Despite criticism for being too simple and “casual” for a lot of shooter fans, the 2015 release of Star Wars Battlefront (itself a reboot of LucasArts’ shooter series that was first released in 2004) proved to be a huge success with Star Wars fans, selling more than 14 million copies.
It was a gorgeous looking game that looked and sounded distinctly, powerfully like Star Wars. It evoked some of the fun of those early games, joyriding in ridiculous vehicles and firing off blasters at anything that moved.
The shooting was crisp and the matches were frenetic, fast, and fun.
But it was also a game saddled with issues, the most glaring of which was a dearth of content, particularly at launch.
Every dimension of the game felt light initially, from the number of maps and heroes on offer, to more basic considerations like weapons and abilities.
The game only really started to come into its own as the DLC content dropped, which meant that the full experience really required an additional investment of $50 for the season pass and then a year’s worth of extra maps, characters and add-ons.
The price of the whole thing has since dropped (you can now grab the ultimate addition of the game with all the DLC, including the Bespin, Outer Rim, Death Star and Scarif maps for $40.)
So what does Battlefront 2 need to dish up to satisfy not just all of us Star Wars nerds, but also a larger audience that might’ve felt a little burned after dropping more than $100 on the flawed first effort?
Characters from Every Era
A great starting point, and a direction DICE seems to be pursuing if the leaked teaser trailer can be believed, would be to tap every era of official Star Wars canon. Sure, the prequels were a painful cinematic experience, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t spawn some excellent characters, droids, and settings. Give us levels set on the streets of Coruscant, or in the maze-like caves of Geonosis.
Give us badass Jedi like Mace Windu and young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Give us four-armed Jedi-killer General Grievous, and then prop him up with battle droids and droidekas as cannon fodder. Who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to swing a double-ended lightsaber as Darth Maul or shoot Jar Jar in the face? Judging from the teaser, at least one of those fantasies is being serviced; fingers crossed for that Gungan shooting gallery.
And then there’s the new trilogy; it looks like we’ll be getting our hands on Kylo Ren, at the very least, but here’s hoping we may see Captain Phasma and Poe Dameron make an appearance too. Based on the last few seconds of the teaser, we know that heroes from The Last Jedi will be included as a pre-order bonus.
With Star Wars Rebels proving to be such a hit, and itself crossing over with Rogue One, there’s also potential to introduce Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger and grown-up Ahsoka Tano to a gaming audience, and celebrate fan-favorite Grand Admiral Thrawn now that he’s been re-assimilated as an officially canonical bad guy.
The Glorious Return of Hero Assault
When the, ahem, first Pandemic-developed Battlefront 2 dropped way back in 2005, Hero Assault was a favorite mode for many. It let you get right to the juicy core of the game by playing the entire match as Darth Vader or Han Solo or any number of bad asses straight from the silver screen. It was a goofy, insane, ridiculously fun side affair that stole the spotlight from the core game modes. 2015’s Battlefront experimented with something similar for its Heroes vs Villains mode, but it was far from the hero shooter precursor of 12 years ago.
Resurrecting a full-on Hero Assault game mode in Battlefront 2 has enormous potential, especially with a broader palette of heroes to draw from across multiple eras. A new Hero Assault could feature a huge cast of characters, and a tight four-on-four arena mode that focuses on team composition and abilities could help distinguish Battlefront 2 as something far more than a reskinned Battlefield game, and instead push it into Overwatch territory.
From here there’s potential to push the game into numerous new directions including hero-based co-op PvE much like the latest Uprising event for Overwatch.