If you happened to turn on your Xbox One or PS4 this weekend, there's a good chance you were confronted with imagery relating to Battlefront II's multiplayer beta. For those that didn't bother, here's a quick rundown on what was involved and how it played.
Essentially, the beta offered us a taste of what to expect when Battlefront II hits shelves next month on November 17th, but it also gave us an idea of how many improvements have been made and how the class system works. Almost all shooters nowadays come with a class system - heavy, sniper, technical / spy, medic - and this was something conspicuously lacking from the first Battlefront.
Come to think of it, there was a lot missing from that game. Trailers for Battlefront II are at pains to point how much more there is immediately loaded with the game than before, with John Boyega talking people through a PowerPoint presentation on the whole thing. Playing the multiplayer beta, you do get the sense that there's a lot to come as the multiplayer - which had restricted a number of modes and options, obviously - felt a lot like the first game.
The class system worked quite nicely and there's a genuine difference between each of them. For example, the Officer class for the Naboo map had a rallying option which boosted all players within a certain radius. The sniper class, obviously, came with a nifty scope that made picking off players from afar relatively easy. Again, all pretty standard for most FPS games but lacking from the previous Battlefront.
The big draw for the Beta - and something that's been heavily pushed in any of the promotional material - is the Starfighter Assault game mode, which feels and acts like a completely separate game. Players can now easily jump into the cockpit of an X-Wing or TIE Fighter and zip around the high atmosphere above a planet or take part in a sweeping battle between Star Destroyers and Mon Calamari Cruisers, all with John Williams' soundtrack blasting in your ears. While there's much more to come, the Starfighter Assault game mode really does feel like the biggest area of improvement on the previous game.
What's really going to sell Battlefront II - and something that was also conspicuously lacking from the first one - is the single player campaign. Sadly, there wasn't anything of that in the beta beyond the campaign cutscene we reported on last week.
So, overall thoughts? By and large, the core gameplay is much the same as Battlefront. The graphics do feel cleaner and more richly detailed, especially in the Naboo map, but what's really going to set this game apart is how it deals with itself post-release. The biggest gripe people had with Battlefront was that it was sold half-made and people were expected to pay for features that should have come with it. It's not entitled, either. The first game - good and all as it was - really did feel like it was hurled out into market in order to meet a deadline.
The fact that Battlefront II has had just under two years for development means there should be more to play with here. We'll have a full review of Battlefront II when the game is released on November 17th.