I liked Star Wars: Battlefront. It’s one of my 10 favorite releases of 2015. Due to an insane number of incredible games, Star Wars: Battlefront II will have to work a whole lot harder than the original to make my top-10 list this time around. But the beta test (which runs through October 9) reveals that it may have that potential because, like Pinocchio turning into a real boy, Electronic Arts has turned Star Wars: Battlefront II into a substantial game.
I’ll say it again: I enjoyed my time with Battlefront. It was a solid playground to bang Star Wars characters together, but that’s all it was. Battlefront II maintains that foundation and builds better progression and mechanics on top of it to make you feel something deeper about your connection with the game and not just the Star Wars universe.
In the beta, which is out now, you can only unlock a handful of things, but this preview is certainly more enticing than the original game. Battlefront slowly doled out cosmetic skins and perk cards over time as well as weapon unlocks. But all of those items existed in one bucket, and your progression contributed equally to opening up anything new. That made for boring gameplay, because you weren’t ever working toward anything personal. Instead, you worked toward what the community had figured out was the best load out and went with that.
Battlefront II changes this up by introducing a class system (or reintroducing if you count the original LucasArts Battlefront games). You can roll into any match as an Assault, a Heavy, an Officer, or a Specialist. This keeps matches more interesting because you can quickly bounce back and forth between a Specialist with its sniper rifle for long-range parts of the match and a Heavy fighter for infiltrating fortified enemy positions — or you can shift strategies when you die so you can avoid making the same mistake twice. That’s apparent in the beta, but the classes also hinted at a progression system that would let you build in certain directions. I want the new gun and a second prek slot on my Assault character, so I’ll play as them until I get to that point.
It seems like a minor change, but it’s one that should make Battlefront II feel a lot more substantial even before you get into the new single-player campaign.