Star Wars Battlefront II (2017 video game)
|Star Wars Battlefront II|
|Series||Star Wars: Battlefront|
|Release||November 17, 2017|
Star Wars Battlefront II is an action shooter video game based on the Star Wars film franchise. It is the fourth major installment of the Star Wars: Battlefront series and seventh overall, and a sequel to the 2015 reboot of the series. It was developed by EA DICE, in collaboration with Criterion Games and Motive Studios, and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released worldwide on November 17, 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.
Upon release, Battlefront II received mixed reviews from critics. The game was also subject to widespread criticism regarding the status of loot boxes, which could give players substantial gameplay advantages if purchased with real money. A response from EA's community team on Reddit on the topic became the single most downvoted comment in the site's history – and in response, EA decided to temporarily remove microtransactions from the game until a later date. In January 2018, EA announced that the micro-transactions would return "in the next few months". These returning microtransactions are purely cosmetic, do not affect gameplay, and are purchased directly through in-game currency rather than through loot crates.
Star Wars Battlefront II features a single-player story mode, a customizable character class system, and content based on The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi movies. It also features vehicles and locations from the original, prequel, and sequel Star Wars movie trilogies. It also features heroes and villains that can be played based on characters from the Star Wars movies; the hero roster includes Luke Skywalker (Matthew Mercer), Leia Organa (Misty Lee), Han Solo (John Armstrong), Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), Yoda (Tom Kane), and Rey (Daisy Ridley), while the villain roster includes Darth Vader (Matt Sloan), Emperor Palpatine (Sam Witwer), Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), Bossk (Dee Bradley Baker), Iden Versio (Janina Gavankar), Darth Maul (Sam Witwer), and Kylo Ren (Matthew Wood/Roger Craig Smith) at launch.
The game features a full campaign story mode unlike 2015's Battlefront. The game's single player protagonist, Iden Versio, leader of an Imperial Special Forces group known as Inferno Squad, participates in multiple events in the 30 years leading up to The Force Awakens. There are segments in the campaign where the player is able to control other characters such as Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren. Players can also play in the Arcade mode – an offline single player or local co-op where players can choose which side to play on and which battle to play in. Battles vary from team battles to onslaughts. Alternatively, players can choose to do a custom match, where they can change some of the settings and location.
Instead of the paid Season Pass downloadable content (DLC) seen in the 2015 predecessor, this game is expanded with free DLC provided to all players with a free EA account. The DLC is free to all players, using a seasonal structure similar to Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege, according to Gavankar. The first season, released in December 13, 2017, was based on the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and included Finn (John Boyega) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) as heroes, the planet Crait as a ground map, and a space map above D'Qar. The second season, released in May 16, 2018, was based on the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, and included Jabba's Palace and Kessel as ground maps, the new game modes Hero Showdown and Extraction, new character skins for Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, and Leia Organa. A third season was announced on June 9, 2018, during EA Play which will feature content from the prequel trilogy of Star Wars, centering on the origin of the Clone Wars with the planet Geonosis as a ground map, Conquest as a returning game mode, and new heroes and villains General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Count Dooku.
- Galactic Assault: This game mode is centered around unique set pieces set across the eleven planets and locations featuring all three Star Wars eras involving a team of 20 attackers against 20 defenders.
- Starfighter Assault: In this mode, battles take place in unique set pieces in space and planetary atmospheres involving 12 attackers against 12 defenders, both teams being reinforced with an additional 20 AI ships.
- Strike: Strike has players battling in close quarter scenarios involving a team of eight attackers aiming to either capture a unique objective from a team of eight defenders – essentially one team capture the flag – or arm and destroy two objectives.
- Heroes vs. Villains: This mode is an "VIP/attack the target mode" involving the heroes and villains in Star Wars Battlefront II based off of Star Wars characters, where four light side heroes fight four dark side villains. One of the four heroes and one of the four villains are selected to be the target to attack. The first team to defeat the enemy team's chosen targets 10 times wins.
- Blast: Blast is standard team deathmatch between two teams of 8 players in which teams try to reach 100 total combined eliminations before the enemy team can.
- Jetpack Cargo: This limited time mode, introduced as part of the game's February update, has two teams of eight, each equipped with jetpacks, battle to capture cargo. It is on rotation with Ewok Hunt and Extraction.
