A full-on Star Wars canon storyline, portable droids, space battles and Kylo Ren's light sabre - is Battlefront II the most cinematic Star Wars experience yet?
We’ve seen you. Decked out in your authentic Tusken Raider costume, queuing up in your thousands outside provincial sports halls every time there’s an open audition call for extras in a new Star Wars film. Because it would be a life-defining experience to even be glimpsed stomping on a womp rat in the background of a Mos Eisley bazaar scene wearing a costume that makes you look like a mutant three-eyed toad monster. What you wouldn’t give to simply utter the single line “they’re on my tail, I can’t lose them!” before your X-wing gets blasted clean out of the Death Star alley run, right?
Us too. Which is why it’s been such a thrill to be able to play as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, The Emperor, Han Solo and Princess Leia in the various Star Wars Battlefront games, but it was always such a transient novelty. Once you’ve spent ten minutes flinging light sabres around loading bays as Vader or firing electrical storms from your hands as The Emperor, the childhood wish fulfilment wears off and you find yourself in basically another frantic arena firefight. And how disappointing it was to find that being in control of an AT-AT fighter was actually so boring and sluggish it felt like driving a rusted tank on stilts.
If pre-release hype is anything to go by, though, Star Wars Battlefront II, due on November 17, looks set to be a far more immersive experience, the closet yet to actually being in a Star Wars film. Here’s why.
There’s a single player campaign
Rather than just running around Endor taking down stormtroopers without tripping over random Ewoks or blasting your way around Hoth ice mountains taking down rebel uplinks, there’s an actual storyline to Star Wars Battlefront II that will make for a far more engaging connection to the Star Wars universe. What’s more…
It’s part of the official canon
Yes, Star Wars Battlefront II is the first game with a unique storyline – written by ex IGN video game editor Mitch Dyer and Spec Ops: The Line’s Walt Williams – that continues threads from the film franchise, like a digital Rogue One. It fills in the 30-year gap between Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens by following the story of Iden Versio, a commander of a special Empire elite force called Inferno Force. In the wake of the destruction of the second Death Star this “sympathetic” baddie in her Stormvader black armour sets out to “avenge the Emperor”, but she won’t make us want to just blaster our own head off, apparently. “We position Iden as a hero,” said Lucasfilm’s Senior Director of Franchise Management Douglas Reilly, “and we don’t describe the Empire as bad guys, but simply as being on the other side of the conflict.”
“Between the original trilogy and the new trilogy, there were stories starting to be published [as fiction], but no ‘visual’ storytelling,” said game director Mark Thompson. “There wasn’t anything visual or interactive that had been done in that space. That seemed like a good place for us to do something different and break new ground.”
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You’ll get your own droid
Throughout a thirty-year story of “revenge, betrayal and redemption”, the single-player option will see you carrying your own portable Imperial Probe Droid on your back, which can hop off to help you solve puzzles and add firepower in a landscape the developers promise will take “the open, authentic sandbox style DICE is known for [into] single-player.” Okay, it’s a bit more of a floating spider bastard than the cute football-with-face of BB-8, but it’s still way more Star Wars than trying to force Death Star plans into your Quadcopter Neighbourspy.
There’s three generations of playable characters
Multi-player, you’ll be able to fight as Luke Skywalker, Rey, Yoda and Darth Maul or try your hand on Kylo Ren’s crucifix lightsabre. There’ll also be the first space battles of the series, for those of you who’d like to attempt the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs, including toilet stops.
There’s RPG elements
It’s not quite undergoing a montage of intense Jedi training, but Star Wars Battlefront II promises to nerf the all-conquering heroes in multi-player battles by allowing players to level up their troopers and add abilities and gadgets. Suddenly you’re a little closer to feeling like Luke or Rey developing into a Jedi master in the movies.
It’s cinematic as fuck
Check out the trailer below. Imagine controlling that. Until they bring out the VR Luke, I Am Your Father Experience, there’s nothing closer to being in your very own Star Wars spin-off…