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Author Topic: Star Wars Battlefront II (well... 4 really but....)  (Read 28 times)
Locutus9956
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« on: 16 November, 2017, 16:37:05 PM »

Many years ago in the distant past (well? 2002?) a revolutionary game hit the market, that game was Battlefield 1942. It was at the time, pretty unique, taking multiplaye shooter gameplay from a small scale deathmatch or small team based affair to a full on huge open battlefield with dozens of players on each side playing various roles, working in squads to capture objectives and tanks rumbling around while planes zoomed over head. It was spectacular, exciting and lead to some truly epic gameplay.

And alomost immediately folks started to dream of the possibilities of this new gameplay style of ?realistic? mass battles in other settings, it wasn?t long before modders started making these a reality with the likes of Desert Ops bringing the combat into modern day adding helicopters, modern MBTs and the lines into the mix.

And then the inevitable happened, some game devs were watching the Empire Strikes back and a collective lightbulb went off above their heads?. And in 2004 we got Star Wars Battlefront, letting us play as soldiers in epic star wars battles as legions of snowtroopers and AT-AT walkers stomped across the icy planes of Hoth as rebels tried to bring them down in their speeders or as hordes of battledroids and clone troopers traded a spectacular light show across deserts of Geonosis as clone gunships zoomed overhead, or Rebels and Stormtroopers slugged it out in the dustry streets of Mos Eisley as X-Wings and TIE fighters screamed over head. It was wonderful and despite the limited technology of the time really felt like you were IN Star Wars.

It?s sequel, Battlefront 2 was an even bigger success adding in full space battle segments, and the ability for a few players to play as hero leaping around cutting through swathes of enemies with Darth Vaders lightsaber or gunning them down with Han Solo?s trusty DL-44 blaster pistol?

And more was promised in Battlefield 3? until it was abruptly cancelled?..

And for a time, that was the end of the story? for 10 long years no new Battlefront games came along and then finally in 2015 along came the new (and in keeping with the current tradition of rebooting the numbering system on games for no reason Ive been able to fathom) Star Wars Battlefront.

The game was absolutely gorgeous to look at and remains one of the best looking games I?ve ever played and the sound design (as you might expect from DICE if you?ve ever played one of the Battlefield games in recent years) was nothing short of stellar. And at first the game was a dream come true. But as time ran on the games flaws began to present themselves in increasing amounts.

The game used a pickup system to allow players to spawn in vehicles or take control of walkers or special characters which had the effect of folks just rushing for these pickups and camping their locations, the maps were glorious but not numerous (indeed at launch I believe there were only 4 large maps (there were technically more but these were just smaller sections of these large maps).

There were also no space battles despite allowing players to fly fighters in various maps. They also did away with the class system for characters having players just choose from some abilities leading to the game feeling more like a mass melee than a squad based game at times. All in all the gameplay itself was a lot of fun and had a wonderful Star Wars feel to it but got old very fast.

Several DLC packs went some way to address these issues adding in a plethora of new maps and space combat segments as well and as of the time of writing this, with all the DLC present and correct Battlefront (2015) is actually a pretty solid game with a lot of excellent maps to play the various game modes over, however the issues with the pickup system and the lack of class based play remains.

Last but by no means least, there was basically no single player option. You could play ?arcade? mode which basically equated to bot matches on the normal maps but these were laughably easy and got very boring very quickly (and quite frankly there was little reason to play them over the multiplayer ever) and the sheer beauty of the game engine was just crying out for a standalone Star Wars story, something gaming has been sorely lacking for some time since the demise of LucasArts (as much as the sale of the Star Wars licence to Disney has done great things for the franchise as a whole, by and large where the video game market is concerned it?s been nothing but a disaster. Battlefront 1 despite its flaws is pretty much the only decent Star Wars game we?ve had since the old Jedi Knight games (or possibly Force Unleashed though even that I?d say was iffy....)

