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Star Wars Battlefront 2's Single-Player Campaign is the Best Thing About it So Far

What do you know, EA and single-player can mix after all.

Analysis by Kat Bailey, .

The most striking moment in Star Wars Battlefront 2's opening stages comes through a simple conversation.

Following a harrowing escape from Endor, the heroine Iden Versio weaves through the debris of the Death Star II, struggling to come to grips with the Empire's defeat.

It's a scene that works on a couple levels: First, it's not a static cutscene. Rather, it puts you at the controls of Versio's TIE Fighter as she makes her way through the wreckage, which immediately makes it more dynamic and interesting. Second, it serves to hammer home the enormity of what just happened: The Death Star II is gone, and you are witnessing the results firsthand.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 is at its best when it peppers in these moments, which helps it to break away from the standard shooter formula and feel a bit more "Star Wars." I've said before that Battlefront's starfighter combat is the best part of the multiplayer. That holds true for the single-player as well.

But even the ground combat segments aren't half bad. The best of them take place on Endor, where Versio arrives with her squad to try and put a halt to the Rebellion's attempt to destroy the shield generator. Unfortunately they arrive too late: Second after stepping off their ship, they look up to watch the Death Star II explode above them.

It's a moment that certainly puts a different twist on the triumph conclusion of Return of the Jedi. In the film, the destruction of the Death Star is punctuated with Lando whooping and Han and Leia smiling up in victory. Here, it's a moment laced with dread, as Versio and her team realize that they are suddenly, utterly alone. They look blindsided by the shock of defeat that they never saw coming.

From here, Star Wars Battlefront II enters a stealth phase as Versio creeps around the Rebel forces gathered near the bunker in an attempt to hijack a TIE Fighter and head to safety. Aiding her is her ID10 Seeker Droid, which can sneak up behind enemies and shock them unconscious—a useful and possibly even overpowered ability that you will be using quite often.

The best thing about this stage is the fact it's, well, set on Endor. Half the appeal of a Star Wars game is what you might call "Trilogy Tourism"—the joy of exploring detailed battlefield from a movie you love. Aside from its excellent starfighter combat, the best thing about the original Star Wars Battlefront was its incredibly authentic renditions of Tatooine, Hoth, and Endor (and Sullust, I guess). That very much holds true in Star Wars Battlefront II's single-player campaign.

While I didn't spot any Ewoks (I'm sure they're around), it was quite an experience to be ducking behind the familiar Endor redwoods—the bulk of Return of the Jedi was filmed in Muir Woods, not too far from my house—and firing at a hijacked AT-ST (maybe the same one that Chewie nabbed during the battle?). It was cool, the arcade-like shooting mechanics made more palatable by the fact that you meant to be a badass commando, and thus able to mow down Rebel troopers en masse.

Thinking about it, it's actually kind of interesting how Battlefront II takes the multiplayer mode's weaknesses and turns them into strengths. When playing online, all the beautiful scenery in the world isn't enough to mask shallow mechanics and unsatisfying level design. But when playing a story-driven single-player campaign, it's a little easier to forgive a lack of depth if the scenery and setpiece design is on point. And from what I've seen, that's very much the case with Star Wars Battlefront 2.

But here's the real question: Is it enough?

But is a Good Single-Player Campaign Enough to Carry Star Wars Battlefront 2?

If what I've seen holds up in the retail release, Star Wars Battlefront II will be a pretty good single-player game saddled with a middling and rather shallow multiplayer mode.

Admittedly, that alone puts it in a better position than the original Battlefront, which was a middling and rather shallow multiplayer shooter without a single-player campaign of any kind, good or otherwise. But a great single-player campaign isn't always enough: Just ask Titanfall 2.

The fact that it's a Star Wars game will help, of course. Star Wars games have a rich lineage going back to the days of X-wing back in the early '90s, and what makes them special is the way that they enrich the universe they depict. Indeed, Star Wars Battlefront II has an advantage over its predecessors in that it's considered "authentic," meaning that it's not limited to the old A, B, and C tier status that defined the old Expanded Universe. For better or (maybe) worse, everything you see in Battlefront II is canon.

That alone potentially makes it worth experiencing, even if it the multiplayer doesn't manage to hold up its end of the bargain. It's also kind of cool to see all the ways that Battlefront II follows in the footsteps of the classic Star Wars games: the shooting of Republic Commando, the starfighter combat of Rogue Leader, the setpieces of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. All of those games were special because they made you feel like you were part of the Star Wars universe, and Battlefront 2 does much the same. Indeed, you could say that it goes further than ever in pushing that feeling.

My main hope is that it doesn't lean too heavily on the established scenery from the movies, instead using it as a jumping off point to tell its own story. What I've seen is promising: a cutscene further down the line shows us Iden Versio's homeworld, and seems to throw her loyalties into conflict. The "Imperial soldier sees the light" storyline is well-worn territory for Star Wars, but classic tropes are what the movies are all about. Battlefront 2 will fight right in.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 hasn't received the best press since its announcement, its most recent beta being overshadowed by the all-consuming loot box controversy that has infected seemingly every triple-A game. But its single-player campaign, at least, is showing promise, suggesting that the sequel is indeed a step forward for the disappointing original. We'll see if that ends up being enough.

