DICE's Star Wars Battlefront II beta is closing down today, after being originally launched on October 4th for pre-order customers and on October 6th to everyone else who cared to jump in.
After the many promises made by the developers, there was hope within the community that this sequel would address most if not all the complaints directed at 2015's Star Wars Battlefront.
Unfortunately, while there are some improvements, Battlefront II's beta also highlighted a veritable plethora of issues which in some areas make it even worse than its predecessor.
Let's begin with the topic that's sweeping through the industry like wildfire - the loot box system. In Battlefront II, all progression is tied to the crates, which contain Star Cards of various quality, weapons, emotes and more.
There's inevitably an element of Pay-to-Win, in that by purchasing crates with real money you can increase your chances to get the best Star Cards. However, that's not even my primary concern in this instance as having better Star Cards doesn't really ensure victory in the game.
What's even worse is that for some reason, the developers have decided that it's okay for progression to be completely random. Unlike the previous game, regardless of which classes or even mode you're playing, the loot box system completely dictates the overall progression.
As an example, I hadn't even tried Starfighter Assault yet and due to the rewards I randomly got from the crates, the Interceptor class ship had been automatically boosted to level six.
On the other hand, I played the Heavy infantry class a lot and couldn't push it past level five. This change is frankly baffling and something that hopefully DICE can reverse before the final release, allowing players to actually level up classes by playing them.
Moving on to other areas, the gunplay definitely felt like an improvement to me. It's meatier and more satisfying as well as a little deeper thanks to the active reload/overheat system. Aiming down sights (ADS) also gets a bonus this time around, though hipfire is still effective.
The design for the maps set in Naboo and Takodana left a lot to be desired, though. Galactic Assault on Naboo feels a lot less epic than Walker Assault on Hoth or Endor, for instance, while Strike on Takodana seems to be heavily unbalanced against the First Order.
The class system was also a bit of a letdown. It was supposed to add some much-needed teamwork, but the Officer class is the only one truly doing that task while all the others are still very much solo oriented. Of course, even if there was any real teamwork to be done, it would be quite complicated to make it happen due to the obnoxious squad system featured in the beta.
The developers managed to create an even worse squad system for Battlefront II than the buddy system of 2015's game. At least in the latter, you were able to invite a friend and spawn on him whenever he wasn't engaged in combat.
Now, though, while the squad has been expanded to four players these groups are automatically set up by the game and change constantly. Basically, each time you die you'll be put together alongside different recently deceased teammates while you all wait to respawn. Then, as you would expect, everyone sets off for a different direction despite the game's almost ironic invite to stick together.
Heroes are far more fragile now, which should theoretically help with balancing, but then again when you become a Hero your character won't feel nearly as powerful as it did in the first Battlefront made by DICE. Since impersonating Darth Maul, Yoda and the likes is the primary fantasy of any Star Wars fan, I'm still unsure whether those changes were for the best or not.
The Battle Points system is undoubtedly an improvement over having to chase power-ups through the maps, that's for sure. Then again, I'm not sure points are being distributed in the most appropriate way across classes. This could use a revision before launch.
Finally, I never would have expected to have to complain about graphics in a game by DICE, but here it goes. I played on both a high-end PC with max settings and a PlayStation 4 Pro (with HDR active) and frankly, I was disappointed by the visuals. Perhaps that's because we've been used to DICE outdoing themselves with each and every game, but it doesn't seem to be the case in Battlefront II.
Even though there are fewer players on screen than in Battlefield 1, Battlefront II still manages to look worse. That's even on PC, which completely crushes PS4 Pro's visuals. This could be due to image quality for the most part, which was pristine in the first Battlefront and seems way more muddled in this sequel. There could be new post-processing filters at play here, but if that's the case I wish we could just turn them off.
While there's time for the developers to fix at least some of the aforementioned problems, after playing this Star Wars Battlefront II beta I'm now less hopeful that on November 17th we will find the Battlefront game we have been waiting for.