Star Wars Battlefront II
Going into the Star Wars Battlefront II beta having not researched the game much, what immediately strikes me when first spawning into the forest of Takodana Fortress as a First Order Stormtrooper is the atmosphere. I immediately recognize the large lake and dilapidated architecture from The Force Awakens, and when I start hearing blasters I feel like I am in the Star Wars universe. This is the same feeling Battlefront gave me last time around, so if the atmosphere didn't do it for you then, this game probably won't do much to change that.
Quickly learning the abilities of the Assault class I picked for this eight-on-eight objective mode called Strike (the beta also includes Galactic Assault, Starfighter Assault, and Arcade modes), I shoot a scan dart at the entrance of Maz’s Castle, the building my team needs to retrieve a package from. The dart pulsates for a short time, showing all enemies within a small radius around it. I use this information to try and time a perfect grenade through the building's sliding door into a slew of enemies, and...the door happens to slam shut; the grenade bounces back and blows me up. My first match isn't the time to be making perfect plays, but within seconds I’m reselecting the assault class (I like the blaster’s short and medium range versatility) and spawn with a number of teammates.
The game always tries to spawn you with a group of teammates, but it isn’t afraid to spawn you alone if none have died by the time your spawn timer reaches zero. It’s meant to encourage group play, but half the time squads seem to run in as many directions as there are people immediately after spawning. The quick respawn speed makes the scale of battles feel a lot larger than just 16 people, however. Sticking together this time, my new squad makes its way back into the fortress, where another teammate has already grabbed the objective.
A waypoint on my HUD shows me where the package is, which is helpful because my aforementioned teammate drops it before he’s even out of the base. Having now successfully infiltrated Maz’s Castle, I lob another grenade through a narrow doorway, and a few seconds later hear a satisfying explosion and see another line of text appear in the kill feed. Each class has a unique grenade in Battlefront II, and the assault class’ thermal detonator feels powerful. Pushing to retake the objective and get it to the extraction point in the forest, I'm shot in the chaos and notice a number on screen go down by one. It’s the number of lives my team has to extract the objective before we fail.
Spawning again, I notice defenders posted atop Maz’s Castle. Defending snipers have been taking pot shots at my team unnoticed. There are stairs in the base I can climb to reach the roof, but I have another idea.
I stay back this life, using my blaster’s zoom to pick off enemies, who feel a bit bullet spongy. This is where my number-one gripe with the beta comes in: lag. Particularly when large battles occur, there’s a tendency for frames to drop and the game to freeze for a few precious seconds. This is what betas are for, though, so hopefully these problems don’t make their way into the full game.
Having taken out a number of enemies from a safe distance, at last it's time to bring my plan to fruition. I've saved up 2,000 battle points from kills and other gameplay actions, and I’m ready to become a Jet Trooper, which has both upward and forward jump jet abilities. I run to the wall of Maz’s Castle and jet up, but I don't make it nearly high enough. Disappointed, I feel somewhat taken out of the experience. I expected to jump clear to the roof, but my 2,000 battle points barely got me half way there. I later try the Wookie character, who has a powerful crossbow and the ability to quickly increase their health. These upgraded characters bring some variety to combat, but battle points aren't going to be an auto win for anyone unless they have the skill to go with it.
Battlefront II’s beta is very fun to play. The quick respawn system keeps the flow of play fast, and the variety of characters and weapons keeps the gameplay fresh. I didn’t expect to be transported back to the Star Wars universe until Episode VIII in December, so the atmosphere of the game really took me by surprise. I’m afraid the smaller map and game mode selections will get bland before the beta ends Monday, but even after hours of playing the same map and mode, I plan on hopping back in soon. I hope the rest of the game lives up to my first few hours of play, but I'll definitely be playing it for the rest of the week and am looking forward to the game’s November 17 release.