Suffice to say that Battlefront in it?s last incarnation was a good but flawed game and felt mostly like a missed opportunity that I still enjoyed playing very much in the end despite those flaws.

However we now have Battlefront II? again? because naming conventions? though it?s really Battlfront 4 and not to be confused with Battlefront II from 2006 or Battlefield 2 or its more recent sequel Battlefield 1?. WHY GAMES COMPANIES WHY?!?!?! DO YOU HATE NUMBERS SO VERY MUCH?Huh

Ahem?. Anyway Battlefront II is if it were possible even more gorgeous than it?s predecessor, and the gameplay and general combat remains as solid as before, with weapons feeling satisfying and spot on sound and music all combining to make you feel like you?re in the movies combined with outstanding visuals that look almost like you?re watching a live action film they?re so stunning.

There?s a good variety of weapons to pick from as well all feeling apropirately Star Wars and with a neat overheat mechanic that makes blasters feel different from just guns shooting colourful bullets all adding to the immersion immensely.

The enemies and enviromnents all look (and act in the single player campaign) very much the part 2 from how they move and take cover to their chatter amongst themselves and the consistently excellent voice acting.

Wait, single player campaign you say? Oh yes?.. The biggest addition (for me at least) this time round is there is a fully fleshed out solo campaign this time around running through the untold story of what happens between the end of Return of the Jedi and the Force Awakens. I?ve only played the first couple of levels myself and as such I can?t really comment on the whole story arc so far but from what I have played it?s a very well told story from a very interesting  viewpoint of an Imperial special forces commander and daughter of an Imperial Admiral as the Empire is falling?. And it?s excellent so far! In fact my only gripe with it thus far is I didn?t get to murder any Ewoks on Endor (you do see a few of the little furry gits but you cant actually shoot them (if you shoot at them they run away and disappear sadly).

There is also a plethora of ?Arcade mode? challenge/survival type levels you can play through as well which are similar to the offerings from Battlefront 1 but there does seem to be a fair bit more variety in these and they?re a lot more entertaining to play as well often letting you play out some fun options with various hero characters or special weapons and seem a big improvement over their previous incarnation.

However no matter how good the single player campaign is (and it IS very good) the real meat of Battlefront remains the multiplayer (and as much fun as the solo play is it?s relatively short and will get old fast and whilst it?s certainly good enough to be a game in its own right I don?t think there?s enough content there to justify the price tag alone (when the game comes down in price in time I absolutely would say its worth play even if you have no interest in the multiplayer but unless you ARE planning on playing that multiplayer it?s really not worth the money at the moment)

If you ARE though you will not be disappointed. I?m happy to say that here the game improves substantially on the 2015 version and addresses nearly ever issue I had with the previous games online play right off the bat.

For one thing there are a lot more (and varied maps) at launch with 11 distinct settings with full sized 40 player maps in each (and multiple smaller maps across those settings) in addition to space battles as well, making for much more varied multiplayer battles. These battles also span all 3 Trilogies which adds more variety of settings and units like the old battlefront games (say what you will about the Prequels but they DID have some great battles and some gorgeous set pieces to fight over), as well as adding in forces and characters from the Force Awakens (and the forthcoming Last Jedi. There will inevitably be more DLC in future as with most major releases these days but this time round the game feels complete as it stands where Battlefront 1 needed that DLC to feel like a finished product frankly.

Class play also sees a welcome return with players choosing from 4 classes of basic troops with access to different weapons and abilities which works well. As well as giving the option to spawn as various more specialised troops like Flame troops or jet pack units or various vehicles and even hero characters.

The way these are implemented is also a welcome change from the first game. Rather than having pickups dotted around the map that players have to race to grab or camp as you play you earn points in the battle, the better you play the more points you get (though even if you do poorly you will get some as you play), and you pay with these points to spawn in as these special classes, vehicles and characters, the more powerful characters need more points so this rewards folks for good play and encourages folks to fight hard with the existing troops rather than just lurking around the hero spawn etc and is a HUGE improvement for me on both the Battlefront 2015 and the original titles that used the more traditional method of just spawning vehicles on the map which tended to lead to the old issue of folks camping the spawnpoints.