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Comments 10

  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #1 Monkey-Tamer 29 days ago
    I may shell out a few bucks when it plummets in price for the single player, but I'm not paying anywhere near full price for it since the campaign content will be the same years from now. I really miss single player being the main draw.
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #2 Kat.Bailey 29 days ago
    @Monkey-Tamer

    *EA reads your comment*

    *EA turns Battlefront 3 into Destiny*
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  • Avatar for Vodka-Tonic #3 Vodka-Tonic 29 days ago
    You're not getting my money, EA. *rude European gesture*
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  • Avatar for Drachmalius #4 Drachmalius 29 days ago
    The single player sounds really good, and the only thing that would make me actually buy this thing day one. What I'm worried about is whether the multiplayer will hold my interest, or I'll just be back to a rotation of Overwatch/PUBG the week after release. A friend of mine is over the moon with this game but I'm still very dubious.

    I miss the old style of the PS2 Battlefront games *sigh*
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  • Avatar for BulkSlash #5 BulkSlash 29 days ago
    If EA are making single-player Star Wars FPS games can we pretty please have a new Dark Forces?

    I might get this if the single player mode is good. I’ve got zero interest in multiplayer but if this is like Titanfall 2 with a really inventive single player mode then I’ll definitely be in.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #6 MetManMas 29 days ago
    It literally doesn't matter if the multiplayer's still dumb or if the loot boxes pull pay-to-win, and it sure as hell doesn't matter that I have no plans to buy it for now; I'm just one dirt speck in a frickin' desert.

    This is another Star Wars game releasing with a new set of PS4 bundles in exactly the right window to sell millions: A week before Black Friday, with Christmas and the brand new Star Wars movie right around the corner to stir up interest even more.

    nuBattlefront 1 moved a ton of PS4s a couple of years ago - Heck, I bought the bundle* 'cuz it had "classic" games** and I'll take Star Wars over cinema emulating shooting galleries and CoDs any day - and the PS4 version ended up being the most successful. The competition's a li'l stiffer this year with the Nintendo Switch, but I'm sure it'll still do fine.

    As for the new proper single player campaign, it's good to hear it's shaped up well. Really hope the DLC for the game isn't exclusively multiplayer maps 'cuz I feel the Battlefront gameplay engine would be great for, say, a Bounty Hunter successor. Was Shadows of the Empire thrown out with most of the rest of the EU? The Battlefront engine could do it more justice, too.

    * That said, if the Fallout 4 bundle had been available for non-Xbox consoles, or there had been a MGSV or Bloodborne bundle, I would've bought one of those instead.

    ** Mainly 'cuz I was interested in Super Star Wars and Bounty Hunter. All the games have aged pretty poorly though, and the PS2 ones in particular feel especially bad next to the superior shooting and vehicle riding in the PS4's main event.
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  • Avatar for AstroDemon #7 AstroDemon 29 days ago
    @BulkSlash I agree! If it's anything as compelling as Titanfall 2's campaign, count me in as well. I enjoyed the Battlefield 1 single player and multiplayer as well. They've certainly got the pedigree behind this one with EA-DICE, Criterion, and Motive. I usually only care about the Star Wars movies, but if this game turns out special, I'll be interested.
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  • Avatar for matt-b #8 matt-b 28 days ago
    @Kat.Bailey ea is in the process of turning everything they can into destiny. by association, they are influencing other devs to turn their games into destiny too. i should simply say ea is in the process of turning everything into destiny.
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #9 UnskippableCutscene 28 days ago
    I also wouldn't pay full price for it until they fix their lootbox system. And I don't care if they turn Battlefront III into Destiny, because Destiny's base campaign (the "vanilla box" or what have you) was eventually had for $10 if you were fine ignoring $60 of post-release dungeons which weren't built to be played solo.

    It should be noted that base Destiny was enormously flawed, and it was only the Year 1+2 "Taken King Legendary Edition" that people fawned over. Everyone who isn't on the prestige of a Bungie or Nintendo can't release a terrible game and fix it a year later and expect it'll make money. EA already tried that approach with The Old Republic and it didn't work.

    Anyway, back to Star Wars lore.

    I'm sort of amused they're playing the destruction of Death Star 2 this way. My understanding was that DS2 was deliberately built as a honeypot trap by the Empire. The armada would keep the Rebel fleets busy, the shield over it existed to make sure that Han & Company would have to go to Endor before they made any progress, and onboard the Emperor could threaten to blow it up if Luke didn't comply.

    While thematically, the loss of their political leader in the Emperor and their most valuable soldier in Vader should be distressing to the Empire, it shouldn't be like 80% casualties. They didn't need much more than the two Sith lords and a skeleton crew on board. In my head, I always thought the war continued and the dissolution of the Empire was a slower, more gradual process.Edited 4 weeks ago by UnskippableCutscene
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  • Avatar for QuietDroid #10 QuietDroid 25 days ago
    Is it true its only a 5-6 hour campaign?
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