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I'm as big a Star Wars fan as any, bigger than some, but the previous version of Star Wars Battlefront just never did it for me. I don't really know why, but it just didn't grab me. After playing the Star Wars Battlefront II Beta I can now better articulate all the reasons the first game never did it for me, by looking at all the things the new game does differently.
While the beta only scratches the surface of what the new title has in store, and doesn't even begin to show the single-player campaign, it's still far more robust than the previous game was. Anybody else who was frustrated with the last game's lack of depth might enjoy this new game a bit more. Here are the highlights of Star Wars Battlefront II based on the open beta.
In the previous Star Wars Battlefront game, in order to unlock a hero character, you had to simply pick up the right power up. However, this meant that you had to be in the right place at the right time. Now, you simply need to score enough points. Each time you die you gain points for the amount of damage you do and the kills you achieve. When you earn enough, you can cash them in for a hero character. Each mission has two different hero options per side, and while getting enough points for the best hero may be difficult for the casual player, I found the first level hero fairly easy to obtain before the end of the battle. Playing as these characters is fun, and a Star Wars game where you can't wield lightsaber ever is no Star Wars game at all.
The second welcome part of the beta is the Starfighter Assault mode in its entirety. In the mode, you choose between fighter, bomber, and interceptor class ships and proceed to blow each other out of the stars. This mode was the most pure fun I had with the Battlefront II Beta. Flying X-wings has almost never not been fun in Star Wars video games and it looks like Battlefront II will not be an exception. Each craft is unique but fairly easy to control. It doesn't take much to feel like Poe Dameron flying a trusty X-Wing, and if you can unlock the Rebel hero crafts, you can actually be Poe Dameron.
Nobody Gets Called Out
Star Wars Battlefront II is going to have loot boxes, because you can't swing a cat without hitting goddamn loot boxes in games right now, and they're part of the beta as well. This means that "paying to win" is going to be something the rest of us will have to deal with. However, a strange thing happened while I was playing the beta, I didn't care. At the end of each battle the best players get recognized (most kills, longest streak, etc) but there was never a full K/D breakdown of the teams. While the full game might at least keep track of your individual long-term performance, in the beta this data wasn't available at all. For this reason, I never felt bad about my performance (even when I probably should have in at least a couple cases). I never had to prove myself to anybody, and that meant I could focus on my own enjoyment, and I had fun, even when losing.
One very nice addition to the available game modes in Star Wars Battlefront II is the Arcade mode. The mode gives you a hero character to control and then gives you a challenge to overcome, like slicing through a set number of Republic Clones as Darth Maul as fast as possible. For those who don't necessarily want to get involved in long multiplayer matches, it's a fun way to play, and it lets you play as the most fun characters in Star Wars, so you can't beat that. In addition, the ability to play with a friend in split-screen co-op is also available.