, turning a once-great series into Call of Duty knockoffs. Unsurprisingly, these games were poorly received. It’s now been some eight years since the last James Bond game: the failed 007: Legends, whose performance was so abysmal that all Activision Bond games were removed from Steam. There is supposedly a new 007 game in the works, but the age of Bond shooters is long past now. Back in Republic Commando, after downloading the launch codes, it’s time to disembark from the Trade Federation Core Ship, bringing the first segment of Republic Commando to an end.

  • The second act of Republic Commando is set inside the Prosecutor, a Acclamator-class assault transport manufactured by Kuat Drive Yards first seen at the end of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Here, they deployed clones to the surface of Geonosis, marking the start of the Clone Wars. By this point in time in Republic Commando, it’s been a year since the events of Geonosis, and Delta Squad is sent to investigate the Prosecutor, which also happens to be the vessel that Delta Squad was based out of. Upon boarding, the vessel is eerily dark and uninhabited.

  • The dagger-shaped Acclamator-class vessels were the predecessors to the Venator-class capital ships, the latter of which were built for a multi-role combat in anti-ship engagement, as well as transport functions. The Acclamator-class vessels were 752 metres in length and could hold up to 16000 clones. With its vast bay doors, it could unload entire brigades on short order, and possessed enough firepower to engage Separatist ships. During the Battle of Geonosis, Acclamator-class ships proved effective on the ground, although a lack of initial coordination in space allowed the Separatists to escape with their droid armies.

  • As with the interior of a Trade Federation Core Ship, the Acclamator-class vessels are not shown in too much details in the Star Wars movies, and as such, Republic Commando offers a chance to explore the interior of such a ship. Republic vessels have a much cleaner feel to them compared to the primitive designs of Geonosian architecture, and lack the Nemodians’ more ostentatious designs. In Republic Commando, despite the graphics not allowing the game to fully portray all of the nuances in Star Wars interior design, the game still manages to successfully convey the differences in each of its three acts.

  • Here, I’ve picked up a Trandoshan shotgun, which fulfills the role of a dedicated close quarters weapon. Unlike the Geonosian beam weapon, which has a very high damage and limited carrying capacity, Trandoshan projectile weapons are effective against organic enemies and ammunition is relatively common. I found myself using the shotgun the most, since it had strong stopping power, although the repeating rifle is also a reasonable choice at close ranges. Using enemy weapons allows one to conserve on ammunition for the DC-17m, but in general, I found that ammunition was generally easily found.

  • As I made my way deeper into the Prosecutor, the decks became better lit: it turns out that only some areas of the ship were damaged, and so, the Trandoshans, a reptilian species, intend to sell the vessel to the Separatists for cash. The aim of this mission changes from investigating the ship, to disrupting the transaction and driving off the Trandoshan boarders. Unlike the insectoid Geonosians, which explode when killed, Trandoshans are a bit more resilient to damage: I’ve found that the shotgun was the better way of dealing with them. Conversely, projectile weapons are less effective against droids.

  • The close quarters settings of the Prosecutor’s corridors meant that there wasn’t much of an opportunity to make use of the sniper attachment. However, the heaviest Trandoshan enemies, their enforcers, possess a heavy repeating weapon that can burn through a commando’s shields and armour with ease at close range. Using the sniper attachment allows players to pick enforcers off at a range where their weapons are less effective, and it’s times like these where the DC-17m’s modular setup makes it immensely valuable.

  • Fighting the Trandoshans brought back memories of fighting Brutes in Halo 2: despite being physically unimposing, they’re uncommonly strong, being a match for Wookies in combat. Against Delta Squad, they do pose a threat, but fortunately, the vast arsenal available, coupled with the fact that their gear renders them highly lethal, means that Delta Squad can cut their way through entire groups of Trandoshan warriors without too much trouble. As Delta Squad continues through the derelict assault ship, Separatist droids begin appearing again.

  • In the large hangars, droid dispensers can be found. The most lethal ones manufacture a bottomless supply of Super Battle Droids or Droidekas, and require that explosives be mounted on their sides in order to be put out of commission. The explosives took upwards of ten seconds to arm, leaving one vulnerable to fire in the process. Where possible, I attempted to have squad mates rig the explosives, and then I would provide covering fire instead.

  • Because of a bad save point, I ended up suffering this section: as droids stormed the hallway, I found myself dying endlessly. It wasn’t until I reverted to an earlier save point and ensured each of Scorch, Sev and Fixer were fully topped off that I was able to get past this section: there are automated turrets that will fire on the player alongside the waves of droids, and having that bit of extra health amongst the squad helps them to survive long enough for me to get the turrets offline.

  • On the gunnery deck, there are a handful of terminals that must be activated in order to bring the Prosecutor’s guns online: these take a very long time to set up, and I found that it was much easier to arm a portion of it, deal with any enemies and then continue. Here, the EMP grenades proved to be immensely valuable: a single well-placed grenade can destroy an entire group of Super Battle Droids, without expending an extraordinary amount of ammunition and time. Once the guns are online, the Prosecutor and an allied Acclamator-class fire on the Separatist battleship, destroying it.

  • The final act in Republic Commando is set on Kashyyyk, a forest world home to the Wookies. This planet would become a pivotal site during the Clone Wars as a navigational point, and so, the Separatists began an invasion. While the Republic would ultimately beat them back, casualties were heavy, and the Wookies were enslaved during the Imperial era. This final mission has the powerful and durable Wookies as allies, so rescuing and keeping alive the Wookies will be of a major help for players.

  • While Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith made it seem that Kashyyyk was a planet with a surface geology most similar to Gulin province in China, with many rivers and karst limestone formations, Republic Commando‘s Kashyyyk is set in more heavily forested regions, where the larger Wookie cities are. In this mission, players fight both droids and Trandoshan mercenaries alike. I ended up switching between the Trandoshan shotgun and the default DC-17m blaster depending on what was at hand. The first goal is to rescue Tarffull from captivity. Once he’s secured, his presence will give players a powerful ally.

  • General Grievous’ magna-guards are among the toughest enemies in the whole of Republic Commando to fight – their electrostaffs deal massive damage, and the droids themselves are highly agile on top of being able to absorb a great deal of damage. I ended up using a combination of the Bowcaster and EMP grenades to disable then: the latter is a powerful ranged weapon whose rounds can deflect off walls, and ammunition for it is relatively common where the weapon is needed.

  • Inspection of screenshots later into my journey in Republic Commando will find that most of them were taken at around this time last year. I had reached Kashyyyk close to the Winter Solstice, during which we celebrated Dongzhi. Last year, we would have had family over, along with a delicious celebratory dinner. This year, during Dongzhi celebrations were a bit different: we ended up cooking our annual dinner from scratch, and everything turned out delicious: home-made white-cut chicken, char siu, roasted prawns and abalone on a bed of lettuce, braised shiitake and cloud-ear mushroom. We had been hit with a massive snowfall on the night of Winter Solstice this year, and within the space of a day, a foot of snow fell.

  • During last year’s Christmas Eve, I remember having a half-day. After I returned home from work, I set about beating Republic Commando, then played through Halo: Reach‘s third mission before stepping out to a delicious steak dinner at a nearby bistro, before going for a short drive to check out the Christmas lights around town. Again, with different circumstances this year, we’ve opted to keep things simpler. I spent a half-day today tending to some work-related matters before taking the afternoon easy.

  • It was quite surprising to see that a year had elapsed so quickly: it only feels like yesterday that I had finished Republic Commando. I had planned to write about the game shortly after I finished, but upon going through the screenshots I’d collected, it turned out to be a bit of a tricky undertaking to pare them down into a more manageable number for the post. As 2019 turned into 2020, I decided to revisit the game come December. I’d actually only written the draft of this post only this month, and for a better part of the year, most of its contents were just loosely-organised thoughts in my mind.

  • I was therefore a little surprised to find that I’d still remembered my experiences in Republic Commando so well: this perhaps speaks to the level of quality in the game, which many modern games lack. Unlike games of the present day, which are littered with bugs, launch problems, mandatory DLC and loot-boxes, older games were designed with enjoyment and replayability in mind. In this way, I find modern popular titles like Fortnite to be pale imitations of what games could be like. The release of The Master Chief Collection was particularly enjoyable, since it brought back classic titles from an era when games were still intended to be enjoyed, rather than for milking every last penny from customers. The golden age of gaming is past now, but fortunately, older titles continue to be available for enjoyment and still run well enough on modern hardware.

  • Here, I’m rocking the Trandoshan mini-gun, one of the most powerful weapons in the game in terms of raw damage (second only to the Geonosian cannon). While capable of shredding even a Trandoshan enforcer and Super Battle Droids in seconds, it is a cumbersome weapon, and becomes highly inaccurate at range. Ultimately, I found that the most useful weapon that could be picked up was probably the Trandoshan shotgun, as that fulfilled a CQC function in a reliable manner.

