We now have all the Star Wars Battlefront 2 details after that leaked trailer. In a panel at this year’s Star Wars Celebration, DICE, Motive Studios and LucasArts sat down to tell us about the new game. And there’s a lot to take in, with Bernd Diemer, DICE’s creative director, calling it, “the biggest and most ambitious game I’ve ever worked on.”
There’s good reason for such a bold statement: the single player casts you as a spec ops Stormtrooper playing across the 30 year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. That gives the game almost free reign to use just about every character around in that timeframe. The multiplayer's also had a big overhaul, with several new mechanics, including space battles and more vehicles (including things like ridable tauntauns).
Let’s break it all down and get through the important stuff right now.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 has you playing as the bad guys
The single player character is Iden Versio, a member of Inferno Squadron. These guys are the Empire’s top special forces: fighter pilots, soldiers and spies. To them, the destruction of the second Death Star is a defeat and the Rebellion are terrorists. It's all official cannon, and soon to be expanded on in an upcoming book, also called Inferno Squad.
As Mark Thompson, the single player director from Motive Studios explains, “it’s a narrative we haven’t explored a lot. A chance to become a new hero and tell a story from a perspective we haven’t seen before. We’ve heard a lot about the heroes of the rebellion. We wanted to give the Empire heroes in that same way. Who are the heroes that strike fear into the Rebels? The elite pilots that kids growing up on Imperial worlds aspire to be.“
When I ask if there’s going to be any redemption, because they’re the bad guys, Thompson simply laughs and replies, “the Empire aren’t the bad guys.” (And, when I mention the famous “are we the baddies?’ comedy sketch the entire team laugh before Mark says, “we think about that a lot.”)
The game spans the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens
Battlefront 2 starts with the destruction of the second Death Star. Iden Versio had been deployed to Endor to stop the Rebel attack but failed. With the Emperor dead, ‘Operation Cinder’ is initiated by ‘the messenger’, an Imperial sentinel droid carrying contingency plans from Palpatine in the event of his death. This is all lifted from Shattered Empire, Part 2, one of the cannon comics that bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. In the comics at least it involved using a ’climate disruption array’ to destroy the Emperor’s home world of Naboo and several other planets.
How that all ties in with Battlefront 2 has yet to be revealed. Locations like Yavin-4, Endor, Kamino, Mos Eisly, Hoth and Starkiller base have all been seen, as well as an entirely new planet called Vardos…
Vardos is a new Star Wars planet that's very pro-Empire
One of Battlefront 2’s big things is telling a story from the perspective of the Empire. Hence the creation of the new planet called Vardos which ‘willing joined the Empire and wanted to be a part of [it].” As LucasArts explain, this is a world that liked the peace and security the Empire brought. To them the Rebellion are terrorists and Stormtroopers like Iden are heroes to aspire to.
This is a much more versatile Battlefront 2 - sniper, pilot, soldier, spy
Iden is essentially the Empire’s best of the best: a skilled pilot and soldier, trained in espionage, sabotage and basically capable of anything. While the series is best known for out and out shooting, behind the scenes footage I saw showed both her and her droid performing a stealth takedown, suggesting there’s more texture this time around. When I ask Thompson if this means you can play in different ways depending on your style, he mentions her abilities in infiltration and espionage, and that you can, “tailor your experience as much as the character.” He adds that it’s built around the idea that “the game gives you more ways to explore the way you like to play.” For the campaign he says that “we want to do that as much as possible. So if you prefer a certain style of engagement then we let you approach a situation like that.”
Battlefront’s multiplayer now has classes and new hero mechanics
The last Battlefront was nominally classless, using cards to craft character archetypes. This time, executive producer Matt Webster says the game now features “clearly defined classes, there to support class play.” So far the only names we’ve seen mentioned are troopers and specialists.
While the multiplayer classes are defined roles, “there is the ability to modify ability and gadgets,” explains Webster. That also applies to heroes: “they have a base set of abilities that you can then modify,” although don’t expect to make huge changes though. The impression I get it is that’s it’s more about subtle tweaks than building an all new Luke.
Battlefront 2 has new heroes and a new way of becoming them
So far, pretty much anyone you can think of in the time frame of the game is a potential hero. Iden is seen confronting Luke Skywalker, for example. We’ve also seen Darth Maul, Kylo Ren, Yoda, Rey, as well as Slave One and the Millennium Falcon as hero ships, and what looks a lot like a Jedi fighter. The Clone Wars were also briefly mentioned, suggesting that the multiplayer is pulling everything in.
They’ve changed the hero system in multiplayer this time around. Instead of tokens to pick up, there’s some sort of ‘resource based system’ to earn your place. That’s all being said for the time being but the implication is that you won’t be able to just wait for a pick up, you’ll have to be active in the match to get your chance.
Battlefront 2 lets you be heroes in the single player
How this will work, or who you’ll be has yet to be expanded on. DICE have only clarified that at key moments you’ll switch from Iden to other characters, Luke being the only example shown so far. Thompson explains that, “any hero that we include is done because it makes sense to the character, the timeline, the story and the gameplay. Which is easier said that done. Nobody is included for fan service, or because somebody on the team is in love with a certain kind of hero. It’s about embracing the established story telling style of Star Wars and how they switch between that antagonist and protagonist perspective to tell the story from both sides.”
There are new space battles and vehicles in Battlefront 2
Burnout developer Criterion are handling the vehicles but currently EA aren’t saying much about space battles. All we know is that there are more vehicles this time. The only thing we’ve had confirmed are the ridable tauntauns, complete with a headset attack. Elsewhere we’ve seen what looks like a some sort of armoured heavy bike/small tank with what looked like a mounted gun (check the picture with Kylo Ren). It suggests we could be getting a more intermediate class of vehicle, somewhere between soldier and larger rides like AT-STs.
Keep an eye our Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 hub page for more news from the event as it happens.