The Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Resurrection campaign story expansion is, on paper, very much what you’d expect it to be at this point. It’s a couple of hours long. It picks up not long after the vanilla campaign’s epilogue leaves off. It’s another glossy, authentic bout of somewhat lightweight Star Wars action, that, in true Goldilocks fashion, looks and sounds juuuuuust right. It is though, as a result of canny release timing (just before Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and cunning choice of subject matter (it’s set a little while before The Force Awakens, and tells a tale of the early rise of the First Order), somewhat more as an overall experience than the sum of its individual parts.
Mirroring the movie sequel trilogy itself by making a time jump of several decades, we now find ourselves very much in the run-up to the modern Star Wars era. The First Order is on the up. It has already shattered the Republic, and the Resistance are scrambling to organise and respond. In the middle of all of this, we play a decidedly older, somewhat sadder, but even more resolute Iden Versio, dealing with the aftermath of the vanilla campaign in the most Versio way possible: getting back in the fight and keeping on keeping on. But now she has her (now adult) daughter along for the ride, setting the stage for a new phase of video game Star Wars to sit in canon with the movies.
In terms of gameplay, the evolution is lesser, though certainly punctuated with stand-out moments. This is still, fundamentally, Star Wars Battlefront 2, underpinned by the unmistakable, fun-but-loose combat systems translated over from multiplayer. In a PvP scenario, with its wider, more chaotic demands, obviously things feel very different, but in campaign, with its many, swarming targets and giddy pace, the action - at least on the ground - still feels a tad light compared to what might come out of a more dedicated, single-player Star Wars game.
Fortunately, Battlefront 2 has other things to lean on, and this is where Resurrection really shines. The unrelenting Star Wars authenticity, for instance, is as unmistakable, and immediately enthralling, as ever, triggering a shiny-eyed ‘Ooh’ - punctuating those Star Wars feelings - the instant the first X-Wing streaks through the sky. And it has the story which, although short, covers a fair amount of ground, and is now starting to feel more distinctly its own, as Battlefront 2 moves away from the original trilogy and into a new era.
All the right Star Wars beats are there, of course. Legacy. Past regrets. Hope. Redemption. Heroism and a belief in goodness for its own sake. Resurrection is built out of these as it crosses the last part of the bridge between original trilogy and sequel era. But, free to tell a grittier story underneath the main Star Wars saga, unshackled from the vanilla game’s Original Trilogy cameos, it is now also really starting to feel like a distinct, legitimate chapter.
Not that my focus on story and vibe here means that Resurrection isn’t fun to play. It certainly is, and when it throws together a focused set-piece, this is clearly a campaign that knows what it’s doing. An early, extended X-Wing dogfight sequence in the centre of a dense asteroid belt is a particular highlight. Blending nuanced but friendly ship-handling and imposing but not-actually-that-dangerous spectacle, it also provides enough tools and abilities to keep things just far enough to the right side of challenging to make you feel like a hero throughout. Resurrection walks a confident line between engaging play and cinematic Star Wars wish-fulfillment. It knows that you want to own the experience of flying through the centre of an asteroid, but it also knows that you want to feel cool while doing so, rather than bumping unceremoniously off the tunnel walls.
This philosophy extends throughout the campaign, as ground-based skirmishes ignite into city-wide battles, of which you are just one small but important part. A small but important part with eventual access to AT-RT mini-walkers and turret guns, with which to cut through the carnage with your own, more personal agenda. Small but carefully formed, Battlefront 2’s Resurrection chapter might not be the most earth-shaking slice of Star Wars in its own right, but it does bode very well for the future. This feels like Battlefront’s story finding a legitimate place in the wider Star Wars narrative ecosystem, hinting that, with enough regular updates and thoughtful connections to the evolving movie trilogy, it might be in line for similar ‘second tier but totally legit’ status as the likes of Rogue One. And let’s face it, more, legit, good Star Wars is only ever a good thing.