  • As I pushed my way towards the final objective on Kashyyyk, members of Delta Squad head off to their objectives. Having grown accustomed to having squad mates around for revives, the last part of Republic Commando requires a bit of careful play, since dying without any squad mates around means being sent back to the last checkpoint. However, with Christmas Eve dinner on the table, I decided to play more cautiously, and for my efforts, finally reached one of the anti-air guns. Here, I used it to blast the Separatist Cruiser out of the sky, bringing the game to an end.

  • Overall, I found Republic Commando to have felt like Star Wars with Halo mechanics, and dual-wielding swapped out for the much more useful and engaging squad commands. Despite being fifteen years old at the time of writing, Republic Commando has aged rather gracefully from a gameplay perspective. The soundtrack is also excellent: Vode An and the other Mandalorian pieces remind me of cold, dark December days. With this post in the books, it is time to take the remainder of this Christmas Eve easier, settle in to a quieter evening and look forwards to Christmas Day itself. With this being said, I would like to wish a Merry Christmas to all readers! I’ll be taking tomorrow easy, and then return on Boxing Day to wrap up GochiUsa BLOOM‘s finale.

The melding of sophisticated gameplay mechanics and story into Republic Commando makes it unsurprising that the game was acclaimed. I’ve long known about Republic Commando, having read the strategy guides back when the local library still carried them, but never really had any sort of opportunity to play the game itself until recently: last year, as a part of Origin’s security promotion, they offered clients with a month of free access to EA Play, which gave me access to all of the games that were a part of that library. However, EA ran into logistics issues, and it wasn’t until December that I was granted access to EA Play. I originally had intended to play through both Republic Commando and Detention, but a busy schedule meant that I ended up having only time for Republic Commando. After modifying the game to run at 1080p, I was immediately blown away by how smoothly the game handled: despite being fourteen years old, Republic Commando proved to be great fun – the game fully captures the Star Wars aesthetic, and without any Jedi or Sith, it feels distinctly like Rogue One, where it’s just ordinary folks doing what they can. Over the course of December, I progressed through Separatist installations on Geonosis, the Prosecutor’s cavernous interior and the Wookie cities of Kashyyyk. On Christmas Eve, I finally reached the final mission and destroyed the Separatist battleship to bring an end to the game. Even now, Republic Commando‘s unique soundtrack, with original pieces composed by Jesse Harlin, featuring Mandalorian chants, still remind me of the final moth of the year, when the days shorten and shadows consume the land in an early darkness. Republic Commando was, altogether, a superb experience. The game has certainly earned its praise, being an exceptionally well-done Star Wars title that withstood the test of time. A sequel had been planned for Republic Commando, and while this was cancelled, one can imagine that a revisitation of Delta Squad and their missions, in a modern game engine, featuring a refreshed story, could be worth playing.

Star Wars Battlefront II: Thanksgiving Long Weekend and A Reflection on Instant Action

“Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.” –Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Five years earlier, DICE had opened their beta for Battlefront: EA had acquired the rights to develop Star Wars games after LucasArts shut down in 2013, and two years later, Battlefront had been intended to be DICE’s interpretation of what a Star Wars game should feel like. The resulting Battlefront game would be a multiplayer-only experience that saw players return to iconic Star Wars locations and participate in major battles within the Star Wars universe. By October 2015, a beta was ready: it lined up with the Thanksgiving long weekend and was intended to allow players to test for functionality and performance. I was in my final year of graduate school at the time, and therefore, was able to request an extra day off so that I could spend the Friday exploring the beta. Over the course of the long weekend, when I was not writing for GochiUsa‘s second season or helping with Thanksgiving Dinner, I spent a total of eight hours in the beta, running around on Hoth to either help the Rebels stop the Imperial walkers from reaching the shield generator, or else blasting Rebels to ensure the Imperial walkers hit their destination. While Battlefront had been a fun experience, and I greatly enjoyed just how immersive the game was with its visuals and sound engineering, the actual product proved to be lackluster: Battlefront had no campaign and was limited to only a few iconic locations. Two years later, DICE would release Battlefront II. Battlefront II was intended to be a proper successor to Battlefront, featuring more content and replay value. The open beta ran during October 2017’s Thanksgiving long weekend, and after spending several hours with the Galactic Conquest game mode, as well as Starfighter Assault, I found the game to be a direct upgrade over its successor: things handled more smoothly, and there was supposed to be a campaign mode, as well. However, in the aftermath of the loot-box controversy, I decided to hold off on Battlefront II: the idea of purchasing progression was quite frankly, an insult to gamers, and I expect to be able to unlock game-related materials simply through playing the game. DICE and EA took a major hit with their decisions in Battlefront II: in response, DICE ultimately reworked the entire progression system such that all game-relevant upgrades could be earned with experience, and loot-boxes would only provide cosmetics.

As DICE continued work on Battlefront II, the game would improve beyond recognition, and by the time DICE announced their last update back in April, Battlefront II has become a proper Star Wars title. While multiplayer is a core component of Battlefront II, for me, the inclusion of the “Instant Action” mode transformed Battlefront II from a curiosity into a game that was absolutely worth picking up: the whole point of a Star Wars game is to immerse oneself in the highly unique and enjoyable aesthetics of the Star Wars universe. This is not possible in the multiplayer, since one’s mindset is on whatever objective they are playing. Conversely, in a single-player experience, one can truly enjoy the amount of attention paid to details in both visual and aural elements. Blaster bolts impact surfaces with a shower of sparks, just like the movies, and hearing the distinct snap-hiss of a lightsabre being ignited means one must now be mindful of an enemy Hero’s presence on the battlefield. In Instant Action, players are able to play a variation of conquest or breakthrough against AI bots: not quite as demanding from a skill perspective, the game mode provides a sandbox environment for players to really appreciate and explore iconic Star Wars locations, as varied as Hoth, Yavin, Tatooine and Endor, to name a few. Reinforcements are available to players, as well as Heroes, giving players a full spectrum of things to try out in penalty-free space: death and defeat don’t count against players, allowing one to experiment with different loadouts, familiarise themselves with the different Heroes, or even just wander the map and appreciate just how faithful the locations are to their movie counterparts. While Instant Action lacks the same scale and demands of multiplayer proper, it retains enough features to be a full-fledged experience, great for folks who are looking to experiment or have fun at their own pace; I’ve especially enjoyed Instant Action for being able to provide me with a quick Star Wars experience on days where I feel an inclination to fire blasters in a galaxy far, far away rather than contemporary firearms in more familiar settings.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I still vividly recall the long weekend of five years earlier: I had spent most of the Thanksgiving break on Hoth and had been superbly impressed with how DICE had captured the Star Wars feel in Battlefront. After getting out my GochiUsa post done as quickly as was possible, I jumped right back into Battlefront‘s beta. In fact, Battlefront would rekindle my love for the Star Wars universe: I’d been a fan of Star Wars since Attack of the Clones came out, and after getting the DVD for Christmas, I remember borrowing the DVDs to the classic Trilogy to get caught up.

  • While simplistic from a thematic and story perspective, Star Wars biggest draw are the special effects and combat sequences: I don’t watch Star Wars to change my worldviews or understand symolism, I watch it purely for the fantastical worlds and engaging cinematography the films are known for. After watching (and yes, enjoying) Revenge of the Sith in the theatres, my interest in Star Wars jumped: the extended universe novels and games were quite enjoyable, providing plenty of lore to explore and new means of experiencing the franchise. Of the novels, I most enjoyed Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy and David Farland’s The Courtship of Princess Leia.

  • As for my favourite Star Wars game of all time, Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader occupies that coveted spot, allowing players to fly in some of Star Wars‘ most iconic battles (such as the attacks on both Death Stars and at Hoth) along with lesser known battles to highlight Rogue Squadron’s legendary combat missions. However, as time wore on, my interest in Star Wars began fading. Battlefront brought back those memories of an older time, and Battlefront II represents a more polished experience.

  • Since I am rocking what is more or less a private server through Instant Action, I have the choice of playing whichever Hero I’d like as soon as I’ve accumulated enough points. To reproduce the classic Battlefront experience, I’ve chosen to run with Luke Skywalker, during which I would go on a 15-streak. Luke is immensely fun to play with and has a host of abilities that make him a versatile melee-based Hero: under the snowy skies of Hoth, I had a fantastic time using the Force to capture control points and go exploring.

  • Traditionally, the Sunday of the Thanksgiving long weekend is when I have the turkey dinner: this year’s menu includes a roast turkey with homemade stuffing, ham with Dijon-honey sauce, Maggi-sauce shrimps and mixed vegetables. Turkey is counted as being a difficult bird to prepare for its long cook-times, which causes the meat to dry out and usually requires frequent basting to avert. However, we’ve been rocking a special recipe that makes things far easier: carrots, celery, onion, rosemary and parsley are placed into the centre of the turkey, and this is placed in a foil tray with about an inch of water. As the turkey bakes, the water becomes steam, moistening the exterior. Meanwhile, rising temperatures will cook the vegetables and herbs inside, causing them to release steam into the meat: altogether, this results in a very moist, tender and flavourful turkey.

