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Star Wars: Battlefront II Has an Original Story Set Between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens

EA is trying to address the blowback they got from the first game, which lacked a story mode.

When EA revived the Star Wars: Battlefront series of first-person/third-person shooter games in 2015, they got manhandled by critics and fans alike for a surprisingly bare bones game. EA never got around to adding a story mode, and even the online multiplayer didn’t have as many maps and modes as fans were expecting.

EA is looking for forgiveness with Star Wars: Battlefront II. EA had a bit more to show about the game at their EA Play event yesterday ahead of E3 this week. They talked about the story mode promised at launch for this game, along with tweaks to multiplayer and The Last Jedi tie-ins come the holiday season. They also dropped a new gameplay trailer, showing off a couple minutes of footage from the game.

Thanks to a 10-year Star Wars deal, EA gets to try their hand at Star Wars canon, too. The Battlefront II campaign takes after the original 2005 Battlefront II, putting players in the shoes of someone from the Empire. This time, that someone will be Iden Versio, an Imperial commander. Her story will take place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens — during the presentation, it was likened to Rogue One as a standalone bridge story. EA didn’t have too much to say about the story past that, but we get the feeling that this won’t be a Finn-type Imperial-turned-Rebel tale.

On the multiplayer front, EA is promising more of everything — more weapons, more vehicles, more maps, more planets, and more heroes. They’ll be pulling from all three eras to do that, referring to the prequel trilogy, the original trilogy, and the new trilogy. That includes the upcoming The Last Jedi, although content based on that movie won’t come out until the movie does in December. They even got John Boyega on video chat to reveal that Finn and Captain Phasma will be heroes in the game, and that they’ll be available for free. EA also showed Darth Maul, Yoda, Rey, Kylo Ren, and a ton of droids (including the Roger droids from the prequel trilogy), plus a bunch of shots of Naboo, so they’re not kidding about wanting to encompass all of Star Wars in this game.

But, EA needs to get back into the good graces of players after Battlefront, and they know it. They made a big show of all the criticism leveled at that game during the presentation, and while the new content should go some way toward atoning for their mistakes, their boldest move is making DLC free. When The Last Jedi drops, that expansion won’t cost a thing. There will be microtransactions, although EA didn’t say too much about what those would include — they did reassure the crowd that it won’t be possible to gain a competitive advantage by making purchases, so we might just be looking at new characters or accessories.

At the end of the presentation, EA ran a live 20-on-20 multiplayer demo of Battlefront II. They showed off Assault on Theed, a new multiplayer map on Naboo in which Imperial droids need to escort a tank up to the palace. We’re not sure about the shooting mechanics yet, but it looks like getting heroes and vehicles will require racking up points during gameplay that can be spent. So, if you were hoping to bust into a hangar, steal an N-1, and crash into a group of enemies while bailing at the last second, that’s sadly not going to happen. It also looked like there wasn’t much in the way of environmental destruction during all that shooting and blowing up — a small touch, but one that really should be there in a 2017 action game. It’s kind of jarring to see nothing charred or broken after all the action that goes on during a game, but then again, with the sheer amount of detail packed into this map, that would be pretty tough to implement well.

EA has November 17 targeted as the release date for Star Wars: Battlefront II, with the first DLC pack dropping around the same time The Last Jedi arrives in theaters on December 15. The game will be released for the Xbox One/Windows 10 and the PlayStation 4.

Check out more of our E3 2017 coverage right here!