The Star Wars Battlefront II multiplayer beta has come and gone, but November 17 is just around the corner. Having spent more than a few hours with the beta, one thing’s clear: no Star Wars fan will want to miss this massive game. Whether you’re in it for the iconic characters — Han Solo and Darth Maul among them — or the all-new story featuring Commander Iden Versio, what we’ve seen so far ought to have you excited. Of the five online multiplayer modes we know about, three were made available for preview during the playtest, along with a glimpse of the single-player campaign’s cinematics and two offline arcade missions. StarWars.com spent time with each of them; here’s what we learned.
1. In Battlefront II, you earn the title of “hero.”
In EA DICE’s 2015 Battlefront, players took on the role of their favorite hero or villain by picking up a specific power-up token on the battlefield. The sequel does away with this by introducing Battle Points, a new system that takes into account both individual performance and teamwork. The points accrue over the course of each match, and can be spent to deploy various “reinforcements” — starfighters, super battle droids, Jedi, and so forth. When you finally rack up enough points to spawn as Darth Maul, it feels like an event.
2. Victory comes to those who stick together and coordinate their efforts.
One of the ways players can increase the number of Battle Points they earn is by sticking close to their teammates. You start the game in a squad of up to four and respawn the same way each time you’re defeated in battle. If you’re playing by yourself, then it’s worth following the other players on your team and aiding them in battle to the best of your abilities. Rebellions may be built on hope, but they triumph through unity.
3. Progression is all about soldier and starfighter classes.
Battlefront II makes it easy to experiment, find a play style that suits you, and build on it through a reward-based progression system. Taking its cues from some of DICE’s best non-Star Wars games, the new sequel divides its infantry up into distinct classes (Assault, Heavy, Officer, Specialist), each with a unique set of abilities and equipment to take into battle. Unlike heroes and reinforcements, these soldiers are always available to you right from the start and can be customized using Star Cards. The various starfighter types — Fighter, Bomber, and Interceptor — work the same way.
4. Battlefront II lets you live out your own Star Wars tales in addition to the campaign — but gameplay always takes precedence.
Like the 2015 Battlefront, EA’s sequel emphasizes a fun game experience first and foremost; story elements from the films provide broader context to the various modes without fitting squarely into continuity. For example, you’ll visit Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana in one of the Strike missions. Breaking from the events of The Force Awakens, the game informs you that the First Order’s just learned of an artifact located in Maz’s castle. If you’re playing on the side of the First Order, you might seize it before the Resistance and their allies can claim it for themselves. And, of course, the game lets us imagine battles that we haven’t seen — another Trade Federation invasion of Theed, for instance, or a battle in the skies above Fondor.
5. Starfighter Assault is a thing of beauty.
With its rich infantry combat, objective-based game types, and Force Unleashed-caliber swordplay, Battlefront II would’ve been a more-than-worthwhile experience even without space combat. But the dogfighting on display here is a sight to behold, a blast to play, and it has all the depth of Battle Station, the previous Battlefront’s superb Death Star mode. You’re not just taking on TIE fighters in an X-wing; you’re truly at war, with multiple phases of battle, each presenting a new set of objectives to attack or defend as you maneuver your way through the void. Fans of Poe Dameron and other flying aces of the Star Wars universe, it’s your lucky day — Starfighter Assault is one in a million.
What are you most excited for in Star Wars Battlefront II? Let us know in the comments below!
Star Wars Battlefront II: Deluxe Edition is available for preorder now. Deluxe Edition players will have access to the game on November 14, three days in advance of the official November 17 release date.
Alex Kane is a video-game journalist and critic based in west-central Illinois. His work has appeared in Glixel, Kill Screen, the website of Rolling Stone, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.