  • Unsurprisingly, Thanksgiving Dinner turned out delicious: the recipe we have ensures that both the dark and light meat on our bird remains juicy. While we do have a pumpkin pie, I actually don’t bother with desert for the most part: if I’m out with the extended family, desert is typically served, but otherwise, I prefer just maxing out on turkey and the main course. I’d run a poll earlier this week to see what people do during large dinners, and it would seem that folks like myself, who prefer the main course over desert, are in the minority. I will remark that the folks in the majority might just change their minds after trying turkey the way we make it.

  • Even as a bog-standard infantry unit, one can still deal quite a bit of damage to enemy forces. My favourite class is the assault, since it is the most versatile: the blasters available to assault players have a decent range and accuracy, as well as hitting reasonably hard. In conjunction with a thermal detonator and shotgun for CQC, the assault is best suited for acting as shock troopers, pushing forwards onto enemy positions to capture them.

  • Here, I spent some of my points to run a rocket trooper: capable of jetting around the map with a jet pack, or doing shorter dashes to evade enemies, rocket troopers can be quite fun to wield. The update last September also added the Republic Commandos to Battlefront II, and this was among one of the most welcomed addition: the Republic Commandos were elite, special forces clones given the toughest of assignments to handle. They were featured in a 2005 FPS game that follows Delta Squad and their actions during the Clone Wars.

  • Thanks to a special promotion last year, I was able to play through Star Wars: Republic Commando and experience what has been counted as one of the best Star Wars games ever made. When I completed the campaign, I understood where the praise came from; Republic Commando has exceptional gameplay and a solid story, being rather sophisticated for its time. I do have plans on writing about that as time allows, and a glance at my schedule suggests that I should have time to do a post about Republic Commando come December.

  • Like Battlefront, Battlefront II features the DF.9 anti-infantry turrets: at the start of a match, I hopped into one and went on a short kill-streak with it before continuing on to help my team with a push. The game mode available in Instant Action is a smaller version of Battlefield‘s conquest, using the same scoring mechanism (capture a majority of the control points to score, and hold the points the longest to win): once enough points are captured, I’m free to go wander the map and look for enemies to light up.

  • Here, the planetary ion cannot (I believe the precise model is v-150) used at Hoth is visible: I’ve now shifted over to the Imperial faction to play as a stormtrooper. While the purist in me would prefer to run with the snowtrooper armour, I don’t think I’ve unlocked that particular cosmetic for the game just yet. Battlefront II offers a sizeable cosmetics collection, although owing to how little I’ve played the game, I’ve not spent too much in unlocking them for use. With this being said, DICE has been kind to the Battlefront player-base, and a legendary Rey skin was made free to all players following the release of Skywalker Rises.

  • Second to the assault class is the support class, which uses a repeating blaster and can be outfitted with ion rockets for anti-vehicle combat. While their blasters don’t hit as hard as a standard blaster on a per-shot basis, they are great for laying down suppressive fire, and the high RPM on the repeating blasters mean that they can melt through enemies in close quarters. In Battlefront, my game changed completely once I unlocked a repeating blaster; the lower damage was offset by the high RPM, and it was really from there that I began enjoying the beta to the extent that I did.

  • Battlefront II was released a mere two years after Battlefront, and in many places, the game has not seen too dramatic of an increase in visual fidelity. However, particle effects have been increased in Battlefront II: whereas Hoth in Battlefront was clear of any blowing snow, Battlefront II presents Hoth as featuring more snow effects. Skyboxes are also more detailed: both Imperial and Rebel vessels can be seen in the atmosphere. The particle systems must’ve been optimised to a good standard, since I’m still rocking a very reasonable 70-80 FPS with everything turned to the ultra preset at 1080p.

  • It is not lost on me that Hoth resembles Battlefield V‘s Fjell 652 in terms of aesthetics: with bright blue skies and snowy mountains: Fjell 652 was the first map I ever played in Battlefield V, but owing to poor visibility and bad map design, I would come to quit out of any match if the map was Fjell 652. By comparison, Hoth has a much better design, and Battlefront II has superior player visibility: even the white armour and fatigues that Imperials and Rebels alike sport on the map don’t render them invisible, whereas in Battlefield V, even players lacking camouflage gear could hide in the open owing to how the palette was chosen, making for a frustrating experience.

  • As a sniper, players have access to a slower-firing rifle with high-magnification optics that are suited for longer range combat. These rifles can drop distant enemy foes in as few as three shots without leaving one vulnerable to return fire from conventional blasters; while conventional blasters have a reasonable range, they cannot deal damage consistently at ranges for the sniper rifles. Fortunately, sniper rifles can be wielded at close ranges, as well, to get one out of a quick pinch if needed.

  • I admit that for me, one of the main appeals of Instant Action is the absence of other players one-shotting me from across the map owing to their superior star cards. This is one of the drawbacks about multiplayer games with intricate progression systems: players who spend more time in the game will inevitably unlock more items to use, but players who do not invest as much time have a much narrower range of options. While I’ve been able to sink a nontrivial amount of time into something like Battlefield, in general, one can really only focus on one game at a time, and in my case, I’ve simply not put in the same amount of time for Battlefront II.

  • During one chaotic firefight, I managed to down Lando: the CPU team is permitted Heroes, as well, and they can be quite devastating. I died at the hands of the CPU Lando at least three times before finally taking him out: on standard difficulty, AI bots are nowhere nearly as deadly as human players and can be handled with ease, although in large numbers, they can still deal some damage.

  • In the final moments of this post, I’ll showcase some of the kills I got while using Darth Vader. Unlike Luke, Vader is a bit trickier to control, and I was not quite as effective with him as I was with Luke. With this being said, Vader’s abilities are quite fun to use; sabre throw offers Vader a longer-range attack for handling distant foes, and Force choke can temporarily stop multiple opponents in their tracks. Over time, I acclimatised to Vader’s powers, I was able to going on a few kill-streaks.

  • I’d been running around and dealing enough damage as Vader during my final match to completely shut out the CPU. This brings my Thanksgiving post to an end, and as the evening sets in, it’s time to take things easy: unlike 2015, there’s no Battlefront beta going on this time around, so rather than trying to get the maximum experience from the beta as possible, I can direct my time towards other things.

At this time last year, I had just wrapped up Battlefront II‘s campaign: the September update that added Instant Action to the game also accompanied a massive sale, during which the game went for a song, and it became a no-brainer to pick it up. I recall that the campaign was reasonably enjoyable, although I’ve never really given the multiplayer or other modes a go. However, the presence of Instant Action means that I have the ability to spin up my own lobby and immerse myself in Star Wars whenever the inclination to arises. This past weekend, with the release of GochiUsa: BLOOM‘s first episode, I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic for an older time, and having picked up Battlefront II last year, it meant that I was, in effect, able to return to Hoth and fire Star Wars blasters the same way I did five years ago, when GochiUsa‘s second season began airing. The difference here is that, since Battlefront II is a fully-fledged game and not a beta, coupled with the fact that an update meant that I can run with any loadout of my choosing in Instant Action, there is no particular rush to have another go at things; this makes for a rather more relaxing weekend. Looking back, it would appear that it’s been consecutive Thanksgiving long weekends where I’ve written about Battlefront to some capacity. It would definitely seem that this time of year, with its autumn leaves, cooler weather, and shortening days, are the perfect time to go grab a blaster or lightsabre and either help the Rebel Alliance topple the Empire, or smash the Rebel scum in the name of the Empire after a warm and delicious turkey dinner, which, in conjunction with health and family, are the most important things that I give thanks for during Thanksgiving.

Star Wars Battlefront II: A Reflection on the Campaign

“We’ve been fighting for our whole lives. It’s taken us too long to realise that we were fighting for the wrong side. This war is far from over. We would like to help you, if you’ll let us.” –Iden Versio

After she allows herself to be captured by the Rebel Alliance, Iden Versio escapes from captivity and erases a coded transmission the Rebels had acquired concerning the Emperor’s plan for Endor. While on an assignment to neutralise the Rebel forces that landed at Endor, the second Death Star is destroyed. Iden and Inferno Squad (Del and Gideon) comply with orders to retreat and secures TIE fighters, rejoining the Imperial Forces and meets with her father, Admiral Versio. With the Emperor’s death confirmed, the Empire begins to enact Operation Cinder, a contingency plan that would have seen the destruction of Imperial worlds. After Del encounters Luke Skywalker on Pillio during a mission to destroy the Emperor’s storehouse, Meeko and Iden are sent to Vardos to extract Protectorate Gleb. Witnessing the Empire’s disregard for its own people, Meeko and Iden defect to the Rebel Alliance. They meet Lando Calrissian, who gives Iden and Del a chance to prove themselves as being trustworthy by having them participate in the liberation of Naboo alongside Princess Leia. Iden and Del are then sent to Takodana to find Han Solo, who was locating an Imperial defector holding the key to freeing Kashyyyk. Iden learns that Gideon is on Bespin and commences an operation to capture him alongside Admiral Versio, but the two manage to escape. Lando, meanwhile, heads to Sullust to secure an Imperial weapons cache, but ends up destroying the munitions factory there. The Empire is pushed into a corner, and the Rebel Alliance launches one final attack on the weakened Imperial fleet at Jakku. Iden boards Admiral Versio’s Star Destroyer and attempts to rescue him, but he resolves to die with the Empire, asking Iden to live a full life. In the aftermath of the Battle of Jakku, Iden and Del share a kiss. Decades later, Del is captured and interrogated by Kylo Ren, who is searching for a map that will lead to Luke Skywalker. Kylo Ren turns Del over to Gideon, who executes him after expressing his disgust at the choices Del had made. This is Star Wars Battlefront II‘s campaign, a short but vivid experience that marks the first time I’ve played a Star Wars campaign since the days of Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader.

