If you follow games at all you are probably familiar with the rough launch DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2 had back in 2017. The inclusion of loot boxes was so maligned it sparked international conversation on the matter that we’re still only beginning to see the ramifications of. Though even removed for that the response was lukewarm. The single player campaign - a big focus of the marketing - was poorly received and the multiplayer battles while bigger in scope to the 2015 game couldn’t retain a healthy community in light of the controversy. By all accounts it seemed like the sort of mess that neither EA nor DICE would be able to clear. Out of a mix of morbid curiosity and a desire to see my nostalgia for the old Pandemic games pandered to, I’ve spent the past 2 or so years following along with the post-launch updates. To my surprise, the game looks very different to what it did back in 2017.
Perhaps most significantly the loot boxes that were the source of a lot of the scorn directed at the game at launch are completely gone, and the progression systems that previously rewarded this loot have been totally reworked. There is no longer a long, tiresome grind just to earn enough credits to play as Darth Vader. Instead, the game has doubled-down on cosmetics that can be purchased with these credits (or alternatively, real currency). These changes were nice and necessary to getting the game to a better state, but I think a big turning point in the image of Battlefront 2 was the move to focusing on Clone Wars era content that so many of the fans were itching for.
Announced at E3 last year, DICE has spent the better half of 2018 and 2019 adding a number of characters and settings from the prequel movies to Battlefront and with them found a momentum that turned my morbid interest in this game into actual excitement. Though, admittedly, my fondest memories of the older Battlefront series were not of these big multiplayer matches or any particular era of the universe. What I liked most about those games were fighting off wave after wave of enemy bots with a friend. Living out these fantasies of being Luke Skywalker facing down dozens of stormtroopers and what have you. Which is why one of the most recent updates to the game is what finally got me to reinstall Battlefront 2 and find myself hooked.
Yes, they finally added back the classic “Instant Action” mode from the older series, and a new co-op mode which has proven to be surprisingly fun in its own right. These PVE modes were a such a great addition for a player like me who rarely can deal with the anxiety of facing off against real players (especially when the small but dedicated playerbase has become very good at the game). They are currently only tied to the Clone Wars-era maps/characters but I have hope that DICE will eventually expand these out to the other eras.
At the risk of making this post much longer I’ll wrap it up here. I mostly wanted to make this thread to call attention to a game that many folks have (with good reason) passed over since it launched in 2017. If you weren’t following closely, I couldn’t fault you for still thinking it remained as unappealing as it was back then. For my part though I think it has come a long way. Ultimately it isn’t much more than a sandbox, you aren’t going to find thoughtful critiques of the ideas that make up Star Wars (like in, say, The Last Jedi) but if you are charmed by the sights and sounds of this part of pop culture, you can do a lot worse than Star Wars: Battlefront 2 these days.