Video Game News Roundup: Battlefront II Campaign Trailer, Beta Impressions and Visceral Games’ Project “Shifting” (UPDATED)

With less than a month to release, we’ve finally been treated to the first singe-player focused trailer for Battlefront II, which just recently finished its multiplayer beta. I have some impressions from the Beta experience (no video this year, sorry!), which was bigger, better, but contained some concerning aspects (progression, loot boxes). And in very disappointing news, Visceral Games has been shut down, their Star Wars game shifting to a different studio and direction, with Amy Hennig’s participation in question. Update: 10/28: Clearer details on why the game collapsed have been unveiled, so: Read on for more details!

The single-player trailer above is rather epic and the visuals look insanely good, teasing the continuation of Iden Versio and her Inferno Squad’s tale post-Return of the Jedi. I had some concerns about its lack of gameplay footage, but several outlets released previews of the campaign, complete with single-player footage from the early stages of the game: Polygon, Gamespot (the least positive of all the previews), The Verge, and GamesRadar. After the excellent introduction to the Imperial point-of-view of Iden in the novel Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden, I’m eager to learn where she and the team goes next and how their journeys past the Empire’s destruction change the characters (if it all). The last time we had a single-player, story-expanding campaign was the maligned The Force Unleashed II, so I have my reservations heading into this one, but this isn’t LucasArts and DICE, Motive (the main developers for the single-player), and Criterion haven’t been as crunched for time (that we know of) as TFUII team was, leaving me with some optimism. We’ll know for sure on November 17.

Image Credit: EA

Battlefront II’s multiplayer Beta came to a close recently and I spent most of my time in Starfighter Assault (I shared a clip or two on my personal Twitter). I didn’t manage to put together another Beta impressions video like I did for the previous game, but I’m planning on doing a video review for the full game (we’ll see!). Overall, I found the Beta showed how they’ve learned from the first game, making the tiered objective matches for the bigger modes standard (not DLC months later), while the classes bring some much needed variety and channels players into more team-related actions. I found the progression system lacking, as experience from a match only unlocked your ability to equip more Star Cards (special powerups) per class/ship, and the only way you got the Star Cards was through loot boxes bought with in-game currency. And the loot boxes, well, a whole lot has been said about them, much better than I could, but in summary they looked to be a bastion of potential for those who would’ve been willing to pay real money to purchase as many as possible to get the best gear the quickest. However, EA Games released a “Thank You” to players for participating in the Beta, and included a giant list of changes they’ll be making to the full game due to player feedback, including:

We know you have a lot of questions about Crates and progression, so we want to clarify a few things, as the complete system was not in the Beta and will continue to be tuned over time:

  • There are many things you can earn in the game, including weapons, attachments, credits, Star Cards, Emotes, Outfits and Victory Poses.

  • As a balance goal, we’re working towards having the most powerful items in the game only earnable via in-game achievements.

  • Crates will include a mix of Star Cards, Outfits, Emotes or Victory Poses.

  • Players earn crates by completing challenges and other gameplay milestones, or by purchasing them with in-game credits or Crystals, our premium currency.

  • If you get a duplicate Star Card in a crate, you will get crafting parts which you can then use to help upgrade the Star Card of your choice.

  • And lastly, you have to earn the right to be able to upgrade Star Cards and unlock most Weapons. You can only upgrade or unlock them if you have reached a high enough rank, which is determined by playing the game.

Players will know just how effective and balanced these changes will be for multiplayer come November 17.

Amy Hennig, Todd Stashwick, and Me
Amy Hennig, Todd Stashwick, and Me at Celebration Europe 2016

In a giant bit of disappointing news, Visceral Games’ untitled single-player third-person action-adventure game, being helmed under the direction of Amy Hennig (Uncharted 1-3), is being shifted in a new direction and new studio after EA shut down Visceral this week. This is saddening on several fronts, first being that EA could be looking to turn this game into something akin to Destiny, an online shooter in the “games as service” vein, which means continued updates to the game long after the release, be it levels, gameplay mechanics, or simply new customization options. The biggest disheartening part is the possibility Amy Hennig will no longer be involved, as my main hype for the game was simply due to her involvement, as I’ve been an immense fan of the Uncharted series (I replay them regularly), and her pedigree of awards from said work got a lot of other people excited. Also, it seems like Todd Stashwick won’t be involved going forward, but he paints a picture of what could’ve been in this Tweet. We might yell at EA for this, but gamers, including me, are part of the problem, as our push for graphical increases over feature/mechanic variety, AI development, and the like is contributing to the rising cost of making games, something Cinelinx contributor and Topps Star Wars artist pointed out was a key factor in EA’s decision: too many cooks and rising costs. At least we still have Respawn’s game beyond Battlefront II, while Jade Raymond and the Motive team might have a separate project cooking, or were working on Visceral’s project…it’s not been quite clear.

UPDATE 10/28: While Hennig’s continued involved is still in question, the full, expansive look behind-the-scenes on how and why Visceral’s game, internally called Ragtag, fell apart. Kotaku dug deep and far, uncovering a project that really did seem doomed from the start, as it being single-player was just a minor part of why it fell apart. Curiously, the game originally was going to be a open-world space game, then moved to the linear game we’ve been hearing about for awhile, and now it might be going back to an open-world game of some point. The clearest takeaway from all of this is: it’s gonna be awhile before we see the next iteration of this project. And it leaves me wondering if we’ll see any of the story elements cooked up for this game at some point in other media, like a comic or novel. END UPDATE

We’re only 4 years into EA’s 10 year license claim to Star Wars games, folks. The ups and downs aren’t over yet.

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

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