Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (DICE)

DICE goes big in a Call of Duty-baiting package that's as maddening, uneven and spectacular as the Star Wars films themselves.

Spotlight

FeatureThe big interview: the Gambling Commission on loot boxes

"We don't yet understand enough of what the actual risks are."

Digital FoundryStar Wars Battlefront 2: Frostbite stress-tested on Xbox One X

Significant resolution boosts over PS4 Pro, but what about performance?

Star Wars Battlefront 2 review

I am altering the deal.

Key events

14th November 2017

Star Wars Battlefront 2 review

Star Wars Battlefront 2's new cosmetic microtransactions go live

We could almost buy our own ship for that!

In-game microtransactions have returned to Star Wars Battlefront 2 - although this time they're limited to cosmetic unlocks. As detailed last week, the in-game purchases come as part of the game's new Night on Endor update, which lets you play as (and kill off) Ewoks.

Star Wars: Battlefront 2's new Night On Endor update lets you play as an Ewok

Star Wars: Battlefront 2's new Night On Endor update lets you play as an Ewok

Also introduces first wave of cosmetic Appearances.

DICE has detailed Star Wars: Battlefront 2's next major update, due on April 18th, which includes a new limited-time mode in the form of Ewok Hunt, and the first wave of cosmetic Appearances.

Ewok Hunt unfolds, naturally enough, on the forest moon of Endor, and splits players into teams of Ewoks and Stormtroopers. "The ambush begins as the Ewok attacks the unsuspecting stormtroopers, using spears, Wisties, and whatever abilities they can muster", explains DICE.

"Each defeated stormtrooper spawns as another Ewok, multiplying until the Empire's forces have been completely eliminated, and the Ewok celebration can begin". If the Stormtroopers can survive until an extraction team arrives, "they'll make it off of Endor and claim the win".

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Last week Monolith released an official statement announcing that as of 17th July, Shadow of War will no longer contain microtransactions. Buying Gold with real money will be gone for good on 8th May, and a couple of months later the market which erstwhile sold item chests, XP boosts and orcs for the Nemesis system will be dismantled completely. Apparently buying those orcs, rather than earning them in-game, "risked undermining the heart of our game," said Monolith, six months down the road from implementing that marketplace.

Is Star Wars Battlefront 2's big update enough to save it?

If the story of DICE's Battlefront is a one of a young upstart torn between the forces of dark and light then this, coming after the series found itself corrupted and besieged late last year, should be the third act that offers some kind of redemption. Star Wars Battlefront 2's new update, which dropped last week, sees the game undergo the biggest overhaul seen in a big budget title since Diablo 3 excised its auction house - and it's a change that's come about in a fraction of the time. Even then, is it all too late for DICE's shooter?

You can't really fault the effort that's been made here, and each adjustment nudges Battlefront 2 firmly in the right direction. The loot boxes - those deeply problematic loot boxes, which used to carry upgrades and perks - have now been pushed to one side. All the hero characters are now available from the off. Progression is now linear, rather than the weird random sprawl that went before. Classes are now ranked up one by one, with new skill points that can be applied to perks unlocked upon reaching a new level, while the Star Cards that grant those perks are now level-gated with the more useful ones being available earlier.

It's a plain, simple and easy to parse system, and a quite remarkable feat of development to have it all up and running so seamlessly in such a short time, but it also serves as a reminder of how truly awful Battlefront 2's progression system was beforehand; not only was it deeply cynical, but it was also an absolute mess that held the player in complete disregard, putting them at the mercy of random drops. How could it have made it so close to launch without any intervention from anyone with half an ounce of sense? How short-sighted and plain dumb must EA and DICE have been to think they could ever get away with such a brazenly broken system?

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Star Wars Battlefront 2 gets first update of 2018

Star Wars Battlefront 2 has been patched - the game's first update of 2018. The headline features are a new map for Blast mode - on the eye-catching red/salt planet of Crait - and a new Hero ship for Starfighter Assault in the form of Iden Versio's modified TIE fighter.