Battlefront II‘s campaign ultimately acts as a highly cinematic tutorial for players looking to get into the multiplayer, providing nonstop fanservice in allowing players to experience the story from the perspective of heroes like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Iden’s own story is a compelling, if generic one, exploring how the Empire’s atrocities and determination to hold onto power in accordance to Palpatine’s wishes was something that even some of the Imperials did not agree with. The campaign thus shows that Palpatine’s preferred approach in ruling by fear meant that in his absence, the Empire was only loosely held together and disintegrated within a year of his death, which stands in contrast with the extended universe, which saw the Empire continuing to wage war against the New Republic. The divergence of the story between what is official and what is now part of the legends means that some of the latter’s greatest stories will never be brought to life, and while the story of Battlefront II might have been familiar in its presentation and themes (compared to the more complex themes the extended universe deals with), DICE’s implementation of the campaign means that in addition to being a good entry point into Battlefront II, it also provides an authentic and rather enjoyable Star Wars experience: famous planets and weapons are reproduced faithfully, as are the characters and starfighters. Overall, while perhaps nothing remarkable from a thematic or narrative perspective, the technical excellence of Battlefront II‘s campaign, in the visuals and sound engineering, shows that the technology and resources definitely exist to make a Star Wars game of the same enjoyment as something like 2001’s Rogue Leader.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Battlefront II starts with Iden on board a Rebel Mon Calamari cruiser. After she uses her droid to hack her way out, Iden retrieves the intel surrounding Palpatine’s plans at Endor and then escapes. The last time I played Battlefront II was two years ago during the open beta, and the game today is said to be nearly unrecognisable from its state back then, showing what can happen when market forces compel developers and publishers to re-evaluate core mechanics to a game’s progression system.

  • Because Battlefront II now features a conventional progression system rather than the luck-based micro-transactions systems the title first launched with, I will periodically be playing the multiplayer aspects. My primary interest in Battlefront II actually lay in the campaign, arcade and instant action modes, which allow me to experience blowing stuff up Star Wars-style and relive combat within the universe. With this being said, I would very much like to give Galactic Conquest a go, since these would allow me to fight in iconic locations throughout the Star Wars universe.

  • As Iden, a member of the Empire’s elite Inferno Squad, players will initially fight for the Empire. Seeing the second Death Star destroyed from another perspective was a sobering experience that also served to show that at Endor, there were winners and losers. The films and stories predominantly tell of the Rebel Alliances success here, although some also have depicted the chaos and confusion on the Imperial side after the Death Star was destroyed. On Endor, this does not stop Iden and Inferno Squad, who fight their way through the victorious Rebel soldiers and secure TIE fighters.

  • The Empire’s TIE fighters have long been described as being inexpensive, expendable fighters that possessed superior speed and manoeuvrability because of their light weight. Lacking any sort of life support system, shielding and hyper-drive, the TIE fighters were essentially engines bolted onto a cockpit and a pair of fast-firing laser cannons. However, for gameplay reasons, Battlefront II‘s TIE fighters are more durable and act as a good all-around vehicle for space combat.

  • The flight controls in Battlefront II are actually somewhat cumbersome and cannot be fully customised, forcing players to acclimatise to the strange combination of mouse and keyboarding flying. When I reached the first space mission, I actually stopped playing and spent several rounds in the arcade mode to get a better feel for the controls. Once I got used to them, I was able to keep up in at least the single-player mission and accomplish my tasks with efficiency. Muscle memory led me to try and fly like I did in Ace Combat 7, with disastrous (and hilarious) results.

  • Iden is next sent to secure an Imperial dockyard from Rebel forces so that delivery of a secret weapon system can be completed. However, when ion cannons from a Mon Calamari cruiser threaten the operation, Iden is sent to board the cruiser and disable the guns. Battlefront II does not have its 2005 incarnation’s seamless transition between flight and infantry combat, instead relying on transitions in the campaign to achieve the same thing, but its implementation is likely in part owing to the increased complexity of the assets.

  • The first hero players will control is Luke Skywalker, who’s visiting Pillio in search of Jedi artefacts. As Luke, players have access to a Force push, heavy attack and sabre rush that lets Luke close the distance with enemies very quickly. Heroes in Battlefront II seem more vulnerable than their Battlefront counterparts: against the Stormtroopers on Pillio, I had to be cautious and engage them smartly, since Luke’s health can be quickly decimated by enemy fire.

  • After Luke meets Del, he helps Del fend off attack from the native wildlife. Heroes in Battlefront II have stamina for their attacks, and this is drained on a lightsaber strike, or when a block is used. Thus, one cannot swing wildly for risk of running out of stamina mid-battle, which renders Force-users less effective. Once the onslaught ends and Del unlocks the door to the storehouse, he and Luke part ways after Luke finds something noteworthy in the chamber, with Luke hoping to meet again under different circumstances.

  • Iden’s abilities vary and depend on the mission. For the most part, I utilise them to give myself a boost in a given situation, and here, I fight through Vardos after Iden and Del decide to defect from the Empire. Most people considered this to be a highly predictable, sanctimonious turn of events that reinforces the idea that the Empire is irredeemably evil, rather than the multi-faceted enemy that the extended universe (especially Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy) explored, and ever since Disney took the rights to Star Wars, I admit that the storytelling has been less nuanced than it was previously.

  • From a gameplay perspective, Iden’s defection means that one now has the chance to fight Imperial Stormtroopers and implements of the Imperial forces again: I ended up destroying an AT-ST walker en route to my objective using nothing more than a blaster during this mission. While enemy vehicles are powerful forces to contend with in the campaign, even the absence of dedicated anti-armour doesn’t really mean much, since one could stay out of its attack range and chip away at its health.

  • Of course, having anti-armour weapons like a grenade launcher or rocket launcher will help expedite things considerably. The mission on Vardos also gives players a chance to take the gunner’s seat in an AT-AT and use the famous walker’s arsenal to destroy everything standing between Iden and the Corvus. Despite its power, the AT-AT actually feels a little weak, taking at least two hits to down infantry with its main weapon. This was probably done to balance the reinforcement’s power.

  • After escaping Vardos and surrendering to the Rebel Alliance, Iden and Del decide to help them when Lando presents them with a choice. Flying an X-Wing for the first time, Iden thus disables the Cinder satellites before helping the Rebels take down a Star Destroyer in a mission that would not seem out of place in Rogue Leader. The X-Wing is the Rebel Alliance’s trademark fighter, being a powerful and versatile starfighter that balances manoeuvrability with durability. The interceptors are lighter weight, faster and more manoeuvrable in exchange for reduced durability and firepower, while bombers possess more firepower at the expense of mobility.

  • Once Iden clears the Operation Cinder satellites, gameplay switches over to Leia on the ground. She’s armed with a blaster pistol, can summon a defensive shield, use a flash grenade to disorient enemies and can pull out a confiscated Imperial blaster rifle for increased firepower. It felt great to return to Naboo two years after my first visit in Battlefront II during the open beta.

  • Playing as Leia meant switching out my usual E-11 blaster, the Imperial standard-issue rifle that is versatile and reliable, for a Defender Sporting rifle. I believe Leia used such a weapon at the very beginning of A New Hope, and this weapon is capable of downing a Stormtrooper in one shot during the campaign. It also has the unique ability to be charged for a more powerful shot, making it effective over longer ranges.

  • Leia’s mission is to provide covering fire for Del and Rebel soldiers looking to reactivate an ion pulse to disable all Imperial weapons. The mission takes players through the same parts of Theed that the open beta’s mission covered, right up to the palace doors. From here, the pulse is activated and that’s it for the mission: it looks like to explore the hangar where Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon squared off against Darth Maul, plus the interior of the palace, I’ll need to get into a multiplayer match.

