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Star Wars Battlefront 2: We played the first three chapters

Video footage and impressions

Star Wars Battlefront 2
Electronic Arts

Rebel scum have taken Iden Versio captive and locked her in the brig. There's been some interrogation. They're holding her drone-droid in another part of this ship. They're planning to slice into it and pull out the guts of the data.

Here begins my short time as the admirable Versio, chief protagonist of Star Wars Battlefront 2's single-player campaign. She's an Empire hotshot, the leader of a covert special Inferno Squad, skilled in survival, combat and piloting.

Versio seems entirely comfortable glaring at the rebels, despising them as destroyers of all that is good, ordered and noble. She fought in the first Death Star battle. Now she's fighting in another. Her father is an admiral. Her mother is a propagandist. The Emperor depends on the loyalty of elite warriors like Versio.

She has an imposing quality of leadership, a Roman mien that discourages foolishness. Iden isn't one for jocular badinage or gruff charm. She's on duty and so, she is dutiful. I suspect she has never lost a stare-down with a subordinate, nor offered one to a superior.

Attempts to carve open Versio's drive end badly for one rebel wonk. Although only the size of a melon, it's armed with a kind of taser.

This scene begins the game's single-player campaign, something that was sorely missing in 2015's multiplayer-only Battlefront. I played the first three chapters of the campaign, which are (a) good fun, (b) lavishly produced and (c) designed to prepare players for the game’s extensive multiplayer maps and modes.

I control the drone as it makes its way through the ship's air vents, quietly stealthing past guards. It's a good way to understand movement controls, especially in confined spaces. If I'm clumsy, the drone clatters into the sides of the air vents, alerting guards beneath.

Star Wars Battlefront 2
Star Wars Battlefront 2
Electronic Arts

The drone is maybe 250 yards away from Versio's cell. If I want, I can use my taser to disable any guards who spot me, but it's more fun to sneak.

Once the drone joins Versio, she's able to escape her cell, grab a gun and make her way through a network of corridors, stairways and rooms with platforms.

The ship is on high alert, so she's constantly under siege from enemies, who generally come at her in waves of three or more. I shoot them, making use of egrets, cover and corners. My preference is the zoomed head-shot, as body shots require more than a single shot, sometimes three or four. But there’s always melee, and I can also send in the drone to cause damage.

At various points, I'm obliged to open doors (using the drone), and so must protect a more vulnerable, static position. The shooting all works just fine. Montreal-based Motive is the developer behind the campaign, but the engine is all DICE, which has been knocking out shooters for years.

Eventually, I find an exit point, and I'm off the ship and heading back towards my friends on Endor.

Endor

The forest moon offers a vastly different spectacle than the sterile spaceship. Not only the huger trees and ferns, but also the debris of a recent battle. Clearly, I'm late to the party.

I team up with my two Inferno Squad subordinates. Jokey one has an American accent. Serious one speaks British. They seem competent and loyal.

In an attempt to get to the defensive network protecting the death star, we work our way through the wreckage, taking out enemies by flanking them. Longer shots are required compared to when I was on the spaceship, but I have plenty of cover. I can also scan the area to pinpoint enemies.

There is less openness here than in many multiplayer maps. I can move left and right, but sooner or later I'll come up against a wall, and so must funnel my way forward.

Still, I now have a greater variety of weapons, including Versio's special gun. It fires regular laser bullets, but its secondary is a seriously damaging bolt of blue that kills enemies — or groups of enemies — outright, if aimed correctly.

During the mission, we cut to a scene where the fully operational Death Star above explodes. Versio looks distraught. She understands that this changes everything.

I now understand the warm reception Janina Gavankar has so far received in this role. She's good. The technical quality of the cut-scene is excellent.

After this event, we're urgently required to escape the planet, and so we head towards an airbase. Along the way, we come across stormtroopers who have the same idea. Unfortunately, we also encounter larger concentrations of rebels — up to a dozen at a time — who must be cleared. Weapons caches can be unlocked, including single-shot rocket launchers that thin enemy numbers considerably.

Recalling the end of Return of the Jedi, I feel bad for these rebels. They'll miss the fireworks.

The action ends on wide and broad airbase platform. My guys secure a TIE Fighter, but I'm pinned down by enemies attacking from around 240 degrees. It's a good opportunity to dodge incoming attacks without much in the way of cover. I kill them and jump onto my ride.

Air combat

This takes me to a dogfight mission in which I navigate through the sad remains of the now definitely not fully operational Death Star. I follow an allied ship in order to get some sense of the controls, weaving through debris.

Inevitably, we're attacked by rebel squadrons. Fighting takes place among the looping garbage, and I was more often killed by crashing into crud than by an enemy plane. But if you've survived for any length of time in a multiplayer Star Wars dogfight, you'll likely find this pretty elementary stuff.

We escape in a larger ship and regroup with the Admiral, my father. There follows a scene, which you may have seen before, in which he gravely informs Versio that the Emperor is dead. The good news is that he has left instructions on how to proceed, in the unlikely event of his demise.

The next events will test Versio's loyalty, as it becomes clear that the Empire's need to survive carries a high price. Her next destination is her home planet, where a show of force is required.

This single-player campaign follows Versio's journey, but also allows the player to inhabit other hero and villain characters, including Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren. The latter suggests an extended timeline, rather than a full focus on the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Endor.

Judging by the first three chapters, it looks like a decent story in which a strong character comes to analyze her own assumptions about the world, and her own privilege as an elite in a highly militarized society.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 will be released for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One on Nov. 17.

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