A long time ago, in a galaxy far away (or rather, in Florida a few days ago, but still a remarkable journey) we participated in the Star Wars Celebration, the event in which EA has finally lifted the veil from Star Wars Battlefront 2. The game will contain a campaign that will start from the end of Return of the Jedi to reach the Awakening of the Force and will also go to fix the multiplayer in accordance with the requests made by the players of the original title.
But there’s a lot more to say, so we sat down with Lucasfilm Executive Director Steve Blank, Singleplayer Game Director Mark Thompson, and Criterion’s Matt Webster, who is helping oversee multiplayer, to see what we can find out from them.
SamaGame: How linear will the campaign be? Will it resemble the Battlefield 1 War Stories or will it be a completely linear story with a beginning, a turn and an end?
Mark Thompson: Without going into too much detail that I would get in trouble … we took all the insights needed to tell a Star Wars story with the Lucasfilm writers, we analyzed the movies, broken down the lines and the flow of the Star Wars narrative. So yes, it is an ongoing story, with a beginning, a middle and an end and we will follow the journey of Iden for 30 years, from the end of Return of the Jedi to the Awakening of the Force at the Starkiller base. You will not be faced with a series of distinct missions or separate War Stories as in Battlefield 1, we will follow Iden along his journey as they occasionally swap sides and play as one of the most iconic heroes, because still one time, this is part of Battlefront’s DNA. Sometimes we’ll be a Stormtrooper, sometimes we’ll be a pilot, and sometimes we’ll be Luke Skywalker with a lightsaber.
SamaGame: The heroes we can play are not just the Rebels, right?
Mark Thompson: Well, we’ve confirmed Kylo Ren’s presence. I will not say anything else!
SamaGame: You have chosen a female protagonist. Unfortunately, there is a subgroup of people on the net who are raging against female protagonists and who might think you are trying to satisfy the needs of a certain ideology. Do you think these people can become more open to Iden since they are used to characters like Rey and Jyn featured in the movies?
Mark Thompson: I personally think he’s just a nice character, I don’t care about anything else. If the character makes sense to the story, if he belongs to that universe, then everything else is irrelevant. Is it right for this story? Is it appropriate for Star Wars? Is this an interesting and identifiable character, someone we can connect with? These are the important things, everything else is not.
SamaGame: How difficult was it to make a character you could identify with, since he’s part of the dark side of the Force?
Mark Thompson: The films focus on the Skywalker saga and tell a very specific story seen from the perspective of the rebels. If you look at other narratives devoted to what it means to be an Imperial, such as Alexander Freed’s novel The Twilight Company, which was part of the first Battlefront game, there was an incredible chapter about a Stormtrooper returning from a fight. The chapter shows some details that have not been seen in the movies, such as the times and ways in which the helmet is removed, describes what it means to wear and take off the uniform and the uniqueness of the protagonist. It was really amazing to read those things and it was really inspiring. This is a very interesting point for us to start from to explore the character and the story.
SamaGame: One thing I noticed about the trailer is that a version of the Emperor appears in it, which is odd considering the title is set after his death.
Steve Blank: It is actually a direct passage and an immediate reference from the Shattered Empire comic, set after the destruction of the second Death Star. The character is called The Messenger and is actually an emergency replacement for the Emperor who left command following his death, to still give orders to the higher ranking members who remained of the Empire. So this is one of the great examples of how we linked and brought the title closer to the existing storyline. We are doing this to lay the foundations for what happened between these two time frames.
SamaGame: I’d like to talk a little about Iden’s friendly droid. What role will it play in terms of gameplay? Will it be used for hacking, combat, stealth, or a mix of these things?
Mark Thompson: Without going into specifics, again this is the kind of thing that is much more interesting to show and play than to describe, but at a higher level it represents what separates Iden from regular Stormtroopers, it’s what makes her a part. of the Special Forces because, as you know, the Empire is known for its prowess in the field of technology, so entrusting it with this droid ready to fight gives it greater autonomy, more possibilities, more versatility and greater flexibility.
The idea is to create something similar to what DICE did with multiplayer. This is to ensure that our customization also becomes an expression of our style of play. We want to capture that same spirit within the single player campaign, and the droid is one of the ways in which players can express their personal style of play and combat.
SamaGame: One of the biggest fan requests for Star Wars Battlefront 2 is the return of the Galactic Conquest mode. Have you thought about inserting it again? He’ll be there? And if not, why?
Mark Thompson: The problem with the Battlefront fanbase is that it makes a lot of requests for a lot of different things.
