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Sporting eye-popping visuals, cinema-rivaling action, and immersion-ratcheting authenticity, 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront allowed fans to live out some of their favorite sci-fi fantasies in a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars Battlefront II looks to not only bring back the series’ explosive multiplayer, but introduce a single-play story driven campaign that’s considered official Star Wars canon.
In the boots of Iden Versio, a soldier skilled in espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and land and space combat, players follow a narrative path spanning the 30 years between “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi“ and “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” The catch, of course, is that Versio is no friend to the Rebel Alliance, but rather the commander of the Empire’s special forces: Inferno Squad.
During our hands-on time with Battlefront II, we learned just how great it feels to be bad in a universe that’s typically put us behind the blasters and lightsabers of the good guys. Taking place early in the game’s story, our demo unfolds shortly after the second Death Star’s been destroyed and the Emperor’s met his demise. Upon learning of her leader’s death, Iden’s given the order from her father—and military superior—to “do what you do best.”
As we quickly learn, what Iden does best is unleash all kinds of hell on Rebel scum. As she hops into a TIE fighter, we’re tasked with taking out an X-wing squadron that’s determined to kick the Empire while it’s down. In addition to blasting enemy ships to bits, we tackle primary objectives, like protecting a Star Destroyer and keeping an ally from becoming a smoldering hunk of twisted metal. Most of all though, we get a taste of Battlefront II‘s space combat, learning to target enemies, evade attacks, and generally maneuver through tight quarters in a fashion that could put Han Solo to shame.
Before we get too comfortable in the cockpit, however, Iden decides to take the fight directly to the Rebels by bravely boarding their cruiser. Rather than immediately exiting the craft though, we’re afforded a moment to experience what it’s like to turn an entire hangar inside out from behind a TIE fighter’s cannons (it’s awesome, by the way).
Now on foot, we enter full-on first-person mode from behind Iden’s blaster. The gunplay and movement mechanics—which can also be toggled to third-person perspective—immediately click, recalling the spot-on combat from Battlefront‘s multiplayer matches. As we move through the cruiser, we’re also able to unleash impact grenades and make an even bigger splash with thermal imploders, both of which run off cool-down meters. We also get a taste of Iden’s brutal stealth takedown, which involves bringing targets to their knees by way of a bone-crunching baton whack.
Ordered to take out the ship’s ion cannons, we continue pushing forward while leaving a sizeable path of Rebel corpses in our wake. Our victims include good guys—both humans and aliens—from the films, including Sullust natives that could easily be friend or family to Nien Nunb. We feel a tiny bit bad about killing the familiar friendlies, but we’re having too much fun to stop and mourn.
While Iden’s clearly capable of turning everyone in her path to toast, she’s also able to command a companion droid to do her bidding. The robo-buddy, which looks like a mini Imperial Probe droid, is deployed from Iden’s backpack. During our demo, it’s equipped with a zapping ability that chains between enemies; with a quick button press, we’re able to send the droid into a crowd of foes and watch it cook them extra crispy. Like grenades, the highly effective attack works off a regenerating timer, so you’re not allowed to abuse its power.
The deadly companion pulled off some other neat tricks, such as hacking terminals and slicing through doors, but we’re told these skills only scratch the surface of its abilities. Apparently, it can also be customized and upgraded along a progression path, allowing players to shape its offensive and defensive abilities to their specific rebel-slaying style.
While we’d bet on the little bot to kick BB-8’s butt in a droid duel, the metallic menace isn’t able to save its master during our demo’s cliffhanger. Upon completing her objective, Iden’s plan literally backfires, seemingly sending her to a zero-gravity grave despite the droid’s best efforts to save her.
We look forward to learning Iden’s fate, crushing more Rebel scum, and sympathizing with the Empire when Star Wars Battlefront II lands November 17 on Xbox One.
As an Xbox One gamer you no doubt already know that EA Access is an exclusive console feature, giving you availability to an expanding catalog of EA classics like Titanfall, Battlefield 3, and Star Wars Battlefront in The Vault along with an exclusive 10% discount on EA digital purchases on Xbox One which include Star Wars Battlefront II that is available for pre-order on Xbox One starting today and available worldwide on November 17!
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