In case you haven't noticed, we are now living under a presidential administration that reminds a great many of us of the rise of fascism in Europe before World War II. That's why it might not be the best political climate for Star Wars Battlefront 2 to ask, "What if some people in the Empire weren't that bad?"
The Galactic Empire in Star Wars has more than a few resemblances to the Third Reich. This has always been the case and has always been overtly intentional, with writers on Rogue One using the symbolism to take a jab at President Trump and his supporters last November.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 Campaign: Why do we play as the Emperor's lackeys?
As you can see in the trailer, the single player campaign follows an elite special forces soldier for the Empire in her quest to avenge the Emperor after the destruction of the second Death Star. According to Polygon, her name is Iden Versio and her squad is a spec ops unit called Inferno Squad. They wear special black armor and she seems very serious about this whole "killing rebels" thing.
We all know exactly how this will go. Iden will realize the error of her ways, have a change of heart and probably die heroically while helping the true heroes of Star Wars. The campaign will probably be good and fun like the shockingly great Battlefield 1 campaign last year. I'm looking forward to playing it.
That said, it feels a bit tone-deaf to make a game in this political climate where your main goal (at the start) is to avenge the death of Space Hitler. Judging from a few lines of dialogue in the trailer, Iden seems like an ideological true believer who sees the Empire as the one true means to achieve peace and order in the galaxy. That's not the most likable character in the world.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 Campaign: Nothing about the Empire is "heroic"
The developers at EA Motive are on record (per Polygon) as saying the goal here is to give the Empire a heroic figure in Iden Versio. The Empire surely has military heroes that the kids look up to and whatnot, so Battlefront 2 will show us that aspect of the universe. Unfortunately, the only kids who would look up to someone like Iden Versio are the ones who haven't been obliterated by the Empire's genocidal war machine.
Something more akin to Battlefield 1's "war stories" vignettes that take players to different parts of the war would work well in Star Wars. If we're going to step into the shoes of a previously unknown figure, I'd rather be a regular person who is adversely affected by the war's massive destruction than someone who directly contributes to it. Rogue One worked well when it explored the idea of giving yourself to a greater cause after losing everything—Battlefront 2 could do this, too.
You'll also apparently play as Luke Skywalker at some point in the campaign, so that's something for the players whose personal ethics don't align with Iden. Given how well Battlefield 1's campaign portrayed the horrors of war, I'm not going to write off Battlefront 2 completely. I think Star Wars needs more unconventional narratives, but I don't think this is the right direction based on the tiny bit we've seen so far.
It's possible Battlefront 2 deftly handles these issues and delivers an emotionally resonant story told from a perspective we aren't used to seeing. I sincerely hope it does. I just think there are obviously better directions to go in than this one.
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