Battlefront 2's microtransactions are still frozen nearly two months later.

The Blast on Crait map takes place in the mines among machinery and crystals. Iden Versio's TIE fighter, which costs 5000 credits to unlock, comes with the Afterburner, Laser Barrage, Dual Proton Torpedos and Inferno Leader abilities - the latter uncovering all enemies within a radius and increasing the damage they take.

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FeatureThe year in loot boxes

The empire strikes back.

The great Star Wars debacle - and I'm not talking about The Last Jedi's second act here - dominated video game headlines in the last quarter of 2017. But in truth the year was packed with depressing stories about loot boxes, so many in fact that it has at times felt like our beloved hobby was more about the chance to win a rare item than it was about the chance to play.

It's The Last Jedi patch day in Star Wars Battlefront 2

It's The Last Jedi patch day in Star Wars Battlefront 2

"We do not spoil The Last Jedi's story in any way!"

The Last Jedi update has arrived in Star Wars Battlefront 2. This first major dollop of DLC is free and brings new heroes (Finn and Phasma), new maps (Crait and D'Qar), new hero ships (Tallie Lintra and an upgrade for Poe) and new story chapters.

Importantly, these new story chapters will not spoil The Last Jedi film. Here are the spoiler guidelines tweeted by Battlefront 2 writer Mitch Dyer.

If you're going into the film totally blind, play the DLC after the movie!

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FeatureThe big interview: the Gambling Commission on loot boxes

"We don't yet understand enough of what the actual risks are."

Last week, independent charity Gamble Aware held its annual two-day conference in London. It focused on what's called Harm Minimisation, in particular, how to protect young people from gambling. The event was a who's who of the UK gambling industry, but there was one topic on everyone's lips: loot boxes.

New Star Wars Battlefront 2 trailer shows older Iden Versio and someone else

EA DICE has put out a new trailer for The Last Jedi content coming to Star Wars Battlefront 2 next week, and in it we get a glimpse at Iden Versio, the game's single-player story protagonist, decades later as an older lady.

I can't think of many games which have a storyline revolving around an older lady, so it's nice to see.

We're also given a glimpse of a person whose identity we've wondered about since the end of Battlefront 2's campaign, if you catch my drift - but there's no groundbreaking revelation to report.

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EA not giving up on microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront 2

"For us it's a great learning experience..."

For nearly two weeks the ability to buy controversial loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2 has been unavailable, greying out the issue of the game being pay-to-win. EA said the ability to spend money in the game would return at "a later date" but we haven't heard anything since.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 physical sales down 60% on Battlefront 1

Star Wars Battlefront 2 launched with 60 per cent fewer physical sales than Star Wars Battlefront 1.

Battlefront 2's big budget release was ruined by, arguably, the biggest controversy in gaming this year. The game's in-game loot boxes and, to a lesser extent, the high requirements needed to unlock the game's roster of heroes sparked an eruption of anger from fans which EA has been unable to contain. The publisher has U-turned on both fronts - but many fans still consider the game to include pay-to-win mechanics.

In a dramatic and unprecedented move last Friday, EA temporarily switched off all in-game purchases just as Battlefront 2 went live - although it was too late to reverse fan feeling towards the game.

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Star Wars Battlefront 2: Frostbite stress-tested on Xbox One X

Digital FoundryStar Wars Battlefront 2: Frostbite stress-tested on Xbox One X

Significant resolution boosts over PS4 Pro, but what about performance?

There was one crucial aspect of the Xbox One X experience we could not cover in our hardware review: to what extent is this actually a 4K games machine and what is the difference in the experience up against Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro? Since then, the X upgrades have rolled in, giving us a better picture of how the machines compare, but what we've been lacking is an apples to apples stress test comparison based on EA's Frostbite technology - one of the most advanced rendering engines on the market. FIFA 18 is impressive but hardly a challenge for the hardware but Star Wars Battlefront is perhaps the game we've been looking for. The results are certainly illuminating.

