Also available on PlayStation 4 and Windows
Star Wars: Battlefront II is a game that is shrouded in controversy, and rightly so - EA has structured this game's microtransactions in a way so blatantly greedy that it makes Joel Osteen look generous and selfless. Beneath the controversy and bullshit business practices, however, lies a game that one really ought to judge on its own merit independent from the shenanigans of its publisher. This is especially true for us Star Wars fans as this is one HELL of a Star Wars game.
Pretty much the biggest complaint folks had with the previous Battlefront game (aside from just ripping the name straight from the first game in the series) was the complete exclusion of a single player campaign. Star Wars games have always been known for having narrative-heavy single player experiences, and for a Battlefront game to omit that just felt wrong. DICE realized that they screwed up in that regard, and they made sure to make up for that error in Battlefront II. The campaign isn't long - it even falls short of EA's promised six to seven hours if you're either good at the game or play on a low difficulty - but it's clear from every part of the experience that it goes for quality over quantity.
The campaign takes place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and shows the events after Emperor Palpatine's death and before the New Republic's final victory over the Galactic Empire. While you play as an array of major franchise characters in various missions, the main protagonist is Iden Versio, an Imperial special forces soldier in command of the elite and infamous Inferno Squad. To avoid spoilers, I'll keep it at that, but the fact that you play as an Imperial soldier and, over the course of the campaign, see multiple sides of the conflict between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, gives the story a deep and compelling feel that even stands out among other Star Wars games.
I played on Xbox One X, and from what I've seen from DigitalFoundry and a few others, this is one of the games that shows off the One X's graphical superiority over the PS4 Pro. While the PC version, obviously, still looks the best, the One X has a few distinct visual advantages over the PS4 Pro. Whereas the PS4 Pro renders at 1440p and uses lower resolution textures than the PC's max settings, Xbox One X renders the game between 1800p and a full 2160p depending on what's going on in the scene as well as using the high resolution textures from the PC version's max settings. The only major difference between the One X version and PC version aside from locking 60 fps on PC is the shadow and lighting effects that PC does in better detail. Otherwise, you're pretty much getting a virtually identical version on Xbox One X. It's worth noting, however, that while the One X does maintain 60 fps probably 95% of the time (and even then never dropping below 50 or so), the PS4 Pro does seem to hold that 60 fps frame rate a bit more consistently than the One X.
In addition to the campaign, you've also got the obvious multiplayer. You know, that thing DICE and EA thought would be enough on its own to impress Star Wars fans. While I'll always be a sucker for single player and local co-op modes, I have to admit that DICE did an excellent job with the online multiplayer. It can take a little bit to find a match initially, but it's exceptionally addicting once you get going, and unlike the previous game, it doesn't just feel like Battlefield with a Star Wars mod. My favorite part of the previous Battlefront game was the starfighter combat, and they've gone all in with that in Battlefront II, giving you fighters to play and 24 player objective based games. I'm not particularly good at it, but that didn't stop me from having a ball. The ground combat is equally satisfying and features a whopping 40 players. Not only that, but it actually encourages you to play the objective in objective based matches.
Star Wars Battlefront II could have been a perfect game if EA hadn't been the publisher. No matter how good the game is, though - and it is DAMN good - there's no erasing the sins of these egregiously money-gouging microtransactions. While the game's microtransactions have been disabled indefinitely (read: until gamers forget why they were pissed off about them), you can't just retcon that kind of bullshit. Charging a full $60 for a game and then treating the microtransactions as if it were a freemium game is unforgivable. That said, however, the game does feature a campaign that, at least in my opinion, is second only to Knights of the Old Republic in terms of storytelling and an online multiplayer that is truly addicting. Out of principle given the scam-esque controversy, I don't feel comfortable telling anyone to go buy this game new (although I'm not telling anyone they shouldn't; after all, I did it), but I will say that any fan of Star Wars needs to get this game, even if it's used a year down the line. For those who, like me, can't wait that long, just make sure you never use microtransactions when they're inevitably re-enabled. Don't just pass up on this one entirely, though; it's a legit Star Wars game.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.