  • The campaign takes players to Takodana (not to be mistaken with SSSS.Gridman‘s Rikka Takorada), a planet seen in The Force Awakens. Players assume the role of Han Solo, who’s there speaking to an Imperial informant who intends to provide intel on the Wookies and Kashyyyk. As Han, players have access to his legendary DL-44 heavy blaster pistol, a highly reliable weapon that can one-shot Stormtroopers.

  • Beyond a reliable blaster, Han also has access to a remote-detonated grenade similar to the sticky grenades of The Division and can charge into a crowd of enemies to knock the first enemy over. On top of this, the DL-44 can have its rate of fire increased. All around, he’s a fun character to play, and there was immense satisfaction in using the DL-44 to blow Stormtroopers away: in most games, pistols are considered to be secondary weapons to be counted in during a pinch, but the blaster pistols of Star Wars are equally as effective at range, handling similarly to the M6C Magnum of Halo.

  • After digging through crates the Imperial informant points out to find the intel, Han fights his way through squads of Stormtroopers to reach Chewbacca. Fighting what felt like an entire legion of Stormtroopers here proved tricky, and while the DL-44 is great for dealing with smaller groups, it’s decided less suited for situations where enemies are coming from all sides. It took use of each of Han’s abilities to get through this stage.

  • Once Chewbacca finishes repairing the Millennium Falcon, it’s time to take to the skies and drive off the Imperial forces that appear. Being a Hero ship, the Millennium Falcon’s large size belies its solid performance. Armed with an afterburner, concussion missiles and an automatic quad turret, the Millennium Falcon is considered to be the best Hero ship in Battlefront II, with Boba Fett’s Slave I being the best vessel for the Villains. Maz will berate Han for bringing the Imperial forces in, but with the Millennium Falcon, they are easily dealt with.

  • Iden and Del find themselves on Bespin once they learn that Admiral Versio and Gideon are here. They disguise themselves as Stormtroopers and infiltrate the Imperial facility, but fail to find either Admiral Versio or Gideon. The flight into the facility has players passing by Beldon, voluminous creatures that produced Tibanna gas (utilised as a hyperdrive coolant and for bolstering turbolaser firepower) as a part of their metabolic processes.

  • After the mission goes awry, Iden and Del just barely get away. The amount of firepower brought to bear on the two is incredible, and I ended up fighting an AT-ST walker as well as legions of Stormtroopers. A mounted turret made it much easier to deal with enemies: while stationary weapons generally turn a player into an easy target for snipers in multiplayer settings, in campaigns, most of the AI aren’t capable of sharpshooting and therefore, with their unlimited ammunition and ability to lay down sustained fire, stationary turrets are excellent.

  • Unlike Rogue Leader, which had players participate in a raid on Bespin to secure Cloud City and the Tibanna gas facilities, Battlefront II has Iden and Del turn their attention towards destroying the docking station for three Imperial Star Destroyers. Iden takes control of a Cloud Car, which were originally intended as private transports but, with the inclusion of blasters, becomes a makeshift light fighter. They are not powerful or durable, but their blasters are sufficient in igniting the Tibanna gas platforms the Star Destroyers are docked to.

  • Iden’s raid on Bespin turns out to be much shorter than the one seen in Rogue Leader: once she’s done destroying the platforms, they will explode and destroy the remaining Star Destroyers. Seeing the different visuals and settings in Battlefront II makes me long for a full remake of Rouge Squardon III: Rebel Strike, which was a sequel to Rogue Leader that added on-foot missions. With the assets of Battlefront II already in place, a remake of Rebel Strike with flight missions from Rogue Leader would truly bring iconic missions to life in the latest and greatest game engine.

  • Such a campaign-based Star Wars game would be very unlikely: the games of old were developed and published back in a time when games had a larger single-player focus, when micro-transactions and DLC were not part of a publisher’s business model and when one would get their full money’s worth for a title. These days, games have a larger multiplayer piece, so it is already something that Battlefront II has a campaign.

  • While I entered Lando’s mission to Sullest with some apprehension, it turned out that Lando’s abilities to deploy smoke, track enemies and automatically lock onto enemies with his blaster were superbly useful: Lando was most fun to play, enhanced by his banter with Shriv. Towards the end of the mission, players get to take control of an AT-ST and use its loadout to melt the Imperial soldiers below. While Lando winds up destroying the facility, to Iden’s disappointment that the Rebels won’t get any additional weapons, the strike at Sullest also sets in motion the final mission of Battlefront II.

  • Players actually have a chance to see the Battle of Jakku now: this is Rey’s homeworld, and by the events of The Force Awakens, the desert planet is best known for the wreckage of old Imperial Star Destroyers embedded in the sand dunes. Being able to participate in the mop-up operation that sees the end of Palpatine’s Empire was a thrilling experience, and it was fun to fly in what is the largest battle in Battlefront II‘s campaign.

  • That the Battle of Jakku is set during a sunset is meant to be symbolic: sunsets mark the end of something, and contrary to the officers’ belief otherwise, the Imperials are fighting a losing battle here. After clearing the skies somewhat, Iden descends to a fallen Star Destroyer and plants explosive devices on TIE bombers to take them out of the equation. She then flies towards the battlefront where the Empire has deployed AT-ATs that have begun firing on a Rebel position.

  • While the AT-AT walkers were originally portrayed as terrifying enemies in The Empire Strikes Back, decades of watching the rebels use Attack Pattern Delta on them, followed by the fact that they actually numerous weaknesses, meant that by the time Iden is asked to tag the AT-ATs for bombardment, I thought nothing of them. I long have wondered why X-Wings were never brought to bear against AT-ATs at Hoth, and the answer for this is simple enough. Except for Luke’s X-Wing, all available X-Wings were scrambled to escort the transport craft, and the second is that while an X-Wing could trivially destroy AT-ATs with strafing runs. This would, however, lessen their impact on the Hoth evacuation.

  • The penultimate segment to the Battle of Jakku sees Iden engage Gideon in single combat in an intense dogfight. While a tough opponent, Gideon is no Mihaly A. Shilage, and I ended up defeating him. With Gideon gone for the present, Iden then lands on the Star Destroyer that Admiral Versio is commanding, clears off the deck of opponents and heads off to rescue her father. He declines to go with her, but admits that the Empire was flawed. Wishing her to make the most of her life, he dies as his Star Destroyer crashes onto Jakku’s surface. Iden escapes and passionately kisses Del in the aftermath, bringing the main campaign to an end.

  • There’s actually an epilogue where players get to step into the shoes of Kylo Ren as he is interrogating an older Del for information on Luke Skywalker, as well. With this post finished, I have one more coming out for today, where I write about GochiUsa: ~Sing For You~. Like that Saturday when GochiUsa‘s second season aired four years ago, it’s a beautiful, sunny morning, and I’ll be sitting down to write about this long-awaited addition to GochiUsa later in the day.

With the first campaign now in the books, I still have yet to go through Battlefront II‘s Resurrection campaign, which is set between the events of the first campaign and The Force Awakens. There is a surprising amount of depth to Battlefront II, and having given the multiplayer a short test drive, I am genuinely impressed with how far the game has come since its initial launch in 2017, where its microtransaction and progression system create a controversy so large, it impacted policy change surrounding how microtransactions could be implemented in a game. Since then, DICE tirelessly worked to improve Battlefront II, and players going into the game today will not see any of the elements that caused said controversy two years previously. Progression is simply accomplished by using a class, reinforcement or hero. Battlefront II has seen three seasons’ worth of updates that added new maps, game modes and heroes free of charge: the game now has Clone Wars content and more options for solo play. Seeing all of the development effort and care that went into Battlefront II is, in conjunction with a well-timed sale, why I picked the game up: good Star War games are rare these days simply because there aren’t very many of them, and Battlefront II comes the closest to being a modern incarnation of Rogue Leader, which remains my favourite classic Star Wars game of all time for giving players a chance to re-enact classic Star Wars experiences. Battlefront II may not allow players to fly down the trench of the first Death Star or fight the Battle of Endor the same way that Rogue Leader did, but by expanding on the universe and placing players at key moments after the second Death Star was destroyed, the game does succeed in bringing back the mechanics and atmosphere that makes Star Wars so enjoyable.

Star Wars Battlefront II: A Reflection of Starfighter Assault and Space Gameplay in the Open Beta

“It’s no good, I can’t manoeuvre!”
“Stay on target.”
“We’re too close!”
“Stay on target!”
“Loosen up!”