In many respects, we're looking at a virtual re-run of what we saw recently with Bethesda's Wolfenstein 2. The id Tech 6 engine shares a clutch of technologies also found in Frostbite, designed to maximise the visual return on all systems while targeting 60 frames per second action. First amongst them is dynamic resolution scaling, where both Wolfenstein 2 and Battlefront 2 adjust pixel-counts on the fly in order to sustain performance. PS4 Pro tops out at 2560x1440 on both titles, while Xbox One X pushes further - much further - delivering a maximum of 3840x2160, or full-fat 4K. That's a 2.25x increase in pixel-count, a surprising uplift bearing in mind the respective specs of the two systems.

Of course, dynamic resolution scaling could conceivably close the gap, but the variance in resolution between Pro and X remains wide: based on several measurements we took, the range varies between 1296p and 1440p on the Sony console, rising to an 1800p-2160p window in the same scenes tested on Xbox One X. The numbers are stark then, but another technology shared with id Tech helps to mitigate matters to a certain extent - temporal anti-aliasing. The Frostbite implementation isn't quite as intensive as id's, but it does the job in smoothing off the jaggies and eliminating the most obvious, glaring signs of upscaling.

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Blimey, there is hope. Because of a rising tide of discontent surrounding pay-to-win content in loot crates in Star Wars Battlefront 2, the ability to spend real money on them has temporarily been removed. Loot crates can only be bought with credits earned by playing the game.

StarCraft 2 Twitter account has a pop at Star Wars: Battlefront 2

"Number of pay-to-win mechanics in SC2..."

While EA continues to fight Star Wars: Battlefront 2 fires ahead of launch this Friday, there are others who sniff an opportunity. In this case it's rival mega-publisher Activision Blizzard, whose StarCraft 2 Twitter account had a pop at Battlefront 2 overnight.

After a day of outcry, upset and what's shaping up to be reddit's most downvoted comment ever, EA has responded to the fallout from Star Wars Battlefront 2's progression system, slashing hero costs so players can get their hands on characters such as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker much, much quicker.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 review

Star Wars Battlefront 2 review

I am altering the deal.

Let's get straight to the burning issue, shall we? Towards the tail-end of Star Wars Battlefront's release, EA made noises that it was thinking about doing away with the traditional season pass that accompanied its big ticket console games, a model its multiplayer shooters had been stuck with for some time - with numerous associated problems. The base games often felt a little lacking, and more painfully the player base was split - an issue that had an impact on long-term players as numbers dwindled and were spread too thin.

Star Wars Battlefront 2

Developer: DICE/Motive/Criterion

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Star Wars Battlefront 2's free The Last Jedi DLC gets a release date

Star Wars Battlefront 2's free The Last Jedi DLC gets a release date

Finn! Phasma! Maps! Single-player missions!

EA has laid out the roadmap for December's The Last Jedi season of Star Wars Battlefront 2 content.

The main date to remember is 13th December. This is when new Hero and Villain characters Finn and Captain Phasma will arrive; when new planetary map Crait, and new Starfighter Assault map D'Qar, will arrive; and when Tallie Lintra's new A-wing Hero ship, as well as a new upgrade for Poe's X-wing, inspired by The Last Jedi, will arrive.

Phasma and Finn will be unlockable by spending in-game credits. EA did not mention using store-bought Crystals to unlock them.

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The price and state of Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot crates at launch

The 10-hour Star Wars Battlefront 2 trial is now live for EA Access on Xbox One and Origin Access on PC. This is the full version of the game, meaning we can use it to see how loot crates work at launch. The only restricted content is single-player, where three levels are available to play.

The 10-hour trial reveals the buyable currency in Star Wars Battlefront 2 as Crystals, which can be bought in bundles:

500 Crystals for £3.99/$4.99

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EA announces Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot crate and progression changes

Here it is. EA has announced how it will change the loot crate and progression system in Star Wars Battlefront 2, following the storm of controversy from the Battlefront 2 open beta multiplayer test.

This is not a fundamental overhaul, but more rewards are now earned through play and fewer simply gifted by getting lucky in a loot crate.

