Duuh Duuh da da da Duuh Duuh da da da Duuh Duuh dun-dun-dun-duuuuh!

That’s right guys, it’s almost here, it’s almost time to jump back into the beloved Star Wars universe once more and join the battle in Star Wars Battlefront 2. That is unless you’re an EA Access subscriber of course, as the Play First trial has already given us the reigns to run free in interstellar battle for ten whole hours over the past few days. As one of those subscribers there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to jump into one of the years most anticipated shooters. So, after ten hours of combat in a galaxy far far away, here are my early thoughts on Star Wars Battlefront 2.

From the main menu things don’t look all that different from the 2015 release of Star Wars Battlefront, meaning once more we see the return of a rather ugly menu design. Nevertheless, with ten hours to get stuck into of one of the year’s biggest shooters, I wasn’t about to let the menu irritate.

There are three main options to get started, with Campaign, Multiplayer and a reworked version of the Arcade mode we saw from the previous game ready for players to get stuck into. For me, the idea of a new story set within the worlds of one of sci-fi’s biggest universes was too much to ignore, and I dived straight in with the first three missions of the story.

Of course, I’m not going to now sit here and ruin what happens – that’s what the YouTube spoilers are for – but it’s fair to say that what we’ve got from our first taste of the story is both amazing and slightly disappointing. Within the first mission, you take on the role of Iden, an Imperial Pilot trying to escape capture from the Rebel Alliance after being captured and kept onboard their humongous MC80 capital ship, Invincible Faith. The first thing that came to my attention was just how beautiful the game looks – to be honest that was always going to be the case wasn’t it? With the original a few years back looking incredible on our consoles it was only going to be expected that we would go forward with incredible visuals here too.

As for the gameplay however, I couldn’t help but feel rather underwhelmed by the whole affair. With recent games such as Call of Duty and Wolfenstein both providing exciting starts to their campaigns, the slow start in Star Wars Battlefront 2 simply felt like a tick box exercise. Sure, you have the huge environments and perfectly designed locations – there’s even some explosive moments and the usual epic battles that come from any Star Wars experiences as you progress to the second and third mission – but there’s just something about the pacing that holds the excitement back. Dare I say that it is rather uninspiring? Even when placed in the space battle in the second missions, the linear nature feels like there is much more that can be achieved, especially with the created environments feeling so lifelike. Of course, with only a fraction of the campaign explored, there is every chance this could change, and I’ll be forced to eat my words, but for now the early chance to get in on some campaign action didn’t provide the experience I had hoped for.

After being disappointed by my first hour or two, I jumped into the multiplayer and after spending a fair bit of time with the beta a few weeks back, this was already something I knew was a blast. Good news, that’s still the case. In fact, out of the five different game modes available, there are now three I enjoy – which is more than just the two I spent my time with in the original.

The modes available come in the form of Galactic Assault, Starfighter Assault, Heroes vs Villains, Strike and Blast. Most of these are generally quite similar to the original but there’s enough change to make things a little exciting for those wanting something new. Unfortunately, the major new mode available, Starfighter Assault, was one that seriously disappointed. As a huge fan of the first ever Star Wars Battlefront games on the original Xbox and PS2, the Starfighter Assault mode felt like step down. Back then, maps that allowed for space combat would see players able to exit ships and take the combat to the enemy on foot in huge gunfights. It was generally really exciting to play. Now though, with combat simply tied to dogfighting in space, it feels like EA have missed a great opportunity and whilst the graphics certainly make for some beautiful scenes, this is one mode I simply felt I could have done without. As for the others and everything seems rather like what we had before. Blast is an interesting one as it’s somehow an overall better experience of the general Team Deathmatch approach we see in most games, with the major improvement being longer matches due to a higher number of kills required, or at least it felt that way. Strike however is one I’ll be sure to spend plenty of time with on release, with players battling it out once more in an attack and defend based mode similar to the popular Capture the Flag mode – it’s a simple mode, but nevertheless one that’s a blast to play.

Whilst EA’s last attempt at Star Wars Battlefront was a successful one – at least after they dropped the ridiculous price of the Ultimate Edition – there were still some changes that could have made the experience a little better. Fortunately, it seems most of those changes have been made this time around with Heroes now unlocked via in-game scores rather than the luck of a pickup, and entire classes bringing different roles to players on the battlefield… which is great for those who want to take the fight to the enemy as a supporting team.

The early impressions are however just so-so. Star Wars Battlefront 2 has it’s improvements in certain areas, but with vast parts that feel like a missed opportunity, it’s still very much like EA are taking the learning curve. And that is something which they can’t really afford to do for a second time if they hope to keep the Star Wars Battlefront series up there as a competitive shooter against the others in the market.