Impressions: Star Wars Battlefront II’s Night on Endor Update is a step in the right direction

As part of its ongoing plan to revamp and revitalize its polarizing shooter Star Wars Battlefront II, DICE has released yet another major new update for the game titled ‘Night on Endor.’ As we previously covered, the update brings with it the much anticipated first wave of new cosmetic customization items as well as a brand new limited-time game mode called Ewok Hunt. I decided to take the new update for a spin and came away impressed with what it offers, though I would also say that Battlefront II still has a ways to go towards being the definitive playable Star Wars experience.

Cosmetics

The initial wave of new cosmetic items is an impressive start, though there are some caveats to take note of. First of all, each of the new trooper skins is locked to a specific class, so if there’s a particular alien race you’ve been dying to play as, you’ll have to get comfortable playing whichever class it’s associated with. For example, if you want to play as a Zabrak, here’s hoping you also don’t mind playing the Heavy trooper class.

If you’ve been dying to play as a Twi’Lek, then you better get good at sniping enemies as the Specialist class. Both the new human and alien skin variants are also attached to certain in-game factions (mostly the Rebel Alliance and Resistance), so you’ll only be able to play as your customized troopers on specific maps.

As for the new hero skins, they too will likely be met with varying degrees of excitement depending on the particular skin you’re focusing on. Some of the skins are certainly welcome additions. Skins include new Endor looks for Han Solo and Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian’s ‘Administrator’ outfit from The Empire Strikes Back, an ‘Ach-To’ skin for Rey based off her look in The Last Jedi, and a helmetless ‘Commander’ skin for Iden Versio (those who missed out on the earnable Hoth skins for Han, Leia, and Luke Skywalker can now also purchase them with Credits or Crystals).

Some of the other new skins are…less inspired. There’s an alternate ‘Hooded’ look for Yoda which is just his default outfit with his hood up, a ‘Scarred’ skin for Kylo Ren that simply removes the cape from his ‘Unmasked’ look and adds the facial scar he bears in The Last Jedi, and a ‘Wounded’ skin for Chewbacca which, I kid you not, does nothing different from his default look other than add a bandage to his arm.

Since Chewbacca’s new look is counted as a ‘Common’ tier item, it only costs 5,000 Credits, but asking players to spend 20,000 Credits for Hooded Yoda (Rare) or 40,000 for Scarred Kylo Ren (Epic) seems a bit much.

Ewok Hunt

Many fans were undoubtedly expecting the new cosmetic items to be the main highlight of the Night on Endor update, but I’d argue that, true to the update’s name, the new Ewok Hunt mode takes that honor. If you’ve ever played the ‘Infected’ game type in another competitive online shooter, you’re already familiar with the basics of how Ewok Hunt works.

Each match consists of 20 players, and at the start of the match two players are randomly selected to play as Ewoks before all the players are dropped into a special nighttime variant of the Endor map. The map is so dark that the Stormtrooper players (who are locked in a first-person viewpoint) can barely see two feet in front of them, forcing them to rely on the flashlight gadgets they all spawn with. Meanwhile, the Ewoks must use primitive tools and abilities to ambush and kill the Stormtroopers, and whenever a Stormtrooper dies, they respawn as an Ewok.

Overall, I found each match of Ewok Hunt to be surprisingly tense. The mode’s nighttime setting and the Stormtroopers’ inability to see without using their flashlights means that they’re constantly on edge as they wait for the Ewoks to make their move. A typical engagement in Ewok Hunt involves the Ewoks striking from the shadows as the Stormtroopers blindly fire in a panic, and the tension only ratchets up as the Stormtroopers’ numbers dwindle more and more.

Sadly, the mode does favor the Stormtroopers slightly since they win if even one of them manages to board the escape shuttle that eventually arrives, and taking down all 18 of them is a tall order no matter how skilled the Ewok team is. For this article, I played about ten or so matches of Ewok Hunt, and the Ewoks didn’t win a single time (though there were a few close calls).

Microtransactions

Along with Ewok Hunt and the new cosmetics, the Night on Endor update does also bring back microtransactions in the form of Crystals that can be purchased with real money. However, in this case the microtransactions are surprisingly user-friendly. Crystals can only be used to directly purchase cosmetic items like skins and emotes (gameplay-affecting Star Cards must be unlocked/upgraded by playing) and a single $10 microtransaction (1,000 Crystals) can net you one Epic item, two Rare items, or about six Common items.

As of this writing, the randomized crate (loot box) system which was present during Battlefront II’s launch seems to have been mostly done away with, though players can still earn a daily crate containing 500 Credits just for logging in each day.

Final Thoughts

While the exact implementation and breadth of the Night on Endor update’s new cosmetic items may be a bit underwhelming, the update as a whole still marks a noticeable step forward in bringing Star Wars Battlefront II up to the level of expectation players had back when the game launched last year. More cosmetic items are sure to follow, and there’s plenty more new content on the way, much of which DICE will unveil in early May when it outlines what will be included in the game’s second content season.

In the meantime, if you haven’t played Star Wars Battlefront II in a while (or at all), the new cosmetics combined with the recent progression revamp make it a much more inviting experience to dive into, especially now that players can also test themselves in unique modes like Ewok Hunt. Of course it bears mentioning that this is the sort of experience which, in all honesty, DICE should have offered from the start, but if consistently releasing free updates in the vein of Night on Endor is the studio’s way of making amends, I’m certainly not one to complain.