Star Wars Battlefront II review: Battle over before it even begins
Star Wars Battlefront II (XO/PS4/PC) ★★★ Age: 15+
From Hawaii to Australia to Belgium, the debate rages. Across the world, regulatory authorities are talking about Battlefront 2. Not about whether it’s any good but whether its controversial loot boxes constitute gambling.
Star Wars owner Disney and Battlefront publisher EA have been stung into action by the consumer backlash and regulatory scrutiny. Buying loot boxes with real money has been taken off the table for now in Battlefront 2 but the reputational damage has been done. Perhaps it’s just as well — it’s not actually a great game. It would be a shame if a terrific Star Wars shooter was overshadowed by corporate greed.
Instead, Battlefront 2 is merely adequate. Highly polished and jam-packed with fan-pleasing glimpses of favourite characters and locations, these aesthetics have been yoked to a middling single-player campaign and a slightly improved multiplayer.
The campaign almost tells an interesting story, portraying the chaos within the evil Empire from the perspective of one of its own. But it rather too rapidly descends into cliché and, despite the undoubted allure of exploring Star Wars lore up close, the actual gunplay lacks the satisfying heft of genre kings such as Destiny, Battlefield or Call of Duty.
Multiplayer fares better. There are 20 vs 20 on-foot battles that evolve into an entertaining ebb and flow of competing objectives. And there are novel starfighter aerial battles. But these are skewed by the overly complex upgrades system which is fed by those obnoxious randomised loot boxes. At least for now, the boxes are earned solely by grinding through endless matches. But, unlike in other microtransaction-laden games, they can grant a competitive advantage with their items, which would be a real pay-to-win problem if cash purchases are restored.
Well done, EA, you’ve managed to turn what could have been a minor success into a PR disaster.
Deadbeat Heroes (XO/PC) ★★★ Age: 12+
There’s something odd going on at the heart of Deadbeat Heroes. It sets up an amusing comic-book scenario of comedy villains who need a good duffing up by a series of heroes who are handy with their fists.
Each level consists of a series of rooms that must be cleared of the goons and their bosses in sequence. Take down a boss and you acquire their special powers — such as a snowball weapon. All fine, and quite fun, even when it gets suddenly very challenging.
But fail and not only do you have to replay the level from the start, inexplicably, you’re also kicked back to the beginning of the previous level. It’s just one of a series of bizarre design decisions that spoil what was shaping up to be a low-cost indie delight.