When EA was initially announced as an exclusive video game partner with Lucasfilm for Star Wars, we reached for our collective blasters waiting for the polarizing publisher to make the first slight on the beloved property. Then the announcements came – a third-person action game from Visceral Games headed by Amy Hennig of Uncharted fame and a Star Wars Battlefront revival from the Battlefield experts at DICE – and we holstered and rejoiced. But the release of Battlefront in 2015, along with the numerous failings to live up to the Death Star-sized expectations that come with reviving a fan-favorite franchise, led to a salvo of well-deserved criticisms. Lack of a campaign, limited maps and modes and an expensive Season Pass tarnished a fantastic representation of the original trilogy.
But after the reveal of Star Wars Battlefront II, it is clear that EA is determined to not repeat past mistakes.
The initial trailer for the anticipated sequel was a complete rebuttal of everything wrong with Battlefront. From an intriguing campaign to teases of characters from multiple eras, Battlefront II presents strong evidence that EA is motivated to do right by Star Wars. As (in)arguably the most beloved media franchise in existence, the pressure to create quality releases that do justice to this cultural juggernaut is probably massive, and the tepid-at-best reception of the first game has caused it to mount. What’s more, fans are starving for a great Star Wars game, which I’d argue we haven’t received since 2008’s The Force Unleashed.
EA rightfully takes a lot of heat for certain business practices, and Battlefront’s Star Wars association was not enough to save it from thin content and Season Pass shenanigans. While previous titles featured a myriad of planets, heroes and modes, the newest installment disappointed on each of these fronts while locking their fixes behind a paywall that almost matched the initial release. While the game perfectly captured the sights and sounds of the original trilogy, it left us constantly wanting more. Enter Battlefront II.
Everything we have seen of Battlefront II has been an answer to its predecessor’s criticisms, but it is the nature of these answers that tells me that we are dealing with a hungry EA. They aren’t just delivering a campaign, they are telling a daring soldier’s story from the point of view of an Imperial elite. What could have easily been a cookie-cutter “Rebellion beats Empire” rehash looks to provide an interesting perspective that shines a new light on a previously unknown corner of the galaxy. And with the news that Spec Ops: The Line writer Walt Williams and former IGN Editor (and Star Wars fanatic) Mitch Dyer are penning the narrative, it is apparent that EA is taking the chance to tell its own story seriously.
Basing multiplayer in all eras is another risk that will undoubtedly pay off. Battlefront released in the midst of what was essentially a Star Wars rebrand; one that did away with the old and as much of the poorly received as possible. Lucasfilm leaned heavily into nostalgia, building The Force Awakens around the skeleton of A New Hope and basing all other content around the original trilogy. The prequels were nowhere to be found. Battlefront II doesn’t have these limitations, allowing it to openly embrace the newest generation and the prequels in addition to the classics. Hell, the marketing material doesn’t even feature any original trilogy iconography. Despite Lucasfilm’s avoidance of Episodes I-III, (minor elements in Star Wars Rebels notwithstanding) EA has the guts to include these elements in Battlefront, which will make for a fresher, complete experience.
But the kicker, the ballsiest move EA could have possibly made, was the removal of a Season Pass. Despite widespread disdain, these content packs assumably print money, especially when attached to something as popular as Star Wars. This makes an omission curious, as it is bucking not only publisher trends, but general multiplayer ones. Microtransactions, map packs and weapon expansions have frequently come bundled into expensive tolls that force players to pay up or be left behind. Not Battlefront. Following Titanfall 2’s DLC experimentation, Battlefront II seems to be following a similar path, and it plays directly into the player’s hands. EA is willingly leaving money on the table in order to win back fans. If that doesn’t inspire confidence in the direction and attitude of EA’s Star Wars plan, nothing will.
After the uproar that surrounded the Battlefront reboot, EA went back to the drawing board and gave fans exactly what they had been asking for. While details are still sparse, a promising campaign, all-inclusive attitude to Star Wars’ content and the omission of a Season Pass (Not to mention space battles!) seem to hint at an EA that is greatly motivated not solely to win back fans, but to create the premiere Star Wars experience we have been waiting for. These reveals quickly launched Battlefront II to the top of my most anticipated list for this fall, and I cannot wait to see what else is in store. If these initial reveals are any indication, we have a lot to look forward to.
Brett Williams is an Associate Writer for MONG who is one with the force. The force is also with him. You can follow his nonexistent ramblings on twitter.