The highest tier of Star Card, epic (the variations are bronze, silver, gold, epic), has been removed from loot crates entirely. It is now only available by crafting. And crafting will be level restricted. "You won't be able to buy a bunch of crates, grind everything up into crafting materials and immediately use them to get super powerful Star Cards," said EA.

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You asked for it, and here it is. A campaign was, for many, the missing piece from 2015's Star Wars Battlefront, and the one key ingredient that could make its sequel worthwhile. Having played a slim handful of missions, it's certainly not been left wanting when it comes to budget, production values or sheer spectacle. This is as visually grandiose as Star Wars single player games have been to date.

Prizes being given to top 1000 Xbox Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta players

Did you make the top 1000 leaderboard for the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta on Xbox One? If you did you have won a prize! It may be a $60 gift card or free Xbox Live membership for one or three months, which isn't much good if you have a yearly recurring subscription but hey ho.

The Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta leaderboard can be viewed online and seems to be dictated by time played, although that may not be the only metric at work.

The person who started a thread on the Star Wars Battlefront subreddit about the promotion placed 66th and received the $60 gift card. That person and their brother combined to play the SWBF2 beta for 75 hours, which demonstrates good sibling use.

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Digital FoundryHow Star Wars Battlefront 2's stunning tech scales across consoles

Digital Foundry breaks down the beautiful beta on PS4, Pro and Xbox One.

DICE's Frostbite engine kicked off the console generation with Battlefield 4, and the technology has evolved considerably over the last four years. Star Wars Battlefront 2 may well be its most spectacular outing yet. Importing and enhancing many of the new features from last year's Battlefield 1, our impression of the recent 2 beta is that we're not simply looking at newer maps, weapons, and characters, but a clear visual upgrade that brings us even closer to the definitive Star Wars videogame experience. It's all about authenticity - Frostbite's feature set is a terrific match for the Star Wars aesthetic.

Sin City is the global capital of gambling. Casinos with colourful chips, well-postured croupiers and automaton pensioners plugged into slot machines. At first glance it might not seem sinister, but strip back the glamour and Las Vegas paints a sad picture - its denizens cogs in a billion-dollar machine fuelled by potentially addictive gaming. The novelty of the place can hide its true intentions.

EA has extended the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 beta until Wednesday

Star Wars: Battlefront 2's public beta has been extended, and will now run until Wednesday October 11th, EA has announced.

The beta, which began last Wednesday for those with game pre-orders and opened for everyone else on Friday, was originally scheduled to end earlier today. However, a revised end-date was revealed on the official Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Twitter page earlier this evening, accompanied by a video of some very extravagant lawn trimming.

So far, feedback on the beta seems to have been broadly positive, but much of the weekend conversation has focussed on EA's rather exuberant implementation of monetised loot crates for the acquisition of core features such as weapons and skills. "Put simply," wrote Eurogamer's Robert Purchese of Battlefront 2's loot crate problem, "this is an exploitative and greedy system I'm surprised has made it this far".

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The biggest Star Wars Battlefront 2 killstreaks from the beta weekend

Who has been the most effective Hero or Villain during the open beta weekend for Star Wars Battlefront 2? Of the Force users it appears to be Mr children's party facepaint himself, Darth Maul.

His spinning attack (right bumper or equivalent on PC) helps him quickly close the gap to melee distance with enemies, which is proving awfully useful while romping around the Naboo palace grounds in the city of Theed. His Force choke-and-throw also gives him a way to deal with a pack of enemies, lifting all three or four of them into the air and then flinging them down where he can slice them into bite-size chunks.

Rey, by comparison, isn't quite as effective but she's no slouch either. She can block by holding the left trigger (or equivalent on PC), which Maul can't, and she can also charge forwards with her Dash Strike. Her Insight ability that reveals enemies isn't as clear as it once was, in alpha, but it can be useful nonetheless.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 beta now available to all

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 beta now available to all

We've got a good feeling about this.