–Gold Leader and Gold Five, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

If I had been active as a blogger back during the early 2000s, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader would certainly have been featured as a game I would write about. Featuring ten single player missions and several bonus missions spanning the original triology, Rogue Leader boasted some of the most sophisticated visual and gameplay effects that could be run on the Nintendo GameCube, allowing players to relive the most famous moments in Star Wars. From the first attack on the Death Star to the Battle of Hoth and the Rebel Alliance’s final attack on the Emperor’s Death Star II, the game’s technical sophistication and enjoyment factor led many critics to remark that this game alone was worth buying the GameCube for, and indeed, even fifteen years after its launch, only Pandemic’s Star Wars: Battlefront II in 2005 can even hold a candle to Rouge Leader. However, this year’s reinterpretation of Battlefront II comes the closest to bringing back the sort of magic that was available in Rogue Leader, for in Battlefront II, there is the Starfighter Assault game mode that pits players against one another in beautifully written space battles. In the Battlefront II open beta, players are assigned to the Rebel Alliance or Galactic Empire over the shipyards of Fondor. In a multi-stage battle reminiscent of the Rush and Operations game modes of Battlefield, Imperial pilots must deplete the Rebels of reinforcement tickets and defend a Star Destroyer in dry dock, while the Rebels aim to take down the Star Destroyer. Players get their pick of three different classes of starships: the balanced all-rounder fighter, high-speed dogfighter interceptors and the slower but durable bombers, each of which can be customised with star cards to fit a player’s style.

The epic scale of ship-to-ship combat in Starfighter Assault is quite unlike the infantry-focused Galactic Conquest: the space battles of Battlefront II were developed by Criterion, of Burnout and Need For Speed fame. I jumped into a game and attempted to steer my X-Wing with my mouse, but promptly crashed. After switching over to the keyboard, I began learning my way around the controls, and within minutes, was pursing Imperial TIE fighters and firing on objectives. Unlike Battlefront, where starships had the manoeuvrability of a refrigerator, the controls in Battlefront II are responsive and crisp. As I became more familiar with the ships available, I began climbing scoreboards, shooting down more enemy starships and playing objectives more efficiently. The sheer scope of Starfighter Assault and the easy-to-pick-up-but-difficult-to-master design of this game mode makes it incredibly fun and with nearly unlimited replay value. While playing the Imperials, I focused on shooting down Rebel ships, and as a Rebel, there was the challenge of finishing the objectives without being shot down. Regardless of which team I played for, there was always a great satisfaction in landing killing shots on enemy starfighters and going on kill-streaks that I never was able to manage in Galactic Assault. It got to the point where I improved sufficiently to have the chance of making use of three of the four Hero ships. Automatically locking onto an enemy starfighter à la Battlefront is gone – aiming and leading shots is entirely a skill-based endeavour now, and while Criterion provides a helpful reticule to assist in aiming, it ultimately falls on players to learn how to best move their ships around. These elements come together to provide a game mode that is exceptionally entertaining to play, rewarding skill and encouraging new-time players to try their hand at flying.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Shortly after spawning into my first Starfighter Assault match, I started to use the mouse and promptly crashed into the radar dish; there’s no option to reset or centre the reticule, so if the mouse is moved slightly, it causes the vehicle to drift in one direction. Once I left the mouse alone and began flying with the keyboard, the controls became much more simple to use. Unlike Battlefront, where vehicular handling as as stiff as molasses, the controls of Battlefront II are much smoother. It took a grand total of ten minutes to become accustomed to the system.

  • There are plenty of AI-controlled fighters flying around the map so that players have no shortage of things to shoot at, and here, a seismic charge from the Slave I goes off. They were first seen in Attack of the Clone and create a devastating shockwave that can punch through asteroids. The weapon is fantastic against starfighers, and edges out Battlefront‘s thermal imploders for having the coolest sound in Star Wars; the silence and delay before the full weight of the bass creates one of the most interesting sound effects ever engineered.

  • With their powerful blasters and high durability, bombers are balanced by their lower speeds and manoeuvrability, as well as for the fact that they require more reinforcement tickets in order to spawn into if one is playing as a Rebel. The TIE Bomber makes its first appearance in a modern Star Wars game and I use it to great effect; they’re most useful against the Blockade Runners that appear to reinforce Rebel fighters, but can most certainly hold their own against X-Wings and A-Wings.

  • TIE Bombers were first seen in The Empire Strikes Back, seen dropping proton bombs on the asteroid where the Millennium Falcon was concealed. Players do not have access to the proton bombs for assaulting ground targets, but bombers get access to dual proton torpedoes and missiles. While they have a guidance system that can lock onto enemy ships, secondary weapons can be fired dumb by double-tapping on the button, making it possible to rapidly use them against slow moving or stationary targets.

  • The Rebellion’s workhorse bomber, Y-Wings have been in operation since the Clone Wars, being acquired by the Rebel Alliance before the Empire could scrap or decommission them. The last time I flew a Y-Wing was in Rogue Leader during the “Prisoners of the Maw” mission. In Rogue Leader, the Y-Wing is equipped with proton bombs rather than guided torpedoes, and the ion cannons were forward-facing, only affecting targets in front of the Y-Wing. In Battlefront II, they’re fun to fly, but the cost of spawning in makes it imperative that one focuses on objectives rather than dogfights.

  • TIE Fighters reflect on the Empire’s adherence to Soviet military doctrine: they are inexpensive to produce and the engines are incredibly effective despite their simple design. Lacking shields, a hyperdrive, life-support systems and landing gear, TIE Fighters are incredibly lightweight, and in Star Wars, are shown to be quite fragile compared to Alliance starfighters. However, the TIE Fighters of Battlefront II have a bit more durability and can fire proton torpedoes, making them remarkably fun to fly. TIE Fighters are equipped a laser barrage function that allows the cannons to be fired rapidly to deliver a blistering hail of blaster fire.

  • The Slave I requires only 2500 battlepoints to unlock; it is armed to the teeth, as all of its abilities are offensively driven: besides a concussion missile and seismic charges, it also has access to ion cannons, which slow down enemy ships. Somewhat hard to manoeuvre, it is nonetheless quite durable, and here, I managed to get a kill using the seismic charges. The blast wave is not visible, as I’ve flown from it, but the effects are clear.

  • Light and agile, the A-Wing is the fastest starfighter available to the Rebel Alliance. It is capable of extreme speed, can maintain unbreakable locks onto enemies and is armed with concussion missiles as its secondary armament. I ended up playing the interceptor class far more than I’d expected: the speed of the A-Wing and its Imperial counterpart, the TIE Interceptor, make them incredibly effective in dogfights. Overall, each of the classes have their own merits and are fun to play: they’re versatile to be used in every role, but their abilities and unique strengths allow them to excel at particular tasks.

  • X-Wings gain access to an astromech droid for providing repairs and the power to fire all four laser cannons at once in addition to the standard proton torpedoes that Luke used to destroy the first Death Star in A New HopeBattlefront II brings back the fun I’ve had flying X-Wings in Rogue Leader: for their general all-round performance, I would choose the X-Wing as my preferred starfighter in the game.

  • The visual effects above Fondor are absolutely stunning: space battles haven’t been this immersive since the days of Rogue Leader, and with the Frostbite Engine driving Battlefront II, I find myself wishing for a remastered version of Rogue Leader more than ever. Criterion has done a fantastic job with Starfighter Assault, and looking at the other maps available, it appears that rather than re-living the most famous moments of Star Wars, players will be treated to campaigns set around familiar locations for other Starfighter Assault modes.

  • The battle around Endor will be set in the ruins of the Second Death Star, and players will have a chance to fly Republic and Separatist starfighters in battles set during the Clone Wars. As well, the skirmishes between the First Order and Resistance will also be available in Battlefront II. One of the things I’m hoping to see in Battlefront II will be the appearance of Darth Vader’s TIE/x1, whose innovative designs would lead to the development of the TIE Interceptor and TIE Bomber. One cool feature from Vader’s TIE/x1 would be the inclusion of cluster missiles seen in Rogue Leader, which can lock onto and attack multiple targets.

  • The second phase of Starfighter Assault over Fondor involves Rebel ships attempting to drop the shield generator around the Star Destroyer. Rebel players must fly into a narrow passage way where the generators are held and bombard them. Imperial forces have a simple task: prevent the Rebels from getting into this corridor and damaging the equipment. In the close quarters, I’ve had considerable fun locking onto Rebel ships and, in a manner reminiscent of A New Hope‘s trench run, blowing said Rebel ships away with the TIE Fighter.

  • It suddenly strikes me that I don’t get very much time off elsewhere in the year, making me very appreciative of the extended break. The long weekends also allows me to enjoy a quieter day at home: I spent the morning drafting this talk and reading about overflights in the Cold War, before settling down to a home-made burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles and cheese, along with freshly-made oven fries. Unlike last time, we were more careful with the cooking process, so the whole of the upstairs does not smell like grilled burger. By afternoon, the weather remained acceptable, if somewhat windy, so I spent it hanging out with a friend. After enjoying some cheesecake when I concluded the walk, I continued with my quest to get all the intel in Modern Warfare Remastered.