- Ewok Hunt: This limited time mode, introduced as part of the game's April update, has two Ewoks hunt down a group of eighteen stormtroopers; each stormtrooper defeated spawns as another Ewok. It is on rotation with Jetpack Cargo and Extraction.
- Hero Showdown: This mode, introduced in May 2018, involves teams of two heroes and two villains facing off in round-based duels with no respawn after defeat until the next round begins. The first duo to win three rounds wins.
- Extraction: Extraction is a limited time game mode released on June 12, 2018, in which an attacking team must escort cargo through several checkpoints to their final destination while the defending team tries to stop them. It is on rotation with Ewok Hunt and Jetpack Cargo.
- Hero Starfighters: This mode, introduced in July 2018, pits two teams of four of the hero ships of the game. Players select one of the hero ships to play as, and must defeat all of the enemy team's hero ships. Defeated players respawn as normal starfighters and can play again as a hero ship in the following round after either one team loses all their hero ships or there is a draw. The first team to win three rounds wins.
Additionally, a mode similar to Conquest has been announced to arrive sometime in the fall of 2018; it will feature capturing "command posts" and attacking and taking out capital ships in a "non-linear, sandbox experience."
The single-player story mode campaign in Star Wars Battlefront II takes place in the Star Wars galaxy, beginning around the time of Return of the Jedi, but largely between it and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Emperor Palpatine plots to lure an unsuspecting Rebel Alliance fleet into a trap using himself and the second Death Star, being constructed above the Forest Moon of Endor, as bait, seeking to crush the Rebellion against his Galactic Empire once and for all. The Imperial Special Forces commando unit Inferno Squad, led by Commander Iden Versio, daughter of Admiral Garrick Versio, and made up of Agents Gideon Hask and Del Meeko, is crucial to the success of this planned Battle of Endor, but the Empire underestimates the strength of the Rebellion as its fleet gathers at Sullust.
Iden Versio (Janina Gavankar) is being interrogated for the codes to unlock an Imperial transmission aboard a Rebel Mon Calamari Star Cruiser. She activates her droid, which sneaks to her cell and frees her. Iden had allowed herself to be captured in order to erase the Imperial transmission, which would reveal the Emperor's plan at Endor. She successfully erases it, then escapes the ship by launching herself into space where she is intercepted by the Corvus, the flagship of Inferno Squad. Iden confirms the mission's success to Gideon Hask (Paul Blackthorne) and Del Meeko (TJ Ramini), other members of her squad.
Later on Endor, Iden, Hask, and Meeko secure the perimeter around the ruined shield generator, and watch with shock and horror as the second Death Star explodes. Vice Admiral Sloane orders a full retreat, and Inferno Squad recovers TIE fighters to escape the moon, which is being overrun by Rebel forces. The Corvus is attacked during their escape, but Inferno fends off Rebel bombers. Iden meets with her father, Admiral Garrick Versio (Anthony Skordi), on his Star Destroyer Eviscerator.
Admiral Versio confirms to Iden that the Emperor has died. A messenger droid displays a hologram of the late Emperor issuing his last command: to begin Operation: Cinder. Admiral Versio sends Iden to an Imperial shipyard to protect Moff Raythe and his Star Destroyer Dauntless, which hosts experimental satellites vital to the success of Operation: Cinder. The Dauntless comes under attack from a Rebel Star Cruiser, but Iden is able to board it with Hask and disable its ion cannons. Afterwards, they are ordered to attack the Imperial shipyard in order to free the Star Destroyer from the locked clamps. Afterwards, the Dauntless opens fire on the Rebel cruiser, destroying it.
Meeko is sent to Pillio and ordered to destroy one of the Emperor's hidden bases. He encounters Luke Skywalker (Matthew Mercer), who helps him disarm the base's defenses and fend off the local wildlife. They discover that the base contains the Emperor's spoils of conquest. Meeko and Luke part amicably, and Meeko begins to question the Empire's goals and motives. Following this, Iden and Inferno Squad are sent to the Imperial-controlled world of Vardos, in order to retrieve Protectorate Gleb. As the satellites for Operation Cinder begin destroying the planet with terrible storms, Iden and Meeko try to evacuate the civilians in addition to Gleb, causing Agent Hask to betray them. Disillusioned by the Empire's attack on Vardos, Iden and Meeko escape off world, now traitors to the Empire. They seek out the Rebel Alliance and are taken to General Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), who gives them the choice to help stop Operation: Cinder, or to escape and make new lives for themselves. Choosing to help, they aid Leia Organa (Misty Lee) in protecting Naboo, destroying the satellites for Operation: Cinder and reactivating the planet's defenses. After Naboo is liberated, Inferno Squad joins the New Republic.