The Star Wars: Battlefront 2 beta is now open for everyone to play, following two days of early access for those who pre-ordered.

(Or, thanks to a GAME cock-up, for those who simply bought a code for 10p).

Fancy giving it a go? You can now head to Origin on PC, or the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 stores to get the beta downloading.

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Star Wars Battlefront 2 PC beta codes were on sale at GAME today for 10p

UK shop GAME sold Star Wars Battlefront 2 PC beta codes this afternoon for the sum of £0.10 - although the link has now been removed.

The codes did work though - we tried it.

We contacted GAME and the retailer told us that the now-removed offer was a mistake - part of the bundle for pre-order customers which was inadvertently available to all:

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is set to have a far more engaging multiplayer than the original 2015 reboot. At DICE's headquarters in Stockholm I had the chance to check out four competitive modes: a chaotic 40 player Galactic Assault game on Naboo, and the recently introduced space dog-fighting of Starfighter Assault. Now, I'd already seen these two demos from E3 and Gamescom, but the Arcade mode's survival mission, and 8v8 Strike mode on Takodana were new. And it's in the Strike mode in particular that DICE's efforts to bolster the multiplayer portion of the game became apparent.

Star Wars film actor John Boyega narrates new Battlefront 2 trailer

Star Wars film actor John Boyega (Finn) narrates a new Battlefront 2 trailer that shows all aspects of the upcoming game.

Boyega cycles through locations, heroes, game modes, characters, classes and star cards in nearly five minutes of footage. He's hoping to show - and succeeds - how much more Star Wars: Battlefront 2 will offer as a game than Battlefront 1 did.

Boyega even got to remind us Finn will be a free downloadable character in December after the game is released. Remember, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 DLC packs will be free.

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Here's what's in the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta

EA, via the PlayStation Blog, has announced the details of the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta, which begins in early October.

The open beta kicks off on 6th October, but you can play two days early by pre-ordering the game. It ends on 9th October.

The beta lets you play Galactic Assault on Naboo. This is a 40-player battle on the streets of Theed. You choose from four trooper classes: Assault, Heavy, Officers and Specialists. Of course there are Star Wars heroes and prequel-era vehicles up for grabs, too.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 adds gameplay-affecting Loot Crate items

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 adds gameplay-affecting Loot Crate items

Star Cards can be upgraded with crafting parts.

Star Wars: Battlefront 2's progression system will offer a drastic change from its predecessor.

As detailed by YouTuber BattlefrontUpdates, this sequel introduces Overwatch-like Loot Crates.

You buy these with credits that you acquire through simply playing the game, though you'll also receive a Daily Crate simply by logging in each day.

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Star Wars Battlefront 2 gameplay leak shows Darth Maul, Rey

We're not headed to EA's E3 press conference for a few more hours yet, but gameplay footage from Star Wars Battlefront 2 is already available to watch on YouTube, for some reason.

More than 12 minutes of gameplay lies below, showing characters from a mix of Star Wars time periods.

There's prequel-era villain Darth Maul, original trilogy bounty hunter Boba Fett and The Force Awakens' Rey, all fighting on the streets of Theed - that's the large city on Naboo, Phantom Menace fans. Oh, and lots of Battle Droids.

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EA Play 2017 live report

Footballs, Star Wars, Battlefields and more! Join us from 8pm BST for all the action.

Footballs, Star Wars, Battlefields and more! Join us from 8pm BST for all the action.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away (well, in Florida last weekend, but it still is quite a journey) we attended the Star Wars Celebration where EA properly lifted the veil from Star Wars Battlefront 2. It's set to feature a campaign that spans from the end of Return of the Jedi and up to The Force Awakens, and is also rejigging multiplayer in line with many of the requests from players of the original.

When it comes to the finer details of Star Wars Battlefront 2, developer EA is so secretive that even Bor Gullet, the mind-reading octopus from Rogue One, would have trouble getting any more info out of the studio. A little Star Wars in-joke to get you warmed up, there.