  • Dinner tonight was a tender and juicy prime rib au jus with mashed potatoes. The pleasant smell of prime rib persisted into the evening, which saw the Calgary Flames best the Anaheim Ducks 2-0 at the Honda Center, bringing a 25-losing streak on their ice to an end. Earlier today, in speaking with a friend, we’ve now set aside some tentative plans to watch The Last Jedi: a new trailer has come out, and I’m rather curious to see what the film will entail, for Rey, who will begin training with Luke, and also for Kylo Ren. At this blog, I don’t usually talk about Star Wars, but it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I’ve got passable knowledge of Star Wars lore. I’m quite fond of the films even if the dialogue can be a little poor (especially in the prequel trilogy, where it was downright atrocious) and if the narratives are a bit thin: the scope and scale of the special effects are always fun to watch.

  • While they never co-existed, having disappeared while being transferred to the Jedi Council for investigation, Darth Maul’s Scimitar is included at Fondor. Its most novel ability is being able to cloak and conceal itself from all enemies: I recall shooting at a player with the Scimitar, only for them to disappear. When reappearing, its blaster cannons gain a boost in power. In the thirty seconds I flew it (the match ended shortly after with a Rebel victory), I did not make use of its abilities to shoot down any players. However, the fact that I was becoming sufficiently proficient in Starfighter Assault to acquire the top-tier Hero ships shows that the game mode had been very immersive.

  • This was probably one of the best runs I had in Starfighter Assault: after spawning in as a Y-Wing and going on a seven-kill streak, on top of helping damage the Imperial Cruisers and equipment, I amassed an obscene number of battle points. I was blown out of the sky shortly after but had accumulated enough battle points to spawn in as the legendary Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s signature ship throughout Star Wars.

  • Being Han Solo’s highly modified freighter, the Millennium Falcon is one of the most recognisable ships from Star Wars that goes on to play a major role in helping the Rebel Alliance toppling the Empire. Besides an afterburner that proved fantastic for escaping pursuing fighters and concussion missiles, the Millennium Falcon’s other ability is called “special modifications”, which temporarily boosts weapon damage and reduces overheating. Incredibly durable and agile for its size, the main disadvantage about the Millennium Falcon is that its large profile makes it a highly visible target on the battlefield.

  • One of my favourite features about the Millennium Falcon is not its combat performance, but for the simple fact that after some kills, Han Solo will say something amusing, reflective of his hot-headed, confident personality. The planet and its shipyards were first introduced in a novel for the Extended Universe and accepted as cannon with the 2015 novel Tarkin, although the name Fondor is, amusingly enough, also a brand of German vegetable seasoning.

  • Late was the hour when I managed to spawn into Poe Dameron’s Black One, a T-70 X-Wing that acts as the successor to the T-65B that the Rebel Alliance operated. Requiring more battle points than the Millennium Falcon, I had not intended to fly this, only doing so when I realised I had enough battle points to do so and because the Millennium Falcon had already been taken. Only a few minutes remained in the match, but I made use of Poe’s X-Wing to score a few kills on other players before the game ended. Similar to the standard X-Wing, players can instantly repair with BB-8, and mirroring the T-70’s upgraded weapons, Black One has access to dual torpedoes. There’s also a Black Leader ability, but I never looked into what it does.

  • The Battlefront II open beta ended this morning: it’s a quiet Thanksgiving Monday, and while it would’ve been nice to play a few more rounds of Starfighter Assault, I ended the beta off on a high note: I’ve flown all of the Hero ships in this game mode to some extent. With the open beta now over, regular programming resumes, much as it did two years ago: there’s no GochiUsa to write about, but there is Gundam Origin‘s fifth instalment, which I greatly enjoyed. We’re also a entering the fall anime season now: with Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s Hero Chapter airing in mid-November, the only shows I really have on my radar for the presernt are Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou and Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou. I also should write about the Call of Duty: WWII open beta, which, I should note, was note quite as enjoyable as the Battlefront II beta.

The words “pure fun” are the most suitable for describing the Starfighter Assault game mode of Battlefront II: the mode feels a great deal as though Criterion applied the lessons learned from Rogue Leader. The game modes are well-structured into distinct phases, but seamlessly woven together. Instead of purely AI opponents, players now have a chance to engage one another, adding a new degree of challenge; gone are enemy fighters that can be shot down, replaced with superior AIs and human opponents, the ultimate challengers. Because players can be assigned to different sides of the story, there is a fantastic opportunity to explore “what-if” scenarios. While I don’t think any of the most iconic missions from the trilogy or prequel appear in the full Starfighter Assault, the concept has proven remarkably fun in the open beta, coming the closest since 2005’s Battlefront II to re-creating the experience that players experienced in Rogue Leader. Coupled with authentic aural and visual elements from Star Wars, Starfighter Assault has proven to be the remastered experience of Rogue Leader that I’ve been longing to experience again since the days when I played the game on a GameCube: I am greatly looking forwards to seeing how the other maps play out, and through the open beta, it is evident that Battlefront II has made a serious effort to bring a critical component of Star Wars into the modern age. If the version we’ve seen in the open beta is an accurate representation of how the game mode will handle in the full game, this is a very compelling reason for buying this game closer to the Christmas season, when the spirit of Star Wars will be in full swing as Episode VIII: The Last Jedi premieres in theatres.

Star Wars Battlefront II: A Reflection of Galactic Assault and Infantry Gameplay in the Open Beta

“Roger roger” –Any B1 Battle Droid, Star Wars

Compared to its predecessor, Star Wars Battlefront II is said to feature substantially more maps, weapons, vehicles and a more involved progression system. In addition, Battlefront II also revisits the Clone Wars in addition to the Galactic Civil War and the latest conflicts between the Resistance and First Order. Having caught my eye back in June, the open beta became available during the Canadian Thanksgiving Long Weekend, and I’ve put in some hours into the game’s available modes during the beta. The first of this is arcade, a simple primer into the game mechanics. I subsequently jumped into the incredibly entertaining Starfighter Assault, before switching over to the two available infantry-focussed game modes, Strike, and Galatic Assault. Strike is similar to Halo’s Bomb mode, which pits two teams against one another; one team must grab an objective and carry it to a destination, while the other team must stop them. Galatic Assault is a variation of Battlefront’s Walker Assault mode: two teams slug it out in a larger, objective-based game mode. In the open beta, the Republic clones fight the Separatist droid armies. The latter are aiming to capture Theed Palace on Naboo to force Amidala to sign another trade agreement, while the Republic must stop the MTT from reaching the palace, and failing this, drive off waves of battle droids. Like its predecessor, Battlefront II possesses a different set of mechanics compared to the shooters I’m familiar with. Blasters do not handle as projectile weapons do, and their low damage results in a longer time-to-kill (TTK) than I’d like – players can duck behind cover once I open fire on them to regenerate their health, and overall, getting kills in Battlefront II feels more difficult than it did in Battlefront for folks starting out: I’ve heard that star cards can boost one’s ability to score kills immensely, but I’ve never been too fond of the system.

Looking past the difficulties I’ve had in scoring kills, Galactic Assault turned out to be much more enjoyable once I understood that kills do not seem to matter in Battlefront II compared to other shooters. In the open beta, Battlefront II certainly seems to be emphasising team play over kills, and it seems that kills are less relevant compared to helping one’s team out. In the scoreboard, the number of deaths a player accumulates over the course of a match are not shown. Assists count for as many points as kills, and the simple act of spotting can yield a large number of points, as is playing objectives. Thus, with this knowledge, I took to the specialist class regardless of which team I was with. Armed with a longer range DMR and a pair of macro-binoculars capable of revealing enemies even through physical obstructions, I settled into a pattern of starting Galactic Assault matches with the specialist class, spotting enemies for my team and picking off the occasional foes from a distance. Once the MTT reaches the Theed Palace, I would switch over to the heavy class, which is equipped with a repeating blaster that is excellent for close quarters engagements, doing my best to either push onto the capture point in the throne room (as a Separatist) or defending the throne room from the droids (as a Clone). By sticking close to my teammates and playing objectives, Battlefront II becomes significantly more fun: towards the end of the beta, I was doing much better, but I find that matches always seem to end too quickly before I can spawn in as a hero. The Strike game mode is oriented around closer-range combat, and I’ve found it modestly enjoyable, similar to drop zone in Battlefront II‘s predecessor, although the mode seems to favour the Resistance: I’ve never lost while playing the Resistance, and I’ve never won as the First Order.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My immediate impressions of Battlefront II are that it runs surprisingly smooth: I did not configure my game and used the automatic settings, which set everything to the “ultra” preset. Even with everything on full, the game ran at around 80 FPS: considering that my machine’s four and a half years old now, this certainly isn’t bad. Like my original experience with the beta, the first few hours in the game were met with a bit of a learning curve, as I was trying to figure out the game and scoring mechanics.

  • The specialist class is Battlefront II‘s counterpart to Battlefield 1‘s scout class, equipping a semi-automatic marksman rifle and being able to spot enemies with macrobinoculars that can see through walls. These long range weapons are the only viable weapons for engagements beyond 50 metres, and Battlefront II definitely does not reward long range precision shooting over playing the objective with respect to how points can be earned.