Matt Webster: We will leave this topic for another time.
Mark Thompson: Yes, I don’t think I can identify the most important request of all.
Matt Webster: No, in fact. There are a lot of requests for a lot of different things.
SamaGame: Can you clarify if the story is 100% canonical compared to the films?
Mark Thompson: We don’t use the word canon because Steve gets …
Steve Blank: I get an allergic reaction when I hear that word! However no, it is 100% faithful to the Star Wars stories we are telling, all the new work we are doing, all the new novels and comics like the ones mentioned before, the integration of Shattered Empire and the figure of the Messenger. All of this is now part of the universe, an authentic and established part of those Star Wars stories and that Galaxy.
SamaGame: You mentioned that all ages will come to multiplayer. I haven’t heard of Rogue One or Star Wars Rebels though. Will they be included in any way?
Matt Webster: We are covering the prequel trilogy, the original trilogy and the new trilogy, so these will be the environments in which you can play.
SamaGame: Will we see Jar Jar Binks? Will he be a hero? Or maybe a villain?
Steve Blank: Ohhhh … only time will tell!
Matt Webster: That’s a great answer Steve, thank you!
SamaGame: Can you learn more about the intelligent functioning of the multiplayer divided by classes you mentioned?
Matt Webster: There are four classes of Trooper which, as you know, from a gameplay point of view are easy to understand and are conventional when it comes to range or firepower. Classes give us the ability to facilitate team play, which is a very important part of DICE’s multiplayer. We therefore think that when you have Heroes, when you become one of these iconic heroes then you can talk about a truly innovative game, which gives a sense of omnipotence, which causes a really exciting feeling and which I believe represents a huge differentiating factor for Battlefront (compared to other multiplayer). Since there are Troopers able to play together, they can clash against a hero according to a paper-scissor-rock system, which allows us to savor those extraordinary moments of combat.
SamaGame: How are you approaching the equipment for these classes? Do you want to remove the Star Cards and use a different approach?
Matt Webster: We will go into the specifics of the topic another time. What we can say, however, is that there will be customization and progression within the Trooper classes, Heroes and Starfighters. So even if the baselines of the classes are established within them, a customization will be possible, but the way in which we give this opportunity to the player will be revealed later. And, in the same way as the function of becoming a hero, instead of the power ups, there will be a different system.
SamaGame: The resource-based system?
Matt Webster: Here, that’s what I was thinking about.
SamaGame: Why did you decide to get rid of the power ups?
Matt Webster: Because the moment of becoming a hero is really cool, but it was becoming a short experience for the lucky few or people were spending their time looking for them and hanging around the token spawn areas. So we wanted to expand the hero game within the battle, we wanted to increase that scope, but also to have a better system that would allow players to become a hero instead of just taking a token.
SamaGame: You said that the resource system will also allow you to transform into vehicles. Does this mean that you will go from ground to vehicle driving seamlessly?
Matt Webster:No, there will be a transition. But this was in reference to particular types of vehicles.
SamaGame: Okay, so I assume you mean smaller means of transport, such as the ride-on Tauntaun, will have simplified transfers, as well as the Speeder Bikes on Endor?
Matt Webster:Yes, right. This kind of thing.
SamaGame: Will there be other vehicles though?
Matt Webster: They will be different .
SamaGame: Will you have any of the original cast members available to voice the Heroes? Some of them looked a little weird last time.
Mark Thompson: Time will tell!
SamaGame: Uff, public relations runs mighty in you guys …
Mark Thompson: Well, it’s the first time. You know…
SamaGame: Okay, that seems fair enough to me. I noticed that a concept art shows Jango Fett chasing Obi Wan on Kamino. Are these …
Matt Webster:Yes, they are Starfighter heroes. When it comes to space battles, made by Criterion as well as all vehicles, the reason they are so exciting is because there are epic phases typical of Star Wars, but not just those experienced in space. We have moments in space and low-atmosphere combat phases, both with hero ships.
SamaGame: What are you doing for space battles to make sure you don’t just fly above a Star Destroyer?
Matt Webster: We will go into detail during EA Play, but we are committed to taking care of this aspect, to prioritize the sensations that evoke space combat and to best set the different classes. As for the different Starfighters, within them there will be something similar to the classes.
SamaGame: One of my favorite moments from EA’s first Battlefront was the VR mission. Will we still see more VR missions in the future?
Matt Webster: For now, let’s not talk about VR for Battlefront 2. I’ll tell you another time …