Leaked Star Wars Battlefront 2 trailer reveals prequel and sequel trilogy characters

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, EA is cracking down on the leaked Star Wars Battlefront 2 trailer.

The publisher has begun pulling it down from video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. Expect an official reveal this Saturday during the Star Wars Celebration event.

ORIGINAL STORY: A little earlier than planned, EA's first teaser for Star Wars Battlefront 2 has popped up online.

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This Thursday will be huge for Star Wars fans as 2017's four-day Star Wars Celebration kicks off in Orlando, Florida. There'll be plenty for Jedi young and old to look forward across the four day convention, not least the long awaited trailer for Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

FeatureHow DICE's Star Wars Battlefront struck back

And what Battlefront 2 should learn from it.

Star Wars Battlefront took its time to come good. It wasn't until the end of 2016, when the Death Star DLC dropped and completed the package, that it finally delivered on its considerable promise. Having burned plenty of early purchasers who paid full price for a content-light game at launch, EA DICE bigwigs have their work cut out to bring back singed-finger fans for the sequel. A proper campaign option would be one way of winning people over, but a better approach is perhaps to look at what the first game (eventually) got right - in particular, the Walker Assault mode on Hoth, Sabotage on Bespin and Battle Stations on the Death Star.

Star Wars Battlefront's Rogue One DLC gives us some pointers towards next year's sequel

It's taken its time, but step by step and piece by piece DICE has moved towards the Battlefront that fans wanted. Not that it was too far off at its first attempt, mind; upon release last November Star Wars Battlefront was an arrestingly gorgeous multiplayer shooter that only just stopped short of greatness. The updates outside of the expansion packs have often done a better job of keeping the game fresh than the paid DLC, but the final add-on for Battlefront feels like the most substantial yet. It certainly feels like the one that's been shaped most by fan feedback as well.

"The reception was mixed," DICE producer Paul Keslin says of the launch in an honest appraisal. "We've been listening to a lot of the feedback since launch and even post-launch as we've been adding new things. We've announced the next game that's coming out - those are things we're look to tackle in the future. We can't always get everything in the current game, but in the future we want to hit those things and give the fans what they're after."

Battlefront's Rogue One DLC comes mighty close to delivering one particular request from fans. When DICE's take on Battlefront was revealed, people were upset that it lacked one of the key features of the original games - namely the ability for players to go from on-foot to aerial combat in one seamless action. The Rogue One DLC doesn't quite go that far, but what it does is present a game mode that moves from aerial combat to ground warfare - and unlike the Death Star DLC before it that had a similar mode, the loading screens here are kept to a minimum, the transition now happening via a swift cutscene.

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Poor DICE. One of the biggest criticisms thrown the way of its Star Wars-themed multiplayer shooter, and one of the biggest hurdles it's faced since its announcement, is that it didn't feel very much like Battlefront at all. Gone was the easy transition from on-foot combat to aerial dogfights, and every leaked piece of footage from Free Radical's Battlefront 3 only serves to illustrate how far DICE's take had fallen from the tree.

EA decided against Star Wars Battlefront campaign to meet Force Awakens film launch

EA decided against Star Wars Battlefront campaign to meet Force Awakens film launch

Promises series will improve on current Metacritic rating.

EA decided there would be no campaign in Star Wars Battlefront to make sure it could be released at the same time as Episode 7: The Force Awakens.

Patrick Soderlund, EA Studios boss, explained the decision last night in an investor broadcast where he touched on criticisms of the DICE-developed shooter.

The lack of a single-player campaign was a "conscious decision", Soderlund stated.

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Star Wars: Battlefront sequel due next year

Star Wars: Battlefront sequel due next year

Amy Hennig's game to follow in 2018.

Star Wars: Battlefront will receive a sequel next year, publisher EA confirmed in a financial call earlier today.

This shouldn't be a huge surprise as Star Wars: Battlefront sold exceptionally well with over 14m copies shipped in just over four months.

EA also noted that Uncharted creator Amy Hennig's Star Wars game at Visceral will "most likely" launch in 2018.

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