Well, parts of them are.
One of the major criticisms of 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront was that it didn’t have a single-player campaign. This year, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is looking to rectify that by taking players into the Star Wars universe and bridging the gap between Episode VI – Return of the Jedi and Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
Main protagonist Iden Versio is the leader of an Empire Special Forces group known as the Inferno Squad. While most of the films (and games, for that matter) tend to focus on the good guys, Battlefront 2‘s story is giving us a glimpse into the other side of the war. Things open with Iden being captured by the Rebellion and needing to figure out a way to escape.
Using her tiny droid — which conveniently attaches to the back of her suit — she is able to break out of her cell, then needing to find a way off the ship. This is where the game begins to teach you some of the mechanics like sneaking, melee knockouts, shooting and other skill abilities Iden has at her disposal. Despite a multitude of sci-fi gadgets and abilities, ground combat is generic; wholly linear ship corridors make matters worse.
After making her escape, Iden is reunited with Inferno Squad during Return of the Jedi‘s famous Battle of Endor. During one of the cutscenes, her team looks to the sky and witnesses the destruction of the Death Star. It’s an impressive moment of storytelling as you can see truly see the devastation on their faces, witnessing the fall of their iconic installation. These cutscenes were amazing, offering a very authentic Star Wars experience and turning the hype meter up to 11.
One of the objectives in the next area involves you trying to clear out an outpost. As an AT-ST comes charging, you soon realise it’s been taken over by the Rebels. Normally, the task to defeat it would seem like quite the challenge, though the enemies I encountered were fairly useless. After a lackluster battle, you make your way to a landing platform where Iden helps her squad secure some ships to get off the planet. This offers your first introduction of Battlefront 2‘s starship combat, and your first real taste of non-monotonous fighting.
After maneuvering a TIE fighter through a debris field, you end up in the midst of a space battle, charged to protect the Dauntless, an Imperial star destroyer. You begin the assault by extinguishing a number of Corvette blockade ships and boarding shuttles. While this is occurring, X-Wing and Y-Wing starfighters are bombarding everything around you; you have to protect your wingman as well to keep your squad alive. As you thin down the numbers you’re able to fly into a Rebel cruiser’s shuttle bay to then disembark and run around on foot. Once you complete your next objective onboard the cruiser, you again take flight to help the Dauntless escape.
Apart from visuals and sound, these starfighter battles are by far the most promising aspect of Star Wars Battlefront 2. The objectives which you are given to complete are fun and there’s some great variety in the different tasks you must accomplish while piloting the ship. It is such a different contrast to the on foot shooting aspect of the game, which I found to be generic.
Telling the story from the Empire’s point of view — giving us something we don’t see that often — is a fantastic idea. That said, I couldn’t help but walk away after from my session thinking about the barrage of subtle hints that suggests the tides will turn at some stage; simply put, I believe the story will shift into a redemption arc. To have an action-packed game that elicits the look and feel of Star Wars so well fall back into a common trope would completely undermine it; I hope my hunch is proven wrong.
We’ll soon see — Star Wars: Battlefront 2 heads to Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4 on 17 November.