Most fans can agree that EA hasn’t been using its control of the Star Wars video game license to its full potential. Only two console and PC-based games have been released since the company took over the license in 2013, Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars Battlefront 2, and both have been rated as mediocre at best.
Ironically, the best Star Wars game to come to consoles and PC since Disney purchased Lucasfilm isn’t actually a game that’s considered to be part of the main Star Wars franchise. Even though EA got the rights to the Star Wars franchise, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment retained the rights to the LEGO Star Wars series. Somehow, LEGO Star Wars, a video game series based on a sub-franchise of Star Wars, has managed to offer more content and fun than anything EA has with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is over a year old at this point, so it might seem weird to bring it up. After the colossal failure of Battlefront 2 to create a decent Star Wars gaming experience LEGO Star Wars has become incredibly relevant again. Maybe it’s because there’s not as tight a control on the LEGO Star Wars franchise from Disney corporate, or because TT Fusion understands how to make a game that’s not full of insulting microtransactions in place of a progression system, but LEGO Star Wars beats the pants off Battlefront 2 when it comes to raw fun value.
Who Needs the Canon?
One of the arguments that EA has put forth for Battlefront 2 lacking cosmetics at launch is that EA DICE didn’t want to violate the canon. LEGO Star Wars has never had such qualms. Instead of running around as the same random trooper with the same face for the whole game, you get a choice of over 200 characters in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While the gameplay might be more straightforward than BF2, many characters have special abilities, weapons types, and ways to open new paths in levels.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens also tackled the time period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and it did so without being overly aware of the canon. It’s a video game, not a movie, and people can understand that maybe the events happening in it don’t factor into the Star Wars universe outside of the game. Why is that so hard for EA to grasp when a LEGO game can do it?
Oh, Look, a Game That’s Fun
One of the most significant ways LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens trumps Battlefront 2 is that it’s actually fun for longer than the first hour or so. Out of the gate, Battlefront 2 tries to rope you into its loot box system, and the game instantly becomes a grind. When there were microtransactions that at least made a little bit of sense in a greedy, terrible way, but now the whole endeavor seems exhausting.
The sole purpose of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is to provide fun in multiple ways. From the get-go, there’s humor, lots of bright colors, pretty tight gameplay, and plenty of replayability. It might not satisfy Star Wars purists, but you’d be hard-pressed not to have a good time playing LEGO Star Wars, especially if you have a friend or family member to play co-op with.
EA Needs to Step it Up
For such a grand production as Battlefront 2 not to match up with a LEGO game is preposterous. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t have seen at least one or two amazing Star Wars games from a company with as much capital as EA. Instead, it’s closed a studio that was working on the type of game fans have been clamoring for so it could double-down on more of the kinds of games that have been critically panned.
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens should be a template for EA to follow as far as what essential elements are needed to make a Star Wars game fun. I know that corporate greed is the most prominent influencer in what made Battlefront 2 a disaster, but I also feel like EA, and a lot of studios under its umbrella are losing sight of what makes a game enjoyable. Instead, it seems to rely on brand impact alone to move millions of copies, which has apparently backfired on them this time.
If you’re looking for a game to fill that Star Wars-sized void in your life LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a wonderful adventure and has the charm that recent Star Wars titles have sorely lacked.