I’ve seen heroes and villains do incredible things in Star Wars Battlefront II. Yoda, so small that he easily evades blaster fire, cutting through battle droids like butter. Darth Maul choke-holding an entire platoon and capturing a control point on his own. These powerful characters can single-handedly turn the tide of a match. But for me? That’s just way too much responsibility.
Star Wars Battlefront II is currently free through PlayStation Plus, and I’ve been having a ton of fun with it. Despite being a huge fan of the series and Star Wars in general, I didn’t give this game the time of day back in 2017 due to my disappointment with its DICE-developed predecessor. Over the last week, however, I’ve found myself pleasantly surprised by Battlefront II and now spend an hour or so each night blasting my way through my favorite Star Wars engagements.
Everyone in a Star Wars Battlefront match starts out as a nameless grunt, differentiated only by the basic class they choose. But by defeating opponents and completing objectives, players build points they can then spend on spawning as a special class, entering the battlefield in a powerful military vehicle, or becoming one of the many iconic heroes or villains that make up Star Wars canon.
That said, every time I try my hand at being Luke Skywalker or Kylo Ren, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed shortly before I’m mowed down by blaster fire. I’m much more comfortable in the boots of a basic soldier. It’s where I do my best, to be honest. Apart from simply enjoying the idea of accomplishing great things as a scrappy, insignificant rebel in a much larger conflict, there’s very little responsibility on my shoulders when trudging through a battle with a dozen similar grunts. I can spawn, kill a few enemies, die, and respawn seconds later without any major punishment.
Heroes and villains completely change the dynamic of a match from the moment they step onto the battlefield. They’re all supremely powerful—owing to their importance in Star Wars history—making them attention-grabbing focal points, even against the game’s beautiful landscapes. One of my favorite things to do while playing as a Separatist battle droid is stick with a General Grievous player and pick off opponents that get distracted by his giant frame and quadruple lightsabers, which ends up being practically everyone.
If players don’t team up to take them down quickly or have a similarly skilled hero or villain on their side, these mega-characters can easily mow down an entire group of soldiers. They can’t win entirely on their own, but when you choose Han Solo, there’s an unspoken expectation that you know what you’re doing and will put in the work to push your team forward.
Unfortunately for me, I’m three years behind and when I choose a hero I’m lucky to score even a couple of kills before succumbing to the storm of blaster fire. And since only a set number of heroes can be active per team at any given time, it ends up feeling like I stole someone else’s shot at greatness, and that someone probably could have done a hell of a lot better than me.
Star Wars Battlefront II sells a very specific kind of power fantasy. Sure, you can rush to strap on Boba Fett’s jetpack ASAP, but for me, the real fun is trudging through the trenches and committing to the difficult work of capturing and defending territory. Star Wars, like many popular entertainments, is the story of heroes and villains carrying the weight of history on their shoulders. Everything is decided by one or two key moments, like Luke destroying the Death Star or Rey dispatching a (sigh) reincarnated Palpatine.
That’s a lot of pressure, even in the low-stakes environment of a video game. I’m more than happy to take my licks as a nondescript clone trooper. And if I screw up, no one will really be able to notice.