  • On the other hand, assists are worth as much as kills, so throughout my time in the Battlefront II beta, I got numerous points for damaging an enemy that was subsequently finished off by a teammate. Battlefront II takes the “Assist counts as kill” mechanic and goes one step further: kills don’t seem to matter as much, and I recall an instance where I got 1200 points simply by helping clear one of the control rooms and then proceeding to unlock the palace doors. I got maybe one kill from it: the grenade I threw slightly damaged the players inside. Here, I sit inside the composite laser turret of the LAAT/i gunship and managed a lucky kill on someone down below: the weapon’s surprisingly challenging to use owing to the laser’s pinpoint precision.

  • I’ve long wished to fly a Naboo Starfighter in a game that isn’t the Nintendo 64 incarnation of Rogue Squadron: after taking to the skies above Theed, I saw an enemy fighter and spent a good three minutes dog-fighting with them before taking them down. The MTT reached the palace shortly after, and the game kicked me out of the Naboo Starfighter elegantly, re-spawning me as a heavy class driod.

  • I’m not sure what the powerful medium range weapon that specialist classes can equip while using infiltration mode is called, but it is quite capable of close range engagements, offering specialists a fighting chance at ranges where faster-firing blasters dominate. The only class that I did not make use of extensively was the officer class: armed with a blaster pistol and able to buff players, it’s a style of play that I’ll need more time than the open beta has available to become familiar with.

  • While providing an infinitely smoother and more enjoyable experience than the Call of Duty: WWII open beta, there are still a handful of UI issues that linger in Battlefront II. The first is that the score feed sometimes displays that I’ve killed a player twice even though I know there was only one target to shoot at, and secondly, the heat metre can sometimes persist after death and not accurately reflect the weapon’s state. Beyond these two minor issues, Battlefront II‘s open beta has been silky smooth to get into.

  • The heavy class gains access to repeating blasters (Star Wars terminology for “automatic weapon”), which are fantastic for clearing out rooms and dealing out a large amount of damage quickly. Accompanying their base loadout is an impact grenade, a turret mode that exchanges mobility for firepower, and a front-facing shield that can absorb incoming fire. It’s the perfect choice for close-quarters combat inside the palace, and the heavy class is surprisingly effective even outside the palace.

  • Here, I manage to shoot a clone trooper off the AT-RT he was piloting to bring his killstreak to an end. The Battle Point system in Battlefront II is a straight upgrade from the battle pick-ups of Battlefront by removing the random chance of finding a power up on the battlefield. Instead, playing the objectives and skill is how to get to the upgraded abilities. However, my gripe with the new system is that matches do not always last long enough for players of decent skill to get to the hero unlocks before the game ends.

  • Over Theed, the amount of detail in the cityscape is incredible, and if this is how Theed looks, I am very excited to see how the rest of the maps look: besides Naboo, Battlefront II will feature Kamino, Takodana, Yavin IV, Kashyyyk, Starkiller Base and even the Second Death Star. Returning from Battlefront are Tatooine, Endor, Hoth and Jakku. I wager that Bespin, Geonosis, Utapau and Mustafar could also come with the DLC.

  • While great for laying down destruction against the MTT and strafing infantry, air vehicles in Battlefront II move a bit too quickly to be effective in a close-air support role. It would make sense to lower the minimum speed for some starfighters to make them slightly more effective for an anti-ground role; care must be taken here to ensure that they do not become too effective, otherwise, game balance would evaporate.

  • The Strike game mode is set on Takodana in and around Maz’s castle, which was destroyed during the events of The Force Awakens. However, I’ve never been able to replicate the First Order victory in this game mode: every game I’ve played with the Resistance, I won. Here, I’m equipped with a faster-firing blaster for the assault class, which has access to a thermal detonator, shotgun and a tracer dart gun. While Battlefront II has proven enjoyable, I sorely miss Battlefront‘s thermal imploder, which has one of the coolest sounds of anything in the Star Wars universe, second only to the Slave I’s seismic charges.

  • I soon jumped over to the specialist class when it became apparent that First Order soldiers would always be coming from the woods and so, I could sit back a distance and put down pot shots. Strike is an infantry-only game mode, and battle points go towards unlocking more powerful infantry units, rather than heroes of vehicles. Like Naboo, Takodana is beautifully rendered. While fun from the Resistance perspective, Strike has been less than amusing when I’ve played as the First Order, whose white armour causes them to stand out from the forest, and whose spawns leave them open to attack from the Resistance.

  • Scope glint is still very much a thing in Battlefront II, helping players quickly ascertain the presence of an enemy sniper and duck for cover. In the long, open spaces in Theed, the specialist class is a great way to open things, allowing one to spot other players and put them on the mini-map. Overall, I’m not too fond of the way the mini-map in Battlefront II works: it highlights the general direction an enemy is in if they fire or sprint, requiring a specialist to manually spot opponents. One of the things that I succumbed to frequently in this beta and the Call of Duty: WWII beta was accidentally mashing “Q” trying to spot enemies.

  • Most players will suggest playing in third person mode, as it offers a bit of a tactical advantage with respect to spatial awareness and in allowing one to peek their corners. For the purposes of discussion, I’ve chosen to stay in first person so that the weapon models can be seen. Iconic weapons, from the Battle Droids’ E-5 blaster, to the Clone Trooper’s DC-15 series, appear in the beta, and one must marvel at the detail placed into rendering them.

  • Frustrations gave way to fun once I slowly began learning Battlefront II‘s mechanics, and what was originally an “unlikely to buy” verdict turned into a “I’ll buy it if there is plenty of content available at launch”. Looking back, I similarly had a bit of a learning curve going into Battlefront‘s beta back in 2015, and it was only after I unlocked the repeating blaster that the gameplay changed. Battlefront II is a bit more skill-based than its predecessor, and after some eight hours with the beta, I’m a bit more comfortable with all of the functions and controls.

  • The MTT assault on Theed is only one of the galactic conquest game modes, and one of the things I’, most curious to see is if iconic battles from the original trilogy and prequels made it into Battlefront II: while Battlefront was stymied by limited content and a low skill ceiling, walker assault proved to be immensely fun, allowing players to re-live the most famous battles of Star Wars in an environment that was of the same scale as those seen in the Battlefield franchise.

  • The only thing left on the schedule for tonight is chocolate cheesecake, and Thanksgiving Monday will afford me with a rare opportunity to sleep in. The Battlefront II beta ends tomorrow morning, which marks a return to Far Cry 4. For Thanksgiving this year, I give thanks for great food and family, warmth, and the fact that there is good in the world worth preserving. Things do look quite grim, but it is my aim to work my hardest and contribute in what manner that I can to things that are for our benefit.

  • With a bit more familiarity in the game, I switched over to the assault class and performed moderately well during one of my last matches, earning enough battle points to unlock Darth Maul. The match ended before I could spawn in, however, and one of the things I’ve noticed while taking on Hero classes is that they’re noticeably weaker than they were in Battlefront. In the close quarters frenzy of Theed Palace, I’ve encountered both Darth Maul and Rey before. In a blind panic, I opened fire on them along with my teammates, and they promptly died before they could retaliate: their lightsabers are no longer one-hit-kills.

  • I feel that the Heroes should have at least fifty percent more health, but the health should not regenerate, and the Heroes with lightsabers should be able to one-shot opponents since they are entering melee range (whereas Heroes like Boba Fett and Han Solo can stay back to engage in ranged combat). Overall, the Battlefront II beta’s infantry combat isn’t terribly difficult to learn, and there are some fantastic set-pieces. I look forwards to seeing what the full game will entail, and wrap up by remarking that the other game mode, Starfighter Assault, was so exhilarating that I’ve got a separate post on it.

The infantry gameplay in Battlefront II is above average on the whole: movement is quite smooth, and I’ve had fun playing in both third and first person mode, but the long time to kill and dependence on abilities over steady aim means that Battlefront II is ultimately less about good shooting and more about who can best manage their abilities, using them effectively during the right times to turn the tide of battle in their team’s favour. The larger maps and spawn system also can make getting back into combat after death a frustrating experience: one can go for long periods without seeing anyone, then die unexpectedly and be sent back to a far corner of the map, resulting in yet another long walk into things. With this in mind, the walk certainly is a visually impressive one: the graphics in Theed, from the large piles of leaves blowing about, to the fantastic architecture and colours, are breathtaking. On several occasions, I’ve wasted some of my battle points spawning in as a fighter for the sole purpose of flying over Theed just to admire the cityscape. One thing is for sure about Battlefront II: it captures the sights and sounds of Star Wars as effectively as its predecessor did. While an absolute audio-visual treat, perhaps even more so than 2015’s Battlefront, the multiplayer infantry gameplay seen so far, while entertaining, alone does not inspire a purchase of Battlefront II at launch price. However, it is still early to be making a decision – we’ve not seen some of the other modes available yet. In addition, the beta does not provide a chance to try out the campaign or single-player arcade modes; if these turn out to drive replayability to a reasonable extent, Battlefront II could very well be worth the price of admissions at launch.