With Star Wars: Battlefront II set to arrive in just under a month’s time, excitement is at a fever pitch for EA’s sequel, with the kind of multiplayer action we’ve come to expect from the franchise, but bumped up a notch. But that’s just one part of the bigger picture, as the game will also introduce an intriguing storyline that follows Iden Versio, an Imperial soldier who leads the Inferno Squad on dangerous missions for the Empire. We were lucky enough to be invited down to EA’s Redwood Shores studio to check out the first three missions in action, to get an idea of what the campaign would be all about.
And, frankly, the team at Motive, working alongside DICE, have done a tremendous job with the story thus far, which follows Iden through a series of adventures, with even more to come in the full game.
The demo began with Iden being in Rebel captivity – the game didn’t explain how – and her executing a flawless breakout with the help of a small droid that was able to track her down (after shocking its captor) and free her of her restraints. From there, Iden has to fight her way through the Rebel ship, gunning down opposing troops (or avoiding them, if you prefer) and making her way to her ship.
This is a great opening level that introduces you to the play tactics that are available within the game, and it’s pretty solid, like you’d find in a well-polished third-person adventure game. Being able to use your weapons was pretty spot-on and, what’s more, you can call upon your fellow droid to shock someone if they’re within range, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with them down the road.
From there, the story takes us to Endor, right when the Rebels and Imperials are fighting on the Forest Moon, and when the assault on the new Death Star is taking place. Here, we see how well Iden gets along with her Inferno Squad members, as they manage to fight their way through a Rebel ambush or two, including taking down an AT-ST with a powerful rocket launcher.
But not all the news is good, as the Death Star is blown to pieces, and Versio and her squad are summoned to get off the planet as soon as they can. It involves scrambling across forest land and making your way to a landing pad where your TIE Fighters are located. Unfortunately, there are Rebel soldiers everywhere, so you’ll have to deal with them before you make your way to your ship.
It’s here that the combat aspect of Battlefront II really comes together pretty nicely, as you lay waste to them using a number of special rifles, as well as thermal detonators should they be just outside your reach. You can also use heat signatures to track down other enemy forces, so that you’re in the clear before you get to your TIE Fighter and escape.
But, the Endor mission doesn’t end there, as you’ll have to contend with a few Rebel soldiers while avoiding the wreckage left over from the destroyed Death Star. It’s here that we’re introduced to the space combat in the game, which is outstanding. Sure, you’ll have to get used to controlling your ship with the right analog stick, but with a little practice, it feels great, and makes it easy to gun down enemy aircraft from the sky. It helps to have some good secondary abilities on board as well, like lock-on missiles and a speed boost.
And this training comes in handy for the final mission we took on in the demo, The Dauntless. Here, we’re asked to clear a friendly vessel (Star Destroyer) of pesky Rebel forces, then to come aboard and clean out any soldiers that managed to stow away. It’s a great way to see both sides of the action, and it’s definitely ramped up from the previous missions.
For instance, in this space mission, you’re asked to clear away not only X-Wing and other fighters, but also larger Rebel ships that could damage the Star Destroyer. Fortunately, their highlight points indicate where you can hit them, so you can send them crashing down. This is another aspect of the space combat I really enjoyed, and it ties in with the single player fundamentally well.
Once we got inside the ship, we were asked to deal with some Rebel forces, while at the same time shutting down some generators to keep Empire forces from falling into a trap. This open-world stage really opens up more aspects of the third-person combat, especially with the use of secondary items, such as a turret. It’s here that you can really lay down some cool strategy and take care of those Rebel scum in your own special way.
While the demo came to a close all too soon, EA did give us a peek at what lies ahead, including an intriguing twist on the story mission, where the Empire actually rains down gunfire on one of its own planet – a decision that Iden doesn’t take very likely, despite the fact that her father is the commander who gave the order. Uh-oh.
EA Motive did a great job with polishing up the single player side of things so far, with great visuals that match DICE’s efforts, as well as gameplay that feels just as good as the original Battlefront did. On top of that, the acting is superb, especially Janina Gavankar, who does a superb job with iden. The other actors are up to their game as well.
We’ve still got a lot to see from the game, and see how Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren and the rest of the cast gets involved. But based upon what we’ve seen so far, Star Wars: Battlefront II has a hell of a beginning. Now, let’s see how it concludes when the game arrives on November 17th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.