Iden and Inferno Squad are then sent to Takodana to find Han Solo (John Armstrong), who was extracting an Imperial defector carrying critical data in hopes of liberating Kashyyyk and freeing the Wookiees. The data also reveals that Admiral Versio is commanding Imperial operations on Bespin and Sullust. Iden and Del infiltrate Bespin with the intent of capturing Admiral Versio, but he and Hask manage to escape. Meanwhile, Lando investigates the hidden Imperial weapons cache on Sullust, only to find a weapons factory which he destroys. These operations cripple the Imperial fleet, which makes a last stand at Jakku. During the battle, Iden shoots down Hask and boards the Eviscerator, intending to rescue her father. Admiral Versio decides to go down with his ship, feeling obligated to die with the Empire he fought to protect. He instead urges Iden to escape and live a new life, commending her for seeing the weakness of the Empire. Iden takes an escape pod and reunites with Del at the end of the battle. The two embrace and kiss, as the battle marks the end of the Galactic Empire.
Many decades later, Del is captured on Pillio by Protectorate Gleb, who hands him over to Kylo Ren and the First Order. Ren uses the Force to interrogate Del about the location of the map leading to Luke Skywalker. Once Ren succeeds, he leaves Del in the custody of Hask, who survived getting shot down at Jakku. Hask expresses disgust at Del choosing to father a daughter with Iden instead of becoming a soldier and kills him, but not before Del warns him not to confront Iden. Hask then warns Gleb that the Republic cannot find out about "Project Resurrection" and orders her to leave the Corvus on Pillio as bait to lure Iden out of hiding.
Shriv Suurgav (Dan Donohue), now an agent for the Resistance, discovers the abandoned Corvus and informs Iden and her daughter, Zay (Brittany Volcy). Shriv also reveals that Del had been helping the Resistance investigate rumors of mass disappearances that may be connected to Project Resurrection before disappearing himself. They head to Athulla, where Del was last seen, to investigate. However, they are ambushed by a Jinata Security fleet. Iden and Zay destroy the fleet and capture the flagship. The surviving Jinata Security crew admit that they had been kidnapping children on the behalf of the First Order, and that Project Resurrection had been moved to Vardos.
Iden, Zay, and Shriv return to Vardos. Iden has Zay stay behind on the Corvus while she and Shriv investigate the surface, where they see a bright red light appear in the sky. Iden and Shriv discover Gleb's dead body and are then captured by Hask, who taunts them by telling them that he killed Gleb and Del and the First Order has already destroyed the Senate and the Hosnian System- the red lights from earlier (as seen in The Force Awakens). He then orders his Star Destroyer the Retribution to destroy the Corvus along with Zay. Jinata Security personnel, angry at the First Order betraying them, attack Hask's men, giving Iden and Shriv an opportunity to escape. They rescue Zay who managed to eject in an escape pod before the Corvus was destroyed, and they board the Retribution.
Iden fights her desire to get revenge on Hask and instead focuses on stealing any useful data from the ship to aid the Resistance. They hack a computer terminal and discover that Project Resurrection is an operation by the First Order to kidnap children from across the galaxy and indoctrinate them into stormtroopers. In addition, they discover that the First Order has built up a massive fleet large enough to retake the galaxy. Finally, they find the plans for a First Order Dreadnought and steal them. Shriv then goes to secure an escape craft while Iden and Zay plant explosive charges on the Retribution's hyperspace generators. Hask ambushes them but is killed by Iden. The destruction of the hyperspace generators pulls the Retribution out of hyperspace near Starkiller Base right as the Resistance destroys it. Iden reveals that she had been mortally wounded during the battle with Hask. She gives the Dreadnought plans to Zay and orders her to escape without her before dying.
Zay and Shriv link up with the Resistance and hand over the Dreadnought plans to Leia. She then orders them to head to the Outer Rim to gather more allies for the Resistance.
Development and marketing
On May 10, 2016, the development of Star Wars Battlefront II was announced, led by EA DICE in collaboration with Criterion Games and Jade Raymond's Motive Studios. The sequel to 2015's rebooted Star Wars Battlefront features content from the sequel trilogy of films. Creative director Bernd Diemer has stated that the company has replaced the Season Pass system of paid expansion of content, because that system was determined to have "fragmented" the player community of the 2015 predecessor game. The new expansion system is designed to allow all players "to play longer". Executive producer Matthew Webster announced on April 15, 2017 at Star Wars Celebration that the worldwide release of the game would be November 17, 2017. The Battlefront II beta test period started on October 4, 2017, for players who pre-ordered the game. It was expanded to an open beta on October 6, and ran until October 11. A 10-hour trial version was made available to EA Access and Origin Access subscribers on November 9, 2017.
A tie-in novel, Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, was released on July 25, 2017. Written by Christie Golden, it serves as a direct prelude to the game and follows the exploits of the Galactic Empire's titular squad as it seeks to eliminate what was left of Saw Gerrera's rebel cell after the events of the 2016 film Rogue One.
On November 10, 2017, Electronic Arts announced the first in a series of free downloadable content for the game, featuring the planets D'Qar and Crait and the playable hero characters Finn and Captain Phasma. This content is a direct tie-in to December's Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
On March 22, 2018, Electronic Arts unlocked all hero characters and hero vehicles for all players, and removed game-play altering drops from Crates, which now only contain cosmetic items and credits.
Star Wars Battlefront II received "mixed or average" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Metacritic user reviews for the PlayStation 4 version reached a low rating of 0.8/10, labelled as "overwhelming dislike", due to the controversies and review bombing.
In his 4/5 star review for GamesRadar+, Andy Hartup praised the multiplayer but criticized the single player modes, saying the game has a "very strong multiplayer offering tarnished by overly complicated character progression, and a lavish, beautiful story campaign lacking in substance or subtlety." Game Revolution felt the campaign started strong but weakened as it progressed, praising the multiplayer gameplay while criticizing the micro-transactions, loot box progression system, and locking of heroes.
For EGM's review, Nick Plessas praised the multiplayer combat, balancing, and variety, but criticized the game's sustained focus around loot crates. Andrew Reiner of Game Informer gave the game 6.5/10, writing "Answering the call for more content, Star Wars Battlefront II offers a full campaign and more than enough multiplayer material, but the entire experience is brought down by microtransactions." IGN's Tom Marks also gave the game 6.5/10, saying "Star Wars Battlefront 2 has great feeling blasters, but its progression system makes firing them an unsatisfying grind."
The game was nominated for "Best Shooter", "Best Graphics" and "Best Multiplayer" in IGN's Best of 2017 Awards, and was a runner-up for "Most Disappointing Game" in Giant Bomb's 2017 Game of the Year Awards. In Game Informer's Reader's Choice Best of 2017 Awards, fewer readers voted for the game for "Best Co-op Multiplayer". The website also awarded the game for "Best Graphics", "Best Audio" and "Biggest Disappointment" in their 2017 Shooter of the Year Awards. Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of Zero Punctuation ranked the game at #1 on his list of the Five Blandest Games of 2017.
In the U.S., Star Wars Battlefront II was the second best-selling title in November behind, Call of Duty: WWII. Within its first week on sale in Japan, the PlayStation 4 version sold 38,769 copies, placing it at number four on the all format sales chart. In January 2018, EA announced that the game missed their sales target due to the loot crate controversy.
