A few quick thoughts about the Star Wars Battlefront 2 multiplayer beta

Because I am a sucker, I pre-ordered Star Wars Battlefront 2, so I got into the beta on Wednesday (it’s open to everyone starting Friday). The first game took a beating but honestly I had some good fun with it for a while, but mostly I was interested in #2 for the single player campaign from Motive. I pre-ordered because I dunno why. Retail therapy when I was down or something.

Anyway I did and played the beta a few hours last night (of the Galactic Conquest mode…everything in this post is about that mode which is, for me, the reason to get the game aside from the single player stuff) and took zero screenshots so sorry about that. I did want to list some of the changes and things I liked in this game. Hopefully they will stay the same into launch but I’m pretty sure the online e-peen gamer jerks will be raising a stink about the first one and I fear EA will change it.

So what’s the first one? At the end of a match there is no ranking of players, at least that I could see. You get a screen where someone is awarded MVP and someone else gets called out for having the biggest kill streak or the most kills, but it’s all positive reinforcement. Then you get your own stats showing how much exp you earned. But you’re never told you came in 19th out of 20 players.

I LOVE this and it seems like a perfect system for a Star Wars game that is probably going to attract a lot of casual gamers who will frankly suck in MP (that’s me I’m talking about). Playing MP games when you’re bad is frustrating enough without having your nose rubbed in it at the end of the game. You are still told how you did, but the fact that you struggled isn’t advertised to everyone else playing. I really appreciate this feature and it kept me in the game a lot longer than I otherwise would have stayed.

So that’s the first thing.

The second is how you respawn. SWBF2 rewards working as a team. You get more exp for doing things alongside teammates than if you did the same things on your own (or so they say, I couldn’t measure it). When you respawn, they hold you back for a few seconds and then spawn you in as a group of up to 4 people. If no one else dies, you don’t have to wait forever. After a few seconds they’ll still let you spawn in alone, but generally they try to release you in ‘squads’ of people. Again, a godsend for those of us who suck since what I do is follow another player and try to back them up.

Third thing is classes. There are now 4 classes: Assault, Heavy, Officer and Specialist. I played all four (there are daily goals and for yesterday one of them was to play each class for 10 minutes, which is pretty much a round). Assault is your basic grunt, I guess. His default skills are grenade, a short-term shotgun and a tracking dart that is supposed to help ID the enemy. Heavy is an armored dude. He has a grenade, a short-term Mini-gun and a Shield. Officer is a support class. He has a grenade, a buff to reduce damage to nearby friendlies, and a turret. Finally Specialist is the sniper of the team. He has a grenade, a short term stealth mode with a mid-sized gun, and thermal binoculars that can tag enemies and sees them through walls.

These are all the default skills but you can use “cards” to modify/replace them. I found I really liked the Heavy since I could lean into my ‘spray and pray’ style of gaming.

Fourth thing is specials. In the first game you’d find Icons in the battlefield that you could grab to pilot a tie-fighter or become Luke Skywalker or whatever. Regular players knew where these were and casuals like me rarely got to them. In SWBF2 you earn a currency during play, and when you save up enough you can just buy one of these specials when you spawn in. It means I won’t get to be a Hero (5000 credits) very often but I could fly a ship or be a buffed up unit at least once per round (anything from 500-2000 credits). At least it is in my control.

Disclaimer: All of the above is going from memory, which in my case isn’t 100% reliably. Caveat emptor!

All in all I had fun. The one map in the beta is Naboo where you’re either a Clone Trooper or a Droid (“ROGER! ROGER!”). I really liked being a droid because I felt vaguely silly and having droids gunned down by the dozens felt ‘normal’ to me.

I drifted away from the first game as the DLC dropped since it fractured the player base and made it hard to find games to join. This year EA has pledged not to do that. All the DLC maps and stuff will be free so everyone should be able to play in everything. I have to admit I’m really looking forward to MP in this game now.