Video Games

Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) Felt Obviously Incomplete at Launch

Battlefront 2 Defeat

One of the major selling features of 2017’s Star Wars Battlefront II is that it was supposed to feel more complete than its predecessor. The 2015 version of Battlefront, after all, was mainly critiqued for lacking depth and feeling light on content. While EA Games made some big promises this time around, I’m not so sure they delivered on those. In fact, I would say that this game feels even more incomplete than Battlefront 2015.

In the “This Is Battlefront” trailer, we were shown a breakdown of content with a nice little visual aid.

Battlefront 2 More Content

Clearly Battlefront II has way more content, right? Well, not really.

While you could make an argument that it would be hard to quantify the number of actual maps in the game — I managed to make a detailed count, by the way — it’s a little deceptive to use “locations” as a quantifier instead of maps. The previous Battlefront had fewer locations, true, but it also had several maps for each location. Plus, the small-scale game modes had completely unique maps. In Battlefront II, the small game modes all reuse the maps from the main game mode, Galactic Assault (with two exceptions).

2015’s Battlefront launched with 13 unique maps (most reports claimed 12, but a full list will actually show 13). At launch two years later, Battlefront II launched with 11 Galactic Assault maps, 5 Starfighter Assault maps, and two small-scale maps that didn’t re-use playable terrain from Galactic Assault. If you take Starfighter Assault out of the equation, then Battlefront II launched with the exact same number of infantry maps that Battlefront 2015 did.

This Is Battlefront 2 All Locations

This gets even more interesting when you break this down by era, as I did in a previous post. In Galactic Assault, we have 5 maps from the Original Trilogy, 3 from the Sequel Trilogy, and 3 from the Prequel Trilogy. Fewer Sequel-era maps is actually fine, since at the time of the game’s launch, only one of those movies had been released. (A new Sequel-era map was released in mid-December of 2017 to coincide with the theatrical launch of The Last Jedi.)

But the Prequel Trilogy only had 3 Galactic Assault maps? That’s the same number of maps that The Force Awakens had — a single movie. And the Prequels have so much stuff that would be incredible to see in a Battlefront game. Many of the most important battles are completely absent. There’s not a trace of Coruscant, Utapau, Mustafar, or Geonosis, which are among the most recognizable locations from the Prequels.

And that’s not even mentioning some of the other locations shown in the Prequels, such as Mygeeto and Felucia, or any of the other cool locations from the popular Clone Wars cartoon (which is set in the same era).

Star Wars Grievous Eyes

Battlefront II launched with a campaign, which BF2015 lacked, but that campaign was incredibly short, fairly shallow, and reused a ton of stuff from the previous Battlefront game. While it introduced us to some new characters, it was a tiny, tiny fraction of what it had the potential to be.

Now let’s talk heroes. Yes, Battlefront 2015 launched with six playable heroes, but more were added with each DLC update included in the season pass. By the end of 2016, there were 14.

Battlefront II busted out of the gates with 14 playable heroes right away, but 9 of those (Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca, Lando, and Bossk) were ported over from the previous game and its DLC. Sure, these characters were tweaked a bit from their original forms, but they weren’t built completely from scratch; they were at least partially created using existing assets from the previous game. While I think it’s totally fine to re-use assets when it makes sense, this means we only saw 5 new characters join the roster in November of 2017 when Battlefront II came out.

And only two of the new characters — Yoda and Darth Maul — represent the Prequel era. Where are the arguably more important characters, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, Count Dooku, and General Grievous?

Battlefront 2 Multiplayer Game Modes

As for game modes, the real bread and butter of Battlefront 2015, BF2015 launched with 9 game modes, with a 10th added about a month later, and a new one added with each of the four major DLC updates. That’s a total of 14. BF2017, on the other hand, launched with 5, with some of the most popular game modes — like Walker Assault and Cargo — completely absent.

I also think it’s fair to have expected more in the way of cosmetic customization. BF2015 had several different skins to choose from, many of which allowed you to play as alien races such as Sullustan, Duros, and Twi’lek. BF2017 includes alternate skins for three heroes — Kylo Ren, Rey, and Han Solo.

Battlefront 2 Kylo Ren Skin

The strange thing is that the skeleton of a customization system is in place. Presumably, the developers at DICE didn’t have enough time to full implement the system in time for launch, but they were still obligated to offer alternate looks for Rey and Kylo Ren since those were pre-order bonuses. This makes the lack of customization all the more noticeable.

On top of all of this, there are several small, simple things that feel neglected. Why aren’t Sequel-era skins available for OT characters like Luke, Han, and Leia? Why can we face a young Han Solo against an adult Kylo Ren, as if they’re close to the same age instead of father and son? Why do the Separatists have two separate versions of the B2 Super Battle Droid instead of having Droidekas? Why aren’t Gungans available on Naboo instead of Wookie Warriors? Why are Wookie Warriors defending Kamino at all? Where is all the Prequel-era stuff in general?

On paper, Battlefront II looks like it has a ton of content. But once you’ve played it for a while, that facade begins to melt away. It’s all just meaningless numbers, boxes checked on a features list. While the core gameplay is phenomenal, the content lacks the depth that would give it any real staying power.

Battlefront 2 Luke Vs Vader

Hopefully future content updates — all of which are promised to be free — can alleviate this. There’s plenty of room to improve, upgrade, and add. My fingers are crossed, because I’ve adored this series since way back in 2004 when the original Star Wars: Battlefront by Pandemic Studios came out.

But I’m not so sure. Because this game relies so heavily on assets from the previous game, there’s an obvious imbalance that can’t be easily fixed. Even if EA and DICE were willing to bring in more content from the previous game — which I’d be thrilled about, to be honest — it would all be OT content. The first game, after all, was based entirely around the OT era. So the easiest solution — porting over old content — throws the balance off even further. It would be absurd to offer Sullust or Bespin as free DLC when Obi-Wan and Anakin are still absent, because OT would begin to outweigh the other two trilogies combined while ignoring some of the main characters from the Prequels.

But we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I’d love it if DICE could put out an enormous batch of Clone Wars content in early 2018, which would allow them to port over more OT stuff (and even Rogue One stuff, as much as I hate to say it) later on without this feeling like a mostly-OT-era game.

My fingers are crossed, but I’m ready to move on if I have to. After all, there are plenty of other games I need to finish.

Josh Wirtanen owns this place and has opinions about pretty much everything. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuajwirtanen.