Star Wars Battlefront II

With two years of improvements — as well as additional content on the horizon like the addition of playable heroes BB-8 and BB-9E — there’s never been a better time to jump into “Star Wars Battlefront II” with friends.

pitch-black night on forest moon of Endor is a terrifying place for a stormtrooper. With a narrow beam of a flashlight on a short-lived battery, keeping an eye out for the diminutive and dangerous Ewoks is a tense job while you wait for the rescue shuttle to arrive.

It’s easy to get lost and separated from your team. Chaos breaks loose when a series of horns blow — seemingly from every direction — and a wave of Ewoks rush from the trees, darting between bushes, as they close in on your position. The darkness is illuminated with blaster shots as you can sense yourself being surrounded by the spear-wielding fuzzballs.

And just like several stormtroopers before you, “Star Wars Battlefront II” announces that you’ve been lost to the forest and you respawn in control of an Ewok — equipped with good night-time eyesight, a hunter sense that highlights stormtroopers and a pointy spear—with the task of taking down the remaining stormtroopers.

Ewok Hunt is one of several new additions to the 2017 “Star Wars Battlefront II” to be added in the last few months, including new levels and characters drawn from “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” that make the game worth revisiting after what was an extremely disappointing release.

I’ve absolutely adored the “Star Wars Battlefront” series for its adaptation of the “Star Wars” universe into madcap, large-scale multiplayer battles spread across the trilogies. You get to relive iconic battles on Hoth, Endor, Naboo, Genosis and Starkiller Base with everything from basic troopers to vehicles and heroes and villains.

But the initial release of “Star Wars Battlefront II” soured me on the series. It launched with a heavy emphasis on getting players to spend additional money on loot boxes that made unlocking new abilities and characters a lengthy and unfun grind. Worst of all, it made it difficult to play with friends by constantly reshuffling the squad you’d spawn with.

Fast forward to fall 2019 when EA released “Star Wars Battlefront II: Celebration Edition” that brought the spotlight back to the all the improvements they’ve made to the game.

You don’t need to buy the celebration edition to get all the upgrades from launch day because all levels and characters are free to anyone who owns the game. Its main bonus is access to all the different costumes for the characters that would normally be earned with currency earned through playing the basic edition (though there are some cases right now where the celebration edition is cheaper than the basic edition).

Ewok Hunt has been on of my favorite additions to the game and a go-to when playing with friends. It feels like one of the best adaptations of the “Star Wars” universe into the game.

There’s also a co-op mode that allows you and three other players to take on computer-controlled enemies in the large-scale Galactic Assault maps. It’s a nice change of pace from the competitive multiplayer because with fewer players on your team, you can actually get a chance to play as a hero or as one of the powerful vehicles that are normally scooped up by other players.

Unfortunately, not all maps are available through this mode and there’s none of the original trilogy maps playable in co-op. But that co-op mode serves as a great place to get up to speed with the basics of the game and where you can earn upgraded abilities to take into the huge variety of multiplayer modes.

The biggest improvement, of course, is that it’s far easier now to play with friends because you’re finally able to spawn next to the players in your squad. It sounds like a relatively small issue, but it makes such a big difference to be able to consistently team up with your friends.

And with two years of improvements — as well as additional content on the horizon like the addition of playable heroes BB-8 and BB-9E — there’s never been a better time to jump into “Star Wars Battlefront II” with friends.

Matt Buxton is a freelance writer and gamer. He can be reached at matt.a.buxton@gmail.com.