|2017||Game Critics Awards||Best Action Game||Nominated|
|Best Online Multiplayer||Won|
|Gamescom 2017||Best Action Game||Nominated|
|Best Multiplayer Game||Nominated|
|Golden Joystick Awards||Most Wanted Game||Nominated|
|2018||21st Annual D.I.C.E. Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Character (Iden Versio)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design||Nominated|
|2018 SXSW Gaming Awards||Excellence in Convergence||Won|
|16th Annual Game Audio Network Guild Awards||Audio of the Year||Nominated|
|Music of the Year||Nominated|
|Sound Design of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Interactive Score||Nominated|
|Best Cinematic/Cutscene Audio||Nominated|
|Best Audio Mix||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon's 2018 Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Video Game||Nominated|
|14th British Academy Games Awards||Audio Achievement||Nominated|
|2018 Webby Awards||Action||Nominated|
|ASCAP Composers' Choice Awards||2017 ASCAP Video Game Score of the Year||Won|
During pre-release beta trials, the game's publisher EA was criticized by gamers and the gaming press for introducing a loot box monetization scheme that gives players substantial gameplay advantages through items purchased in-game with real money. Although such items could also be purchased with in-game currency, players would on average have to "grind" for approximately 40 hours to unlock a single player character such as Darth Vader. Responding to the controversy, developers had adjusted the number of in-game items a player receives through playing the game. However, after the game went into pre-release a number of players and journalists who received the pre-release copy of the game reported various controversial gameplay features, such as rewards being unrelated to the player's performance in the game. The poorly weighed reward system combined with a weak inactivity detection allowed many players to use rubber bands to tightly tie their game controllers for automatically farming points during multiplayer battles, ruining the experience of other active online players.
On November 12, 2017, a Reddit user complained that although they spent US$80 to purchase the Deluxe Edition of the game, Darth Vader remained inaccessible for play, and the use of this character required a large amount of in-game credits. Players estimated that it would take 40 hours of gameplay to accumulate enough credits to unlock a single hero. In response to the community's backlash, EA's Community Team defended the controversial changes by saying their intent to make users earn credits to unlock heroes was to give users a sense of "pride and accomplishment" after unlocking a hero. This led to many Reddit users becoming frustrated at the response, which generated more than 668,000 downvotes, making it the most downvoted comment in the site's history. In response to the community's outrage, EA lowered the cost of credits to unlock heroes by 75%. However, the credits rewarded for completing the campaign were also reduced.
On the day before release, EA disabled micro-transactions entirely, citing players' concerns that they gave buyers unfair advantages. They stated their intent to reintroduce them at a later date after unspecified changes had been made.
The uproar from social media and poor press reception on its microtransactions had a negative impact on EA's share price which dropped by 2.5% on the launch day of the game. Analysts in Wall Street also lowered their expectation of the game's financial prospect. A Wall Street analyst writing for CNBC noted how video games are still the cheapest entertainment medium per hour of use, and even with the added microtransactions, playing Battlefront II was still notably cheaper than paying to see the theatrical release of a film.
On March 16, 2018, developer DICE announced an overhaul for the progression and economic system. Loot crates will only contain credits, one of the in-game currencies, and cosmetic items while crystals, the other in-game currency, can be bought solely for the purpose of purchasing cosmetic items for characters in the game. Progression for player abilities, or "Star Cards," is now linear as players must play a certain class or hero in order to unlock a "Skill Point" for that trooper or hero, which can then be used to purchase a new card or upgrade one the player already owns. The first part of this update was released on March 21 while the second part was released in April.
On November 15, two days before release, the Belgian gambling regulator announced that it was investigating the game, alongside Overwatch, to determine whether loot boxes constituted unlicensed gambling. In response to the investigation, EA claimed that Battlefront II's loot boxes do not constitute gambling. The Minister of Justice of Belgium Koen Geens expressed that if they prove loot boxes violate gambling laws he would start working on banning loot boxes in any future video games sold in the entire European Union.
Reacting to the conclusion of the Belgian gambling regulator's investigation, the head of Dutch Gambling commission announced a start of their own investigation of Battlefront II and the issue in general, and asked parents "to keep an eye at the games their children play". Chris Lee, a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives, called Star Wars: Battlefront II "an online casino designed to trap little kids" and announced his intention to ban such practices in the state of Hawaii. Another representative compared playing Battlefront II to smoking cigarettes, saying: "We didn't allow Joe Camel to encourage your kids to smoke cigarettes, and we shouldn't allow Star Wars to encourage your kids to gamble." Singapore's National Council on Problem Gambling are monitoring the situation following the uproar on the game, as loot boxes do not fall under the Remote Gambling Act. Authorities in Australia are also investigating the situation.
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