In the EA lounge at Gamescom 2019, Den Of Geek sat down with EA DICE’s Dennis Brännvall to talk all things Star Wars Battlefront 2. The game, which Brännvall serves as design director on, is still being updated regularly.
Before meeting up with Brännvall, we had a chance to play the new Co-Op mode, which pits a team of human players against an onslaught of computer-controlled enemies. Partaking in battles on the Kamino and Naboo maps, this felt like a really fun way to play. It’s a multiplayer experience that removes the sometimes-stress-inducing element of playing against other people, allowing you to focus instead on working together towards a common goal.
Also being shown at Gamescom was Instant Action, a new single-player mode that challenges players to capture areas and defend them against AI enemies. Again, it’s clear that this mode has been made for people that aren’t entirely enamoured by playing against others.
As we sat down with Brännvall, these new modes were the first things we wanted to speak about. We went on to chat about how the team at EA DICE has gradually built Star Wars Battlefront 2 into a safe haven for fans of the prequel movies, and we also tried to tease out a few hints about the upcoming Rise Of Skywalker content. Below you’ll find the highlights from our chat…
What was the inspiration for the new modes?
“I think one thing we wanted to do was… obviously we launched Capital Supremacy, the new large scale PvP mode, back in March. Our community is really made up of [two parts]: there’s one section who really loves the sort of adversarial multiplayer on a large scale, DICE-style experience; but there’s another portion who came for the campaign, really enjoyed the campaign, and they’ve been coming back to the game playing a lot of arcade content, because they enjoy PvE shooting in Star Wars. And they’re just sort of looking enviously over at the multiplayer, where you’re getting all that cool stuff, all the DICE bells and whistles. And they really wanted something similar.
“That was the inspiration: you really want to do something for that part of the community that has been sticking with us and loving the game. So that’s why we’re gonna do Instant Action, like it was in the original Battlefront, where you’re capturing a command post all by yourself and there are a bunch of settings to complete – if you want to turn off this part of the AI, or add this – there’s all of that, so you can set it up yourself. It’s your fantasy.
“And then another idea was, let’s see if we can do something like a large scale co-op. It’s still a very iconic Battlefront experience with troopers, reinforcements and vehicles and heroes and villains and explosions and all that stuff. But there’s only humans playing on one side. So you’re all competing against an AI and you’re trying to win the game. So far, the reception has been really great. So we’re really excited to bring it out.”
On creating a safe haven for fans of the prequels
“I think we had a hunch, going into EA Play last year, when we said that we were going to into the prequels, when we announced Geonosis and General Grievous and Obi-Wan and all that. And ever since, it’s just been like every month the game is growing, which suggests you’re doing the right thing, and people are having fun.
“And for us, too, we grew up with this stuff. We’re a bunch of Star Wars geeks. The entire dev team, we’ve all got action figures on our desks, and this is what we love. We’re all big fans of the Clone Wars TV show, and really how they put more soul into the prequels and explained so much more and fleshed out all the characters.
“For us, it’s just been a fantasy. But we do know that there are other portions of the community who might be interested in other areas of Star Wars too. So, you know, we’re excited that we announced that we’re going into the sequels now. Clone Wars is coming to an end for now, with the September update, and we’ll be going into the sequels supporting Episode IX.”
On the new Clone Commando
“Dave Filoni, when he took on the Clone Wars TV show, brought so much more personality to all of these [Clone Wars era] characters. When like, you didn’t see enough [in the movies]. Like you saw something with Commander Cody and the Clone Troopers in Episode III, but not like all the stuff with Anakin’s 501st and Captain Rex.
“And all of that, Dave fleshed it out. It’s a big deal, and we’ve released so many appearances for the Clone Troopers [in the games] as well. And our fans just love the 501st – it’s just always the top seller, and they always want to look like the 501st and be part of it with Anakin. It’s really great.
“[And now] We’ve announced the Clone Commando, which harkens back to the Republic Commando game, back in the day, and also they did a tie-in with the Clone Commando being in the latter part of the Clone Wars TV show. So it was a big deal back then.
“It was always a thing, when we did the Droideka before the summer, obviously the Republic needed reinforcements to help them counter that. And so our community was rightly assuming it was going to be the Commando, so that was cool. And he looks great. He’s sort of a bulky, well armoured, super elite leader of the Clone Troopers.”
What can you tease about your Rise Of Skywalker content?
“There is a new planet coming, with the point being that we can watch it in the movie and then fight on it in Battlefront.”
“The Battle Of Jakku was a similar thing, which was a free DLC for Battlefront 1 that was for Force Awakens. And then we did Rogue One DLC tied in with that movie. And then in Battlefront 2, we did the battle of Crait for The Last Jedi. And then we did the extraction from the Kessel mines for Solo. And we’ll have something cooked up for The Rise Of Skywalker.”
“It is cool [as a fan, to know things about Episode IX before it comes out]. I always say that we ask for enough reference to do our job well, but not so much just to spoil the entire movie. Usually, [Lucasfilm] are very good at not revealing plot points or anything. I didn’t know what was going to happen to Han Solo in Force Awakens. Yeah, that was a complete shock for me. But they give us enough references so we can create an experience.”
“We’re being a little vague right now [about the specifics of our Episode IX content]. We’re kind of waiting for the rest of the world to get to know what’s happening in the movie before we start – we don’t want to be the spoiler of that. But we’ve said that we’re building a new, large scale planet that you’ll see in the movie, and you can play it in the game. And some reinforcements are coming, similar to the Clone Commander, there’s going to be some stuff from the First Order and the Resistance.”
As a cheeky closing gambit, we asked, what about that red ‘Sith Trooper‘ that we’ve seen in toy form? “That seems to be a popular theory,” Brännvall says with a laugh. “We’ll see.”
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is out now, and you can see the full roadmap of upcoming content on EA’s website. Or if you’re looking for some further reading, you might like to check out our rundown of the very best moments in Star Wars games.