A reader reports back from a Christmas of playing Battlefront II with his son, and finds the loot box controversy never got in the way.
Being a Star Wars fan, I enjoyed my time with the somewhat repetitive Battlefront I. However, my seven-year-old son *loved* it. The gameplay hooked him in a way that only Pokémon has come close to. He is besotted with Star Wars and getting to control so many of his favourite characters in locations ripped straight from the screen (trash compactor!) was very compelling. To the point where he had to be reminded to go to the toilet.
We never really bothered with the online aspect of it; instead we endlessly battled each other and the computer for fun. We were a bit late to the party, so all the DLC was out and cheap so that extended the variety a little. The VR mission in particular blew me away, but proved too fiddly for my son to enjoy.
Naturally, when the impressive trailers dropped for the sequel, I knew Santa would be getting it for him. I pre-ordered it on Santa’s behalf and my son and I hunkered down to wait for the 25th of December. Then the news started to break that this game was the biggest con since PPI. A model popular in mobile gaming had been embraced: items in randomised, purchasable loot crates were now essential for player progression.
I read articles that made me feel that buying this game would be tantamount to putting a fruit machine in my living room or, to put it another way, moving my sofa into the bookies down the road. I was worried, but I knew we wouldn’t buy the crates and my son loved the first game so much that all would be well… wouldn’t it?
Well thankfully, yes. Not only did it go well but we both think the game is tremendous fun. Rest assured Santa can hold his head up high around the elves. You are placed in a *very* authentic approximation of the Star Wars universe, with excellent graphics and music/sound effects which continue to enhance the verisimilitude. Players visit a diverse number of locations from all three eras of the films and engage in battle with all sorts of (rebel) scum and villainy.
It improves on the gameplay of the first one in a number of ways. The different character classes and loadouts are simple to play around with, and have easy to follow pros and cons. This time around the space and air battles are more varied and challenging. You engage in dogfights, navigate debris fields, take down satellites and you even get to enter the hangers of larger ships.
More importantly, the single-player story mode, which was sorely missing in the first game, does a great job of telling an interesting little tale set between the classic movies and the new sequels. Upon finishing it, my son said it was tense and he hopes EA extends it with the promised free DLC.
What about the loot crates and the damage they have wrought? I don’t know. The upgrade system is definitely clunky and straight out of a mobile game. The buffs given by the cards from these crates seem slight to me. We appear to be able to buy the upgrades we want using the crafting parts gifted in-game.
The competitive multiplayer aspect of this game may well have been hobbled by the pursuit of profit – I can’t say I’ve noticed yet. What I have noticed are hours and hours spent with my son in a galaxy far, far away where his only worries are when can he use another thermal detonator and how long can he hold it?
By reader Rob