As they try to play on new servers, fans are remembering just how much they loved old-school Battlefront, and how much they didn't love DICE's version.
Screenshot courtesy of Disney Interactive
LucasArts and Pandemic's Star Wars: Battlefront II is nearly 12 years old, and it is still widely regarded as one of the greatest Star Wars games ever made. Its hectic land and space battles, class-based gameplay, and wealth of specific callbacks to the two original trilogies helped the game find that the sweet spot between the accessible appeal of Star Wars and the depth of a great team-based shooter.
I was part of a large playerbase who grew around the game's addictiveness and underlying complexity. EA's 2015 reboot of Battlefront was missing many of these features, disappointing fans of the classic titles and causing them to ignore or abandon the game. As a result, it never truly built up the sense of community and competition that made the original so special—something that EA's upcoming Battlefront II will have difficulty correcting.
However, the original Battlefront II has been without its official online multiplayer component for years; it was one of the many casualties of GameSpy's servers shutting down in 2014. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, Battlefront II's famous PC multiplayer has been restored, thanks to the sudden support of GOG and Disney.
The game's multiplayer servers are now hosted by GOG, and feature crossplay between the GOG and Steam versions. Of course, many players (myself included) were ecstatic to hear this—at least until realizing that it's almost impossible to get into a match. At the time of this writing, trying to join a match will either crash the game or permanently sign you out of your profile until you reboot. GOG's technical staff say it's due to the sheer amount of people hitting the servers at once, and are hoping to have things fixed as soon as possible. But there's growing frustration among players after more than a day of ongoing problems, and an update that has left fan-run legacy servers unusable.
But there are still other ways to play Battlefront II's multiplayer online. Dedicated fans have been keeping the game's online community alive ever since the official servers shut down, using third-party server hosting through GameRanger and similar services. Some posters on forums and comment sections have even said that they'll just return to GameRanger servers in the meantime, despite the fact that GameRanger servers only host local matches based on a player's area.
In any case, this revival of online support for the original Battlefront II comes at an especially odd time. DICE's own Battlefront II is less than two months away, and while Disney probably intended to drum up hype for the new game with this gesture, the idea seems to have backfired. Players have come flooding back to Pandemic's Battlefront II by the thousands, and judging by Steam reviews and comments across the internet, there's a definite undercurrent among them that this restores the "rightful" Battlefront to its throne. DICE's Battlefront was generally panned by fans of the original games, and it's hard to imagine them forking over $60 for its sequel when they can return to the newly revitalized classic—assuming those servers get fixed.