Unlike the 2015 reboot, this year's Star Wars: Battlefront II has a single-player campaign. It puts players into the role of Iden Versio, a female soldier fighting for the Imperial side after the events of Return of the Jedi. After EA's E3 event today, I watched a demo of an early portion of the campaign game and then got to play myself. While the production values in the sequence I tried are outstanding (even in its pre-alpha state), the gameplay did not do a whole lot for me.
The mission I played, "Dauntless," picks up with Iden speaking with her father, an admiral in the Imperial army, about a mission, alongside the Emperor. He is dead, but he's still giving commands by way of a hologram projected onto someone else's body. When she asks who she's attacking and why, she gets yelled at and is told that information is not for her to know. This sequence may allude to Iden's inquisitive nature and it feels like she may not always want to listen to authority, though how this plays out remains to be seen. It could also be that the developer is trying to make you feel less strange about playing as a solider in the Imperial army.
After this story setup, you jump into a TIE fighter and gun down Rebel pilots attacking a ship you're escorting. One big note about Battlefront II's flying sequence is that you can now control your ship with both the right stick and the left stick. The left stick causes a ship to roll in any direction, while the right stick moves left, right, up, and down. This can be disorienting at first, and I crashed twice at the start before getting the hang of it. This feature is also present in multiplayer, and we can only imagine the moves that skilled pilots will be able to pull off.
Eventually in the demo, you enter a massive Rebel ship and do more of the same: lay waste to every soldier standing in your way. You can chuck grenades to clear out enemies en masse or use Iden's droid to electro-kill soldiers. The droid is also capable of breaking through doors to help Iden advance.
Also new for Battlefront II is an updated active-reload feature. After your weapon overheats, a sequence pops up that tasks you to tap the reload button in one of two zones. The yellow zone is larger and easier, reloading your weapon as it should. But if you manage to hit reload in a smaller green zone, you'll get back into the action faster and also earn the bonus of faster shooting.
After blasting through hallways of Rebel soldiers with ease (the AI in this portion of the game does not seem all that smart), you get to a hangar with three ion cannons that you must destroy. Upon entering this room, you are overwhelmingly outnumbered. In the developer playthrough, Iden used stealth to take down enemies who never detected her presence, sneaking up on them and performing takedowns when button prompts popped up. I, however, decided to go guns-blazing, and that strategy worked as well. Writer Mitch Dyer told us that Battlefront II won't force players down one path, and that you can re-kit before missions to suit your style.
After successfully destroying the ion cannons, something terrible happens and Iden is sucked into space. The screen cuts to black and there is no telling what comes next.
Overall, the Battlefront II campaign left something to be desired. The production values in the cutscenes specifically are astounding, but there wasn't anything in the setup or execution of the gameplay sequences that felt all that novel or exciting. Of course, it was only a 15-demo of a pre-alpha version of a game that doesn't come out until November. And it's just one part of the equation, as Battlefront II's multiplayer looks pretty incredible based on what we've seen so far.
In other Battlefront II news, EA announced today that the game's DLC maps, modes, characters, and more will be free. You can read GameSpot's interview with the developers to learn more.
Keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest on Battlefront II from E3 2017.