All in all the game is a huge improvement on the previous title in nearly every way I can think of and if you enjoyed the previous game you will find everything you loved about the first game present and correct only better, with more variety and better gameplay overall.

But there is one big issue hanging over the game ominously like a Death Star, blotting out the sun and casting a terrifying shadow over all it does so well as I?m sure most of you reading this are already all too aware of unless you?ve been living under a rock.

So let?s address the Bantha in the room: The Loot Box system. For those of you that HAVE been living under that rock, basically EA have put in a system whereby to unlock items such as new weapons, special abilities, and hero characters you have to buy them from the in game store for credits, you earn credits by doing various tasks in game and can also get various loot boxes that may contain some of these unlocks and credits to buy them directly. You can earn all these credits in game but it takes a very long time to do so, the catch of course is that you can also buy these credits and loot boxes with real money. Now this kind of mechanic is hardly new, indeed it is pretty common in particular in mobile and free to play games and in those cases it?s hard to fault them, after all the game itself is free and this is how the company makes money off it. But in the case of a game like BF2 which is a full price release retailing for 50-60 pounds these kind of microtransactions really shouldn?t be present and it feels like frankly a shameless cash grab on EA?s part.

Now again this is hardly (unfortunately) a new practices and more and more these kind of Free to Play mechanics are creeping into full price games (and EA are certainly no stranger to it having this kind of system in place in their online play in most of their sports titles for a few years now), and EA are by no means alone with loot crats available in Blizzards hugely popular shooter, Overwatch since it?s inception to name one other example.

However where things come to the fore is the nature of the crates. In the case of the other EA sports titles, this is only for one game mode (?Ulitmate Hockey Team? or the equivalent game modes for other sports for example) and whilst these modes are fun, theyre an extra mode that whilst a lot of folks do play and enjoy are not the core part of the game. It?s a feature that a lot of folks are quite happy to ignore, its fun and if you want to play it and buy cards for it you can but if you don?t like it, its no great loss and the meat of the game is in it?s other modes.

Not so in Battlefront, the crates here are for unlocking weapons, abilities and characters in the core multiplayer battles of the game, and these abilities are used in the single player and arcaded modes too so you can?t really avoid them. You can still happily play the game without buying any of them and you will be able to unlock items by just playing but if you want EVERYTHING it?s going to take you a very long time without spending money (in fact its going to take you a more or less impossible amount of time).

In my other example, the crates in Overwatch apply to the main game again but what you get from those crates are skins, custom ?sprays?, voice packs, emotes and so on. All the items are you get are purely cosmetic items that whilst being fun have absolutely (or at least very very minimal) effect on the actual gameplay, and certainly you are not at any kind of disadvantage over other players.

In Battlefront the abilities and items you?re unlocking are flat out advantages, better weapons that hit harder, shoot more accurately, special characters who are stronger than others, abilities that give you a distinct advantage over a player without them. If you play the game long enough you WILL get these abilities as well but in the short run if 2 players who go into the game with equal skill levels and one of them is prepared to throw actual money at the loot crates they WILL have a distinct advantage.

The last issue with the loot crate system here is that even more so than having a monetised in game store letting you buy items for real money all you?re getting here is the option to buy blind boxes with a CHANCE of getting the items you want (worst case you DO get credits that CAN eventually be used to unlock the times you want so you will eventually get them but the fact remains you are paying money for a small chance of reward. There?s a word for that. Gambling. This is can be a slippery slope for a lot of adults let alone for a game marketed at all ages, it?s bad enough that a lot of ?Free to Play? games use these kind of blind boxes (and the debate about whether this is really gambling and should be regulated more has raged long and hard but for this to come in a product that you?ve already paid a sizeable amount of money for in the first place is really quite shameless of EA.

At the end of the day Battlefront II is hardly the only offender on this front but it is probably the highest profile instance of it to date and the reaction from the community in general has been pretty vehement, so what were EA thinking?

