Battlefront II Panel Impressions: Singleplayer Focus with Inferno Squad Novel Tie-in and Multiplayer Rebooted (SWCO 2017)

The first details about the upcoming Battlefront II, set to release 11/17/17, were officially unveiled at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017. To create this massive sequel, not only will EA DICE be returning, but they’ll have a little help from Motive and Criterion, and by the time the panel was over it was very clear Battlefront II would be a massive upgrade from EA’s first entry in their reboot of the franchise. The biggest thing of course is the singleplayer campaign included with this game, which doesn’t look like an afterthought at all, while the multiplayer is bringing back classes and upgrades at a scale fans have been asking for. While I looked forward to the first Battlefront with tepid anticipation, and I’m withholding my true excitement until we see some gameplay footage, but everything I’ve heard so far makes this sound like a Battlefront game I can’t wait to play.

Iden VersioNot only do I appreciate the fact we’ll have a singleplayer campaign this time around, it was extremely apparent the developers behind the game were putting a lot of effort and time into making it a true campaign and not just a way to train players how to play the multiplayer. The most obvious way they revealed their passion for the story was not only how much time in the panel they spent talking about it, but it was in this panel (and not the Del Rey or Lucasfilm Publishing panels) where they announced the previously revealed Inferno Squad novel by Christie Golden would actually be a tie-in for the upcoming game (it’s now fully named Battlefront II: Inferno Squad and it got a sweet new cover). The campaign of BFII follows Iden Versio (played by Janina Gavankar), a Commander of the Spec Ops Forces Inferno Squad, from the end of the Battle of Endor to the time of The Force Awakens, meaning we’ll be seeing bits and pieces of the 30 years between film trilogies played out in the game. She comes from Vardos, a world which willingly joined the Empire thanks to the help of her father, and we’ll be visiting many locations as Iden and Inferno Squad try to fight the New Republic at any cost. It’s great to see a game being told from the Imperial POV, and especially one where we’ll get to experience the how and why they fight for and believe in the Empire, not just due to some blind loyalty (like Rae Sloane’s nuanced portrayal throughout canon so far). And yes, it’ll all be canon.

The two writers for the game, Walt Williams and Mitch Dyer, are in constant contact with the Lucasfilm Story Group and seem to be pretty big fans themselves, as they read through most of the new canon material and pitched their story idea based off the template of teasing details about the 30-odd-year era between films as first established in the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” program. Walt Williams previously wrote the game Spec Ops: The Line, which certainly looks and plays like every third-person shooter war game, but its story is probably one of the most mature and nuanced tale about war, its effects on real life soldiers, and its effects on those who play the games (and don’t just take my word for it). It’s honestly one of the more haunting narratives in a game that I’ve played and it’s an experience which has stuck with me, so I’ve got some pretty big hopes there’ll be much to talk about and enjoy with Iden Versio’s tale in BFII. Beyond Versio’s story, there will be chapters where you play as new or familiar characters, like Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren, which tie into the main story…so think of these like the video game version of the Aftermath Trilogy‘s Interlude chapters.

Of course there’s multiplayer to talk about and unlike the first game’s offerings, they’ve basically given players the ability to upgrade everything, from the individual player classes (which are new this time around, but not for original Battlefront players), ships and vehicles, and even hero characters (like Rey and Kylo). This quite literally fixes one of the first game’s major flaws, as all the above are really great ways to give players reasons to stay online and keep playing, as every character and every thing they do is important to progressing and getting better enough to kick some annoying enemy player’s behind. And not only will there be hero characters on the battlefront, but also in vehicle combat, up to and including giant space battles (that won’t be DLC this time around but part of the game from the start). Adding to that is the representation of every era in the game, meaning clones and droids will be available to play as well again, but no details if there will ever be cross-era battles, which after Star Wars Rebels made it happen, we should finally have it in games, no? I won’t be completely disappointed if that’s not a feature, especially since it might have to do with potential balancing issues, but it would be pretty sweet to have. Also, offline co-op is totally a thing this game, but only for PS4 and Xbox One, not PC.

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Here are a few other things:

  • Seen in the trailer at around the 1:15 mark is a red robed being with Palpatine’s face projected on it, providing orders for Operation: Cinder. This is a Messenger, who is really just a robot with a pre-recorded message for the order (as first seen and revealed in 2015’s comic, Shattered Empire), which is essentially a plan to create chaos and keep the New Republic occupied while Palpatine’s Contingency plan (as seen in the Aftermath Trilogy) is put in place. Everything is definitely connected folks.
  • One of my favorite things we learned about Iden’s home planet Vardos was the detail that they planted the striking red leaf trees over pools of water so that when the leaves fell into the water, it made it look like it was bleeding. That’s not only a great image but a really great way to tell you a little about the mindset of the people who live and rule there. Definitely not some place I’d feel comfortable to be in, that’s for sure.
  • The website looks pretty snazzy, and it has a few more details, like the fact that there are certain ways to play the game just a few days early. While the big draw for pre-orders might be The Last Jedi themed Kylo and Rey outfits, other pre-orders include instant upgrades and the like.
  • They gave away two PS4 Pros (no copies of Battlefront II or a promise of one to go with it though with Deluxe Editions of the game) at the panel and there are two more to be had online! No details yet but keep on the look out. Update: Here are the details on how to enter via Twitter…you have until April 24! They also gave out some cool patches with Inferno Squad’s symbol on it and it looks like they might be giving them out on Twitter here and there!
  • The key art for the game, as seen below just before the panel video in full, was possible thanks to the work of quite a lot of people it seems!

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

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