Well unfortunately I suspect EA have done a fair bit of research into this and whilst they?re fully aware that some folks will be outraged and boycott the game and others (like myself) will still buy the game and enjoy it but will never give them any money from loot boxes but some folks WILL buy a few here and there still and some folks have a LOT of disposable income or are just plain loaded and will think nothing of blowing tons of money on loot boxes until they get all the items they want as quickly as possible.

They will have done research into similar products and business models and will have a prediction for how much money they will lose in lost sales from folks who will refuse to buy the game who would otherwise have bought it and will compare this to how much money they expect they will make in sales of lootboxes.

Big companies like EA are not idiots. If the second (profit) number isn?t bigger than the first (loss) number (and unfortunately I suspect it?s A LOT bigger) they don?t make this kind of design decision. If that prediction turns out wrong they might rethink it in future of course but as long as it keeps making them money they?re not going to change their mind, they?ll tweak the pricing of course but this will all be calculated to make the most money they can. This isn?t rocket science this is basic economics, if you want to make money you set the pricing of an item so as to maximise your profit and if you can make money off that product after the fact why WOULDN?T you do it?

Do I like the loot box system? Of course not, it?s a shameless cash grab in an already expensive product and I HATE that this kind of thing is increasingly becoming the norm for mainstream gaming. Do I blame EA for doing it? Not really, I don?t see how I can unfortunately, like it or not video games are big business now and big companies only care about their customers as far as their image affects their profits.

In the end it?s a real shame to have this issue hanging over the game as without this, there is little fault to find with the game to my eyes as they have delivered one of the best shooters in recent years and arguably one of the best Star Wars games I?ve played in a very long time.
I for one will be playing this to death though I will definitely NOT be paying any money for the loot boxes. I have no qualms recommending the game wholeheartedly as despite the spectre of the loot box?s looming EA/DICE have nonetheless created one hell of a game here.

I?d very much like to believe that the game will sell well but that very few folks will pay money for the loot boxes prove that the feature doesn?t make money and EA won?t bother doing it and will carry on making more and better Star Wars games going forwards? but I suspect it will both sell extremely well and they loot boxes will be hugely profitable and as such the system is here to stay?.

In the end for me the Loot Box fiasco will not affect my enjoyment of the game one iota and as such I?m more than happy to give this game a huge thumbs up though!

Gameplay - 9 : Improves on nearly every aspect of its predecessor
Longevity - 8 : As a primarily multiplayer game with a ton of stuff to unlock I and alot more variety in maps and play modes than Battlefront 1 this should keep me satiated with Star Warsey goodnes for some time
Graphics - 10 : Quite simply one of the best looking games I've ever played
Sound - 10 : The voice acting, sound effects and music are all pretty much perfect
Other - 1 : The single player story is whislt good, fairly short so the I'd only really recommend it if interested in the multiplayer and as much as I'd like to think they're not a factor, the loot box situation DOES leave a very sour taste in the mouth.

OVERALL - 8 : If it wasn't for the loot box issue this one would be a 9 or even a 10 easily. Even with that stigma it's still a belter of a game and about as close to stepping into the Star Wars movies as you can get!

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Locutus9956
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« Reply #1 on: 20 November, 2017, 16:58:55 PM »

Update: As things stand thanks to the overwhelming backlash against the microtransactions EA has removed them from the game as of the last patch ('for now' so I'm iffy on celebrating too early) but as things stand stuff still needs unlocking you just have to earn the currency in game to do so no now meaning the 'pay to win' options are no longer there and the gambling issue isn't really a factor now!

As things stand this stands turns my 'other score' from a 1 into a 7 or maybe a 6 (the length issue with the 1 player game and inability to murder ewoks still rankles but its frankly that I was expecting, the Microtransaction stuff was the really fly in the ointment and that, for the moment at least, is gone,

This easily puts the overall score up to an 8 or 9/10 for me!
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